On the day of the Best Damn Race, I had 20 miles on deck to run to train for A1A Marathon. I concocted this brilliant plan to run all three races (5K, the 10K and the half marathon) but Nick, the race director, talked me off that crazy train. With the races overlapping, there would be no way I could make the start for the races or even finish before the time allotment for the races. Not to mention, a frantic rushed race could cause injury.
So much to my dismay, I would have to stick with the Best Damn Race Challenge and run only two races: the 10K and the 5K. I wouldn’t run for time or a PR, just to get in the miles and if I finished before Mica finished the half marathon, I could pace her to the finish line and help her PR.
Unexpected delays caused the race to start 15 minutes late, which offered time for me to stretch, take some photos and catch up with my Strider friends at the start.
Like last year, I wore my red and white polka dot RunningSkirts and white top for two reasons. One, I wanted to show my love and support for the Best Damn Race by matching the colors of the logo. Secondly, I needed the pockets in RunningSkirt to hold my Cliff Shots and cell phone.
Also like last year, the start line stood in front of Safety Harbor Spa and the first half of the 10K followed Basyshore Drive which parallels the bay. This year, we ran further north along Bayshore Blvd and ran through more of the neighborhood surrounding the race. At about a mile and a half, we turned onto Philiippe Parkway and ran back towards downtown Safety Harbor.
Although the course is relatively flat, there is still some incline which is always a struggle for me and why I keep adding hills and bridges into my training. The streets of Safety Harbor have slow gradual sloping inclines that just kill me. Around mile 3 of the 10K, I reminded myself I had to do this all over again in a short while. And I wanted to run all three, remember?
Thankfully, there were so many spectators and volunteers to keep our spirits up along with the Safety Harbor “hills” and lots of water stops to help cool us on this usually humid February race day. Just before mile 4, I stopped for water as we turned into another residential section of the course.
Once I was clear of the houses and back on Bayshore of Boulevard, I hit mile 5 and pushed it to the finish. I saw Beth at the finish line and hugged her as she placed a medal around my neck.
Age Group Place 56/156
Chip Time 1:01:15.8
Gun Time 1:02:08.1
Ave Pace 9:53/M
As I cooled down and geared up for the 5K, I snacked on a Cliff Shot. During my brief race break, I met the Run DMC crew.
After I introduced myself, we captured our chance meeting with photos, of course. Run DMT meets Run DMC.
Before the start of the 5K, I caught up with Daffodil and Donna. Both ladies set to PR and once the airhorn blew, I ate their Best Damn Race dust. Knowing the steepness of the course, I wanted to keep an easy pace and not push myself, especially when I had eleven more miles to do after the race.
The 5K course followed the same start as the 10K. the second time around, I saw the same volunteers including the very happy lady with rainbow hair and my friend, Brad, who high-fived me when I ran past.
Once past the 3 mile mark, I sprinted to the finish line as my Strider friends cheered for me.
Overall Place 349/1332
Age Group Pace 17/127
Chip Time 29:40.9
Gun Time 29:48.9
Ave Pace 9:34/M
After I earned my 10K finisher medal and my challenge medal, I headed back to the spot where all the Striders stood to find out if anyone had seen Chrissy or Mica finish yet. When I learned they were still on the course, I ran into the half marathon to find them. I must have looked a bit strange running more after the race which prompted one guy to yell, “You can stop running now!”
It was actually fun to run in the opposite direction of the half marathoners. I recognized so many faces and I cheered for them all as they ran by me. I saw Nancy and Michelle H looking strong but Chrissy looked pretty miserable and ready to be done. When Michelle B spotted me, she hollered “There’s the Best Damn Cheerleader!”
Then, I found Mike and Mica with Haley pacing behind them, but Mica was NOT having a good race day. She cried when she saw me. The ugly cry. We’ve all been there. Running is just as much as a mental game as a physical game. I told Mica that the finish line was near and encouraged her to shake it off and get it done.
Mike had paced with Mica the entire way and was thrilled to have helped her earn a PR. I was glad to help her finish strong and share the moment, too. As we closed in on the finish line, Mike and I hollered, “PR! PR! Right here!”
Mica’s family where there to witness her finishing strong and ringing the PR bell, an added featured to Best Damn Race this year which everyone loved.
Between the Safety Harbor “hills” and the PRs, the ugly cries, the happy moments, the nine more miles I had yet to do after the race, there were so many highs and lows (literally and figuratively) at the Best Damn Race. Fortunately, the post race party with its unlimited beer and food maintained a happy atmosphere.
With more miles left to run to hit my Big 20 miler, I had to keep my Best Damn Race festivities to a minimum, but at least I had the opportunity to hang with my Suncoast Strider friends and some of the Best Damn Tampa Bay Bloggers: Jessica, Chrissy, Genna, Jenny, Caitlyn, Meghan, Beth, and Pete.
I also had the opportunity to thank Rainbow Brite for cheering for the runners.
Next to the PR bell, the Best Damn Race organizers offered another fun bonus to this year’s race: a free race photo to everyone who registered early. Well, at least I thought it was one. Turns out, the early bird gets all the photos, another great feature added to an already stellar race.