Vacations and half-marathons go hand-in-hand, right? When I opened my eyes, looked at my phone, and it said 4:58 a.m., I wasn’t so sure anymore. I mean, who really wants to wake up at 5:00 a.m. on their first day of vacation? But, that little part of me that couldn’t wait for this race had me springing out of bed even before that annoying alarm went off.
The entire family made it to Destin for this year’s annual trip. As usual, sis and I can’t seem to get together without throwing a race in. Sadly, we missed the 30A half-marathon this go around, but we managed to find another half to take its place.
The Wicked Triple Fun Run weekend was hosted by Run with It – our favorite local running store in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It took a little digging to actually find this particular race – there wasn’t a whole lot of advertisement – but we did find it on the Northwest Florida Track Club website. They offered a 5K, a 10K and a half-marathon. If you were able to do all three races, you got a super cool t-shirt commemorating your accomplishment. Because of when we arrived in Destin, we were only able to tackle the half.
So, as I rolled out of bed at 4:58 a.m., I got dressed as quietly as I could, and headed downstairs to grab some breakfast. Usually, I’m not much of a fan of eating before running, but when it comes to 13.1 miles, I know nutrition is a must. This time I decided to try something new – not exactly a genius idea on race day, but I knew I could tolerate all of it on a typical day with no GI issues, so down the hatch it went. I ate an apple with peanut butter and a small bowl of oatmeal. I didn’t feel full. In fact, I felt just right. I might be on to a new pre-race meal.
After sis got something to eat, we headed out the door. We weren’t too worried about traffic at this time of the morning on a Sunday, but we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there just in case. We needed to pick up our race packets, use the bathroom and of course needed to leave time for pre-race pictures.
As we suspected, the race was a small one. All in all, there were about 200 participants. Fortunately, there was plenty of parking at The Landing Park in Fort Walton – which is directly behind Run With It – and where the after-party was going to be held.
The race start and finish, however, is held on the street that runs between Land Park and Run With It. If you have any spectators coming to watch, I would suggest they park across the street at Publix – you can’t miss it – and just walk to the finish line. That’s exactly what we told our group and it worked out perfectly.
As the race started, we took off and I felt absolutely fantastic. Sis suggested we try a different way to tackle this race. She suggested we try a 4:1 – run four minutes and walk one. Since this race was all for fun, I was up for anything. Honestly, in the beginning, it felt… well, dumb. But, we were just experimenting, and I was willing to give it a shot. I knew I had miles to give and walking at just after the first four minutes felt a little silly. However, we stuck to it. It was a little tricky at first. Poor sis had to keep track of our time and sometimes we got a little off during miles – usually when we were deep in conversation, solving all of the world’s problems, as usual, but we kept moving. We managed to do this throughout the entire race. Honestly, it’s not a bad method. If anyone reading this is thinking running 13 miles sounds too daunting, you should give this a shot. It offers just the right amount of walk breaks to give you a bit of a boost when you start hitting miles in the double digits.
The terrain in this race is ah-mazing. Everything is flat – which was probably my most favorite part of all. As you run through the local neighborhoods, you’re shaded under great, over-sized oaks and other trees. There is hardly any traffic, and if there is, the locals are there to wave hello or wish you good luck.
Just before the halfway mark, the Destin Running Club was out on the street, handing out beer and wine to brave participants. They were a fabulous group, too. Since this was a Halloween-themed race, they were out there in costumes, excited and energetic as we passed by.
As sis and I hit mile 8, she hit THE WALL. She was about to throw her usual mile 8 tantrum when I suggested we start Face-Timing people. I’m not sure Face-Timing actually did the trick this time. But we kept pushing forward.
Hubby and B were at the finish line, as were both grandmas and little P. I think this is just what sis needed to keep moving on. As we rounded the corner, the very last turn to the finish, we could spot our family just head. Hubby snapped a few quick pictures and then jumped right into the race, urging us to keep moving until we crossed the finish line.
By the time we crossed, the after party was in full swing. A keg with beer open to all participants was ready for the taking. There was a stage set up at the far end of the park, overlooking the bay, where live music was being played.
After taking a lot of pictures, we stayed for a while, had a drink, watched the awards being given, and then slowly made our way back to the car.
And then, it was finally now time to start our vacation.
HALF MARATHON RACE TIPS:
Parking – you can easily park at the Landing Park. The crowd isn’t too large so you can easily leave once the race is complete.
Spectators – they can easily view you during the entire course if they want. If they would rather see you cross the finish line, have them park across the street at Publix – since the road will be closed for runners at the Landing Park.
NOTE-WORTHY RESTUARANT IN THE AREA:
Lulu’s – atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. The first time we tried this place, we fell in love. It’s a huge restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating that sits right on the water, complete with a beach for the kids to play and live music every night. Recently, after making a stop here twice, we learned that the owner is Jimmy Buffett’s sister. With the incredible casual ambience, we now can’t come to Destin without visiting Lulu’s.