Jacksonville Gate River Run: Race Recap

Hi there and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It is also one of my very best (womb) friend’s birthday today, and even though we’re not in the same city, I’m celebrating her today! Happy Birthday, Holly! Love ya so much!

Now for a race recap. I rounded out a pretty relaxing Spring Break with a big running party in Jacksonville. Following a little trip to Thomasville, my mom and I, along with two other friends, headed to Florida for the biggest 15k in the United States. The Gate River Run is quite the exciting event. With more than 10 bands along the way and lots of crowd support, it is definitely a race worth checking out. The course weaves through downtown Jacksonville, beside the most beautiful houses along the river, and finally, over the Hart Bridge. Because of the crowds, I would say that this is not a race to try for a PR on. Just run for fun, and enjoy the view.

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To start off the weekend, we picked up a quick dinner from The Loop Pizza Grill. Race weekends always involve pizza in some way or another (we may or may not have eaten it 3 times this weekend), so my mom and I shared a Mediterranean pizza loaded with feta, spinach, artichoke, and tomatoes and a  Feta Mediterranean salad with feta, spinach, artichoke, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. Clearly we don’t hate feta and spinach. Even though the pizza before a race tradition could totally have some sort of placebo effect, we think it makes the perfect pre race meal to fuel us up for 9.3 miles Saturday morning.

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After settling into our hotel room on the top floor of the Hyatt in downtown Jacksonville, everyone crashed. Except me. Something about a race just keeps me wide awake. I think it’s a combination of excitement and fear of missing my alarm. Thankfully after only about 3 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling well-rested and ready to go. With running clothes on, I quickly ate a bagel before hopping on the shuttle to head to the start line.

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Once I arrived at my Wave 2 start, I put in my headphones and started to think about my strategy for going into the race. I was not adequately trained to run it fast, but I knew I had enough endurance to run the whole way and push over the bridge in the final 2 miles. No matter what, I wanted to make it over the “green monster” with no stops, so starting with this mindset gave me a goal to focus on.

Miles 1-4 were the hardest for me. My legs were feeling pretty sluggish, but thankfully, the heavy crowd kept me at a steady pace so I didn’t rush out from the start.  The first couple were through downtown, and then we got to the San Marco neighborhoods along the river. I wish I could’ve gotten pictures of some of the houses to show y’all. Absolutely beautiful. Once I hit 4 miles, I got in a groove, mostly because my music shuffle started playing all of my favorites in a row. We continued on through the neighborhoods, and by mile 7, we were headed toward the overpass leading to Hart Bridge. I gave myself a pep talk, queued Uptown Funk and Sugar, and hit the ground running up the bridge. I knew that once I hit the peak, the rest was downhill, so with endorphins and a huge smile, I picked up the pace to finish out the last mile to the finish.

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Whenever anyone asks about running, I always encourage them to run at least one race. The feeling of crossing a finish line is like no other, and I am always beaming at the end.

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After the race, I was able to meet up with a friend who had tracked me running through the 1st Place Sports app. This app allowed her to see when I crossed certain mile markers and sent details to her phone when I crossed the finish line. From a social media standpoint, this technology allows for connectivity no matter if your cheering squad is at the race or not.

When I finished, I headed straight to the food trucks where I ate my first Acai Bowl! It was quite possible the greatest and most satisfying post-race food on the planet. I’m hoping to find an acai smoothie pack somewhere around Athens so I can recreate the heaven that was in that bowl and tell you all about it. Post race relaxing is the very best, and we took full advantage of the pool and got pedicures before seeing ELTON JOHN!!! Such a fun weekend, and I’d highly recommend checking out this race if you’re looking for a fun 15k.

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Again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂

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