Gulf Coast Half Marathon Pensacola 2012

Who watched Boston yesterday? I was glued to my computer, so glad to have the ability to watch live streaming! It was motivating and inspiring as usual and as far as the heat….I can feel their pain….

On Sunday, I ran my twelfth half marathon. I also ran one of my most difficult half marathons. I had several things going against me, and ran 11 minutes slower than my PR, which was at RnR New Orleans that I ran on expo legs and after running a half the weekend before. I knew I had a sub 2:10 in me, but it wasn’t meant to be for this race. Let’s backup first.

So Saturday after getting rear ended and going to packet pickup and dinner,




we checked into our hotel room.




I laid out all my gear for the next morning and we turned in early.



My alarm went off at 5:00 am Sunday morning, and the first thing that always goes through my head on an early race morning popped up…which is “why am I doing this again? I just want to sleep!” Never the less, we got up anyway and got dressed for the race.


do I look sleepy? It’s because I was!


We drove about ten minutes to the start, and had plenty of time to go to the bathroom, go back to the car and stretch, etc. We also got to park RIGHT by the start which was nice.

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We did a short little job by the beach and I had to get a picture with the water in the background.


um…doesn’t it look like that bird is about to attack my head?!?

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We heard the director on the loud speaker, so we made our way to the start. One downside to the race was they just have suggested corrals, so the closest we could get was about the 12:00 minute per mile “corral” area. Anyway, there were still a bunch of people behind us.

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The sun started rising over the buildings just as the gun went off. This would be the last bit of shade we would get for the entire race.

photo (8)

The starting temperature was 74 degrees with 86% humidity. Folks from dry places, 74 is a LOT different in humidity!

I told Bobby good luck, and we were off. I felt really good starting off, and felt like I was running “slow” for me, but we really running about a 9:30, so that made me happy, and I started thinking maybe I had a chance to PR this race.

Mile 1: 9:24

Mile 2: 9:57

Mile 3: 10:10

After mile 3, my right hip started slightly hurting. This is the pain I had during LAST year’s RnR Mardi Gras half, but I have only had it on and off since. It wasn’t hurting badly yet, but I knew it was going to make for a long race. I started getting really thirty and we still had not seen any gatorade, only water.

Mile 4: 10:31

I was still holding on at a pace I could PR with (evened out), but I was slowing down, and knew I wasn’t going to get any faster. We finally had gatorade at the next water stop, but I think it was too little too late. I choked down a GU, my mouth was so dry it took forever to swallow, and continued on.

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Mile 5: 10:54

The pain started getting bad, and I noticed a change in my gait. Then my left hip started to hurt.

Mile 6: 11:04

The sun and no shade was starting to get to me, and I took my first walk break. We were passing people coming back in, and I kept looking for Bobby, and finally saw him. I gave him a high five (and a thumbs down haha) and kept on going.

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Mile 7: 10:41

I hit the turn around and was able to slightly pick up the pace with the sun now behind me, I didn’t feel as much like death.

Mile 8: 11:59

My hips were throbbing by this point, every step was excruciating and I was having to walk for one minute every 3-4 minutes. I started getting very discouraged and just wanted it to be over.

Mile 9: 11:10

I tried to run until I literally wanted to burst into tears, and then I would walk until I thought I could start to run again, it was sporadic and random, but it was the best I could do. I took my second GU at the next water stop, wishing I had brought a third.

Mile 10: 11:30

I knew I only had a 5k left, and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew I still had a ways to go, but it didn’t seem quite as daunting. The crowd was thinning out a lot, and I was passing and being passed by the same people as we were all struggling to run walk.

Mile 11: 12:06

My worst mile. My surge knowing I only had a 5k left didn’t last long. This was the point where I knew I couldn’t PR, so why kill myself? Finishing two minutes faster and then collapsing at the finish line and ending up in t he medic tent is not exactly something I wanted to do, so while I did push myself, it wasn’t at a “kill myself” speed.

Mile 12: 04

Just trying to make it to the end without having a heat stroke. Really wondering if I can stop taking my thyroid meds that make me very sensitive to heat, but know that is not a good solution. My watch beeps for mile 13, but it is nowhere in sight. Crap. It’s a long course. I just want to be done! at 13.1 according to my Garmin I was at 2:24:36 which would have been my “real” half time. But I wasn’t even to mile 13.

Mile 13: 12:00

The crowd got thick and I decided to kick it in. I kicked with all my might, knowing the sooner I finished the sooner I could stop running. I briefly saw Bobby on the sidelines and I turned the corner into the finishes shoot, passing three people as I went. I realized I had left too much in the tank, but I really didn’t care. I crossed right with some other guy, and was so happy to be done!

I crossed in 2:26:20, Garmin distance of 13.29, which is 11:00 minute miles.


I found Bobby, who also had a very tough race. Between some foot pain and the heat, he ran a 2:13. (He can run a 1:56 if that tells you how the heat was affecting us!) We made it over to the post race party where they had red beans and rice and such, and ate, stretched, and told each other about our own races.

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We hobbled back to the car and then made it to the hotel.

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One last photo before a hot shower (we were covered in sand!)


Ok so here are my pros and cons of this race:


Gulf Coast series puts on a really nice race. There are three in the series, and this is my second one. It was very well organized, we had no problem finding the start or the packet pickup. Cute t-shirt, great finishers medal, great water stops, and awesome post race party. The course was beautiful and very scenic. I think under different circumstances I would have really enjoyed it. I will definitely be running the half in October in Mandeville again!


It. was. hot. and humid. This race would be amazing in late February early March. Please oh please move it for next year?!? I know the weather is not in the control of the people putting on the race, but I don’t think I can handle another hot race that late again. Not having Gatorade until mile 4.5 (if there was some before that I never saw it) was really tough for me. I wanted it from mile one even through I drank almost a whole bottle the morning of the race at the hotel. Would have been nice to have a mat/5k split time as well. I had several people following my splits via e mail and they got nervous when they never got one then all of the sudden got one at mile 7 or so.

But really those are minor things (other than moving the date) and I was pleased overall with the actual race, just not my performance! It was very humbling and kind of disappointing, and a good reminder that as a runner, we all have good days and bad days, and we can’t PR every time we toe the line. I am done with distances until the fall, and am going to focus on my speed and shorter distances this summer. In the fall, I am coming back with a vengeance. Mark my words.

QOTD: Have you ever run a difficult race? Whether it be due to heat (or cold) or an injury? Or both like me?

Also, a very happy birthday to my dad today!

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28 Responses to Gulf Coast Half Marathon Pensacola 2012

  1. 1

    You know, I really looked at doing that race. But man that humidity just sucks everything out of you. 74 with that humidity is more like 94. Nice job getting it done though!!!

  2. 2

    Congrats on your 12th half! That’s awesome to me…I’ve only done one and am pushing myself to sign up for my 2nd this Fall. Living in Orlando, FL YES humidity can definitely put a damper on your run! Training for my half I did an 11-miler on a super humid and sunny day and thought I might actually die. Good for you for pushing through it! :)

  3. 3
    Tara Burner says:

    I haven’t run a long race…yet…
    but wondering since I do love the heat & humidity and am used to it if I’d have any issues…hmmmmm I really need to get running

    you and Bobby did great :)

  4. 4

    good job toughing it out and getting it done. my first 10k was like that last year-the heat and humidity was horrendous. It was the first warm day of the year and no one was ready for it. I am planning to run the Mandeville race this year so I will see you there!

  5. 5
    Emily says:

    Excellent job toughing it out- this crazy warm weather all over the country is throwing everyone for a loop, just look at Boston yesterday. You perservered, and that it something to be just as proud of as a PR, in my opinion.

  6. 6
    Jen says:

    I’m so sorry you had such an awful race experience! You should be so proud of yourself for finishing though!

    I know you have it in you to run much faster than your PR. That being said, I wonder if running a 1/2 the weekend before and being tired are some of the reasons you PR’d in that other race? I know this makes zero sense, but I PR’d last weekend after running a 1/2 the weekend before, and I never got more than 3 hrs of sleep any night last week b/c of the baby. I know these are probably just coincidences, but interesting nonetheless!

  7. 7
    Carrie says:

    Yikes that sounds like such a tough race! I’m from up north so I don’t function very well in the heat. The one time I bonked really badly in a race was a duathlon that was later in the day, after the sun was fully up and it was SO HOT. My time was super slow. But I finished, and that’s the important thing, right? Congrats on your HM and pushing through!

  8. 8
    Alaina says:

    Last May I ran a half marathon in Boston and the weather was so warm and humid. I was struggling after the half way point. Finishing wasn’t pretty.

    Congrats on making it through with the tough conditions! Hope your hip is ok. :-)

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    Running in the humidity is killer – good for you for finishing!!

  10. 10

    Those medals rock! Glad you were able to finish. Running through pain is the worst and we runners are stubborn to stop. I’m glad you played it cautiously and were able to finish. Recover well and keep running strong.

  11. 11
    Laura says:

    Oh wow, that sounds really miserable. Heat and races do not mix at all! You definitely developed mental toughness pushing through it all, especially with some pain. Congrats on finishing! Hope your hip recovers quickly, too!

  12. 12
    Bonnie says:

    Wow…what a race! Great recap but I’m sorry to hear about the heat. Still looked like a good time if you’re able to let the overall time and pace go. It was wise to take it easy and I hope your recovery’s been good! Way to go for finishing – I’ve never lived in or raced in humidity of any kind, so I can’t imagine how tough it would be! Well done to you and your man! 😀

  13. 13

    The first race I ran after my first baby was a marathon relay. I had a 6.2 mile leg that started around mile 16 of the marathon course. It was on fathers day and was so blessedly hot that I nearly died and I was only running a fraction of the race. I marveled (and pitied) those running the full 26.2. But that’s our annual race for you, on father’s days every year.

  14. 14
    Emily says:

    Yikes!! I do not do well in the heat and definitely do not do well in the humidity!! Wow!! You still powered through and finished – not only with the humidity but with hip pain as well. Congrats!!

  15. 15

    I bet the heat is such a killer during a race. YOu pushed through though! And looked mighty hot (ha! pun wasn’t intended) doing it!

  16. 16
    Krista says:

    My husband ran this two years ago in 2:10 in lower humidity. He finished the WDW full marathon (doing the Goofy) in 4:26. He finished this race on Sunday in 2:47- almost 1/2 hour off his average half time. He said he thought he was going to get sick several times due to the heat. It was bad! But you are right, it would be a fab race in early March.

  17. 17
    Megan says:

    I’m sorry you had a not-so-good race — but it’s those ones that make you appreciate the good ones so much more! They also make you stronger – and ready to tackle the next one. Take the summer to relax, but work on your running – then you’ll be ready to shatter your PR in the fall!

  18. 18

    Way to keep pushing, Heather!! Seriously awesome. I know what high humidity can do to a usually nice temperature -> terrible!! I’m sorry to hear that you had some pain during the race…but you kept pushing – and that’s all that matters =) Maybe #13 will be your lucky race!!

  19. 19
    Katrina says:

    Girl, I ran the same race and had very similar problems. My hips are STILL hurting. My main problem was I was dehydrated before I even started. Glad you got through it. The beach was gorgeous! The sand blowing in my face…not so much. :)

  20. 20

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  21. 21
    Amy B. says:

    Congrats on pushing through all that pain, Heather! Wow. I’m sorry it was so terrible, but you did look great and those medals are soooo cool! I always love reading your race recaps, and this one was terrific. I loved your pics, too, especially the sunny ones and the ones by the water. I would love the opportunity to run by the ocean waters one day! I am running my first Full in Nashville, TN in a little over a week and the potential heat and humidity are making me very nervous. Hopefully, I, too, will be able to push through it. Congratulations again, thanks for sharing, and keep on keeping on! :-)

  22. 22
    Crystal says:

    yikes! That heat and pain does not sound like fun! Way to finish, though. Also, at least you looked smokin’ hot! Love the layered bras. Are you wearing the athletic skirt?

  23. 23

    […] Sunday: Half marathon number 12 […]

  24. 24

    […] With Sass provides a fantastic recap of the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola.  It looked very hot, but it looked like it was worth it to get those awesome […]

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