Race for the Cure 15K Challenge Recap

Disclaimer:  I served as a Susan G. Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure RAC Pack Ambassador and I received a complimentary entry to the Race for the Cure 15K Challenge in exchange for promoting the race on a variety of social media platforms and my honest review of the race.  The photos and opinions shared in the race recap are my own.

After last year’s sweat fest in my pink tutu, I decided to wear less layers for this year’s Race for the Cure.  With taking on the Race for the Cure’s 15K challenge honoring 15 years of racing, I thought less is more when it coming to racing.  I need to wear less to put more effort in than I did last year.  I still wore a pink, of course.

We found our way to the start before the sun even appeared in the sky.  I wanted to be close to the start line to avoid the walkers.  A 6 minute pace seemed like a good place to start.  Sure.  Why not?  The 6 minute pace signs didn’t scare many people as I found Marie, David and Scott in the same spot.

Due to parked cars on the race course, we had a ten minute delay to the start of the race, but it gave us plenty opportunity to create Kodak moments while we waited.

Once the fog horn sounded, I paced along side of David.  Even though I knew he had started off slow, I loved trying to keep up with him that first mile.  As we ran towards Pier, the sunrise was amazing.

Since the pier is undergoing renovations, we weren’t able to run to the end of the Pier as in previous years.  Instead, we turned sooner and ran back towards downtown.   Once on Bayshore Drive, I briefly stopped for water at Mile 1 forcing myself to drink and run at the same time.  Just after the water station, we continued south in the direction of the Mahaffey Theater with a gorgeous view of the bay.

As I enjoyed the sights, I heard a muffled voice yell, “Pffattaafone down!”  I turned in the general direction of the voice.  “Pffattaat phone down!”

It was Josh and Kim yelling and teasing to “Put the phone down!”  “Quit taking pictures and run!” They hollered.  I laughed and slowed my pace to run with them.  I relished in the fact that I was ahead of these two speedier than me runners.

“How am I ahead of you?”  I asked.

“Maybe because Kim fell back there on the cobblestone?”

“You mean you pushed me on the cobblestone!”  Kim hollered at Josh.  They playfully teased each other as they pulled ahead of me.

“Hey!  Wait a minute!” I hollered as they ran off and a gap formed between us.  “Oh I see.  This is your strategy.  Distract Denise, get her talking and she’ll slow down.  Very cunning running strategy indeed!”  I said jokingly.  Kim and Josh are way faster than me but for one brief moment, I smiled to know I was ahead them of taking photos as I ran.

Once we passed the Dali Museum, the course led us back into downtown.  I always dread the downtown St. Pete part of the course because of its slight inclines.  As we passed Mile 2, I needed water but only Gatorade was available and I was told I had to wait a bit longer for water.  I was not happy!  It was way too hot out to wait a bit for water.

Even though the course was closed, the police officers would let cars occasionally pass through the course.  It made nervous as I saw the police officers randomly wave on cars.  It seemed like cars crossed my path on more than one occasion.  Also on more than one occasion, I spotted Brian of Digital Running fly by me.

We ran through downtown and followed the course around Mirror Lake.  Once again, I heard a muffled voice call me.  Mike eventually caught up to me and I was happy to pace with him for a short distance.

Once around Mirror Lake, we turned onto Beach Drive and reached the mile 4 water station, my favorite water stop in the whole race.  The large, enthusiastic purple group cheered for the runners and their energy fueled us just as well as the water they happily handed us.  They were my favorite water station and as I took a walking break through their stop, I absorbed as much of their high-spirited energy as I could to finish the race.

We continued on Beach Drive for another mile and then took a brief run along the bay once more.  Once again, I passed Mike and his smile boosted my spirits to finish strong.

At mile 6, I noticed that the course seemed to be a little long and I worried that I may not finish under an hour as I hoped.  I put the distance out of my head and simply focused on pushing myself to finish.  As I concentrated on sprinting to the finish line, I spotted Scott and Tara running back along the course to cheer for their friends as they drew closer to the finish.  Their encouragement motivated me to run harder.

I finished just under an hour and met my goal.

6.2 miles
Garmin Distance 6:37
Garmin Time 59:23
Chip Time 59:17
Gun Time 59:20

Ave Pace 9:19
Max Pace 6:02
Age Group 22/95
Overall Place 184/652

As I crossed through the finish line, I felt overheated.  My Achilles ached and my plantar fasciitis hurt.  I needed water.  I needed to stretch.  I needed to shake off my negative mood to face the 5K.  No water was available at the finish line and I had to fight the crowds milling about in the park to find it.

Since the 10K had a delayed start, the 5K also had a ten minute delay, however, with hunting down water, stretching my legs and taking a selfie with Jenny and Raffi, the time between races flew by.  The 5K participants filled the street and I had to fight my way to the start.

Once the foghorn sounded, I had to weave in and out of walkers.  Feeling frustrated with the number of walkers, I knew fighting my way through walkers would add time to my overall finish 15K time.  I often tell people to enjoy the forced slow start of crowded races, but like a bitter pill, it was hard for me to swallow my own advice.

Just after my selfie photo, my cell died and sadly, I have no photos of the 5K although it followed almost the same course as the 10K, just 3.1 shorter obviously.  I anticipated a water station at mile 1 and drank my fill at mile 1 as I walked, which is also the time I discovered my Facebook friend, Nancy, whom I haven’t seen in person since she lost all her weight.  She looks amazing!

Once again, the purple cheering squad at mile 2 lifted my spirits.  With fairy wings, cowbells and smiles, they were truly spectacular!

Once again, I came around the bend to the finish line and tried my best to sprint.  My finish time wasn’t as great as it could have been, but it was really hot out there.

3.1 miles
Garmin Distance 3.15
Garmin Time 31:52
Chip Time 31:54
Gun Time 33:13
Ave Pace 10:06
Max Pace 7:29
Age group 25/94
Overall 250/691

15K Finish Time 1:32:33
15K Overall Place 43/182

Not a 15K PR for me but I certainly beat my post-baby 15K by 13 minutes which makes it a PB-PB (post-baby personal best) for me!

Once I crossed the finish line, I searched for water again.  It really annoyed me that no water was handed to us.  Plus, I had to hunt my medal.  Feeling weary and deliriously dehydrated, I wandered around Vinoy Park through the vendor tents trying to find water and my 15K medal.  I finally found the runner award tent near the start line and was awarded this big hunk of bling.

Now, I had to search for my friends.  I found Raffi near the Run for Brews tent where I also found Shirley.  In the distance, Shirley pointed out the Striders huddling together for a photo.

“Wait!” I shrieked and wailed as I ran over.  “Wait for me!” finding my second in a quick sprint asI ran towards the group for the photo.  They took another just for me.  That’s real runner love there.

If the  Susan G. Komen Florida Suncoast Race for the Cure hosts another 15K challenge next year (which I hope they do), there are so many areas for improvement like offering water at the finish line and walkers corralled in the back for competitive races.  If the 15K challenge is offered again, I will sign up for another challenge. And if the Race for the Cure will have me as a RAC Pack Ambassador, I’m definitely up for that challenge too.