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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Big Beach Half Marathon Recap!

It's kind of crazy how I came to even run this inaugural race near the city where I live. Jenny's husband Eric saw an ad on Groupon for the Big Beach Marathon and Half Marathon. It was super cheap and since he was looking for a local marathon he decided to sign up for it.

Jenny and I did several training runs with him (or part of the runs since he ran more mileage than we did). Then Jenny decided since we needed to run 12 miles on the weekend of Eric's marathon for Glass Slipper Challenge and Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans training...why didn't we just run the half marathon and share in his day? was STILL on sale on Groupon...for only $38!!! That's a cheap half marathon! I thought...why not? We went into it with the goal of running it as a training run and not racing it.

I'm so glad we were only running it as a training run because it was one of the busiest weekends for me. I had a Mardi Gras Ball on Friday night and promised my boys we would go to a Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night. So there wasn't a lot of down time before the race. Although I will say that I STILL ate my pizza the night before the race. I just ate it tailgate style before the parade lol!

It was an early wake up call since it would take us about 40 minutes to get there. We also wanted to get there in time to take advantage of the free parking versus the paid parking. I rode with Jenny and Eric. We got there about an hour and 15 minutes before the race started! It was the perfect amount of time to park and use the restroom.

The weather on the other hand was not ideal. It was 66 degrees and the humidity was 100%! Yuck!

We were able to take a few pre race pictures as well as say a group prayer before the race. Several of my Sole2Soul Sisters were also running this race so it was great to see them before, during, and after the race!

Jenny and I LOVE our new Lululemon skirts!!! So cute! And we also love being twinsies!!!

Sole2Soul Sisters were representing!!! Love my sisters!!!

Also before the race I ran into Joe! We had been hoping to see each other at this race! If you don't follow Joe you need to. He paced the 4:25 marathon group and this was also his 30th marathon!!! So inspiring for this runner who has only run 2 full marathons and has no desire to do any more lol! 

Before long it was close to race time. We followed the crowd. We weren't entirely sure where the start line was but we found the finish line. We assumed we were starting in the same place. But we were wrong. They announced that the full marathoners would start 5 minutes after the half marathoners started. The full marathoners would start right there at the finish line. But the half marathoners had to walk around the building to the red light where we would start. They said we would sing the National Anthem and then need to walk to our start line. We sang and then we began to walk. They only gave us 30 SECONDS to get there! We hadn't even reached the line and the race had begun! Thank goodness for chip timing. But I was NOT impressed with this unorganized start!

We started running and Jenny and I had to weave in and out of runners since we didn't have time to line up correctly according to pace. Very frustrating. We turned onto Highway 59 and pretty soon we took a right hand turn into a neighborhood area.

We took a few turns through the neighborhood and then we turned right back onto Highway 59. We were on that highway until we reached mile 2. It was here that we caught up with Gina and Beth (fellow Sole2Soul Sisters)! We ended up running the rest of the race with them which was so much fun!

We turned off the highway and entered Gulf State Park. It was gorgeous through there!

And surprisingly there were even a few spectators through the park. I loved these spectator's signs (even though the teacher in me cringed at the grammar...worse instead of worst)!

Around mile 4 there was apparently a photographer! But none of us saw him lol!

EDITED: I later learned that the photographer was a runner's wife that was getting pictures of her husband and decided to photograph the entire race! You can check out her page Patio Sports Photography for more pictures!!!

It was also here that Jenny got a huge surprise! Eric caught up to us!!! You can see him a little in the above picture. I don't think we knew he was there yet! He said hey and she was sooooo happy to see him! I took a quick picture of the two lovebirds and then he flew on past!

And since I already had my camera ready...why not take a mid run selfie???!!! I love that it turned out so good!!!

Before long we turned onto another trail in the park. This one was shady and gorgeous! It also had little rolling hills. They weren't bad though. I barely felt them!

Around mile 4.75 we were just talking and running and we saw something dark across the path right in front of us. It was a deer! It had to have been a 6 or 8 point buck! He was huge and so gorgeous! I tried to get my camera on but he was gone before I could. Such a neat experience!!! 

We stayed on this trail until around mile 6 and then we turned onto another road. We could see beach condos in the distance. 

Around this part of the race my left hamstring felt really tight. I started to get a tiny bit worried. I prayed and prayed that it would stop hurting and be ok. We stopped and grabbed some water at the next water stop and walked for a few seconds while we drank. When we started back up the hamstring was ok thank goodness. 

The next few miles we stayed in the Gulf State Park and on the trails. It really was a gorgeous race course!

We reached mile 10 and turned onto 182 or Beach Boulevard which runs parallel to the beach. We couldn't see the water but it was still pretty! We also knew at this point we would come in under 2 hours. Even though it was a training run I still wanted a sub 2 time!

This part of the race got tough. We were running WITH the traffic which as a runner is a little scary feeling. I'm so used to running against the traffic so it was weird hearing cars coming up behind me even though I knew I was running in a blocked off lane. I still didn't feel very safe. There were several signs posted for the traffic to know we were there though. It's hard to see but at this intersection the sign says, "Racers Crossing."

And it was correct because this is where we crossed over onto the other side of the road. That made me feel a little safer. But I was tired. I could feel a twinge in my right knee. And all of a sudden my back on the left side started hurting! Ugh!

But being on this side of the road gave us hope that we were close. 

We kept looking for the restaurant, "The Hangout" where the race finish was. It seemed so far away! That's when we realized that we were going to hit 13.1 before we even turned to head towards the finish line! WHAT??? Yes people. We hit 13.1 and I so wanted to be done! But there wasn't a finish line in sight! Finally we saw our turn and then the finish line! 

Apparently I was looking straight at this photographer but I don't remember seeing a photographer lol! I'm glad I was smiling lol!

Thanks to a fellow Sole2Soul Sister, Kristi, for taking the pictures below of us crossing the finish line! The announcer announced each of our names and where we were from. Then he said, "I think they are friends y'all!" SO funny!!!

Curious...I immediately looked at my Garmin to see how long the course actually was. I expect 13.2 or so at a race due to not running the tangents exactly but the course was actually 13.38! That's a little long in my book! Hopefully they will work that out next year! 

The good news...even though the course was a little long...we still came in under 2 hours! Barely...but we made it! Our official time was 1:59:56! 

I so enjoyed running with these amazing ladies and hope we get to do it again soon!!!

And thanks to Kristi for giving us water at one of the water stops and taking finish line pictures of us!!!

I also enjoyed getting to meet one of my readers, Sarah!!! Thanks so much for coming to say hey Sarah!!! And we had to do the hang ten sign for the media director at The Hangout! 

As always...I LOVE running with my Jenny!!! Love this girl to pieces!!!

And since we finished on the beach I needed a finish beach selfie! 

I took a few selfies and I think this lady passing by felt sorry for me because she offered to take my picture lol! Of course I wasn't going to turn that offer down lol!

After all the picture taking we were ready for some food!!! We headed towards the after party. They had already packaged boxes for the runners. There were several options to choose from....chicken caesar wrap (which I chose), tuna wrap, roast beef sandwich, vegan sandwich, and vegetarian sandwich. You got your box, a bottle of water or tea, and a bag of chips.

Inside the box was your wrap or sandwich, fresh fruit, a wipe to clean your hands, fork, napkin, and a chocolate chip cookie!!! So yummy!!!

After eating, Jenny and I were freezing from being so sweaty. So we headed to the car to change into our non wet race shirts! That was the best idea ever! It really helped us warm up getting out of our wet tank tops! And on the way we stopped for a quick picture of course!!!

We then headed to the finish line to wait on Jenny's husband Eric to finish the marathon. He came in around 3:48!!!!! Wow! It wasn't the time he wanted but it WAS a PR for him! 

We then headed back to the after party so he could eat! He needed some food after running that long! We hung out for awhile listening to the live band! 

Luckily I found this picture of us from one of the race photographers! 

Not long after I got a tweet from Joe asking if I was still there. He came over a few minutes later. I finally got to meet his girlfriend Brooklyn! (And we both realized later that we didn't take a picture together...I must have been tired forgetting a picture lol!) She will be at Princess though so we will get one there! It was awesome meeting her in person! She's precious!

I also got to meet Eric! He was super sweet as well!

We were having a great time just hanging out when all of a sudden we spotted a huge pile of bubbles!!!! Well of COURSE we headed over there to play in them! I haven't laughed that hard in so long!!! It was so much fun!!!! 

It was the perfect way to end such a great race day!!!

We took one last pic in the huge chair before leaving!

On the way home Jenny and I stopped at Starbucks of course! That coffee was well earned and so yummy!!!

It was such a fun day! The race course was absolutely gorgeous! The race itself was tough due to the weather but it is one I would definitely do again! They did a great job for an inaugural race! Hopefully next year they will get the start line issue and the long course worked out.

Thanks for reading! I know this race recap was a little long! But I couldn't leave anything out!!! :-)

QOTD: Have you ever run a race where the course was a little too long?



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