Panama City Beach Half Marathon Race Recap 12/3/16

The gulls wanted to eat my medal!
When my first two halfs of 2016 (Shipyard Maine and Craft Classic Phoenix) didn’t result in PRs, I was just sure that 2016 wasn’t my year for a half marathon PR. Because I was going to run my last half of the year in FL, and although I was praying for a cold snap, I was positive it would be sunny and humid — conditions I don’t perform well under.

Sometimes prayers are answered.

Fair warning though: this recap is long & photo intensive.

Packet Pickup
Packet Pickup was at Dave & Buster’s, a short ride from our host’s Holly @ Hohoruns beach house. You looked up your bib number, then got your “swag” bag (and I’m using that term loosely), bib, and tee. No problems.

Not too much swag: a few coupons, a pencil — really nothing to get excited over. Which is part of why the entrance fees are lower.

The unisex race tees were pretty universally disappointing, but we all knew that going in.

Flat & fast with ocean views
My Race Plan
There wasn’t much of a plan. Assuming it would be warm and humid, my plan was simply to go out at about 12:20 mm and hopefully pick up the pace from there. Slower if the conditions seemed to warrant it. Shooting for negative splits . . . maybe.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 11:40. Oops. A little too fast.
  2. Mile 2: 11:57. Slightly breezy, but nothing too terrible.
  3. Mile 3: 11:56. It still felt easy here; I knew I was on pace to PR.
  4. Mile 4: 11:56.
  5. Mile 5: 11:52. They ran out of cups at the water station. It wasn’t a hot day! But I had my water bottles with me. I think this is where I saw all my blogger friends go by — since they’re speedier than me, I was running looking over to the left.
  6. Mile 6: 11:48.
  7. Mile 7: 11:58.
  8. Mile 8: 11:57. This is normally where I get tired, but I wasn’t. The pace still felt easy. I knew I still was on pace for a PR, and a big one at that, but you never know what 13.1 miles will throw at you.
  9. Mile 9: 11:48.
  10. Mile 10: 11:58. Cramps were threatening. Should I take those saltstick tablets? I hadn’t had time to test them out on a long run. I was afraid they’d upset my stomach and cost me that PR I was headed towards.
  11. Mile 11: 12:14. I was beginning to tire by this point, but I don’t think that’s why it was a slow mile.Those cramps set in with a vengeance in my toes and my calves. I was fishing in my pocket for the saltstick tablets I’d brought, but somewhere along the way they fell out, apparently.
  12. Mile 12: 11:54.
  13. Mile 13: 11:27. If I’m not injured and there’s not an insane hill, this last mile is usually the fastest of the race. Which begs the question am I running too slowly earlier on? I could see Darlene waiting to take my photo, and I had real trouble mustering up a smile because the cramping was so painful.
  14. Last .09: 9:14. Sprinting to the finish line — oddly enough, this was the same pace as the last .1 in my last half!

2:35:17 — Official Time
11:51 Average Pace

PRs are better with friends

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I snagged myself a shiny new PR. By 8 minutes!

Deep down inside of me, for years, I knew that I had a faster half in me. But I have also had a long string of very hilly halfs, unseasonably warm halfs, and one insanely windy and hilly half, and a half afterwards that was even hillier . . . and sunny and hot. Throw in a few minor battles with IT/hips.

My first half was my only flat course, and I really had no idea what to expect from a flat course. Even while I was running, even though I knew I was on pace for a big PR, I never looked at elapsed time or did the math in my head. I find I’m better just concentrating on my pace, and not worrying about finish time or possible PRs.

Of course I knew early on that a PR was quite possible, but my mantra is “run the mile you’re in“.

A PR smile & just so happy with almost everything about this race

The weather & dressing
The weather was a gift from the running Gods — cloudy, cool (50s), and dry. My prayers for a cold snap were answered! I went back and forth between a tee and a tank, but I’m glad I settled on: a sparkleskirt and a Skirtsports Eclipse Tank (I’m a Skirtsports ambassador — use code CRJ20 for 20% off regularly priced items). My outfit was perfect for the day and the conditions.

A lot of people mentioned the breeze. It wasn’t a factor for me at all. My previous half PR, Green Mountain Half, was insanely windy. I nearly lost my favorite running hat and almost got blown into Lake Champlain. Trust me, this was nothing.

Flat, not terribly scenic . . . but fast!

Was the race well run?
Mostly I’d say yes, but running out of water and/or cups — even for the speedier racers? And it wasn’t even a hot day. I giggled at the Floridians in their sweatshirts complaining about how “cold” it was, but I lived in TX for 17 years, so I get how temperature is relative.

The volunteers were enthusiastic, but not always on top of things at the water stops. On the other hand, water stops were plentiful — every mile. Gotta love that!

They did run out of the promised gumbo — so if you weren’t a super speedy marathoner (or half marathoner), no gumbo for you. Chili instead. I don’t drink, so didn’t avail myself of the free beer, but I heard complaints about how little there was in the cups (although you could have as many cups as you wanted).

Spectators and scenery?
Sparse spectator support. If you thrive on people cheering you on and high fiving you, this may not be the half for you. The scenery is nice, but not spectacular. Or maybe that’s just my feeling because it’s the Gulf, and the waves aren’t big — I love to hear the waves crashing on the beach.

Keep in mind that the course is not closed to traffic, either, so you are mainly on shoulders and cars are coming through.

What I learned
My body loves flat and fast. Sure, I got tired around mile 10, but it usually happens much sooner. And I wasn’t the least bit sore afterwards. Those cramps? Still not sure what that was about. It usually only happens when it’s a hot race.

I’m sure everyone will attest that I’m quiet & shy. But I can be silly too! (that’s me photobombing in the back)

And while it’s always great to have Mr. Judy at the finish line, having an entire group of ladies waiting for me is pretty darn good, too. Sometimes it pays to be the slowest runner out of the group.

Final Thoughts
Snagging a PR with runner friends who get it? Priceless! Yes, I missed having Mr. Judy there, too, since he’s been with me on this journey from the start.

No idea what we were laughing at — before the start, btw
I am so happy to have finally achieved a time I knew I was capable of. Even better sharing that with friends and seeing others do well, too, although of course, some of my friends struggled with this race.

Thank you, Wendy, for the “Never Give Up” bracelets — it helped!
That’s the way racing is: so many things have to come together to make a race great, and you really just never know when it will happen. And it doesn’t happen all that often. As they say, the hard is what makes it great.

I am second from the right; yes, we all loved this weekend!
Would I do this race again? Now that is a difficult question. If I were invited along with these ladies again next year, it would be so very difficult to say no. Yet with the exception of Vegas, I’ve never run a half more than once. I loved the ease of the weekend (not so easy for all our hosts and chaffeurs!), the camaraderie, and of course the flat course.

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run

44 thoughts on “Panama City Beach Half Marathon Race Recap 12/3/16

  1. Love your race recap. Also I love the fact that, like myself , you are a ladies of a certain age but you are all having a lot of fun! Fantastic😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So true. I meet a lot of older people in my work and the ones who cope best with life are those who are young at heart. I remember talking to an old lady when I was newly qualified and she explained to me how she felt, that inside she still felt 21 but that her body just couldn’t keep up (she was in her 80’s). I suspect that part of the secret is adaptation – finding new ways to have fun that fit with our current circumstances. 😊 And like everything, practice makes perfect.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You never know! She might turnaround tomorrowπŸ˜€ However I have my own issues with my mum she’s lovely but just expects everything to be done for her, I don’t think she’s going to change either!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah congrats on your PR! That is awesome!

    Yes flat and fas please!! That is how I got my PR too. I do think the flat does get a bit boring after a while little hill to wake up the legs helps too.

    Love the pics. So glad you had a good time with the ladies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m willing to be bored. πŸ™‚

      It doesn’t mean I won’t continue to tackle hilly, but now every once in a while I might just see if I can find me a flat course.

      I’d been saying for a long time that I wasn’t sure how I’d like flat & fast, but that I was willing to find out!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucky you, you have a lot more flat & fast than we do. Most of my halfs have been hilly to VERY hilly. And I’ve done well at quite a few, but they definitely never felt as easy as this felt — pretty sure that had to do with the flatness!

      Thanks, Marcia!


  3. Kudos to you on your HUGE PR. You look so happy in all of these photos. It was sheer pleasure to read and see and to accompany you from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish all my online friends could have been with us (although it was a tight squeeze as it was).

      The PR was just the icing on the cake, the proverbial cherry on top — and doubly so because it was totally unexpected.

      Thanks, Connie!


    1. Thanks, Wendy.

      Being BOTP (and still was for this race), my experience is often so different from my friends’ experiences.

      So many, many things have to come together for a great race, and I suspect I won’t see everything coming together like that again for quite some time.

      Which is ok. I think PRs are important for a variety of reasons, one of the major ones being that it shows you what you’re really capable of.


  4. Temps all depend where you live. I was in Florida for my parents to do a Disney race and Boston had a snow storm, so we loved the warmer temps. It was still too cool for the locals. Great job on the PR!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My coldest half so far was still my first — Las Vegas!

      I knew that FL can be cold in December — one of our USAFit coaches did Disney & almost got hypothermia — but I think assuming it wouldn’t be served me well; I didn’t put pressure on myself.

      Thanks, Lesley, and I’ll be sending you vibes for a good move!


  5. Congratulations on your huge PR, what an accomplishment!! I’m glad you had a good race and it looks like you all had an amazing time together and a lot of fun. Sometimes I like hills on a race course but I’ve got a lot of love for flat courses!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, I’ve never raced a flat course before. I think we can discount Vegas — my first, not enough knowledge, at night, yadda yadda.

      I know plenty of people who like SOME hills. I was very happy with flat. πŸ™‚ At some point, I’ll pick a flat course somewhere . . . actually, I have had my eyes on a few in NJ (which I haven’t done yet).

      Thanks, Janelle!


  6. Congrats on your BIG Pr. It did not surprise me at all. You work hard and deserved to have a great race. Glad I was there to share.

    Tell Mr Judy not to worry – he hasn’t been replaced.

    But I do hope to share another one with you but with your one and done, it may just have to be local races.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats on the HUGE PR! Isn’t it amazing how big a difference weather & the course can make? I love that you got to have a big cheering squadron for your PR finish!

    And I’ve enjoyed reading recaps from all of you that went down & ran together, because HOW FUN!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It definitely was fun. Weather is a HUGE factor for me (and apparently the course, too).

      I have done a long strong of pretty hard halfs, but whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?


  8. It did all come together for you this trip! Congratulations on your new PR! I knew you had it in you as well, just needed the right conditions. You are right, while the hubs is there usually to see me finish, it’s not the same have haveing running friends who get you and what you just did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really have no memory what we were laughing at in that photo!

      I really did know I was capable of a lot more than I’d achieved so far . . . I’m also aware that that doesn’t mean the next half will be anywhere near that.


    1. Thanks, Laura.

      I’ve read those race recaps where people are running much faster than usual, than expected, and it seemed relatively easy — it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced that!

      I blame the flat. πŸ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s