It seems like I’ve been planning this race-cation forever (since November) and now it’s come and gone.
I signed up for my 30th Half Marathon in Florida for several reasons:
- I love race-cations.
- I had enough FF miles for a free flight.
- I have many many friends who winter in Florida (as well as my sister-in-law who moved to Florida) who have offered me places to stay.
- I am sick of this cold weather and need some sunshine in my life!!!!!!!!
- I love the beach, ocean views, climbing to the top of lighthouses, visiting bird sanctuaries, morning sunsets, etc.
- The races are usually flat and have awesome views.
So I signed for the Singer Island Half Marathon because of the reviews and the amazing views. If you read my blog, you know that the race was cancelled.
I had to choose another Florida half marathon on the east coast and Brew 2 Brew, an inaugural (un-scenic) race was my only option.
I was not excited about this race for many reasons. The first being that all my experiences with inaugural half marathon races have not been good and I have run quite a few. Secondly, the website had very little information about the race. I had to email the director several times to find out if there was a medal, when & where packet pickup was and what the course was like.
Eventually, I got this email (and everyone I showed it to laughed):
Also because of the lack of advertising, there were not many runners signed up for the race.
But you know me, I’m game for a challenge and I love racing enough to pay $80 or more to do this “race.”
Spoiler Alert: This race turned out so differently that I thought it would. I did something I’ve never done before. And I enjoyed it more than any other half I have done.
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon on November 13 in Las Vegas and since then I have completed easy weekday runs and long runs on most weekends.
Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I do like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.
I skipped my long run entirely the weekend that I was snowed in in Buffalo. I added extra miles to my weekend group runs. NONE of my long runs was completed without a break in between the miles. I am sure that this is NOT the my best way for prepare to run 13 miles. I am a coach’s nightmare. LOL.
However, I wasn’t really worried. I didn’t expect to run the half marathon at a PR pace anyway.
Training in the snowy, windy frigid NE and racing in the warm humid SE does not equal a fast finish time. The goal for this half marathon was survival and enjoyment!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep on my last race-cation — rest the legs the day before and fuel adequately before the race.
The day I arrived in Florida, I relaxed at the pool (need that vitamin D), walked around a bird sanctuary and started my carb loading with pizza out with my Delray Beach host. The next day, I went for an easy run, did more relaxing at the pool, walking on the beach (continuing my vitamin D intake) and had dinner out with an old friend.
On the day before the race, I took a leisurely walk, went out for brunch with my college roommate, and took my host to do some errands before I left Delray Beach. Then I drove about 1 3/4 hours north to Vero Beach while munching on leftover pizza. As soon as I arrived, I spotted Abbotts Custard, my favorite dessert place in Rochester, NY. I had to have some, right?
My second stop was to pick my race packet at a local running store (where I also snagged Birthday Cake GU)
and then on to locate the race start/finish. It was easy to find the Walking Tree Brewery and it had a large parking lot. Now I could relax about the race logistics.
The last stop was my sister in law and her husband’s who lived about 1/2 hour north in Sebastian. I was planning on spending the night there.
We all went out to an Italian restaurant so I could carb load and then we relaxed at home for the rest of the evening (and I got my racing stuff ready for the next day.)
The weather forecasted looked perfect:
I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me (to the disappointment of my sister-in-law who got up to make me something to eat.)
It was chilly so I added a throw away shirt over my traditional half marathon outfit and took off for the race start.
I arrived about an hour early (too early!) and hung out with other runners inside the brewery. I was surprised at how many runners were wearing the cotton green race shirt.
And compared to all of my 29 previous half marathons, this one was very small. Most likely, the smallest with only a little over 100 runners.
So it was dark and quiet – no music, no fanfare, little excitement.
Finally it was time to head to the start line. I reluctantly took over my long sleeved shirt (and that was the right decision.)
I stood close to the front figuring that there would be no chip timing. They did mention that there would be signs at all the (29) turns and arrows spray painted on the ground (Phew!)
No national anthem or gun start. Just a guy staying “Go.”
I’ll do my best to recap the race but I don’t remember much – there was nothing interesting to look at (scenery-wise) and no spectators to speak of.
I didn’t feel excited as I normally do before a half marathon. I just wanted to get done and continue my Florida vacation.
This is very odd because usually the RACE is the highlight of my race-cation.
My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
9:31, 9:50, 10:01
We started running from the brewery into some neighborhoods. You can see on the map that there were lots of turns and yes, they were visibility marked. The roads weren’t closed to traffic but at this hour, it was pretty quiet. I, of course, made sure to run the tangents. I ran the first mile with a few different women. During the second mile, a runner came up to me and asked me what pace I was running. I replied that it was close 10. We started chatting. She was from VA and visiting her parents. She was also running her FIRST HALF MARATHON (and was a newby runner). She didn’t have a watch and her longest run ever was 9 miles. She told her husband and son that she thought she would be finishing with about a 12 min/mi pace. She asked if she could with me. I had never run a half marathon or even a whole race with someone else but I replied “Sure. The company would be fun.” I also told her that I wasn’t sure what my finish time would be but it would be faster than 12 min/mile. I warned her that I walk at every water stop and usually run the first half faster than the second half when I often walk more if I run out of gas. She said that she would try to keep up as long as she could and was very grateful. So we chatted and chatted as I had planned, I stopped for water close to the mile two marker. The sun had come up and it was already starting to get warm. I unconsciously made the decision to forget about time and just enjoy the company of Ann, my new running friend.
10:22, 10:17, 10:09
The course eventually looped back toward the start and around the airport parking lot. My next walk break was to eat a Gu. I was hungry since it had been hours since my breakfast. I walked longer since I have yet to figure out how to drink, open the Gu and eat it while running. Ann also had been wondering if this course had any porta-potties. I told her that I didn’t think so. The only one (yes, only ONE!) was near the start. So she decided to stop when we passed it. I didn’t stop but just continued running slowly in hopes that she would catch up. I kinda liked having someone to talk to during the race.
10:35, 11:16, 11:18
And yes, Ann did catch up. She said she didn’t think she could finish the race alone. I had developed a big blister on my left foot (where I always get one due to a bunion). It was painful so I didn’t have a hard time slowing down to run with Ann. We continued to run easy and converse. At this point in the race, we were running WITH traffic on a main road. Since we were running next to each other, this was a little dangerous but luckily, the cars moved over adequately. It did still make me uncomfortable. This part of the race seemed to go on forever. Ann and I were both getting warm and dragging. And it was very boring. Absolutely nothing to look at. We stopped for water and I ate my second Gu around mile 8. The highlight was seeing Ann’s son who was volunteering at the water stop.
11:23, 11:20, 11:11
Finally we got to the turn around. I never really looked at my watch but as you can see we were crawling. Once we were running in the opposite direction on this road, we knew that the end of the race was near. And with the out and back, we were able to see the fast runners and now the slower runners. During these miles, I started to get stomach cramps. I was hoping that I wouldn’t need a porta-potty because there were none. Fortunately, the feeling went away by mile 13 (whew!) but it did make it hard to run at a faster pace.
Mile 13- 13.14:
Ann and I both decided that despite the heat and our weary legs, we would pick up the pace and run faster for the last mile. And we did, even sprinting through the finish line (where she narrowly beat me.)
Garmin time= 2:18:28
Gun time = 2:20:00
Chip time = 2:19:56
Ann hugged me with tears in her eyes and then was greeted by her husband. I was so happy for her. Happier than if I had PR’d.
My sister-in-law and her friend were waiting for me after I crossed the finish line. That was nice. I rarely have a family member cheering for me at the end of a race.
I got my medal, grabbed some food (though I wasn’t hungry) and went inside the brewery to get my free beer.
We waited around until they posted the results and yes, I did win an age group award – a distant 3rd.
I said good-bye to my new running friend (after we exchanged phone numbers) and headed back to my sister-in-law’s home to shower and then head out for a celebratory lunch.
Additional Race Reflections:
So I didn’t plan to have such a slow finish time. My legs were rested. I was properly fueled. The weather was perfect and the course was flat. But for the first time, I selflessly forgot about MY race and ran the race (for 12 miles) with some else and helped this new runner finish her FIRST half marathon. Not only was it rewarding but I enjoyed the race. I wasn’t winded and I wasn’t obsessed with my pace and trying to figure out my finish time. I was able to run again the next three days in a row.
- Easy packet pick-up.
- Real bathrooms and comfortable location to wait at the start/finish.
- Flat course.
- Free beer
- Perfect weather conditions
- Water and Gatorade stops at least every 2 miles
- Gu available at a water stop midway
- Well marked course
- Participants in costumes
- No major injuries.
- Running 12 miles with a runner and chatting the whole race.
- My sister in law and her friend cheering me on at the finish line.
- 29 turns on the course (mostly at the beginning)
- Boring course – zero scenic views
- Poor advertising (not enough info on the website)
- Running with traffic for most of the race
- No porta potties on the course (except the start which was also mile 5)
- Cotton race shirt
- Small medal
- No race photos
- Flat course (I actually enjoy the variety of ups and downs)
- Training (broken up long runs)
- Stomach Cramps (miles 10-12), Blister from mile 5+
- Nothing really.
Would I recommend this race?
No. Not for the price. And all the “Bads” listed above.
It was not my slowest half marathon. But I have run hillier races and races in windy conditions where my finish time was faster. Still I am glad that I ran this race rather than not running one at all. I made the right decision.
May 19, 2018
Happy Running! Have you ever run an inaugural or low budget race? Have you ever given up on your time goals to help someone finish a race?