Two weeks ago, I ran the Best Damn Race Safety Harbor 10K + 5K for the very first time. There was supposed to be a half marathon the next day, but, sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. The two races I did complete made up the BDR “Double Challenge,” and 9.3 miles is nothing to sneeze at. Here’s how it went.
Meghan and I arrived in Safety Harbor in the early afternoon. We were renting a house with two of Meghan’s other friends and dogs. It was located just off the main street and in easy walking distance to pretty much anything we wanted to do. Perfect.
Expo + Packet Pickup
The Best Damn Race Safety Harbor Expo was located in the waterfront park behind the Safety Harbor Resort. The finish line and after-party were in the same place, while the start line was around the building in front of the resort. Easy peasy.
We arrived literally as the expo was opening, which meant we were among the first to get our things. I was still pretty exhausted from the drive, so I wasn’t at all mad about not having to deal with lines or crowds.
Runners got a great tote bag, a Best Damn Race Safety Harbor singlet, their bib, wristband for alcohol at the after parties, and a few other goodies. Since we were planning to run the Triple Challenge (the 5K, 10K AND half marathon), we also got a nice trucker hat in there.
We dropped our things back at the house, and then went to have dinner. I wasn’t starving but managed a burger and a whiskey and diet Coke.
What was even nicer was that the downtown area closed to vehicular traffic, leaving the main street open to pedestrians, live music, vendors, drinks and food. This happens the third Friday of every month, and it’s just so cool. I wish we had something like this where I live.
We headed back to the house to put out our race outfits and have another drink before bed. I didn’t have much – I was more interested in sleep!
I knew from the minute I opened my eyes I was off my game. My ears and sinuses were so clogged, and I just couldn’t get my head right. It’s a terrible way to go into a race, and I was so upset.
We all walked to the expo area to use the restrooms, and then rolled around to the start line. Since we lined up with literal minutes to spare, there weren’t a lot of pre race photos or hanging out.
We started with the 10K at 7:05AM. The start line was busy but not packed, and Meghan and I easily found ourselves with plenty of room. We could see the sun rising over the water to our right, and I snapped this photo.
Which is also when I rolled my ankle on the side of the road. Like an imbecile. Yes, I was fine (although it hurt all day), but it scared the heck out of me. I think I even filled up with tears.
All along, our plan was to take it easy with Saturday’s races: run when we felt like it, walk when we wanted. Our goal was to get through the 9.3 miles and make a strong effort for the half marathon. However, Meghan wasn’t feeling it. The weather was awful. And we had some logistical issues with the house the next morning (we had to be out by 10AM, instead of 1PM as we were originally told, and with the dogs and luggage, it was going to be impossible).
We used our 6.2 miles to decide to just have fun for the rest of the day and blow off Sunday.
The course was beautiful. There were lovely houses, water and trees for the viewing, and of course, there were plenty of water and electrolyte stops along the way. Best Damn Race Safety Harbor certainly lived up to its name.
We crossed the finish line for the first time.
The 5K was scheduled to start at 9:00 AM, so we grabbed our medals, a beer, and found the rest of our group.
At this point, it was was just hot and humid, and our little group was feeling it. We took that 5K easy. It just repeated half of the 10K course, so we moved along on auto-pilot. In fact, we took it so easy, that we placed a mobile order at the Starbucks one block off the course, and crossed the finish line, holding frappacinos.
Was it fast? No. Was it hilarious?: Yes. I have zero regrets.
And then it was time to enjoy the after party.
The After Party
At that point, my ankle realized what had happened two hours prior and was really giving me a bad time. I was angry, frustrated, and embarrassed. My toxic trait is that I hate showing weakness, especially in front of people I don’t know well, and so this stung quite a bit.
We had some snacks and drinks. Best Damn Race Safety Harbor is no exception to the “best damn” descriptor, so there was pizza, fruit, chips, sweets, frozen yogurt, and chicken and rice bowls, among other things. We could also choose from beer, spiked seltzer and vodka cocktails, as well as water, Gatorade, Coke, diet Coke and Sprite. We planned on lunch right after the race, so I didn’t fill up too much. In fact, I just wanted to sit and nurse a cold beer. It soothed my ego.
I wish I felt up to enjoying a little more, but that was ok. We hung out for quite some time (the party never stops at Best Damn Race!),
and then went for lunch. Yum.
I. Love. Safety Harbor. I would love to go back and run Best Damn Race Safety Harbor again, but also stay and enjoy the town a little more. It’s just such a great vibe, and right up my alley.
If we are being honest, I bit off more than I could chew in this case. It all worked out, and I could have finished the half marathon, had the situation with the house not come up. Itt just wasn’t worth the anxiety and stress, especially when we were having a good time.
At the end of the day, Meghan and I always have a fabulous time, no matter what happens on the race course. I can’t wait for our next adventure!
Did you ever overcommit to a race event? Ever been to Safety Harbor, FL?
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