Not everything during a race weekend goes perfectly. Fortunately the only problem we encountered was the shuttle bus to the start (18 miles away) never made it to our hotel – the host hotel. Fortunately we found a cab and made it there with plenty of time left before the start. The race began at 6:30AM, a good 40 minutes before the sun rose, and the 32 degree temperature was, um, invigorating.
I felt great throughout the race. With each mile I checked my time split and was happy to be on track for a personal record. The sun came up, although the temperature didn’t rise as much with the sun. Miles 6 and 7 run on the beach. I think I actually saw some ice by the shore line and seagulls looking at the foreign objects with wonder. The race was well organized and the people of Jacksonville made outstanding crowd supporters. To think they stood out in the cold for hours for the race was impressive. At least we runners were moving to create heat. While Jacksonville is flat, the race does cross over the Intracoastal, which involves bridges. And the one at the end of mile 12 is a good sized hill. Just what a runner wants with only a mile to go… The best crowd support was here, what seemed like thousands of teenagers (probably 30) formed a channel on both sides for the runners to ascend to the summit of the hill all the while they cheered us on. From there it truly was all down hill.
As I approached the 13 mile marker, I knew I had a PR in the bag. The subtle cramp in my right foot that started at that moment did not deter my pace. It would not be a huge PR, but a record is a record. I crossed the line at 13.1, hit my watch, and took in the moment. 2:19:21 – a three minute improvement over my best time set 14 months ago. My training partner also PR’d breaking 2:00, which was a hurdle she wanted to cross. A perfect race for both of us. We did it, enjoyed the moment and seized the day.