The 2015 Gate River Run 15K.. aka the really fun race in Jacksonville that was really freaking hot this year! Not that it really mattered to me, since I didn’t have a time goal this year. In fact, I went into this race determined to have fun and not stress over time so I made it my goal to PR in drink stops. Spoiler Alert – I totally hit my goal!
If what I’m about to say sounds familiar, it’s probably because I’ve run this race the last two years (2013 & 2014) and raved about it both times. While it’s hard to pick a favorite race, I think if I was pressed to do it, the Gate River Run would be my choice. I love that it’s a local race, put on by a local running store, that brings out a TON of runners and spectators.
Aleisha, Me, Andrea
Getting to the start line was a bit hectic this year. For some reason, I made a last minute decision to get off of 95 and take the Arlington Expressway toward the stadium to park. That was a mistake I won’t make again! Andrea was following me so we sat there for a while because I was scared with the congestion that I’d lose her if I turned and took side streets to get there. Finally I realized we’d be late if I didn’t, so we went for it and quickly found parking spots and made it to the Push America tent (where our friends were) with a few minutes to spare before we had to be in our corrals. Whew!
Jenn and I were in the same starting corral, so I found texted her so I could try to find her in the mass of people. I lined up with her and her hubby and we chatted while we waited until it was our turn to go. I told them about my plan to PR in drink stops and I think they thought I was kidding.. or half crazy.
It is usually hard for me not to get swept up in the crowd and start way too fast at a race. That was not the case this time. It was a little frustrating at the start because it was so congested and I couldn’t settle into a comfortable pace. Being surrounded by lots of runners isn’t a huge deal when you’re all running roughly the same pace, but we weren’t and I lined up in the back.. Long story short, it’s my own fault. I didn’t run a qualifying 5K so I wasn’t in the seeded corral. Lesson learned for next year, for sure! (And full disclosure, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with them this year!)
It’s hard to believe from the picture above, but things did thin out a bit and I was able to easily run with a bit of room when I needed to. We did have to walk a bit on the downhill part of the Main Street Bridge, where it narrowed to two lanes, but it wasn’t for long.
Once we made our way into San Marco, it was time to get serious about my PR. You know, as serious as you can be when you’re not being serious. I was on the hunt for mimosas, but instead I stumbled across the beer first. That’ll do!
I ended up pretty much ignoring the interval notifications on my watch and just doing my own thing since I was running / walking / stopping for pictures / giving out head scratches to the many golden retrievers / high-fiving kids like it was my job. I ran when I felt like it and walked when I felt like it. I chatted with other runners. Said thank you to lots of volunteers. It was probably the most fun I’ve had at a race. Running a fun, local race with zero pressure to hit a pace or time is definitely something you should do at some point in your running career.
And to be totally honest, I really have no clue how many times I stopped. I’m 100% sure it was more than any other race though so I’m saying it was definitely a PR. I know there were four beer stops that I remember, an ice pop, strawberries, some rice krispie cookie thing, orange slices, sausage..
At some point, I stepped wrong off of a curb and hurt my knee. It was one of those times when you do it and you’re like “Ow, that was not pleasant” but then it doesn’t really hurt to keep running, so you just keep going.
And then there was the Hart Bridge. I did zero bridge training so I mostly walked up the bridge. On the ramp going up, I saw Jenn on the other side of the road so I scooted over to say hi.
We griped about how hot it was and decided to walk to the top of the bridge together. I forgot to mention that, but it was crazy hot. I was really glad I wasn’t gunning for a PR because I would have been miserable. It didn’t bother me all that much since I was meandering my way along the course, but you could tell it was rough on those who were pushing it.
We made it to the top and decided to run down, so we split up again. In hindsight, we should have just stuck together for the whole race, it would have been more fun! We ran into each other again as we came around the stadium and stuck together until the finish line. We crossed one second apart
I love when the finishers chute is lined with spectators like this – I high-fived several kids on the way in and nearly tripped over my own two feet trying to reach two little guys that were tucked in right by the timing mat.
My official finish time was 1:56:52, which is slower than my normal slow. It’s kind of frustrating for me to look at it and know that I could have run much better, but I keep reminding myself that speed was not the goal of this race. Running for fun was the goal.
Jenn and I were going to stop for pictures, but I had to get back to the tent to meet up with Adam so we could take Braden and Mackenzie over to do the Junior River Run.
Neither of them wanted sunglasses.
The plan was for Adam to run with Braden and for me to trail behind them with Kenz in the stroller. When we made it about 3/4 of the way through the mile, I got a stabbing pain in my knee, the same place it hurt when I stepped off the curb wrong earlier. Ouch.
Kenz didn’t care, she had her eye on the prize and told me to run faster. So I did. I’m a sucker for my kids. We kept up with Adam and Braden (who finished the mile in just over 10 minutes — I’m impressed!!) and stopped just before the finish line so she could get out of the stroller and run across the finish line on her own.
We walked back over to say goodbye to our friends and to get a good look at Aleisha’s Top 10% hat. We’d been telling her for a few weeks before the race that she’d earn one and she didn’t believe us. Right before we went our separate ways to line up, I told her I couldn’t wait to see her hat at the finish line. She insisted she wasn’t going to get one. I love being right 😉 One of these days, I’ll earn one of those hats too!