Panama City Beach Half Marathon Recap on TOLT

Half Marathon December 3, 2016

Half Marathon Training

I’ve never been so relaxed and excited for a half marathon. Relaxed because my last one was a PR and excited because it would be part of a Girls Weekend with seven other awesome runners/bloggers.

That being said, there was not much serious training going on.

These three runs would have do as my long runs. I ran my usual 3-4 miles several times during the week.

Pre-Race Preparations

Holly has run this race before and she recommended it so I trusted her.

The race emails also made the race seem so fun:

Come run on the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.

What other race has an after party at Jimmy Buffer’s Margaritaville where you’ll receive free beer and gumbo?

All runners will receive a long -sleeve t-shirt and swag bag.


I had decided to wear what I wore at my previous Florida half marathons (tank and skirt) with a possible throwaway and DIY arm warmers.

Holly graciously offered to let us stay in her cute little house on the water in Panama City Beach.

view from Holly’s house

Once everyone arrived on Friday, we took an obligatory sunset group pic and then we took off to Dave & Busters to pick up our race shirt and bib.  It was super easy and took no time at all.  Next we headed to a nearby restaurant to carb load for next day.  We choose a pizza place and I was in heaven.  (I even had gelato for dessert.)

Then we drove back to Holly’s and headed right to bed because we had a half marathon the next morning.


We stayed up and chatted and chatted… So much fun getting to know each other.  Although we had been reading each other blogs for years, I was surprised to find out all the things we had in common and how supportive, friendly, warm and fun-loving they all were. I knew already that this was going be a great weekend.

Thanks to Wendy for our Momentum bracelets

and to Holly for the fuzzy socks!!

Race Day

The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 am. So we got up around 5:30 am.  I had my usual oatmeal/tea breakfast that I had brought from home.

Everyone was so excited for the race. Coach Marcia led us in some stretching and then off we went.

This was my 7th Florida half marathon.  The weather has been warm, cold, windy, or humid.  For this race:, it was cool (50s) but not too cool, a little breezy, with no humidity, and it was overcast. It couldn’t have been more perfect.  No need for throw-away clothes for the first time in a while.

me and Holly modeling our Skirt Sports skirts

Holly lived only a few minutes away from the race start.  How great was that? And there was lots of parking and real restrooms.

Before we knew it, it was time to snap a quick pic (There was lot of picture taking on this trip.) and squeeze in among the other runners and start the race.


As you can see from the map above, the route is out and back right along the beach. It is also FLAT! Woo Hoo!

The race is a blur as usual but here’s how I remember it:

Miles 1-4:

9:40, 9:46, 9:53, 9:47

Wendy started out front.  Holly, Karen & I started out together.  Tricia & Mary Beth were a little behind us. Judy and Marcia were behind them somewhere.

I was feeling very strong at the beginning.  Holly dropped back for a while so Karen & I ran together. Eventually Karen started to slow and run at her own pace. Holly, who is much faster, sped on ahead too.

I did not try to keep up with Holly but I enjoyed watching her up ahead. I focused on running at a good yet even pace.  And surprisingly, the hotels did not block the water view as much as I had feared.  I always enjoy the salt water smells and views of the gulf when I run. So this race did not disappoint here.

It seemed breezy during the first few miles and of course, we were running into the wind. Did that mean that the wind would be at our backs for our last tired miles? (Nope. Didn’t happen.)

The course also had water & Gatorade stops at EVERY mile.  It was not warm so I did skip the first one but after that, I thought it best to stop and I used them as a walk breaks.

Miles 5-8:

10:07, 9:47, 10:01, 10:27

Unfortunately, my usual foot pain did rear its ugly head.  I had mole skin on the bottom of the foot but it seemed to have moved and the rest of race, it felt like I had a ball under my foot. UGH! It was not debilitating pain just annoying.

What I enjoyed about this race was that it was an out and back.  That meant that I was able to cheer on and high five all my friends when they passed me by or when I passed them by.

I saw everyone except Marcia and was very happy to see how well they were running.

As for me, my first half time was great.  I knew if I could keep it up, I would PR!  Perfect weather & a flat course…why not?

Spoiler alert – it did not happen 😦

Miles 9-12:

10:19, 10:18, 10:23, 10:17

Did I go out too fast?  Did I not have enough long runs during my training?  Did my achy foot slow me down?

Who knows? But after 7 miles, things started going south.

I started slowing down.  I could not keep my pace under 10. My lower back started bothering me.  Still I was enjoying the race.

But doing the math, I realized that I could no longer PR.  So I just ran and walked when I was tired. Why kill myself??

Mile 13-14:

9:52, 8:28


After I crossed under the Pier Park arch, I saw my friends cheering me on, I tried to speed up and drag my tired legs through the finish line.

I crossed at 2:11:xx.

Right after me, Karen finished and soon after that came Tricia and Mary Beth.  They had all run so well. In fact, Tricia and Mary Beth had PRs.  (Congrats to their coaches, too!)


Mary Beth & I made the newspaper!!

Wendy & Holly had finished earlier with amazing times.  We all walked over to the computer to print our results.

Believe it or not, my chip was defective and it did not record me running the race. UGH!!!

It worked out fine, though.  They were very nice and manually added my Garmin time into the computer.

Garmin Time: 2:11:18


So we walked back to the course so we could see Judy finish.  And she ran a great race and finished with a big PR.

Now it was time to head to Maragaritaville to get our free beer and gumbo.

They were also giving out awards there.

And guess what?  I won FIRST in my old lady age group.  Age Groups Rock!

Post Race:

Of course, we were starving after running 13.1 miles so we had lunch at a nearby restaurant.  The restaurant was conveniently located so we could watch and cheer on the marathoners who were still out on the course.

We were all on a race high for the rest of the day. 

the water was chilly but it felt good after running 13.1 miles!

yes, we did this on ONE take!

After numerous photo shoots on the beach, we took off our medals and resumed our celebrating at a karaoke oyster bar. 

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • Organized packet pick-up.
  • Lots of parking at the start and close by to where we were staying
  • Real bathrooms before the race.
  • Running a race with 7 friends.
  • Flat course with water views.
  • Lots of water stops (every mile)
  • No major injuries (just the usual foot & back issues)
  • Free beer and gumbo (or chili) after the race.
  • Perfect weather conditions.

The Bad:

  • Water stop at mile 8 ran out of water.
  • Margaritaville ran out of gumbo and there were runners who ran 26.2 who had to settle for chili.
  • I didn’t push hard after I realized that I couldn’t PR.

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really.

Would I recommend this race?

Yes, definitely.

I have run more scenic courses with better swag. I have had better finish times. But what made this race so special was sharing the experience with these 7 amazing women – cheering them on, celebrating their success and feeling their unconditional support.

Final Stats:

Next Up:

A few 5ks , a 10k, a 15k, a 10 miler and then another half marathon in Florida on March 5, 2017.

And since it is Thursday, I’m linking up today with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

thinking out loud

Happy Running! What’s on your mind today?  At what race have you had the most fun?


30 thoughts on “Panama City Beach Half Marathon Recap on TOLT

  1. I have run a few halfs where I knew other people, but usually I only saw them at the start and didn’t have them waiting for me to finish! It totally rocked to have a cheering squad.

    You ran more long runs than me . . . Stockadeathon was the longest run I had. Or did I run one 10 miler? I don’t even remember! But I definitely didn’t run two. Finish lines, not finish times, and winning your age group should definitely make you proud.


  2. This is fabulous recap!! I have not got one done yet! I need to borrow this post LOL
    It was so much watching you run, you ran a great race! I loved everything about the weekend 🙂 having friends on the course was a wonderful treat.
    I Wish I could have kept up with you!!


  3. I’m coming back from an injury, so my last 2 races have been great.
    One was a half marathon and the other was a 5k. I think they were great because nothing hurt. Not spectacular times, but thoroughly enjoyable runs.


  4. What a great write up! I am the Race Director for this event and really enjoyed hearing your feedback. Thank you so much for writing about our race. This was our second year and making I
    improvements each year. I hope you’ll come back next year!


  5. Pingback: My Year in Running – 2016 – My First 5K and More…

  6. Pingback: Panama City Beach Half Marathon and HoLottaFun Girls Weekend - MissSippiPiddlin

  7. What a great recap! I’m just sitting here grinning ear to ear. It was definitely a
    #HoLottaFun. I’m so happy you were able to come. It was awesome getting to know you. [Scary how much we have in common!] Congrats on that age group award. You crushed the competition! Thanks for linking this recap, Darlene!


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