Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Seaside Half Marathon and Unofficial 5 Mile Run

This weekend Jason and I went to run one of our favorite races, the Seaside Half Marathon in Seaside, FL.  Not only is this location ideal, but the race is great as well.  With Vera Bradley as the sponsor, finishers get a gorgeous Vera Bradley bag and other goodies too.  Last year I PR'd there, finishing in 1:44.  This year I knew would be an entirely different story... and it was.

When I realized I was pregnant and I wasn't going to be able to complete 13.1 miles, I e-mailed the race director about switching to the 5k race.  She responded that it was full, but that I could turn around after the 5k turnaround point and still get my finisher's medal and Vera Bradley bag.  That seemed weird, but it worked for me.  What I didn't realize until race day was that the actual 5k race started 30 minutes after the half marathon.  The course is an out and back along Hwy 30-A, which is great unless you are the lone half marathon runner who is going to turn around before the actual turn around.

I decided that since I wanted 5 miles for the day, I would run 2.5 miles out and then turn back.  I started at the back of the pack with the half-marathoners and took my time.  It was interesting to start with runners who were approaching this distance for the first time.  I overheard conversations about pace and strategy, concern about finishing, laughter about taking it slow and as a running coach it was very enlightening.  I used to be back there myself, but it has been a while.  I wanted to give words of encouragement and join in the conversations, but I stayed quiet and just listened.  I was VERY tempted to just go the distance with them.  I was running much slower than I needed to, even for 5 miles and I felt great.  Still, I knew I probably would not feel great for 13.1 miles, I didn't want to hurt myself or the little one, and I knew Jason wouldn't be too happy if he saw me still going once he turned around.  The funny thing about this thought process was Jason actually looked for me among the runners when he was headed back, knowing it was possible that I might try to run the entire thing.  We had a good laugh about that later. 

After mile 1 there was a port-o-potty and I stopped my watch and stood in line to use it.  I can honestly say I have never stood in line for a bathroom break in any race ever, so this was a new and somewhat funny experience.  I stood patiently waiting, watching all the runners get water and keep going.  I took my turn and then continued running until I reached mile 2.5.

This was slightly awkward.  There were still a good many runners behind me and I received many questioning looks as I headed back.  I ran along a bike path next to the road so I wouldn't be in the way of other runners, and hoped I could go unnoticed.  One runner asked me if I was running the half-marathon and before I could come up with an answer she congratulated me.  I laughed as I realized she thought I had run the whole thing and was already heading back!   This got even funnier as I thought about the impressive half marathon finishing time it would be (about 50 minutes - which would be 3:49 pace).  That would be impressive for a non-pregnant Kenyan! I was trotting along at a comfortable, gentle pace and the more I thought about her reaction to seeing me, the funnier it got.  She was wearing a No Boundaries shirt, so I figured she was relatively knew to the sport and might not be familiar with winning times and what folks who achieve those finishing times look like.

Before long I reached the end of the half-marathon runners, but I still received strange looks from volunteers.  One EMT looked me over good to make sure I was not hurt and I just wanted to say, "pregnant."  He didn't ask so I just smiled, said hello and kept going.  After a mile I reached the 5k runners, joined them and thankfully blended.  I crossed the finish line and entered the tent where I got to pick my Vera Bradley bag and grab a banana.

You may be wondering if I should have crossed the finish line.  First of all, I was instructed to do so by the race director so that I could still receive my finishers award.  The reason it worked out was that I did not cross the half-way point, so my chip did not register that I had gone the entire distance.  I was placed in the "Quarantined" category.  I think that is for those who did not finish the half-marathon and there were 42 of us total.  I would have preferred to have been moved to the 5k race so I would have had an official time, and I didn't completely understand why they couldn't do that since I was already a paid participant for the event but... I was still able to participate somewhat and that was okay with me.  No PPR and no official results, but I got in a lovely 5 miles and a lovely Vera Bradley bag, and I was satisfied with that.

I quickly made my way back to our bungalow, which was right next to the race start. I took a bathroom break and grabbed my camera and jacket before heading out again to cheer for Jason.  He said he hadn't really trained for the event so he was just running for fun, but I was still not surprised to see him shortly after the first finisher. 

He gave me a high five as he ran passed and finished the half-marathon in 1:22:26, second place over all and first in his age group. He got his Vera Bradley bag and then we met up, telling each other about our race experiences for the day.  

We grabbed showers before the results, and Jason received a blue glass as his award and a mug for being in the top 100 finishers.  We got some coffee and walked around before lunch at Bud and Alley's Taco Bar.  We walked on the beach and did a little relaxing in the sunshine before enjoying some frozen Yobe yogurt.  

Despite not getting to officially enter and finish the race, I still had a great time out there.  It was a gorgeous day spent in the sunshine running and hanging out with my one true love, and a girl can't ask for more than that.

Bump Watch at 17.5 weeks in Seaside, FL


  1. Congrats to Jason! He is so fast. The Vera Bradley bags are a nice touch. Hope the weather was beautiful while you guys were at the beach!

  2. I love your detailed race report here. Great choice to run, but keep it a comfortable distance!
    Very interesting to read the comments at the back of the pack- I can imagine what your coaching self was thinking.

    What is really great is that you have 2 new nice diaper bags now :) hers and his!

    1. Raina That is so true! We DO have two new diaper bags! Hilarious!!

  3. You look sooo cute with your baby bump! Can't wait for lunch. Have a great day!


  4. Great race recap! I would love to do that race sometime. I love the bags too!

  5. Katie, I think you would love it and it is a very kid-friendly vacation too. If you went when my fam went, I bet we could arrange some babysitters too. :)