NOTE: I have not proof’d this to make sure there are no misspelled words or grammar errors. So please forgive any 🙂
It was early. It started out cold. It got hot quickly. There were tons of costumes in the mix including some full body cover it all up kind of costumes. There was a new way to start the race, and a brand new finish line that I thought worked perfectly. And beer. There was a lot of beer.
It was the 2014 Gate River Run, and it was amazing.
The day started out cool. Marisa (who was riding with me) and Heather (who drove her own car, but followed us in) were both complaining about how cold it was, but it felt awesome to me. Being that I run hot anyway, I knew it was going to be awesome. I had to meet the Channel 4 team by the Jaguar statue by 7:30am in order to take group photos. Since we were a major sponsor, a lot of us decided that this would be the big race for the station runners. There were easily almost 30 of us running, including a lot of people interested in walking the 15k.
While we were at the Jaguar, waiting for photos, Kat was texting me to let me know she was on her way to meet us. This race is HUGE for Jacksonville: easily the biggest race for the city beating out the Donna Half Marathon and the Jax Bank Half. Being that it’s the largest 15k in the nation says a lot. We had Olympians and famous running faces at the First Coast ready to run this insane and fun route. She got to us before the photos, and helped us take a bunch of photos, and then it was prep time.
Well, I got prepared. The others were seemingly calm and collected. I was nervous. I felt unprepared and just not right. I wasn’t going to be listening to music, because Kat promised me that she would talk my ear off the entire 9 miles and music is my safe haven (as we all know.) On top of that, I was just feeling off. (which we later learn was the beginning signs of sinusitis…again.) But with the optimism that was pouring from the other three was enough to keep my self doubt at bay. For now. We hit the bathrooms one last time and then headed to the corrals.
We heard the lead females go. We listened to the National Anthem. We heard the first corral of seeded runners go. Then the second corral of grey bib runners go. Then we filed in and got ready to go. The purple corral, runners expecting to keep a 12-14 minute pace. And then our cannon went off and we got to go.
Just before mile 1, I ran into one of my co-workers complaining of a side stitch. I told her how to fight it and she took off running with a “thanks!!” tossed over her shoulder. Just after mile 1, and before the main street bridge, we saw our first face plant. A fire fighter, who was in our corral and running the race with full gear on, had stopped to help her. Not long after that, Kat needed to find a green tardis (also known as a port-a-potty)
The race that started out cool and comfortable to me got hot quickly. Kat kept chatting with me and getting me to talk so I could try to keep cool and relaxed. As we headed toward Atlantic Blvd, we found a “green Tardis” (read: a port a potty!) and Kat took the short line as a chance to grab and go… Atlantic Blvd is always the worst part of the race for me, so I welcomed the break. That portion of the race is out in the direct sunlight with no shade options, and with a clear blue sky? I was certain I was going to be dying. And of course, I was.
When we hit Orange Ally which is this stretch of neighborhood covered by tons of trees and has tons of amazing people living there being amazing to the runners trampling their street. One family was handing out popsicles which I adore. A kid was standing on a step stool with the hose going and spraying us with water. I ran through that. They were out of oranges by the time I got there, but a couple of the houses handed out orange slices to the runners. That neighborhood is my favorite part of the race. They are just so supportive! One lady was handing out cold wet wash clothes, and I wish I knew who she was because I want to give her a giant hug. That cold cloth, wiped all over my arms, face, and neck, cooled me down significantly. (No medical tent for me!!)
When we hit the bridge I knew the main challenge of the entire race was right ahead of me. Kat pushed me to run (or slow jog really) up that Green Monster. We started pacing the speakers they had there, and I started chanting the military chats that they had started to play. I LOVED that update. It helped with my breathing so much! Kat was able to keep me motivated to cross that finish line strong, and we crossed holding hands.
The new finish line was pretty fantastic. I liked how we were corralled forward with much more space for all the runners. We got water, and our medals, and then the people there kind of shuffled us out of the tent as swiftly as possible. That was a little annoying, but hey. I got a medal and some water and finished the Gate without dying. I’ll take it!
Kat ran off to find her family, and I ran to find my own Green Tardis before meeting up with Heather and Marisa. We enjoyed the after party for a while before Heather headed out to get to work and Marisa and I get to my place for breakfast made by Dreamboat. I ended up learning that our finish time was just OVER 2 hours, not just UNDER it like I wanted, but hey. We had fun and that was all that mattered!
Beer is carbo loading. Fo Sho!!
Amazing sunrise! When it was still kinda cloudy that is.
Jamie and Marisa!
Heather being a model of some kind.
A Blogger like me! Yay!!
I found a fork in the road… GET IT?? GET IT?? 🙂
Me and my girl Courtney! She’s rocking that starry tutu!
Channel 4 running team (minus like… 5 of us)
Maris and I
More Channel 4 runners
Heather, Me, Kat… in that order.
Eric and I have SO MANY photos of us together like this. We run together too much 🙂