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Essay: The Day I Won the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K

By November 3, 2022 No Comments

February 20, 2022. It was Seaside School Half Marathon race day. My pesky alarm went off at 4 AM, but little did I know that I would set a personal record and be the 1st place overall female winner of this magical half marathon.

My usual race morning routine consisted of a scalding hot shower, mini muffins, some ab exercises and leg swings, and blasting Britney Spears. I was in the zone.

The town of Seaside, Florida, is well-known as the picture-perfect American dream beach town that was the live set for the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey. I had only been living in Florida for six months at the time and I was in awe of the beauty of this gem of a beach community.

The race day start temp was 45 degrees, but I still had my Wisconsin blood in me and was not bothered by the cooler temp. To prep for the race, I did an easy one-mile warmup along the emerald colored ocean near the race start line. I was feeling pretty pumped for the race. Three weeks prior I had just qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time and won a marathon in Alabama. However, I was determined to set a half marathon personal record at Seaside.

I peered down at my Garmin running watch and it was fifteen minutes until showtime. Time to line up at the start line! Double check my shoes are double knotted: done. Go in my head one final last time of race strategy: done. The clock was counting down. No turning back. The race is the reward and your day to make your own history.

The gun went off and I locked my eyes forward, relaxed my shoulders, and focused on my breathing and cadence. I could tell there were a lot of fast runners at this race, but I told myself to run at my pace and not worry about what others were doing.

The first 5K I paced conservatively at an average pace of 6:57 minute mile. The rolling hills of the course were surprisingly not that intimidating! I started picking up the pace and gaining confidence as I soured through the town’s pastel-colored houses featuring porches and white picket fences. At the 10K mark, one of my running friends who was helping pace runners on a bike was cheering me on and exclaimed, “You’re in 3rd place now!”

I couldn’t believe how FANTASTIC I felt! I continued to gradually pick up the pace and plucked off the 2nd place woman. I saw the 1st place woman about .2 miles away from me and I was gaining on her. One of my other friends running the race screamed, “Go catch her, Rach!” Other runners who I did not know were also cheering me on.

Hitting on the gas at a 5:50 min avg. mile, I clenched first place female around the 8-mile mark and never looked back. I felt like I was a bird! For the first time in a race, I had a biker escort pace me to the finish line. I told the kind woman, “This is the fastest I have ever ran!” She was so excited for me.

Time was just melting away and the ocean breeze and soothing surfs in the distance were energizing. I saw the finish line in the horizon and the crowd screaming in the near distance. I exclaimed, “Oh my god! I am going to set a personal record! I didn’t know I could do this today! I am going to win!!”

Official race finish time: 1:25:47. 1st Place Female Overall. I also smashed a 6+ minute personal record!

Let me tell you, this race had the BEST post-race party consisting of delicious paella and shrimp, thirst quenching beer from Grayton Brewery, rocking live music, and the most heartwarming part was that all the profits from the race went to the Seaside School Foundation which benefits the public charter school Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School! It spawned the existence of my running alter ego known as a “crazy running Florida woman.”

Here is what this half marathon & 5K offered me and can offer you:

  • Ultimate Runcation Destination
  • PR Running Setting Course
  • Awesome race swag and post-race party
  • Running for a great cause that benefits the Seaside School

What are you waiting for? Sign up! See you in February 2023 at the 21st annual Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K! Register today at https://runseasidefl.com.

Rachel Kennedy

Author Rachel Kennedy

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