The Shark Bite Half Marathon in New Smyrna Beach, FL was NOT supposed to be my first half of 2016. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to run any half marathons in January. My first half was supposed to be Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor, FL but the race gods had another plan.
I had planned on heading up to Jacksonville, FL for the Best Damn Race 10k on January 16 but due to WAY too much traveling in December and not enough time off from work I decided to stay home. Well then I saw that Natalie’s OJ was giving away an entry to the Shark Bite Half Marathon in New Smyrna Beach, FL. I wasn’t exactly prepared for a half marathon but if they wanted to send me to a half marathon that was 20 minutes away from my mom’s house for free I’d be okay with that. Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later I found out that I won. Lol. I guess I WILL be doing a half marathon in January.
The week leading up to the race had me a little nervous weather wise. The temperature was supposed to be nice and cool, but there was a really big chance of rain. Initially it was supposed to rain the morning of the race. Then it was supposed to rain the night before. Florida weather is unpredictable at best, so the race organizers were just watching it daily and planning to make whatever changes were necessary. Saturday afternoon they stated the race would go on rain or shine as long as it was safe.
The worst of the weather arrived around midnight and you would have thought there was a hurricane outside. Around 5 am I checked Facebook and there was a post stating that the start time would be delayed by two hours. The weather should be clear by then and the tornado warnings would be lifted. I reset my alarm for a later time and went back to sleep. When I walked out the door two hours later it looked beautiful – you never would have thought a nasty storm had rolled through just a couple hours early.
I arrived at the race start about an hour before start time, found a place to park, and picked up my race packet. The weather was nice and I just hoped it would stay that way for the race. I met up with a blogger friend before the start and planned to stay with her group for the duration of the race. I wasn’t exactly prepared and thought they’d be able to keep me motivated and on course (I was right).
The race started and as we headed out we saw that some dark clouds had made their way back to our area. Uh oh. As we came over the first bridge and finished mile 1 the rain start… and boy did it come down. This was the first time I’d run a race in the rain and I was not happy about it. Pair that with the wind and the cooler weather – I was FREEZING! Thankfully the rain didn’t last very long, just long enough for us all to get nice and wet.
The course was beautiful and I think they did a great job of keeping runners near the water and off the beach. Unfortunately many of the races along the East coast of Florida are run on the beach and I personally HATE running on the beach. This one stayed off the beach completely!
I stuck with my new group of friends through mile 10 when my legs finally decided that I needed to walk a bit more. Miles 10 & 11 were right into the wind and it was taking a lot out of me. I was so happy to finally hit the turn around point and know that the wind would be at my back for the last two miles.
I finished as strong as I could and even though I didn’t get a PR, I did finish 18 minutes faster than I did at the Rock n Roll 1/2 in Las Vegas. Sweet! I collected my HUGE medal, met up with my new friends for a few minutes, and then hightailed it to my car. I was chilled, tired, and hungry and all I wanted to go was get in my car and turn on heater.
Thanks to Shark Bite for a great first year event! And thanks to Natalie’s OJ for sponsoring me!