Now that I've run in TEN half-marathons, I figure that I have enough experience to write a top-ten list. All of my races have had wonderful aspects that I genuinely enjoyed, and I wouldn't say that I hated running in any of them. And because I'm a slow/beginning runner, I'm pretty sure that my list wouldn't match up with most other people's lists. Just the same, here we go:
10. ODDyssey Half 2014. Aside from the brutal hills, I also didn't like the fact that they advertised extra activities, but I didn't even see most of those as I ran by. Best thing: free pint glass!
9. Celebration Half Marathon 2014. This was the inaugural year for Celebration, and I wanted to like it so much. Unfortunately, the part that I remember the most was the miles of running through neighborhoods with almost no spectators. Best thing: running on the boardwalks through wetlands.
8. Sarasota Half Marathon 2014. I love bridges! And I loved the first 4ish miles of this race because of the out and back picturesque bridge run. Unfortunately, the middle third of the race was on the most uninspiring stretch of road I've ever run on. Best thing: running the Ringling Causeway Bridge.
7. Melbourne Half Marathon 2014. It's possible I said it before (one paragraph ago?), but I love bridges! The bridges at Melbourne kicked my @$$, and I loved every second of it! Honestly, I'd say I loved about 12 miles of this race. But it lost a lot of its charm in the final mile, when I was running against the stream of people walking from the finish line to the after party. The after-party was also too crowded to be worth my while. Best thing: cresting the second bridge and being above the fog. It was like being in Heaven!
6. Princess Half Marathon 2013. As my first half-marathon, I thought I'd rank this one high just for the sake of sentimentality. However, I was stressed, had to stop to un-tape a toe, my phone died, and boy howdy are Disney races crowded! I'm surprised I didn't bother writing a recap, but I think that speaks to my emotional state and other crap in my life than anything about the actual race. Best thing: accomplishing a goal I never dreamed I could!
5. Princess Half Marathon 2014. This was the third time I ran this course, and I found a certain comfort in that. It was also the first time I did a "challenge," by completing a 10K the morning before. I enjoyed running Princess 2014 way more than 2013, and I still tear up when I read my recap. Best thing: pushing myself farther and faster than ever before, and being rewarded with a shiny glass slipper medal!
4. OUC Orlando Half 2013. For my third half marathon, I stupidly registered for a race 6 days after my second half marathon! My legs were wobbly and uncooperative from the start. I was ready to quit, until I met a fellow runner also struggling and miserable - Jackie. She and I trudged through that race together, and made it not suck. I really want to do this one again, now that my legs are a little more functional. Best thing: making a new friend. The course was lovely as well.
3. WDW Half Marathon 2014. The reason this race ends up higher than my other Disney races can be summed up in one word: Cat. This was the first time I started and ended a race with a friend, and it was wonderful. Our time sucked, but we had a great time. Best thing: memories to last a lifetime.
2. Marine Corps Half Marathon 2014. This race was book-ended by a long road trip with lots of laughs. Jackie and I had a really fun weekend. The pre-race activities, the actual race, and even the after party were all really well done. Best thing: gaining a helluva lot of respect for the Marines.
1. Space Coast Half Marathon 2013. Of all the races on my fall calendar, this year's Space Coast is the one I'm most looking forward to. I loved the race, the after-party, the volunteers, and the crowd support along the course. Best thing: a fun, flat course and a fun space theme!
...and while I'm ranking things, why not rank the bling?
10. Sarasota -- I made the mistake of running this race for the bling...and then the medal was so ugly I could've cried. This is when I learned the valuable lesson that you should never sign up for a race for the medal.
9. Melbourne -- I'm not a fan of having a sponsor logo on a medal.
8. Celebration -- the color scheme and design of this medal were both misses for me.
7. ODDyssey -- it's ok, but small and the 3-D design is awkward from most angles.
6. Princess 2014 -- this is the point where ranking got really hard, because I **love** all of these.
5. Orlando -- I'm a sucker for a round medal, because they make me feel like I have an Olympic medal around my neck.
4. Marine Corps -- it's simple, the Marine Corps logo is prominent, and somehow even the olive drab ribbon is appropriate.
3. Space Coast -- it's huge and sparkly, and the one that everyone else seems instantly drawn to. maybe it's not my favorite because I love an underdog?
2. See #5 regarding round medals. Then add Donald Duck and a solid gold color. Yep, I love this medal!
1. Princess 2013 -- 5 pink gemstones, a sparkly tiara, and a heart combined with my own sentimentality. I'll always have a soft spot for my first!