A 5:30 a.m. wake up call.
Coffee in the dark.
Watching the sun slowly rise up to greet the day.
Nervous energy boxed up, ready to be released.
National Anthem blaring. Hands over hearts.
Feet inching closer and closer to the start line.
Bending down and checking your laces one last time.
The rush that envelops your entire body as you take off, step by step.
These are feelings each runner gets to know all over again, at every single start line.
These are feelings I will never grow tired of.
This time last week, I was “Revving up to Race in the Ancient City,” and eagerly awaiting my mom’s arrival in St. Augustine.
Though the St. Augustine Half Marathon Weekend has come and gone, it’s now time to relive the details and document them while they remain fresh. Recognizing it’s impossible to capture each and every moment, here’s my attempt at recapping this bright and beautiful, mother-daughter race weekend.
Saturday: 10K Replay
Having my mom come visit me in St. Augustine to do something she never planned to do again (run a 10K) filled us both with all kinds of excitement and sentimental feelings. This photo taken bright and early Saturday morning before my mom’s race, genuinely captures her eager spirit.
After parting ways with my mom at the start line, I jogged over toward the bay so I could have a clear view of her running through downtown and toward the Bridge of Lions.
Here I met up with Andrew, and together we watched her run by fort Castillo De San Marcos and across the Bridge of Lions. Then it was time to wait for her return.
Although my mom didn’t set out with a time goal, I had full faith she could cross the finish line in just shy of an hour. That’s exactly what she did, finishing strong and smiling at 59:11. When I saw her come around the final corner, my heart raced with excitement, and I sprinted toward the finish to meet her there.
Upon viewing the official results, we learned she placed first in her age group. After a coffee trek, we returned to the finish area in time for her to hop on the podium.
My mom has always been “Number 1” in my book. Without her, running wouldn’t be a driving force in my life. She is living proof that age is only a number, and that you can do anything you put your mind to when you believe in yourself, and live by faith. My mom is an inspiration, not only to me, but to women everywhere.
A NOTE FROM MY MOM: “Rewind to May 2, 1981: Fiesta 10K. 43:03. Age 32. (Pre-Sarah). My Personal Record for a 10K (Still my PR). Fast Forward to November 15, 2014. St. Augustine 10K: 59:11. Age 65. My PR for the second half of my life to date. 33 years of life experiences. Numerous 5Ks and 10Ks and half marathons, and eight full marathons. Followed by years of running and coaching kids of all ages, including my own Sarah Kathleen. This past weekend was the most glorious running experience I could ever imagine. What could be better than to have my own daughter watching me run and encouraging me to do my best on Saturday, then for me to have the pleasure of doing the same for her on Sunday. When she decided to do the half marathon, she asked me if I wanted to do the 5K or the 10K, and I was hesitant until she encouraged me to go for the 10K. I am so proud of her, and knowing that she loves running just as I do, makes me eternally grateful and excited to plan another mother-daughter running weekend very soon.”
Sunday: Half Marathon Rundown
Despite feeling more exhausted than amped Saturday evening, as soon as I opened my eyes at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, I found the energy I needed and it was go time. My sentimental feelings from Saturday were instantly replaced by my own nervous energy that carried me from the start line, all the way to the finish. I upheld my goal of running how I felt and finished strong with an official time of 2:05:32.
THE COURSE, OF COURSE
Like the 10K course, the half marathon course started in downtown St. Augustine, leading runners alongside the bay and then over the Bridge of Lions onto Anastasia Island. The course took us through my familiar island stomping grounds, and even included a scenic tour of Anastasia State Park.
Although most of the course was flat as a [vegan] pancake, there was one particular portion that had me antsy in the days leading up to the race—the 312 Bridge. This over and back two-mile portion of the course was certainly a challenge; however, I made my way up and over the bridge, and up and over again, without slowing down too much. Andrew captured this view of me at the mile six turnaround as I headed back up and over for round two.
Can you spot the bird jersey?
ALL STAR SUPPORT
Between my mom and Andrew, I had the best support crew I could ask for. When they met me at the foot of the 312 bridge, I spotted Andrew scurrying to unroll something that appeared to be a banner. He claimed he was at school late on Friday afternoon due to grading. Really he was doodling the most amazing sign I could ever dream up. He even made sure the Oiselle birds were on there.
All I could ever hope for in a partner (in relation to running), is for them to a) not think I’m crazy for loving running b) understand that running is an integral part of my being. Andrew has jumped leaps and bounds beyond this hope without even trying, since before we were even dating. Although he wasn’t physically present for my full marathon in April, he was with me every step of the way in spirit. Having him there this time both in spirt and in person made the experience extra special.
After meeting me at the midway point of the course, Andrew and my mom ventured over to the finish line, well in time for my arrival. Andrew had a tambourine in hand, shaking it vigorously and shouting for me as I came around the last corner and picked up my speed, while my mom sprinted in with me alongside the finish chute.
Also supporting me during the run was my running partner and friend, Brenna. Before making the move to St. Augustine, I was concerned I wouldn’t have any support from fellow lady runners. Brenna has made sure that is far from the case. Not only has she been training with me, she ran the last three miles of the half marathon by my side, offering me moral support and entertainment when I needed it most.
GETTING OUTDOORS (AND STAYING THERE)
Following the race, I felt the need to give my sign some extended time in the sunlight. So I displayed it in the front yard for the world to see (or at least my neighbors).
Sunday afternoon, we took advantage of the abundant sunshine and headed to fort Castillo De San Marcos so my mom could experience its glory for the first time. Spending time at the fort is on my list of favorite outdoor activities in St. Augustine, hence why I included it in a piece I recently wrote, titled “10 Ways to Get Outdoors in St. Augustine.” The top of the fort makes for a great spot to relax and soak up the sun, while enjoying a bird’s eye view of downtown. Plus if you time it right (like we did), you get to experience a cannon firing.
Fact: Although we’re most at home in athletic-wear of some sort, we runners can clean up pretty well, and do so quickly.
Quick rewind to the first time I visited the fort with Andrew back in April. It was before we were dating, and only the second time I visited him in St. Augustine. He took me to the top of the fort to hear a band called “Future Talks” play. (Okay, so there was no actual band, but we treated the entire weekend of events like a music festival). Anyways, I cried during the “Future Talks” set because I’m lousy at verbally sharing my feelings without emotions involved. And then a tourist took our photo. Needless to say it’s a winner and it will never be deleted.
Flash forward to Sunday. I’ve been [technically] dating Andrew since the day I turned 27 (June 2), and I now call St. Augustine home. No emotional tears this time. Just sunshine and dancing. Here’s me doing what I will refer to as my “I just ran a half marathon and now I’m hanging out on top of the fort with two people I love in this beautiful ancient city I call my home” dance.
It’s clear that Andrew has become the master at capturing me at my best.
Fuel & Firsts
Before winding down this recap, here’s a quick look at the fuel that carried us through the weekend, as well as some firsts that were experienced along the way.
PRE AND POST RACE EATS
- Friday: Friday night’s home-cooked menu featured quinoa with mushrooms, tofu, broccoli and onion. These veggies were sautéed/steamed on stovetop with a light amount of water and Braggs Liquid Aminos. I mixed in some Daiya Cheddar shreds at the end and drizzled our bowls with a sweet onion dressing to serve. Dinner was enjoyed outside on Andrew’s back deck alongside a fire.
- Saturday: After loading up on vegan muffins, coffee, and fresh juice from the Old City Farmers Market for lunch, followed by a hummus and pita snack mid-afternoon; by nightfall, we decided to pick up food from one of my favorite local eateries, The Back 40 Urban Cafe. Instead of my usual burrito, I opted for a brown rice (Island) bowl topped with avocado, black beans, green onions, jalapeños, and cilantro, and smothered in Annie’s Goddess Dressing.
- Sunday: Sunday we ate all the food we could get our hands on, starting with La Floridita, a new favorite brunch spot in town. Here we enjoyed smoked tempeh and quinoa-packed breakfast burritos. By mid-afternoon, we snacked hard on more hummus and pita. Later for dinner, we did something that I only do a couple times a year. We splurged on multi-layer veggie burritos from Taco Bell. I’m unashamed to say that after an endurance-filled weekend, those burritos hit the spot.
Race Fueling Tip: While I always support loading up on the good stuff, like veggies and quinoa, my biggest fueling recommendation for the days leading up to a race is simple: don’t deviate far from your regular track. Meaning, don’t eat anything you wouldn’t eat normally. Go easy on your stomach. You don’t want to send your digestive track into shock.
AND FINALLY, THE FIRSTS
This weekend brought about quite a few firsts. As a female athlete, starting my period the day of a race is something I’ve always dreaded, yet something I knew would happen eventually. After all, it’s a fact of life and womanhood. Sunday during the half marathon, it happened. It wasn’t the end of the world, nor was it the end of my race. At no point was the pain crippling, that is, until the finish line. After collapsing on the grass for 30 minutes while my support crew waited patiently, I was good to get up and go for the rest of the day.
Now for some pleasant firsts. Sunday was my first race since the marathon. It was the first time I represented the Oiselle Flock sporting my bird jersey during a race. It was the first time my mom and I have ever participated in two separate races in one weekend. It’s the first time my mom has come over solo to visit me in St. Augustine and stay with me at my new place. And it’s the first time either of us has participated in the St. Augustine Half Marathon Family Weekend.
The thing about firsts is that they kick the door wide open to make way for seconds, thirds, and many more.
In this case, I’m rooting for many more mother-daughter experiences together in the ancient city and beyond.