A road trip to Pensacola with some pretty awesome people that is the way a race weekend should be done. Our stop for lunch on Saturday ended up being at “World of Beer” on S. Palafox St. in Pensacola. (well it does count as carbs right ?) . Since we had six people with us we each tried each other selection. My first was the Radeberger Pilsner – A German light hoppy beer. #2 was a mix of Angry Orchard Crisp Apple from Ohio. I had it mixed with a second beer that I honestly can’t remember the name but it was red in color and sweet. I wish I could remember because it was very good.
Check out the beer menu here: http://wobusa.com/Locations/Palafox/Menus/Drafts.aspx
Our bartender “Patrick” knew about the Half Marathon the next day and mentioned he would be running it so he gave us a few pointers. We ordered some food to be delivered and afterwards we left to check in to our hotel to have some beach time before our pasta dinner at Lillo’s Tuscan Grill.
You could not have asked for a better evening on the beach which of course had to be capped off by a ride on the “Wheel of Excellence” ferris wheel.
Bed by 10:30pm and up for 4:30am yep that’s how I roll! Roll being the key word since my IT band was being a bit cranky. Race morning was 58 degrees & 5mph winds. The perfect start! It would have been nice to stay at this temp but the sun came up fast for the race start at 7am and we were off. My dear friend Stephen came along on this trip to pace me since my goal was to beat my PR of 2:06 but his wise words in my head echoed ”Enjoy the Run” so as I was putting forth my best effort I would gaze off to the beachfront views and gorgeous skylines ahead from time to time. I felt very good for the first 6-7 miles taking in a few sips of water at every other stop. My playlist tunes were pushing me forward but by mile 9 my labored breathing due to my allergies were starting to take a toll on me. I could see my pace slipping away. Since this race had only approximately 1800 runners there wasn’t as much race support along the way as some of the bigger races but you would see a few people who got up early that Sunday morning to support with their homemade signs such as “Stop slowing down to look at my girlfriend run” or “Go faster my arms are getting tired”. I was slowing losing steam at mile 10 & 11 and honestly felt I had nothing left to give by mile 12. Stephen was a trooper and patiently waited for me to catch my breath. The finish line was in sight with a last push that did extend slightly past the 13.1 mile mark for a time of 2:10. I finally got my long awaited Pensacola finisher medal.
While we waited for a couple of our friends to finish I saw the Race Director “Michael Wattigny” and briefly stopped him to ask a couple of race questions. First being: Why is this a smaller race at 1800 runners?, Why isn’t this race promoted more? Turns out with the limited budget for marketing and some of the roads are a bit narrow it could only accommodate a max of 3000 runners so it will always be a smaller race with race caps in place. I also asked him if he had anything in mind for next year’s being that it will be the 5th year anniversary. He said he has a few ideas but will be keeping the Finisher medal relatively the same. (it also doubles as a bottle opener –a signature for this Gulf Coast Half Marathon series) Turns out the Mandeville, LA race will also be the 5th year. Alabama is rather new with the 2014 race being the 3rd year for that location. Each is unique and should not be missed. We went to go find Amanda who turns out was soaking her feet in the Gulf which didn’t end up being a bad idea. The cool water felt good with a great after party at Flounders going on in the background. Next year’s race is already calling my name to come back!