There are just some races you don’t miss and when one of those races celebrates a milestone, it’s imperative to be there. And knows, I’m always a sucker for commemorative races!
When the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon invited several Tampa Bay Bloggers and me to participate in this year’s Tenth Anniversary Event, I was there. The Sarasota Half Marathon is one of those races that you should never miss. This year along with the celebration of ten great racing years, the Sarasota Half Marathon produced another top-notch affair with even bigger bling and commemorative jackets and gorgeous racing tees.
For a change of pace, however, I decided to try the relay since I had the Gulf Beaches Halfathon the following Sunday. I enlisted my good friend and running partner and Chicago Marathon alum, Daffodil, to team up with me for the momentous occasion and she was on board.
We paper-scissors-rocked it to select our legs of two relays. Who would run the bridges on the first half? Truth be told, I begged Daffodil to take the first half, because I really do love running bridges. She was a good sport about it and accepted the second leg of the race.
For being such a good sport, I should have coordinated our relay outfit a bit better. With St. Patrick’s Day only two days later, we decided to just go with complimentary green outfits. I bought a green Skirt Sports running skirt for the occasion (which didn’t ride on me or chafe – SCORE!) and a shamrock headband made by my friend, Tracy.
We carpooled with another friend, Kristal, and arrived in Downtown Sarasota early Saturday afternoon and even bumped into Caitlyn and Chrissy at packet pick-up. Once we settled into our hotel on the beach, the Lido Beach Resort *squeal* and only ten minutes from the start line, we met Chrissy and her sister and relay partner, Patty, at Darwin’s On 4th , an incredible Peruvian restaurant. (Seriously, bookmark that bad boy and plan a road trip to eat there. It’s that good!)
My belly must have been nice and full because I slept like a baby Saturday evening. I felt very rested for my measly 6 miler!
Even with waking up around 5:00 and three runner girls getting ready, we arrived with plenty of time to find a good parking spot and to hunt down our friends and the port-o-lets.
Since Chrissy and I were the first leg, we left our partners to find our starting corral. Despite a slight start delay for about 15 minutes (not sure why), we were soon underway.
The first mile of the course led us passed the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center and not before long, I faced the slope of the first bridge along with mile one. As the runners and I rose to the top of the bridge, the sun began to rise. Around mile two, the groovy drumbeats of a drum circle helped us to climb the second smaller bridge.
Shorty after the second bridge, we made our way into St. Armands Circle and for the first time, I spotted Foxy Lady, a family friend’s boutique and of course, Jimi Hendrick lyrics ran through my head. How have I missed that before?
Mile three looped around St. Armand Circle…
…and by mile four, I was on my way back over the bridge for the return trip to the relay exchange.
As I ascended over the bridge, the heat began to really bother me. I needed to walk this climb and I felt bad that my walking would become a later start for Daffodil.
By mile five, I began the journey down the bridge and into Downtown Sarasota. Only one more mile to go! Thank goodness! I picked up the pace and kissed that last mile goodbye like a sailor kissing a nurse on Victory Day!
As I approached the relay exchange, I found myself confused and flustered due to not knowing how to found Daffodil. Thankfully, David (Leader of the Suncoast Striders) stood by and guided me through that.
Quickly, I found Daffodil standing near a corral that corresponded with our bib number. A quick swap of the chip, big hug and Daffodil was off!
As Daffodil ran off to conquer her half of the Sarsaota Half, I enjoyed cheering for friends as they ran by. I loved giving hugs and smiles to sweaty runners and celebrating the relay teams as they ran to the finish line together.
And now, a guest post by Daffodil to share the second leg of the Sarasota Half Marathon Relay
This was my fist relay experience and I was happy to have Denise as my partner. We traveled and roomed together at the Chicago Marathon this past fall so I knew that we would be a great team. We woke up on time on race day morning. After eating my normal routine race day breakfast of plain bagel with peanut butter spread and sliced bananas, I was ready and fueled for my big 6.5 mile run.
As a NUUN Ambassador, I put on my NUUN visor as I knew that I would need it when the sun came up since I was running the second half of the relay. We headed out the door and arrived at the start line within 10-15 minutes. Traffic was light and our hotel was very close. As soon as we walked towards the meeting area, it did not take long to run into a few Striders such as Tracy, Fro, Stan, and Suzan. We chatted and found our way to the packet pick up tent to meet other Striders.
The race start was scheduled for 7:00am, but the runners did not actually cross the start line until 7:15, so it was a very late start. I wished Denise good luck and she was off. Luckily I had a few other Striders with me to chat with at the Relay exchange area so we all hung out and waited for our teammates to run the first half of the relay.
It was fun to see the first, second and third place men fly by the exchange area as they continued on to finish the full 13.1 mile course. After they ran by, it was even more fun to see some of the other Striders come into the exchange area and meet with their partners or continue on to the finish if they did not participate in the relay.
I saw Denise from a distance and got excited to start running my part of the relay. Denise, of course, took out her camera and snapped a few pictures of me before handing off her time chip to me. I smiled for the camera, put on the time chip, and I was off.
The temperature was already rising as it was after 8:00am, so I knew I was not going to push too hard. I was still congested from a cold that I had a few weeks before so I knew that I was not going to run my fastest time. I enjoyed the course and I passed a few Striders along the way. I knew I was getting close to the finish when I started seeing signs from First Watch giving hints that breakfast was waiting for us at the finish line.
I saw Denise at the relay exchange and we ran together to the finish line. The finisher’s medal was the biggest and most beautiful dolphin award I’ve ever seen. It was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again next year.
Start Time 7:13:39AM
5K Chip 33:23
Ave Pace 10:45
10K Chip 1:10:42 (Time of Day 8:24 AM)
Ave Pace 11:23
15K Chip 1:40:55
Ave Pace 10:50
Finish 2:20:57 (Time of Day 9:34)
Ave Pace 10:46
It truly was a great experience and I was thrilled to share the moment in the sun (literally) with Daffodil.
With the Sarasota Half Marathon Relay, participants taste a shorter distance run sprinkled with a smidge of spectating, which is truly the best of both worlds for any runner. Runners love cheering for other runners almost as much as running races. As for next year, I’m definitely in for the relay again!
And of course, the bling will always bring me back.
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared here are my own and Daffodil’s too.