The cat’s out of the bag. I’m moving across the state from the upside of Florida (Pensacola) to the other side of Florida (St. Augustine) in just three short weeks.
I began falling for St. Augustine (and one of its inhabitants) back in March during my spring break visit and have been back and forth across the state quite a few times since. And well, the rest is history.
Along with this move to America’s oldest city, comes new opportunities in both the writing and foodie realms. It also brings about new terrain for running. With this change in scenery comes a shift in my fall race plans. Truthfully every time fall rolls around I have at least one major race plan that shifts, so shifting things this year comes as no surprise. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, after all.
As for this fall, rather than pushing to complete another full marathon before year-end, I am focusing my efforts on the St. Augustine Half Marathon, taking place Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. The half marathon is part of a two-day family weekend that includes a 5K, 10K and free kids race held the day prior, Saturday Nov. 15. Produced by Miami Tri Events, this weekend offers a lively yet close-knit experience, with an expected 3500 participants.
If you are in the market for a runcation this fall or seeking out a half marathon that isn’t overwhelming in size or price point, this one is worth considering. Here are 5 reasons I am especially looking forward to participating in this weekend event and encouraging you to come join me!
1. Runcation Worthy
St. Augustine, Fla. sits on the East Coast of Florida, less than an hour south of Jacksonville, and less than two hours northeast of Orlando. It’s under a five hour drive from Charleston, South Carolina, and roughly six hours from either Atlanta or Pensacola. My point is, for those located across the Southeast U.S., this event offers a feasible opportunity for a weekend getaway. For those located beyond driving distance, this event offers a wonderful excuse to visit St. Augustine.
Regardless of where you are departing from, St. Augustine has nearly 450 years of history worth experiencing, and some deliciously inviting eats of the vegan variety, a few of which I documented during my spring break recap. For lodging, there are numerous bed-and-breakfasts downtown, a couple of hostels (including the budget-friendly Casa Yallaha), and quite a few Air BnB options. Not only does the downtown feel entirely European (which happens to be one of my favorite characteristics), it’s readily walkable, and the Atlantic Ocean is just minutes away.
Between shops and eateries, downtown St. Augustine’s historic streets, such as Aviles, beg you to walk up and down, while taking notice of the intricacies.
2. Inviting Scenery
St. Augustine offers inviting scenery both off the course, as well as on. During my time in St. Augustine this summer, each run I’ve taken has given me something new to take notice of and helped me get to know the city better with each step. With the start line nestled in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, the half marathon course leads you by the Castillo De San Marcus National Monument just after take off, before carrying you over the Bridge of Lions and down Anastasia Island via scenic state road A1A. The 312 bridge, marking the turnaround point of the half marathon distance, offers a view of the entire St. Augustine area.
The 5K, 10K and half marathon courses take you alongside the Castillo De San Marcus National Monument and waterfront.
3. (Lack of) Elevation
One major appeal of this half marathon course for many (including myself) is its lack of elevation. Although there are two sections of hills in bridge form for those completing the half distance, after 26.2 miles of constant rolling hills during the Nashville Country Music Marathon, I consider this race to be virtually flat, meaning I can focus on time (and you can too). The lack of hills also gives your legs a break. The proximity of the race to the water means there will be a guaranteed sea breeze, which on the way back toward downtown is sure to be at your back.
The iconic Bridge of Lions. (Not pictured: the lions. Also, one assumes the drawbridge will be down during the race).
4. Mild Temperatures
True, Florida weather is notoriously fickle but November is noted as the driest month in St. Augustine. Hooray! November also means no more humid 90 degree summer days. In fact, Northern Florida is known for having its first chilly snap move through right around Halloween, meaning chances are the temperature will be mild at the start line. Generally, in November, daily highs range between 70 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit and lows between 53 and 61 degrees.
Uninterrupted sunshine beams above the Castillo De San Marcus National Monument.
5. Family Focused
Organizers of this event have set out to make it a time that is not just family friendly, but family-focused. This family weekend event helps cultivate a bonding time over a shared love for running and motivates those participating to train together. The event also seeks to provide parent-athletes the chance to share the love of running with their kids. Since my own personal running relationship is innately tied to my relationship with my marathon-running parents, the family aspect hits close to home. My mom was waiting for me at the finish line of my first full marathon in Nashville in April. This time she plans to join me in St. Augustine for a destination weekend and participate in either the 5K or 10K Saturday, meaning we get to cheer each other on two days in a row. In between races you can surely find us loading up on vegan eats around town.
My mom posing on the pedestrian bridge in downtown Nashville, after watching me finish the Country Music Marathon in April.
Run with VOTR
There you have it! Plenty of reasons to come run with this vegan in November!
Ready to sign up for the St. Augustine Half Marathon? Save $10 off of your Half Marathon registration fee by using discount code: STAUGCLUB
In need of a training plan to help you build your base? Check out my 8 Week Base Training Plan to help get you started on the right foot.