I've wanted to run the Blue Angel Rock n' Fly Half Marathon for the past two years. It finally worked out for me to run it this year. This race is capped at 3,000 participants. Proceeds from this run go to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.
We arrived late Friday afternoon and went straight to Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola to pick up my race packet. Packet pick-up was quick and easy. There wasn't much to it, no expo or merchandise for sale that I noticed.
It was pouring rain and thundering all Friday afternoon and night, and it showed no signs of stopping. The race directors did an awesome job of communicating with us about their plans for race day. As of late Friday night, the race was a go. They stated they would make a final decision early the next morning. I prayed the race wouldn't cancel due to severe weather, but I was prepared to get wet if it went on.
God answers prayers. The rain cleared out completely and the sun was shining on race morning. It was a beautiful day for a race.
The race started at 8:00. I was worried about traffic getting on the Naval Air Base and parking, so we left the condo in Orange Beach early. We got to the base around 6:40. We had no trouble getting on the base, but we noticed a few cars being pulled over in the lane beside us. They warned us that we would be subject to random searches.
There was plenty of parking across from the Radford Gymnasium, a short walk from the start line. I went in the gym to use the restroom. It was packed. Several runners were getting their race packets, but most of them were in line for the restroom. I stood in line for what felt like forever, but I was finally able to go. As I was walking out of the restroom, I heard them announce that they were closing them down due to back up. There were some porta potties near the start line. I went one last time before lining up at the start line. The lines were long and I'm sure all the runners weren't able to go before the race started.
I ran into my friend Valerie at the start of the race. We chatted while we waited to start. The start line was awesome. We watched the color guard perform on the huge Jumbotron. There was supposed to be a fly over, but unfortunately they had to cancel due to the weather. They made a few announcements, performed the National Anthem on the electric guitar, and then we were off.
I wore my Half Fanatics singlet because this would be my last of 4 half's in 28 days. After this race, I would moon up to Saturn. I remembered why I love being a Half Fanatic during this race. I received lots of support and cheers from fellow fanatics on the course. "Go Half Fanatic" they cheered.
I had no real time goal for this race. Like the other races in my streak, I planned to take it easy and run by feel. I wanted to take plenty of pictures on the course. There would be lots of photo opportunities.
The first two miles ran past the National Barrancas Cemetery. The crowd spread out and I was settling into a comfortable pace.
Mile 1- 10:00
Mile 2- 9:38
Miles 3 through 8 were a down and back route along Blue Angel Parkway. We ran past the Naval Air Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse, and Sherman Cove. I saw a group of motor cycles bringing in the lead runner across the street when I reached mile 4. That was probably the best lead vehicle I've seen.
Mile 3- 9:31
Mile 4- 9:28
I caught up to Valerie just past mile 4. I liked her pace and I wanted to try to stick with her as long as I could. We didn't talk much on the course because we both said we were digging deep to maintain that speed. She helped me push myself until we got separated at a water stop around mile 8.
Mile 5- 9:39
Mile 6- 9:51
Mile 7- 10:02
Around Mile 8, we ran past the Officer's Club with a Blue Angel plane out front. The biggest crowd of spectators cheered for us around Mile 9 in front of Radford Gym. We were back to where we started with music playing on the large Jumbotron. I caught a glimpse of the finish line to the left. The temperature was rising and all I could think about was how badly I wished I was crossing that finish line.
Mile 8- 9:40
Mile 9- 10:17
Miles 10-13 were down, around, and back. We ran past the Navy Chapel and the US Naval Aviation School then along Murray Road. We circled around a marina before heading back out on Murray Road, passing the same sights before making the final turn towards the finish.
Mile 10- 9:44
Mile 11- 10:14
Mile 12- 10:56
Mile 13- 9:14
I looked at my Garmin and figured if I could make one final push to the finish I could come in under 2:10. I was so thrilled when I crossed the finish line in 2:09:01, my best half marathon time of the year. Michael gave me a high five at the finish. Then, I received my medal from a group of Marines.
I chatted with Valerie more at the finish. I also got to meet some IG/ blogger friends Jodi (My Kind of Fit), Rick (My Life on the Run), and Esmeralda (Mrs.Incredible). I love how I've connected with new running friends through blogging. I also chatted with some half fanatics while waiting in line for my official results.
Rick, Valerie, Me, and Jodi
Me and Esmeralda
I love the t-shirt and medal!