(Photo Credit: Ricky G)
I don’t know if you know this, but I love to run, and I love to run with friends. I met Jodi and Rick when I ran Mercedes in February, and had such a great time, that I decided to join them in Pensacola, FL for the Rock N Fly Half Marathon. After all, I had just wrapped up the Chattanooga Marathon and needed something to cure my post race blues.
This race fell on a Saturday, which was new to me. All of my previous races have fallen on Sunday. So Friday night, we headed to packet pick up. This was not your typical packet pick up. It was at a local restaurant/pub, so there was no expo. We picked up our packets, and were out the door to go eat. We dined at O’zone, a local pizzeria. Ricky G swears the place is haunted (former hospital mortuary turned restaurant), but Jodi reassured me that it was actually a former hospital cafeteria turned restaurant.
We ate. We talked. The waitress brought me a pickle spear on a plate. We laughed. We shared stories. Then we made it back to the house to get race ready. It was raining significantly, and there were rumors of a possible race delay/cancellation if the weather continued to storm. I can train and prepare as best as I could, but I cannot control the weather, so we were just going to do it. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.
4am came around way too quickly, and it was still raining. We were out the door by zero dark 30, and made it to the race by 5:30am! Yes! We were early! But I’d rather be early, then late. We hung out in the car, scrolled through social media, and did what we could to pass the time.
Daybreak came, so we got out of the car, stopped at the restroom, then stopped at Starbucks so that Jodi and Rick can get their coffee. We made it to the staging area, where I got to meet some superstars.
Running friends are the best kind of friends
Before we knew it, it was go time.
Starting line shenanigans with my favorites
The rain held off (hooray!) but it was hot and humid. Very humid. I was ready to ditch my sparkle skirt less than 2 miles in bc it became damp and heavy and got on my last nerve. The course was relatively flat, but slanted. I tried to avoid the side of the road, but run on the middle or the top, but so was everyone else. So my bad knee was already angry.
The course offered some pretty awesome sights. Not being in the military myself, meant I was able to see this for the first time.
Chasing Old Glory at the halfway mark
I started to lose steam approaching mile 10. My calves started to cramp as well. It was humid, so I made sure to hydrate. However, this is the first race I’ve ever done where Gatorade is not provided until the aid station near mile 10, and then we hit it again reaching mile 12. Hopefully this will change in future races because, as humid as this race was, it was necessary.
The final 5K took us through some rolling hills. Nothing too serious, but I was just hot and tired by this point.
Finally, the finish at 2:33:37. Which meant that I was, once again, 4 minutes shy of a personal best. At first I was disappointed, but now I’m not worried about it. I’m getting closer with each race, so I know that PR will get here soon.
At the finish, I ran into Debra/IG: HAPPYRUNNINGSOLE and loved chatting it up and getting to know her. Afterwards, we all got together for a sweaty selfie because it’s what runners do.
We then said our goodbye to our new friends, headed home to shower, and then out to eat. We visited the Ruby Slipper Cafe in downtown Pensacola, then walked around the beach and local shops.
We then went back to the house, where exhaustion started to set in, and we were all falling asleep by 9pm. Overall, it was a great race and trip. Beautiful course, full course support, great volunteers and entertainment. I can’t wait to do it again.