When I travel, part of my pre-planning routine is an online search for local races in the vicinity of where I’m off to. Running is a core part of travel for me, and a destination race is a pretty cool added bonus. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of traveling to Jacksonville Beach, FL, as well as the readiness to participate in The John TenBroeck Memorial Winter Beach Run on Sunday, January 13. A five miler on the beach, with nothing “winter” about it, and it kicked off Runnerve13 (RN13) – my year of 13 races– in a big way!
The temperature was a balmy 75 degrees and I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to run in such warm, mid January weather. Race day registration leaves little time to be nervous: show up, sign up and get to the start line. This was a breeze. I pondered the idea of running the beach barefoot, but the race was chip timed and I needed to chip my sneaker, so that decision was made for me. And a wise decision it was as the sand is a bit harder in Jacksonville Beach than what I’m used to at the shore. To boot, I hadn’t run a race in months and I’ve never run a full race on the beach.
This 5 miler was an out and back, meaning you race 2.5 miles in one direction, then double back for the second 2.5. Usually, out and backs are not my cup of tea, but the word “beach” negates any kind of complaint I could drum up, and 75 degrees in January… umm I’ll run that race every time!
The National Anthem rang through speakers while about 400 runners lined up at the starting line. A few quick instructions before the gun sounded and we were off. I shot out of the gate with my adrenaline flowing and fresh legs.
The first mile was a blast, and I ran it in well under 8 minutes. Mile two, still going strong. Mile three didn’t thrill me, but I looked out over the scenery before me and as my eyes caught where the ocean met the sky, I lost all sense of self-doubt. I whispered to myself at mile 4, “this one is for you Mem” (the inspiration behind my 13 races in 2013) and I kept on keeping on, with a much greater sense of ease.
A sign ahead read “4 ½ miles You got this!” and Taylor Swift’s “Stay” sang through my earbuds. I laughed as I ran and I was feeling good and strong. It wasn’t a struggle to kick it up a notch, push a bit harder and cross that finish line in less than my goal time. Success, time met. Bigger success, I placed in my age division!
Holy crap, right? Haha me? Place in a race? I’m the gal who is the first loser aren’t I? Could this be right? Right it was, indeed, and here is where I can, should and will replace “placed” with “won” because not only did I place, but I came in first in my age division, and was the 10th woman to cross the finish line overall. A first, first for me, and certainly an excellent way to start my year of races! Woo!
RN13: 1 down 12 to go
1/13/2013 The John TenBrock Memorial Winter Beach Run 5 miler, Jacksonville Beach, FL