The 2nd annual Best Damn Race was held again in Safety Harbor. This race was founded by local runner, Nick Zivolich, to provide the big race experience for runners at the local race price.
My sister participated in this race, the 10k specifically, last year and had a lot of fun. When it was announced that Best Damn would return to Safety Harbor, I took this race into consideration and register back in September before I was even considering running a half marathon.
I was very nervous about this race upon registering, not about the race in general, but about the mileage. I could successfully run 3.1 mile; however, to add on another 3.1 miles was a little nerve-racking but registering for this race was what I needed to motivate myself to increase my mileage. When I heard my friend Sam had registered for this race as well, I was super excited to have a running partner.
I loved that I was able to keep up to date on the design of the medals and t-shirts, course map, etc. through the various social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram. The event organizers even planned out multiple packet pick-ups, which made it convenient for me to pick up my packet at a local fitness store by my place. What I loved even more was the timing of the pick up events, with the event being held from 4pm to 8pm, so I did not feel rushed leaving work to race down to the pick up site. I must admit, I was thoroughly disappointed that I was not able to get my t-shirt at the packet pick up due to a holdup with the vendor. While I do not generally wear the race shirt the day of the event, there was the inconvenience of having to battle the mob at last minute registration day of the race for my shirt and then them not having the size I requested.
Having remembered how difficult it was to find parking last year, I knew we had to get there early. The race was scheduled to start at 6:45am, so we arrived just after 6am and boy were all the local lots filled up. Thankfully we found parking at a small park just down the road from the start line so Sam and I did not have to make a long haul before the race. As we made our way over to the start, I informed Sam of my medical issues surrounding my asthma, and if for any reason I had to stop for my inhaler, I wanted her to keep going in order to meet her goal time.
Upon approaching the start line, we were hit with a sea of runners as the 10k had sold out! We made our way through the crowd to find our spot in the start line and got our music selection started. Soon enough the start time came and went and the gun had yet to go off. All of the runners were just standing there as time went by, first 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, and 15 even 20 minutes. Meanwhile, race officials were making announcements on the cause of the delay but were having technical issues so only those at the very front could hear the announcement. I found out later, a van carrying the volunteers for the course had broken down and delayed getting the spectators in their positions. Just over 20 minutes after the designated race time did the gun sound off signaling the start of the race.
After experiencing some chillier weather at the start of the week, followed by 2 full days of non-stop rain, it was 63 degrees with an uncomfortable 100% humidity level. The course took us along the water, giving us a beautiful scenery for most of the race. There was a bit of dense fog off the harbor mixed with the high level of humidity that did not blend well with my asthma. For reasons like this, I carry my inhaler on me and I had to slow down to a walk to get my breathing back on pace. Once I was able to get back on track, mile 4 and 5 had a good incline that really worked my calves.
While this was not a PR for me, I am proud of myself for completing the race in 01:10:20 and for staying under the average pace time of 11:30/mile needed to complete my half. However, I am more proud of Sam for completing her first 10k and completing it just under her goal time.
Just as with any race, there are hiccups. What really amazed me about this race and helps it to earn the title of the Best Damn Race was the fact that not even 12 hours after the race had race organizer, Nick, posted a novel of a status on Facebook, followed by an email, addressing issues that he felt were essential to him as a runner. He address such topics as the delay in the order of the t-shirts, the delay of the start time and other pertinent details. The fact that Nick took the time to take responsibility, shows just how much he cares about providing the best race experience he can and makes me that much more excited to run the Best Damn Race again next year!