I am still a newbie to running, but I thought I take a minute and share the top 5 races that I would do again from this last season (and probably already signed up for next year!)
1. The Gate River Run 15K
This was an amazing race! It’s the largest 15k in the nation, but you really couldn’t feel that when you were out on the course. They had their waves broken up well to provide for a smooth run. This race also had my favorite shirt from last season, it was a great color and a great women’s fit. The only downfall of this race is its location, only because it involves travel – it’s in Jacksonville, Florida, but it is totally worth it!!! The last mile has a huge bridge known as the Green Monster. I walked most of it the way up and then slowly jogged down trying to make sure I didn’t fall on my face. Plenty of water on the course and locals really get into this race. They were handing out food or water and even several kids had their hoses out and would spray you if you wanted!
2. Iron Girl Half Marathon
Maybe I have an emotional attachment to this race because it was my first half marathon, but it was a great race. Neat because it was all women, fun because I ran into many people I knew along the way, and rewarding because I had not run that far before (…or since). Their waves were a little less organized, but you placed yourself where you wanted to finish and could stay with the pacers. I had the three hour pacers in my sights the entire time, but ended up passing them just before the finish to bring my time just under three hours! I was thrilled! You can’t beat the views on this course. We live in such a beautiful place!
3. Best Damn Race
Again, I may have an emotional attachment to this race because it was my first 5K. It had a relaxed atmosphere, relatively flat course and a neat medal (had a bottle opener on the end of it)! Because of the time of year, it was a little chilly, but I quickly shed my jacket as I warmed up during the run! David and I ran this one last year and had a great time! Plenty of water along the course and plenty of people cheering you on. Because of the course for the 5K, you passed by the finish line about halfway through the race and it was a good emotional boost to finish strong with all of those people cheering you on. I will be honest, as I came around the bend to the finish line I might have shed a tear. I couldn’t believe that this “I don’t run” girl had just completed her first 5K! I love races where you come around a corner and see the finish line just in the distance, if overwhelms me every time!
4. Midnight Run on July 4th
This race was my PR from last season, so again a little bit of an emotional attachment. This race was interesting because it was at midnight – literally! I am so glad that I wore a few glow in the dark bracelets because there were times that I needed them to see on the course. Water was the only issue on this course. There was water at about half a mile and again at 2.5 miles, but nothing in between. I will carry my handheld water bottle next year!
5. Rap River Run or Gasparilla Distance Classic
I couldn’t choose of these races, so I’ll include them both!
Rap River is a big event in New Port Richey and, aside from the water issues on the 10k course, is a pretty well run event! It is a hot race, because it takes place the first weekend in June – so carry water with you! Rap River was a PR for me at this point in the year and David joined me to cheer me on! He’s my biggest fan and I love him for that. I got to run with many new Striders at this race. I run with a group called the Suncoast Striders as much as I can. They are a neat group of people that just love hanging out and running! They took a large portion of the awards at this race, so they are talented too!
Gasparilla is a huge event for the Tampa Bay Area and has a huge expo that accompanies it! My only recommendation for this race is LIE… Yes, lie about your expected finishing time. If you plan to actually run, then you need to sign up for a faster wave than you anticipate because otherwise you will be dodging a sea of walkers and little kids. Don’t misunderstand, I think it’s a great family event but I nearly ran over several children because I was already moving at a fairly rapid pace when I apart ran a few kiddos over! So lie… You have my permission!
What about you? What was your favorite race from last season? What races would you do again? What races would you NOT do again?
I only have one race that I would not do again – Bridge of Lions 5K in St. Augustine. It was a well run race with a great after party, but the time was just a little too late to have a good run. It started at 7:30 and there was very little cloud cover, so it got hot and humid quickly. I had a much slower pace and didn’t get the time that I wanted for this race. If they moved the time up to just 7:00am, it would make a huge difference!