Hey guys! I ran the Running for the Bay Half Marathon in Apalachicola, Florida on Sunday. I know that you are all dying to hear all of the painstaking details of how that went down, so let’s get to it.
I guess before we get into it for realz, we need to back up for a minute. My friend Rebecca is training for her second 50 mile race (check out the recap of her first 50 here). She needed to get a long run (like a 31 mile long run) in last weekend and so she did some searching and found this race in Apalachicola. She asked if I would be interested in tagging along and running one of the other various distances (there was a plethora to choose from … 5K, 10K, Half, Full & Ultra). It sounded fun to me, so I told her I was in! I decided to do the half as part of my long run for the week.
We left around noon on Saturday to head over to FL. It took us about 3.5 hours to get there, which wasn’t too bad. We saw a full moon at 3 in the afternoon on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere FL, but otherwise the trip over was fairly uneventful. We arrived at the “expo” (using that term loosely) and picked up our numbers and our tee shirts. This was definitely a bare bones, no frills race, which we were totally expecting and is totally fine. They did a great job putting on a million races at the same time.
After the expo we headed to find out “hotel” (also using that term loosely). We stayed on St. George Island at the Buccaneer Inn. We checked in and were handed an actual key (as opposed to an electronic card) from behind the desk. I’m pretty sure that the room furnishings used to be part of a diner somewhere. It was really quite comical! We had a good laugh about it at least. The room was clean, so really we were fine. We were in the room for less than 10 hours anyway. If you plan to stay longer than 10 hours, I’d likely explore other options! Ha.
We got dinner at the Blue Parrot (next door to our hotel) and hit up the local Piggly Wiggly to get some water and coffee supplies for the morning. We both crashed and it was lights out by 10 p.m. I think this actually might be the most sleep Rebecca has gotten in at least 3 years. The race started at 7:15, so we got up around 6 and got to the start by 6:45. We didn’t have any trouble finding parking and there were no lines for the bathrooms. I had planned to do a two mile warm up before the race. It was still fairly dark at this point and so I stayed pretty close to the race start and just ran up and down the same street several times.
The full and ultra marathoners started at 7:15 and the half marathoners started one minute later. I’m guessing the 10K and 5K started one minute after us, but I wasn’t there for that part, so I’m not entirely sure. It was 75 degrees, 99 percent humidity and 20 mile per hour winds at the start. Not exactly ideal running conditions. One of these days, I just know that we are going to have good weather for a race! I just know it. That day wasn’t Sunday. The first mile went up and over a fairly substantial bridge. The remainder of the half marathon was decently flat, except for the last mile, which went back up and over the same substantial bridge.
I had planned to start at around 6:55 to 7:00 pace for the first few miles and wanted to ease it down to 6:45 for the remainder of the race. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to hit those paces and tried to just keep an honest, hard effort. I caught most of the full and ultra runners within the first mile (which makes sense … they were going 2 to 2.5 times farther than I was). After the first mile, I was pretty much on my own out there. I don’t always listen to music during races, but I am oh so glad that I decided to bring some tunes along for the ride on this one. I needed a distraction for sure.
My splits for the first 5 miles were 7:23, 7:03, 7:27, 7:30 and 7:25. That got me across the Apalachicola Bay bridge and there was little bit of a reprieve from the wind once we were directly off the water. My splits for the next 3 miles were 6:56, 7:05 and 6:50. I was feeling pretty good and was happy to see a splits under 7.
After that I was headed back across the bridge. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t as strong one you headed back. I definitely started feeling HOT on the way back. I guess the wind distracted me from the heat for a little while. My splits on the way back were 6:53, 6:53, 6:59, 7:11 and 7:07.
The finish line was fairly anticlimactic. The medal, however, is amazing! I don’t usually even care much about the medal, but this is definitely one of my favorites! I collected myself for a couple of minutes and then headed out to do my two cool down miles. When I use races as workouts, my coach usually reminds me to try to make the run as continuous as possible in order to get the benefits from a stamina and endurance perspective. It’d be pretty cool if you could choose a spot somewhere in the marathon and take a breather for a few minutes and not have it count towards your time.
After my cool down, I headed out to check on Rebecca. The ultra course ran across two bridges, so she had headwinds for over 10 miles during the first half of her race. Yikes. She was also running by herself for most of the race. By the time I got to her the first time, she was almost to mile 20. I ran a couple of miles with her in between 20 and 25 and then headed back to the finish and met her on the final bridge. She passed the first place ultra runner (male) around 25. When I met her on the last bridge, she was in first overall, but the second place girl wasn’t too far behind. Rebecca was determined not to let that girl catch her though. She busted out a sub 7 minute last mile to hold on to the WIN.
My legs were in a total state of confusion after running that last little bit with Rebecca. In fact, I’m fairly certain that they are still angry at me. She collected her medal and trophy and we somehow managed to accomplish things like walking, eating, putting on dry clothes and driving home. We drove through some bad weather on the way back, but luckily we made it home safely and avoided the worst of it.
I think this race is likely a one and done for us, but it was really fun and the course itself is very scenic. If you like running across water, you should definitely hit this one up.
Apalachicola is known as the Oyster Capital of the World. We decided to pass on the oysters at dinner Saturday night, as raw seafood pre-race seemed a little suspect. What are your thoughts on oysters? Think they are delicious? Think they are too slimy? Think it would only be worth it if you could find a pearl?