Monday, March 26, 2012

Gate River Run 2012: A learning experience

I did it. I finally ran the Gate River Run, one of, if not the premiere run in the Jacksonville, FL area. It's 15k around my hometown and I bombed it. Hard.

There were lots of things I did wrong in the weeks leading up the the race, the week of the race and the day of the race. It was just rough - but it was all entirely my fault, which bums me out to no end. I guess there's no better place to start than a few months ago when I decided to run my first River Run.

You know when you decide to do something, you have to prepare, right? Well, I started out thinking "Yes! I'm going to train for this thing! I'm going to kill it! I'm going to be amazing! Just call me the Gate River Run Champion!" and I asked my awesome friend Chrissy (Remember Chrissy? She ran the MS Blues Marathon in January when I did my half!) to come up with a training schedule for me and everything. I was ready. I was going to kick some Gate River Run booty!

Mom and Dad's house
Yeah, that didn't happen. I didn't train at all really. I went on a few runs, but life kept being allowed to get in the way, I was sick the week before the week of the race and basically, I just didn't do what I should have. No one to blame but myself, to be perfectly honest. Must do better next time.

Next, this was my first time traveling for a run so I guess I didn't really prepare for the toll that the flight and driving would take on me. I flew into Orlando where my dad picked me up and we drove almost two and a half hours home to Romeo (my parents live in a log cabin, how cool is that?). The next day, I drove 2 hours to Jacksonville and spent the night with my friend Becky (more on her in a minute). The next morning was time for the race! I think I squished myself a little too much with my travel plans. Next time, I'm getting into the town where the race will be held by Thursday!

I mentioned my friend Becky up there; she's an inspiration. She's lost 150+ lbs on Weight Watchers and has taken up running. She's just an amazingly positive person. I'm so blessed to know her. We went to the Expo together on Friday then out to Mexican for dinner (*back to this in a moment*) and I spent the night at her house that night. Her bright, bubbly, personality was so sweet to wake up to the morning of the race. It was her first 15K - first anything over a 5k, actually - and it was definitely a killer one to start with. Becky is amazing. I'm so proud of her.

Let's get back to Mexican food and another thing I learned during this race. *TMI ALERT* Mexican, if you're not ready for it, is probably the worst choice EVER before a race. Don't do that. You'll stand in porta potty lines and screw up your time. Don't do it. LISTEN TO ME. *END TMI* I will never eat something that I don't have a proven track record of awesome with the night before a race. NEVER. AGAIN. I had to stop twice. I probably added 10+ minutes to my time. It was awful. I don't do porta potties. These porta potties were on the side of the freaking road. NEVER. AGAIN.

Moving on - socks. I got huge blisters during my half marathon in January, why I didn't think I'd get them again, I have no idea. But of course, I did. After the new round of blisters, I've invested in some running socks (finally). They're the best socks I've ever worn in my entire freaking life. They're DryMax Hot Weather socks and those stripes you see? They keep your feet cool and the blue keeps the moisture away so you don't get blisters! God's gift to my feet, I tell ya. I wore them for the St. Paddy's Day 5K in downtown Jackson and my feet felt amazing afterwards. DryMax? You're my hero.

Okay, back on track, the main thing I learned from this 15K was that training isn't optional. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in every single post I've ever made about a race. I've got to train. I've put up a Craigslist ad looking for training buddies in the area (because none of my friends run) and I'm crossing my fingers that I get some nibbles soon. Hopefully I can get some people to train for another half marathon with me - and maybe I'll actually run most of the way!

All in all, the Gate River Run was not fun for me at all; but I learned a few good lessons that should move be forward with my running stuff, so that's good. I also have a pretty low bar set for next year's race, so I should be able to beat my time, no problem. Oh, and I got a spiffy medal.

I'm told you people like pictures, so here's a few randoms:

The Gate River Run is famous for the "Green Monster" Hart Bridge. The bridge is only available to run over for races and it was so cool to run over a bridge that I've literally crossed over thousands of times in my life. It's definitely tough to climb, but the views from the top are amazing.  

My Granny passed away a few years ago, but I remember that one of her favorite family restaurants was this place, Beach Road Chicken. It is a little piece of her right at the bottom of the Hart Bridge. When I got there, it was like she gave me a kick in the butt - exactly what she really would have done - and told me to suck it up and make it over the damn bridge. And I did. Thanks, Granny. I ran up on this place at the right time.

People who have run the River Run all 35 years are called "Streakers" - I found that out AFTER I saw this guy. I was worried he'd get naked.
It was a hubub of excitement before the race. Becky was glowing - but she always is. So excited!

Me, finishing up my first Gate River Run
Hot, right?

I'll see you again next year, Gate River Run! I'm coming at you with a plan to kick some butt! SEE YOU IN 2012!


  1. Good job girly! It takes lots of practice and lots of time. I'm not there yet either. :)

  2. Hey, with each race you learn something new. This race you learned that Mexican does not equal a fun race. I might save you a blog post next time and suggest you avoid Indian, too.

    But those socks look amazing! I want a pair. And congrats on finishing a 15K--it's impressive regardless of the time!