Sunday, March 25, 2018

Race Recap: Sarasota Half Marathon

The Monday before I was set to leave for my Florida vacation, I made a decision about something I had been considering for a few weeks. I went to the website for the Sarasota Half Marathon and reviewed all the logistics. Completed the entry form. Entered my payment information. Rechecked the logistics. Started to sweat. Did some deep breathing. Clicked submit.

Within seconds, I received an email confirmation of my entry into the Sarasota Half Marathon. The race was in 7 days. My husband told me I was nuts. My parents told me I was nuts. Maybe I was nuts. My last long run was 4 weeks prior when I ran the Mercedes Half Marathon. But I had been feeling good. My mileage was good. Plus, I had some unfinished business with this race.



I ran the Sarasota Half Marathon 2 years ago. While I put in the miles to prepare for that race, I wasn't prepared for the humidity. Instead of running the race on my terms, the race ran me. In addition to that, my parents insisted on driving me to the race instead of letting me use their car. I had plans to meet Mary Beth at that race but as soon as she crossed the finish line, my parents were pushing me towards the car. I didn't get to enjoy the post-race party or time with my friend. So many regrets.

This year, I vowed, would be different. For my trip, I would rent a car and drive myself to the race. Although I didn't know anyone who was running the race this year, I would make sure to hang out after the race to enjoy the post-race party. I would use the 4:1 run/walk intervals to conquer the bridge over Sarasota Bay and the Florida humidity. Instead of letting the race run me, this time I would run the race on my terms. I would finish feeling good. That was my goal.

Saturday night after dinner at the Sandbar with my parents (and maybe a little too much wine), I set my alarm for 4:30 am. I woke up feeling great--I had no RA symptoms at all! I drank my coffee and pre-race smoothie and was on the road at 5 am. It was pitch black outside and the normally bustling island was completely still. I enjoyed the solitude of the 45 minute ride to Sarasota.

When I approached the Van Wezel center where the race was located, there was a traffic back up. It wasn't moving very quickly, so I turned off onto a side street and parked my car. I walked the few blocks to the staging area. There were a few banks of portapotties at the entrance, but I needed to pick up my race bib and decided to do that first. In addition to the bib, I received a race shirt, which I decided to gear check. There were still no lines at the porta-potties and once I took care of business, I walked over to the corrals.

Free race photos are always a win!
I lined up with the 9 minute milers. About 15 minutes later, the national anthem was sung and we were off. My race plan was to run the first 1.5 miles without using intervals, figuring my pace would be slower for that time frame while everyone around me settled into a pace.  I did a ton of weaving for the first mile or so. As we turned off Tamiami Trail and began the ascent up the Ringling Bridge across Sarasota Bay, the crowd thinned out and there was plenty of room to run. Believe it or not, I ran up the entire length of that bridge. My first walk interval came at the top of the bridge. As I slowed to a walk, I thought that being able to run up the bridge was a good omen.

I ran down the other side of the bridge quickly and started my 4:1 run/walk intervals which I would continue for the remainder of the race. We circled around St Armand's Circle and began our return ascent over the Ringling Bridge. In spite of a cool breeze, this time I could not run up the bridge and my walk interval extended to about 4 minutes. As I soon as I reached the top of the bridge, a beautiful sunrise greeted me! I almost stopped to take a picture but instead, I started to run and made up some time on the way down. When I looked down at my Garmin, I saw a 7:48 pace which made me smile.

Pretty sure it's blurry because I was running so fast.... :p
Once we came off the bridge, we returned to running on Tamiami Trail for several miles. This is by far the worst part of the race. It's a busy road and it's also very commercial. What made it bearable was the occasional "cold spot". It was the strangest thing. You'd be running along and all of a sudden you'd feel cold, like running into a refrigerator. What a treat!

After a couple of miles, we turned off Tamiami Trail into the Sapphire Beach neighborhood that lines Sarasota Bay. I remembered this part of the race from the last time I ran it. The neighborhood is full of beautiful old Florida homes and feels very southern, with those mossy oak trees hanging over the streets. A lot of the residents came out to watch and cheer on the runners. I continued to chug along, using my run/walk intervals. At about mile 8, I stopped to walk and an extremely handsome policeman asked me if I was ok. I debated my answer. Would Officer McDreamy rescue me if I told him I was tired? That thought kept me amused for a couple more miles.

At mile 9-10, there was a turnaround and we headed back the way we came. I kept passing and being passed by the same group of people, including an extremely sweaty guy who looked like he was struggling. Apparently, he wasn't struggling enough to let me pass him! At about this point, the 2:10 pacer breezed by me. I checked my Garmin and calculated a 2:10 finish. I had hoped for an RA PR, which would have been 2:06, but it didn't look like today was the day. Maybe I should have hitched my wagon to the pacer because she was running way faster than 2:10!


We returned to Tamiami Trail at about mile 11 for the home stretch. I started to really feel tired at this point. I dug deep and stuck to my intervals. At mile 12, we turned into the parking lot and circled around to the finish line. This part of the race seemed to go on forever! There was a woman ahead of me who looked to be about my age, and the competitor in me did not want her to come in ahead of me. About mile 12 1/2, I felt completely gassed, but when I review my race stats, this was one of my fastest miles. I stopped to walk and catch my breath, and my nemesis passed me. Oh hell no! I put my head down, found a last gasp of energy and willed myself to get to the finish line before she did.

There she is coming in behind me with her friend. 
Official finish time/chip time 2:10:30. 

I collected my medal and a bottle of water. A photographer was there, snapping pictures. Smiling always makes me feel better! As I walked through the finisher chute, I recovered nicely. I wandered over to the post-race food and grabbed a yogurt parfait, which I remembered from the last race. There were also oranges, bananas, bagels, and muffins. I also checked out the beer tent but all they had was Michelob Ultra. I took a pass. I'd much prefer a craft beer, please.


After the race, I walked back to my car and headed back to my parents' place on the island to kill a few hours before I had to fly home. I paddled around the pool to loosen up my legs and took a nap in the sun. My mom made turkey burgers and I got ready to head to the airport. I really can't think of a better way to recover from a half marathon!

So was I nuts for signing up for this half marathon at the last minute? I cannot explain the immense satisfaction I felt being able to run this race my way. There really is no greater feeling than knowing you ran the race instead of the race running you. I had a plan going into this race and instead of letting my ego take charge at the beginning of the race, I stuck to my plan. This was almost enough to get me to the finish without bonking. I probably could have fueled better--I sipped my Tailwind on all those walk breaks, but I only used one pack for the whole race. Other than that, I can say that I ran a good race. I might not be fast anymore but I am feeling strong. I can and I will!


Have you ever jumped into a race at the last minute? Have you repeated a race because you weren't satisfied with the first attempt? What makes a race successful for you?

It's the Weekly Wrap, hosted by Holly and me! This is the place where all the fitness bloggers meet up to share their weekly or race recaps. It is not the place for mommy bloggers or food bloggers. Please don't drop a link unless you are part of the fitness community. Please don't drop a link and leave without commenting on the hosts' posts. Even better, visit a few (or all!) of the linkers and comment on their posts. The reciprocity of this group is what makes it so wonderful! Thanks so much for supporting the Weekly Wrap!





97 comments :

  1. I have jumped into several races at the last minute and I have run some races over again because I feel like I need a do-over, but right now the race that I feel like I have unfinished business with is the Marine Corps Marathon, a race I never ran. I was signed up several years ago to run it with my hubby, but got the flu 2 days before the race. I went to DC, and was miserable the whole trip, but got to see hubby come across the finish line. Now I need to do the race. I am in the lottery. Will find out this week if I got in. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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    1. I hope you get in! I ran it with my son last year. Due to traveling from Chicago, I am probably one and done, but it was a great experience!

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    2. Fingers and toes are crossed!!! Let me know!

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  2. Fun recap of what sounds like an awesome race! My in-laws owned a place in Siesta Key and we vacationed there through the '90s. Your recap brought back some fond memories! Congrats on an awesome finish!

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    1. I just love this part of Florida. We have so many great memories of family vacations there too!

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  3. Im so glad you got to run your race this time around! As you know Ive started to really enjoy last minute races. I could totally see myself running a race a second time for redemption. It sounds like you made the right choice signing up for this race! Congrats!

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    1. Yep, even though this race was a little slower than the one I ran 2 years ago, this one felt so much better. I was in the driver's seat. I'm so glad I did it!

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  4. Well, I am guilty of running repeat races for the same reason (I also have done repeat races with the ego-driven goal of PR'ing an already fast time and gotten my booty handed to me, ha!). Congrats on a great race! My 13.1 last weekend was such a struggle in the later miles...looking back, there were a host of factors but all I knew (at the time) was that I just wanted to be done. Onward! Your medal is HUGE ;-)

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    1. Yes, this race is known for the medals. Can't beat a medal with a dolphin on it!

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  5. Great recap, Wendy, and congrats on running such a great race! I used to be able to hop into a marathon just a week or two before the race because even in our off cycles, we ran so many weekly miles. No more though, this old body will have none of that silliness!

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. A last minute marathon would really be nuts, right?

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  6. I don't think that you're crazy at all! It's always nice when you can go back to a race and conquer it, especially if you didn't have a good experience the first time. I'm so proud of you!

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    1. Thank you! This one felt great and I can put it to rest.

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  7. Great job going back to take on that race on your terms! The only race that I'm going back to beat is the one that got black flagged last year. Otherwise, I usually come to terms with my races. You can't be on your game every day right? A successful race is one where you walk away knowing that you gave it everything that you had that day.

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    1. I agree with you but it sucks when you've trained and you fall apart! I'm so glad I did this one again and owned it this time!

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  8. Darn. Blogger just ate my comment. Oh well, the gist of it was you were smiling in just about every photo!

    I have never repeated a half except for Vegas.

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    1. Why not? There's something to be said for running a familiar course!

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  9. No I don't think you are crazy for signing up last minute. I'm glad that you were able to run the race your way this time.
    I actually hate feeling rushed at the end of the race. I always like to hang out afterwards and take my time to take in the atmosphere. Races are so expensive to begin with so ya might as well enjoy the day!

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    1. Exactly! Even though I was by myself, I like to absorb the experience!

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  10. That smile on your face says it all! How fabulous you must feel to have had the chance to go back and run it your way. I still think you are very strong! I have gone back to tackle races that were challenging it's very satisfying. congrats again!

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    1. I knew you'd get it! This just was so satisfying. I'm really happy to be feeling so strong.

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  11. Not nuts, I have done similar things! You definitely mad the right choice, congrats!

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  12. There are a couple of races I wasn't satisfied with, but I haven't gone back for a second chance. I could've with Bolder Boulder, but I've yet to repeat any race, and am doing a different race this spring. Great job on doing it your way!

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    1. I did it with the Chicago Marathon too. That taught me a valuable lesson--don't have any regrets about a race!

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  13. I used to sign up for races (including half marathons) at the last minute all the time! I'm hoping to get back to that habit soon since I'm also hoping (knock on wood, fingers crossed) that the past few years of sickness and injury are at last behind me. Congrats on your race!

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    1. I've done a couple of last minute races and you know what? They always turn out well. Less time to agonize over it!

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  14. Congratulations! I love that you did this race your way - and killed it. Recovering in a pool sounds fantastic too. Woohoo!

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  15. Congratulations! That sounds like a fun race- and it starts so early in the dark! Interesting. I suppose with that Florida heat :)

    Love your bright colorful top too! You mentioned a post RA PR; that's a great idea that I'll have a post-broken leg/hardware set of PR's to set someday, totally separate from my old PR's!

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    1. That's the spirit! When someone suggested to me that I have RA Pos I was like, no way! But it makes sense, since I've really slowed down. I'm hoping to get back to my former self this year. I do have a goal of a sub-2 half again.

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  16. I completely understand your "unfinished business" mentality! I ran a Florida half in November in 99% humidity and it was not a great performance. I'm so glad to hear you conquered this one. Way to run the race your way!

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you get it! It's so hard when things unravel and all your training and plans are gone! This felt great, to run the race on my terms. It was certainly more fun!

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  17. Congrats on a well run race -- and on your terms! Your smiling pictures tell the story and the course sounds lovely. I'm thinking we need those cold spots for all our southern races. I've gotten to where I really like a last minute race decision. It seems to take the pressure off. No time to overthink things, maybe?

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    1. That's going to be my plan for most of this year! Ahem.

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  18. I definitely don't think you're crazy! What a great way to settle some unfinished business. And you can't beat amazing medals! You look great in all of the photos. I wish I were in shape right now to run a 1/2 marathon at the last minute :) maybe after this pregnancy

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  19. I'm so glad you did this race again! I have a few races that have left me feeling like crap afterwards and would love to take another shot at it. Redemption is sweet!

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    1. I was able to do this with the Chicago Marathon too--it was a valuable lesson!

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  20. First off, congrats on having a better race this time around! I've done the same thing...run a race to get a better experience than the first time. Most notably for me it was the Bonefrog race I did in February.

    I wish I had known you were going to this race because I would have totally met up with you! I agree I enjoyed those random cool breezes. Though the course this year was different than prior years...there was a lot less miles on 41 than before. I liked that. It wasn't as bad, because I also agree that 41 is boring!

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    1. I thought the course was really nice this time! It just was a really good experience!

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  21. Congrats on your half! Way to run it your way! I haven't ran a race last minute but sounds like fun. Love the photo with your medal! You rock!

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  22. Great race Wendy! I'd say you definitely got your revenge on that course! Love that medal ...that's a cool one!

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    1. How can you not love a medal that has a dolphin on it?

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  23. OH I ADORE THIS.
    and I LOVE this when it comes to life as well.
    Me running the life not the life running ME.

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    1. I would agree with you 100%! It's nice to be the boss of me!

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  24. I love spontaneity like this! And you had the perfect post-race recovery that I've ever heard. Way to go!

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    1. Pretty sure that pool recovery was the way to go...

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  25. I think this entire thing is completely fantastic!!! I love that you just did it and went with how YOU felt and not what everyone was telling you to feel (crazy) and it all turned out perfectly. I love how the morning drive seemed so serene and the setting (with the sunrise) seems like a dream...a dream that includes sweating profusely and gasping for air with tired legs but, a dream nonetheless. Congratulations Wendy!!!

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    1. I like the way you sum it up! It really was a great experience and if I could do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.

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  26. I totally get jumping in at the last minute to try to make up for a race that didn't go as planned! I've done that on 5ks, not sure I ever did it for a half but that's awesome. And you did so great!

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    1. I was still full of fitness from Mercedes and since I have been feeling so good, I figured, why not?

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  27. This blog piece has me smiling from ear to ear! What a brilliant recap. Firstly, I love your race top! But really glad you ran your race; you stuck to your plan and you came out on top. And also glad you got to enjoy the post-race experience/atmosphere a bit more too. I like soaking everything in after I have run a race. Well done for being nuts and signing up for the race last minute! We all need to be a bit more "nutty" sometimes! Shathiso @thegaboronerunner.com

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    1. Life would be so boring if we weren't a little nutty, right?

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  28. Oh yes! I signed up for the Wine 10k when we had a soccer tournament in Birmingham the same weekend as the race! They even asked me to be an ambassador for the race this year even though I didn’t get to go. Congratulations on an amazing race! I know what you mean about running into a “cold spot.” Joys of southern weather! And Michelob Ultra is like drinking water to me. Have a great week Wendy!

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    1. I've never felt a "cold spot" before but I kind of liked it! Where were those when I ran Mercedes? LOL

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  29. Congrats! You look so happy in every photo which I think is a sign of a successful race. I have never signed up for a race last minute - I am too much of a planner.

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    1. I have run a last minute half before, but I always make sure my fitness is where it needs to be!

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  30. I can understand wanting to finish something that you didn't feel right about before, and "unfinished business." I actually like jumping in races "last minute" because if I feel in shape, I don't overthink anything. I'm usually more low key about it and treat it as "fun" or a training run. Great job!

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    1. Exactly! And for some reason I seem to do the best on those races!

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  31. Congrats on having a great race! It really does sound like you were in control the whole way :)

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    1. I like to think so--I'd say about 75% in control. Fortunately, mentally I was in control!

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  32. What a great race Wendy! I totally know how you feel. Sometimes you just have to finish business... plus that medal is super fun. Congrats on a great time and more importantly a happy race. :-)

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  33. Congrats on your race! I'm not sure if I could pull off a half marathon and be physically fine...I'd probably pay for it later (injury wise).

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    1. The sign of a good race is feeling good after! I was a little sore, but not wrecked like I've been in the past.

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  34. Well I STILL think you are fast! :)

    Congratulations, you did a great job on this race! It's great when you feel totally in control of a race and execute your gameplan perfectly! I ran a half marathon this weekend and it was also last minute - I've NEVER done that before. It wasn't for a goal, but it was very unlike me who is probably the least impulsive person out there!

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  35. Congratulations on the race! Sometimes last minute races can be the best, you don't have time to really get nervous about it. I'm glad you had a good one even if the beer at the end was subpar (I'd rather have a mimosa, but I definitely wouldn't want a light beer). Love the medal too!

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    1. Nope, I want a craft beer at the finish. I don't drink a lot and I'm not about to waste my time drinking watered down beer!

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  36. Free race photos and great ones, at that! I'm super awkward in most of my race photos... I just can't help it! This looks like a great last-minute race decision. Way to go, Wendy!

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    1. Thank you! It was absolutely a great decision! No regrets!

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  37. Congratulations on running the race strong! I bet that was a great feeling to put that unfinished business to rest! This was a great recap and has me itching to run a race soon. And yes, I have jumped in to several races last minute and yes everyone thought I was nuts! Have a great week!

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    1. I've got another recap tomorrow! I'm on a roll this week.

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  38. Sounds like an amazing redemption run! I'm so happy for you! You can just the exuberance beaming out of that smile!

    Sometimes, I do love going to races by myself and not feeling rushed to get on the road afterwards. I love getting to enjoy the post-party and taking my time.

    I don't know that I've ever jumped into a half marathon last minute like that, but I like to think I might at some point. It sounds like a fun and spontaneous thing to do!

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    1. I guess I need time to just soak up the whole experience. I really got to do that this time!

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  39. Congrats on a great race! I will sign up for a local race last minute, but if I'm traveling, I usually check race schedules before I even book flights LOL

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  40. Haha. You ARE nuts, but in all the best ways. Who just decides, "Oh, I think I'll run a half-marathon tomorrow??" Apparently Wendy does! Way to go!

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    1. Yep, that would be me! Fortunately, I'm pretty in tune with my body and after all these years of running, I know what I can and can't do!

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  41. Wendy, you looked strong and super fierce! Way to attack that race!! And I would kill to run a half marathon in 2:10. Thank you for showing us what bravery looks like!!!

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  42. I enjoy jumping to races at the last minute - but that can get expensive fast! I somewhat pride myself on being "ready for a half marathon" at pretty much any weekend, but I wouldn't be running a PR most of the time. Jumping into a race is a great supported long run :)

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    1. We all have our reasons for jumping in to a race at the last minute! You're right, tho, you do miss out on the early lower pricing!

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  43. I’m glad that you were able to take care of your unfinished business in Sarasota. Congrats on running a strong race, even when you hadn’t specifically trained for it. 2:10 is a very solid finish time!

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    1. I figured that was about where I'd end up, so I was happy with that. Especially for a warm weather race!

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  44. You ran a great race! It might not have been an RA PR, but it's still a very respectable finish time. :)

    I once jumped last minute into a 16M trail race. It was fun but I was slow. :D

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    1. I've never done a trail race, but I think I'd like it! Especially because you really can't push your pace...

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  45. Wendy,
    Way to go. Love hearing about signing up for a half marathon at the last minute. Your training has you in race ready shape. Good job!!

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    1. Thank you! This was fun. Sometimes it's nice to just jump in and not stress over it!

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  46. I had very similar with Fort Lauderdale. I was back and forth about whether I wanted to, and how I recovered from Lebow I was injured for most of the interval and definitely undertrained, but I wanted to do it, so went with it. The humidity killed me, probably more than the bridge over the intracoastal. I definitely have unfinished business with this run, but not sure if I want to do it again or a different FLL one. Kudos on conquering this race -- and I think swimming is a great recovery.

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    1. Those Florida races really are tough for me because we just don't have that kind of humidity here until July and August. It's tough to train for the conditions. I'm glad I had the chance to do it again and not be beaten by the race.

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    2. Same.
      This post motivated me to go sign up for A1A again after thinking about it. I really didn't expect it in February.

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