This past weekend was the The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer otherwise known as 26.2 with Donna where everything is PINK! Since February is designated TallGuySurfing's month to "rest" and allow the old Achilles tendon time to completely heal it was time to be a spectator.
And spectate I did!
Jenny and her running friends signed up for the half-marathon part of the race months ago. I considered registering at the expo and running, but stuck to my guns and resisted the urge. Before I recap, I'll just say this race is held in Jacksonville Beach and out of all the races I've been involved with in the past year I think I actually like this one as one of my best and I didn't even run it. It's well organized, probably over-organized, plenty of bathrooms, good crowd support, not too crowded, great expo (although not much for guys), for a great cause (breast cancer research) and guys.... guys... there's at least a 2-1 girl/guy ratio!!! That means if you like to "chase the ponytail" as Jamoosh puts it you'll never be hurting for a lack of ponytails.
In my attempt to be a kickass spectator I acquired a "long distance" cowbell and a pink shirt. At the expo some friendly ladies gave us pink bandannas, pink rubber bracelets and even some temporary tattoos of the breast cancer awareness ribbon. Now TallGuySurfing never wears anything pink. It's just not cool if your a surfer guy like me, but this is the exception. To prove my spectator worthiness I wrote messages all over my $3 thrift store pink polo shirt and it was then at the hotel the night before the race that I realized just how many friends I knew in the race. A total of nine! Whoa!
The next morning the group opted to sleep in a little later and be dropped off by us spectators rather than venture into the unknown organization of the shuttle buses.* The plan was to drop off our runners between two cars, drive back to the hotel and take the shuttle bus back. The flaw we realized once getting back to the hotel was we weren't sure if we'd be able to get to other points of the race or be stuck only at the finish line. Plus, since we were running late there was no way we'd make it back by the start of the race. We decided to take one car back and go straight to the beach (part of the course runs down the hard packed sand on the beach) where the half marathon turns around just after mile 6. We made it there just in time to see Jenny run past. The cowbell was a fire! We screamed and yelled and she saw us! I ran back to the road to catch her coming back. After cheering her on we were also able to see two other friends run by, but then a new spectating dilemma; Jenny was going so fast that if we didn't make it back to the finish line we might not see her finish. My two spectating friends and I decided to head back rather than wait for all our friends to pass. Thinking we might be able to park near the start line we drove all the way up only to be denied. Since I wasn't driving I hopped out of the car and pretty much sprinted the rest of the way.
Sneaking around the designated viewing area, I worked my way down the final stretch of the race and with only about 2 minutes to spare I spotted Jenny bringing it home and looking stronger than ever! She flew by and I noticed how awesome her time was going to be... it's such an amazing feeling to see your girlfriend having a great race! I decided to be a little bad and sneak into the chute where I found her. I gave her the biggest longest hug ever! We walked through the chute together and there were very few runners finished yet (about 20 minutes later it would be super crowded) and all the volunteers were eager to do their jobs. Not long after we caught up with our other spectating friends who had walked a mile from where they parked and all wandered back to the finish line where the rest of Team Hot Legs were arriving.**
Later on in the family reunion area we found an information tent and got some unofficial times. Turns out that Jenny busted her half marathon PR by nearly 5 minutes! We were all so stoked for her! They also told us she was 3rd in her age group (although now I see the official results say 4th) and that was good enough to get a sweet "top finisher" backpack. It was a great race. From what I understand, at least 3 of the group PR'ed and everyone finished without injury. The weather was amazing. YES, FINALLY IT DECIDED TO WARM UP DOWN HERE IN FLORIDA LIKE IT SHOULD BE! And the people watching was great too...
I even ran into the Redhead and got to see her homemade pink tutu. She was taking it easy and doing a fun run with one of her blogger friends since she's running the Gasparilla Marathon this weekend. Good Luck Morgan!
If they run this race next year I might just have to find myself something pink and ridiculous to wear and run to save the tatas or as my favorite T-shirt I saw said, "Save Second Base!"
*There is no parking at the start/finish line of this race. Perhaps one of its only flaws. In fact, there's no parking within probably a mile so runners and spectators are at the mercy of the shuttle buses.
**Team Hot Legs is the name of the Sunset to Sunrise Relay team that Jenny participated on last year and plans to do again this year. They are all a great group of female runner/friends and a good portion of them were running this race.