Clearwater, Florida

State #28

Location: Clearwater, Florida
Half: Run Clearwater Half Marathon 
Date: January 26, 2020
Finish Time: 1:30:18
Pre-run meal? PASTA – Spaghetti with grilled chicken! And some wine, of course! 


We’ve made somewhat of a tradition of traveling south for my mom’s late-January birthday – and yet – somehow – no matter HOW FAR SOUTH WE GO – it is ALWAYS unseasonably cold. I get it, I get it, it’s January – it’s SUPPOSED to be cold. But like, 40 in gulf shores, ALABAMA two years ago followed by 30-40 in ARIZONA last year – followed by 50-60 in SOUTHERN FLORIDA this year? WHAT GIVES?!  ANY SUGGESTIONS ON SOMEWHERE WE CAN GO THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, BE WARM NEXT YEAR WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED! 

Anyways, the weather was just a tad bit chilly, but at least the sun was shining the whole time we were there! We arrived LAAAAATEEE on Friday – like 2 in the morning late. We quickly made our way to the Air B&B (or not so quickly, since we got lost approximately 4 times) and settled into bed in our beautiful air B&B (check out the pictures below). The best part? We slept with absolutely no alarms set. 

We woke up feeling rested and ready to explore Clearwater! First stop: breakfast at a local spot. After fueling up, we took a long walk along the shore – spending some sacred time catching up on one another’s latest life updates. It’s these moments that are so incredibly special during this journey: the moments when time stops and I get to actually spend one on one time with someone who I love so much. We don’t notice how little time we spend doing this until it’s too late. 

After a long sandy-toed, cool, sunny, beach walk we went into town to pick up my race-packet. Now. Keep in mind that I was SUPPOSED to do the 5K on Saturday night… But. After deciding that what I really wanted was to spend some more one on one time with my mom, we decided we would simply walk it together instead. We went out for an early dinner at a local Italian place so I could get my carbs (remember everyone – big LUNCH and small DINNER), anyways…. well, we totally missed the entire 5K as we sipped our win and twirled our pasta into our mouths bite after bite. Oops. At least it wasn’t the main event!

To wind down for the evening we decided we’d go see a movie – but not before OBVIOUSLY stocking up on – you guessed it – MORE FOOD. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up raisinettes, gummy bears, ice cream bars, starbursts.. yeah. It all just happened so quickly! Darla assured the clerks that we weren’t high, a classic Darla move. We had decided to see a movie called “Parasite” because it had UNBELIEVABLE ratings on Rotten Tomato… like a 99%… what the heck?! I have legit NEVER seen a 99 percent on there – so, obviously, we HAD to see it. As the subtitles spread across the screen during a preview for another movie, my mom whispered, “can you imagine?” – referring, of course, to the idea of watching an entire movie in subtitles. I couldn’t. Well. Until I could. 5 seconds later the movie started, and, lo and behold, it was entirely in Korean. LITERALLY ALL SUBTITLES. The movie ended up being amazing, regardless of the mental exertion it required to keep up with the plot. We finally made our way back to our place around 10:30 – tired, and with a belly full of chocolate and gummies, I fell fast asleep. 

The race started at 7 AM. To be honest, at first I thought this was ENTIRELY too early for us to be starting, especially in the chilly January weather. But. As the race began, I understood why it had. As I was running over the long stretch of bridge connecting these strips of land, beads of sweat accumulated on my cheeks, and I was greeted on the other side of the bridge by a cotton-candy sky painted blue, purple, and pink as the backdrop to palm trees surrounding me on both my right and left – the body of water engulfing the piece of land I was now stepping onto. Each race is different, and this one began with a chunk of approximately 20 racers taking off and pacing themselves at a super-quick speed. In that group were approximately 12 men and 6 females (myself included). I knew there were SOME DAMN FAST LADIES when I realized I could only see one of them up ahead at mile 3. I hadn’t looked at my watch to pace myself at all yet, but I was running with two men who seemed to be going at a solid clip. So I just trusted them to carry me along for a bit. 

As I made my way to the halfway point, I had to make a decision. I had been pacing myself with these men for the first half of the race, but I had slowly realized that they might be going just a tad too slow for me – which makes a huge difference when it’s a tad too slow for a tad too long (like 7 or 8 more miles). I had to pass them. Which is ALWAYS intimidating because you don’t really know if you can sustain that quicker pace or not, or whether you’ll have to now pace yourself on your own, without them, or anyone, around you. I decided to do it and made my way around them with a burst of speed that sent me hundreds of feet ahead. Now I was alone. Which is ALWAYS the worst in a race this long. I tried to keep my speed, but was getting a bit bored by the fact that there were no people around me. Finally, I saw someone up ahead and picked up my pace to keep him in my sights. YES. I was back on track…

Until mile 12 that is. When we went BACK over that huge-ass-bridge which I totally failed to notice was so high the first time. I barely made it up that hill you guys. No fucking joke. I had been moving at approximately a 6:30-6:50 minute pace per mile and QUICKLY slowed my ass down to about an 8:40 when trying to tackle that thing. It added 2 minutes onto my overall time, but I didn’t care, because after that hill I was in the clear and the finish line was in my sights. I crossed the line and squeezed my mom in our traditional post-race hug. I ended up with a time of 1:30:10 – which is approximately 6:55/mile. I finished first in my division but 6th female overall. I was ECSTATIC. This race PROVED to me that I CAN consistently perform under 7:00/miles – which is something I had NEVER believed would be possible for me. 

The post-race celebration was AMAZING. We started with breakfast and LOTS OF MIMOSAS. Then transitioned to the beach to relax in the sun for a few hours. After this, we did our own version of the Indian Shores bar-crawl and made our way to a local brewery called Mastry’s (highly recommended) among a few other bars and pubs. While we played connect 4, sipped on our flights of local beer, and dealt a few hands of Rummy, we both got the news update: Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash with his daughter. While I am not huge on sports, and don’t personally follow him, this news symbolized everything about this trip. We NEVER know when we won’t have time with the people we love anymore, we NEVER know what tomorrow holds, we NEVER know when someone could be taken from us, and we NEED to stop and appreciate the moments when we get quality time with those that we love. Every single moment that we can take with those we care about. I love you so much mom, and I am SO thankful for you every single day. Happy Birthday! Thank you for supporting me in State #28! ❤️

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