Disclosure: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers network, I received a complimentary entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared are my own.
Because I enjoyed the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon so much last year, I returned once again this year to take on those bridges, but not as “Marie”. This year, I ran the half marathon as myself. With weekly bridge runs and occasional field trips to Clearwater Causeway, I felt much more prepared this year.
Like last year, Chrissy and I carb loaded at Cafe Baci with the Suncoast Striders and we arranged to stay at her sister’s house again. Angie always makes us feel welcomed and its nice to not have to worry about spending the money on a hotel room.
Since Angie lives about 45 minutes from the start line, we tried to give ourselves ample travel time. However, this year, the Garmin told us to drive a different route and we hit traffic on the southbound lane on the Tamiami Trail.
We found a parking spot relatively close to the start with 10 minutes to spare; just enough time to pop into a port-o-potty, or so we thought. We spent those minutes and then some searching for toilet paper which caused us to start six minutes into the start of the race.
With six minutes into the race, Chrissy I began our race behind the 3:00 hour pace group and that wouldn’t do. We weaved through the walkers to try and get ahead and make up the time.
When I ran this race last year, I learned that first half offered a bridge climb twice. With that knowledge, I trained for the bridges this year. As I climbed the bridges, I felt strong and the training really paid off. Oddly I felt comfortable. As I ran down I used the downhill to my advantage and road it down in an attempt to close in on that six minute late start. I hit an 8:30 pace and it felt great!
After the first causeway climb, the course led us through a town center known as St. Armand’s Circle. Though our picturesque tour of St. Armand’s Circle was brief, I enjoyed the view and the short visit.
After the circle through town, we headed back over the John Ringling Causeway with a rising sun on the horizon.
Around mile 5 as we ascended over the causeway, Chrissy and I parted ways when she stopped at the port-o-potty and I never saw her again. It was an A1A marathon déjà vu.
I did, however, find Jackie of See Jackie Runn on the uphill climb and we paced together until we entered downtown. Around mile 6, I walked for a bit during a quick Gu and water break. I spotted the time at 6 miles and chuckled that I was still six minutes behind the start time.
The second half of the course followed the southbound lane along the Tamiami Trail and soon we passed the relay hand-off.
I never thought I would love the bridges more than the second half of the course, but I found the slopes in the road difficult to run along. As I ran the second half, I found myself searching for the flatter middle part of the road closest to the orange safety cones. On some occasions, I even ran on the outside of the cones. *gasp*
Like last year, the course led us toward the Ringling Museum and back through a beautiful residential neighborhood. As challenging as this part of the course was for me with the strange slopes in the road, I really enjoyed running along the Gulf, all the spectators and their signs and the entertainment.
Funny enough, as hard as I tried to push myself, I remained six minutes behind for the entire race. At this point, I just had funny with it. Once I hit the 12 mile mark, I attempted a mile sprint to the finish line. I played “Happy” for some sprinting inspiration. I even clapped along ‘cause that’s what I wanted to do.
And with all that sprinting and clapping, I still finished six minutes behind. Ironically, I beat last year’s Sarasota half marathon time by six minutes.
Finish time 2:20:51
Ave Pace 10:46
*Tampa Bay Bloggers photo credit to Beth of Discombobulated Running*
And then, a few more photos of just us.
Of course, I couldn’t forget the medal and the bridge I had to cross to earn it.
I seriously love the Sarasota Half Marathon. I’ll be back next year, but I’m considering a relay. Want to join me? I’ll take the first half with the bridges.
Read the recaps my fellow Tampa Bay Bloggers by visit the following links.