Friday afternoon, Crystal and I headed out to Jacksonville to begin our getaway. About half way into the 2 and half hour drive we realized that in our almost 11 years of friendship we'd never gone off alone together. We'd always traveled with our other best friend Christina or our families, or other girls for "Girl Getaways", etc... never in 11 years had we gone off just the two of us. Now, some of you reading this are laughing because you know in our previous lives there's a good reason why no one left us unsupervised, ever! We can't help that we are the life of the party. We laughed and told stories the rest of the way! After checking into our lovely suite at the Crowne Plaza we headed over to the Jacksonville Landing for dinner. It was about 8:00pm when the river taxi dropped us off and he quickly let us know the last return boat was at 11:00pm. We had a yummy dinner at Fionn MacCool's, an Irish Pub / Restaurant. We enjoyed having a chance to catch up. Life for both of us has been crazy lately so it was nice to hang out. We made sure to catch that last boat back across the river!
Saturday morning after a quick breakfast at the hotel we headed to the convention center for the 26.2 with Donna Expo and Packet Pickup. I was anxious for two reasons, #1 - we were in charge of not only getting our packets but Allison's as well. #2 - I needed to find the booth for the Lady Speed Stick Women's Half Marathon to register Allison and I before I spent any money at the Expo. Both of these tasks were accomplished with ease. So yes, you read that right we signed up to run another half marathon next fall! The expo was packed and they could probably stretch it to cover two rooms. They had over 9,000 runners/walkers register for this race so you can imagine the crowd. We spent about 2 hours total at the expo checking things out. It was a great fun, even with all those people! We headed into the San Marcos district to get lunch at the Metro Deli. We ate entirely too much food. If you are ever in Jacksonville you must eat there! It's worth the little wait, promise!!! We spent the rest of the afternoon at St. John's Town Center picking up gloves, sweatpants, etc.. in preparation for the race on Sunday. We knew it was going to turn cold so we wanted to make sure everyone had the right gear.
Saturday evening once Allison was in town we went to the Lots of Love Pasta Party hosted at the start line. We were so lost inside the Sawgrass golf community that we wound up at the club house (aka, home of the PGA Tour). Keep in mind this is a private gated community and we talked our way in! I wish I had snapped a photo, the club house was beautiful. Once we made it to the party we were blessed by stories of survivors who planned to run the race the next day. We saw several people from the national running community and enjoyed a wonderful pre-race meal. It was a great evening!!
Sunday morning the alarm went off at 4:15am, yes 4:15am! We were finally out of the hotel an hour later headed for the race. Once we turned onto A1A from Butler Blvd and we sat in traffic for the next hour and a half. The race was to start at 7:30am but they pushed it back to 8:00am to allow time for most to get parked and at the start line. I believe all 9,000 runners had to potty at the same time (see photo below). The race started promptly at 8:00am and off we went! Allison and I had promised Crystal we would stay with her the entire race. Crystal had suffered an extreme case of shin splints during the final days of her training so running wasn't an option. This wound up to be a blessing in disguise! I "tweaked" my IT Band during the RnR St. Pete. I tried to jog a little bit to warm up and that proved to be difficult. We spent the next 4 hours walking through the Ponte Vedra beach area through Atlantic Beach down Butler Blvd including the Bridge to the Mayo Clinic. I walked over the bridge without a major panic attack - that's accomplishment right there! We had a blast! We danced, we laughed, and we took tons of pictures along the way. We accomplished our goal! We finished the race with a new Personal Fun Record = PFR! We enjoyed seeing all the beautiful homes in the area. The three of us just simply had the best time, despite the freezing cold weather! Crystal had so fun that on the bus ride back to where our car was located she even committed to more training and running more races with us. Mission Accomplished, she'd been bitten by the "running" bug! She had a glimpse into how much fun race weekends can be when the only goal you set yourself is a PFR!
This race marked the 5th race toward our goal, hard to believe it's only February and we're at number 5 of 13! This is a race that I would run again, if it fit into our schedule. It was well organized from start to finish! My only complaint was traffic but now we know what to expect and we'd be more prepared in the future.
Here's few highlights from the trip:
The Jacksonville Landing
Lots of Love Pasta Party
Team Track Stars (never saw those these again during the race, ha!)
The Potty Line!!
Mile #12 - On the BRIDGE - WOOHOO!!
Love you girls!
Can't wait for the next race!!
Also, many have asked about my IT Band issue. I am taking a week or two off from running. I will be back for the TRBC 5K and will run a few other 5K's in March and April. I appreciate all the sweet thoughts, I will be so happy to run the longer distances again!