Today's Mighty Oak

Sarasota Music Half Marathon



I headed south to see my uncle and aunt and run the Sarasota Music Half Marathon. race report and pictures after the break!

Race Information

Goals

GoalDescriptionCompleted?
AHave funYes
BThank the volunteersYes
CCheck into my Southwest flightYes

Training

I didn’t specifically train for this race, my uncle had really wanted to watch me run a race, so I swapped two weeks in my training plan for Eagle Up and flew south for the weekend to see him and my aunt.Pre-race

My parents also came down for the race, but they had not flown in a long while. Instead of flying direct to Sarasota (the dates wouldn’t have worked anyway) on a discount airline, we flew to Tamp and drove the hour south. My uncle complained it was cold in Tampa, but the weather was great for running, and a nice change from Pittsburgh. I enjoy flying, and saw some cool art along the way as well!

On the way to rental car pickup, Tampa International

Pre-race

Packet pickup was fairly easy at New Balance. I heard a lot of people complain on the race course about the shirt color (burgundy), but I liked it. You’ll never please everyone!

The race starts at 6:30, and my family seemed surprised by this fact, so they dropped me off at the start line at the performing arts center and went back to grab a nap before coming to hopefully see me at the end of listen to some of the music. The race advertised 18 bands on course, I didn’t count, but they probably had at least 12, not sure if they hit 18.

The race advertised tons of portos and even designated ‘pee trees’ along the route. I had questions. Were they marked? Were there pee tree marshals? Is this where I would find a date? What had I gotten myself into? Was I about to become a ‘Florida man’?

Ultimately, there were 12 portos for 3,000 runners and no pee trees. No portos along the route either, it was really a disaster.

Art outside the Van Wezel (start/finish line)

We began to gather and line up in the corrals where I met some lovely runners who had lived in Sarasota about a decade, but moved from Boston. It was her first half so we chit chatted and I wished her lots of luck and fun. And then we didn’t start.

No idea why, my guess is some issue with the timing software, but what was supposed to be a staggered start for the half, 5K and 10K became a delayed free for all about 20 minutes after the half was supposed to start.

Race

Lots of congestion and confusion at the start, but nothing too terrible. We weaved our way through the city and then to the Ringling bridge to go out to St. Armand Key. At the top of the bridge was an awesome marching band and along the way out there were two Episcopal priests dishing out some holy water.

St. Armand Key is really pretty (although I did keep thinking of The Birdcage based on the name) and I tried to get some pictures of the statuary scattered about the circle. As I came back, I pulled my phone out so I could check into my flight the next morning. I was successful as I was climbing the bridge and put my phone away (after grabbing some sunrise pictures) to enjoy the rest of the race. This was the only hill in the race, and it’s steep, even for a bridge, so my running Pittsburgh was a big help here!

Mile 5 is a neat detour under the bridge through a little park and then you hang a right past a statue of the Sailor kissing the woman (you know, the famous one that we’ve now discovered the two were strangers so it was actually sexual assault. That one).

Right around this time I made a my first friend of the course (well, besides the people I had been chatting with at the 10K split and before the start)! He was going for sub-2 and while I told him I didn’t think I could pace him to that, I would at least keep him company for a while. He tucked in and we chatted, him talking about Sarasota, me talking about Pittsburgh and off we went.

At mile 6 we picked up another friend as we turned the corner at the Botanical Gardens (previously the race has gone through them, but this year it did not), and as we went through some of the residential areas, we ended up becoming a pack of five runners.

I did my usual shtick: telling jokes, talking with spectators, and keeping everyone entertained as we ticked off miles (running should be fun!). We passed a few more bands, one of which was comprised all of young kids, maybe 11-12 and we made sure to cheer extra loud for them!

I tried to keep my little pack together, but kept losing them after water stops, and eventually, it was down to just one other runner and me. She eventually faded as well, and I felt bad that I didn’t get my friends to a sub-2, but I’ve only run that once anyway, and didn’t this day, either (but it also wasn’t my goal).

Ran through what I didn’t realize was the beer mile (I thought I was getting some sort of Gatorade), took a sip and put the rest of it down. At this point in the morning, there’s a lot of traffic on the lanes that are open, so I did a lot of waving to people stuck in traffic! Made my way back to the start/finish and tried to politely correct a woman who was wandering into the course to take photos without looking at the runners racing towards her.

Ringling Bridge in the distance, a substantial (and the only) hill!

Post-race

Crossed the line, grabbed a water bottle and then tried to find the rest of the finish line festival, which was hidden behind the performing arts center with no signs to point us in that direction. On my way, thanked the man who had raced in a shark costume (and asked if he was left shark or baby shark), and he complimented my (rainbow) shoelaces.

Besides the beer on the course, everyone also gets two free beer tickets. I grabbed one, then got in line for breakfast food, which was provided by First Watch. Grabbed a plate of bacon, some chia seed pudding and a banana (had to steer clear of the pancakes due to dairy).

Finally got to go to the bathroom and then found my family who had missed my finish by probably about a minute. We headed back to my uncle’s home and I got cleaned up before we spent the rest of the day in the city.

There are legit problems with this race, and they already announced new management for next year. Some people also complained that their GPS read 13.3 miles, but that’s just tangents (the people complaining that there’s read 14.9, I have no idea what they did), but the lack of sufficient bathrooms is a real, real issue. The cost, for what we got, was absurdly high; the late start, the lack of communication all means that I can’t recommend this race to anyone. Lots of people on the course said this would be the last year they run it due to all the issues.

All in all, for me, it was a good tour of the city. I can pretty much enjoy myself and make friends wherever I go, but this was a poorly organized race, and the city deserves better.Sarasota

Sarasota

We spent the majority of the day at The Ringling! John Ringling (of circus fame) left his estate to become a museum and it is host to his palatial house (Ca’d’Zan, meaning House of John), rose gardens, classical and modern art galleries, sculpture garden, circus history museum, glass pavilion and the largest miniature circus in the world on permanent exhibit.

Ca’d’Zan, no pictures were allowed inside the house

It was the last day of an art show so we got to see all 12 of the Lego Chinese Zodiac pieces, and they have a life-size replication of The David. It was an amazing day and I’m so glad I got to spend it there!

Year of the Rat from “Zodiac (2018) Lego” by Ai Weiwei

Made with a new race report generator created by /u/herumph.

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