The 2016 #HoLottaFun crew had most of us in the ‘runner’ blogging world green with FOMO from their steady stream of social media and blogging posts during last year’s Panama City Beach half marathon weekend. I was thrilled when the ‘Ho‘ in #HoLottaFun invited me to join the group this year and didn’t waste one moment hitting the registration button back in late July. Several were not able to make the trip this year and others had last minute scheduling issues causing them to have to cancel, leaving us with a quaint little group of four (Karen, Tricia, Holly and myself) for our girls beach racecation….. we may have been a small group, but we had big fun! (Read all about it here)
We decided at the last minute to order matching tanks for race day and since we all live in the ‘South’ (yes, Richmond Virginia is considered the South …it was the capital of the Confederacy you know!), we decided to go with ‘Southern Sole Sisters’ and #HoLottaPCB as our 2017 official hashtag. I mean, if you’re going to make this an annual event, you’ve got to make each year unique, right?
Packet pickup was low-key and super easy with only a few booths and a massage/KT taping station. It was held at Dave & Buster’s in the Pier Park area where you can find lots of shopping, dining, live music and a Starbucks. The race shirt is long sleeve, technical and a beautiful turquoise color; however, it is not women’s specific and huge. If you are like me and size up because you prefer your race shirts a little on the loose side ….don’t. The medium fit like a dress and even the small fit loosely. They do not allow you to exchange shirt sizes at packet pick-up, but do allow you swap them out at the after-party ….which I did and it was easy peasy.
The half marathon started at 7:30 am with the full marathoners going off 30 minutes earlier. Under normal race conditions, this would be ideal. However, race day conditions for us were a little less than ideal ….okay, maybe a lot less than ideal. Holly’s many years of running this race and knowing that parking would be plentiful with only a short walk to the starting area, she advised that we needed only leave the house 30 minutes prior to starting time. The moment we stepped outside the beach house and were greeted with a warm, humid salty breeze, we knew it would be a tough race.
Once we arrived at the starting area and made a bee-line to the Pier Park sign for pictures.
After several more pictures, it was time to line up and get this sweat fest started!
The course is flat, out and back along Beach Blvd. and is not closed to traffic; however, the LEO’s did an excellent job of managing traffic at the turns and keeping a presence along the course. From a runner who is accustomed to running hills, I personally do not like flat courses and I sure as heck do not believe in the phrase ‘fast and flat’. With that in mind, I didn’t have any grand finish time expectations …add the warmth and humidity of the day, and I had made my mind up before the starting gun fired that this would be just another marathon training run and a good opportunity to practice my marathon intervals. If I hadn’t made that decision on my own, a little race organization mishap would make it for me rather early on the race.
Tricia and I fell into a comparable pace and ran the first three miles together, after which, I told her to ‘go get em’ and started my intervals. While they had water stops at every mile, unfortunately, there was not water at every stop. As a matter of fact, more than half of the water stops were either out of water, cups or both. As the temps quickly reached into the 70’s, with high humidity and no shade, water was in high demand and entirely too scarce. The volunteers were doing the best they could with the little resources they had and were extremely apologetic. At mile 11, there were two volunteers with jugs of water offering to fill handhelds and hydration packs. Fortunately, I was running with a handheld (although I do not always do this) and I believe it was my saving grace. I saw several runners leave the course and run into a convenience store only to pass me a few minutes later with a bottle of water in hand. Around mile 12, I passed a runner down, being cared for by medics, for what appeared to be heat related issues. I have no idea what happened with the water situation and I’m sure it is something no race director ever intends or wants to happen, but when the conditions are likely to be warm and humid, there needs to be multiple back up resources.
Mile by Mile:
Miles 1 – 3: (Avg Pace 10:23) Ran with Tricia, no walk breaks, warm but the sun was still ‘waking up’
Miles 4 – 6: (Avg Pace 11:38) Started intervals, getting warmer, only one water stop with water and that one I had to wait on them to fill the cup …but still feeling decent.
Miles 7 – 9: (Avg Pace 11:41) Mile 8 little mishap ….I had two ibuprofen gel caps in my skirt pocket with plans on taking them around mile 7 to 8 to ward off my inevitable foot and ankle pain. Well ….since it was so dang hot, I had been pouring water over my head at water stops causing the gel caps to begin to melt. When I popped them in my mouth, one of them burst, sending a terribly bitter, burning sensation throughout my mouth and throat. Lips were numb and I was spitting and sputtering for half of mile 8 …..lesson learned.L
Miles 10 – 12: (Avg Pace 11:42) hot, Hot, HOT and flat, Flat, FLAT! Ugh.
Mile 13.1: (Pace 12:28) Even though I didn’t have any goals for this race, I always want to finish under 2:30 and when the 2:30 pacer passed me at the beginning of mile 13 …well, I basically said ‘screw it’. It was just too hot, I finished with very little of the usual discomfort I normally feel and I was smiling (sort of) ….I’m good with that!
Chip Time: 2:31:17 – Avg. Pace 11:33
I was pleased to see fairly steady paces with the intervals from miles 3 – 12 (considering the conditions) and realized that as much as I hate starting the intervals early, I really need to practice this during my training runs if this is what I’m counting on to get me through 26.2 miles.
Finish Line & Post-Race Party:
Runners were greeted with their finisher medal, a bottle of water, fruit and loud, heart pumping music at the finish line. However, the real post-race party was just a few blocks down at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and after we all crossed the finish line and stopped for a photo, we were more than ready to celebrate!
Post-race provided free Land Shark beer, delicious gumbo and 15% off Margaritaville merchandise! We snagged a table and settled in for some refreshing cocktails and appetizers….
….two margaritas and one large tequila shot later, we were feeling recovered from the heat and ready for our spa treatment. But first ……
…..in true #HoLotta style, a jump shot was in order to commemorate the #HoLottaPCB girls weekend!
5 Reasons to Run PCB:
- It’s on the beach …duh!
- It’s flat …if you buy into the ‘fast and flat’ course mentality (Boston Qualifier)
- It’s a perfect size race …not too big and not too small (About 1,200 runners)
- Fabulous post-race party
- Makes for the perfect girls weekend/racecation
Running is so much more than races and paces ….it’s about the beautiful places your running shoes take you and the beautiful souls you befriend along the way! #southernsolesisters
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, one race at a time!
I’m linking up with Running On Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five. Be sure to check out these fabulous ladies blogs for some motivational workouts to get you through the winter months! And also with Marcia, Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run where they’re talking about all things NEW!