It seems like I’ve been planning this race-cation forever (since October) and now it’s come and gone.
I signed up for the Publix Florida Half Marathon as my 34th Half Marathon 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.
- According to Runner’s World Magazine, it’s “One of America’s Top 10 Bucket List Waterfront Races.”
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 24 and since then I have completed easy weekday runs and long runs on the 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.
Thanks to my running friends, I actually completed all my long runs… for the first time in a long time!!
All my runs were at an easy pace. No speed drills, progression runs, tempo runs, hill repeats, etc. I didn’t expect to PR at this half marathon….bridges…humidity… hello?
The goal for this half marathon was pure enjoyment!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep during a previous 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 shrimp tacos and key lime pie.
The next day, I went for an easy run, had brunch with some old friends, walked on the beach (continuing my vitamin D intake), and then headed North to visit a tennis friend who lives in Hobe Sound.
On the day before the race, I took a leisurely walk around the neighborhood and then went to a park where we climbed a mountain tower and strolled a nature trail with my hosts before I left Hobe Sound. A lot less walking than I normally do the day before a race. Then I drove about 1 1/2 hours north to Melbourne to pick up my race packet.
As you can see, I had picture perfect weather…until now. As soon as I arrived in Melbourne, it started to rain.
Luckily, packet pick-up/expo was indoors. The expo was small and had the usual samples and race garb. There was nothing that I needed to buy. I had wanted to walk around the town but it was still raining so I left.
The last stop was my sister in law who lived about 1/2 hour south in Sebastian. I was planning on spending the night there. Unfortunately that morning, her husband was taken by ambulance to the hospital. That definitely put a damper on the weekend but my sister-in-law was happy that I was there with her for moral support and company.
Inside of going out to dinner so I could carb load, we ordered in pizza 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 forecast looked ominous: heat, humidity, heavy rain and wind. Oh my!!
I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and got up around 4:15 am. I thought it might be chilly so I grabbed a throw away shirt, jacket and DIY arm sleeves and took off for the race start.
I arrived around 5:45 am and it was pouring. I got a great parking spot, very close to the start. I waited in my car until the rain lightened. I donned my poncho and set out to join the other runners.
I brought dry clothes and flip flops and planned to check a bag but I realized that my car was just as close to the finish as the bag check so I went back to my car and left my bag.
Now it was pouring again, I sought shelter by the rest rooms. There were several real options in addition to porta-potties.
The good news was that it was warm out. The bad news was that the humidity was 99%.
Soon we heard the national anthem. The marathon started first. Ugh… 26.2 miles in rain. Grateful it was not me!!
Then we were forced to leave our shelter and approach the start line. The rain had stopped (but not for long.)
I lined up near the 2:05 pacer though I was doubtful that I could finish at that time.
I’ll do my best to recap the race below.
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.
I knew that the course was not flat and a big bridge to cross at mile 6 and mile 12:
But it does look to be scenic and have water views and there would be supposedly up to 20 musical acts along the course.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
9:43, 9:54, 9:58
We started through the green arch and headed North along the old U.S. Highway 1. The break in the rain lasted about one mile and then it started to rain. It varied from a drizzle to a down pour. And since it had been raining since yesterday, there were puddles galore…and in some places more like lakes. It made it impossible to run the tangents since that was where the biggest puddles were located.
I ran at what seemed to be an easy pace but I quickly lost the 2:05 pace and was following the 2:10 at least for awhile.
There was water and Gatorade at every mile and I stopped at each one for a drink. many of the stops also had gels (Cliff Shots) too. (Some even had pickle juice.)
10:02, 10:09, 11:00
As my feet got wetter and wetter, they got more and more uncomfortable. Around mile 5, I developed a big blister on my right foot and soon after, the bottom of my left foot began to ache. (oh the woes of my feet…)
But the most annoying part of the race for me was my RUNNING BELT. It kept loosening up. I’m not sure if it was that it was wet but I must have stopped to tighten it what seemed like a hundred times. If I didn’t, it practically fell to my feet. (I will stick to my SpiBelt.)
There wasn’t much crowd support. Who would want to stand in the rain to watch a race?? But there was music throughout – either musicians or bands and someone on a motor bike playing music loud.
Around mile 5, I took my first Gu and then at mile 6 we hit the first causeway (Eau Gallie Causeway) and DAMN. In addition to being long and steep, the wind picked up and we were running into the wind (of course). I ran and walked. I wanted to save my legs for the rest of the race. I was looking forward to passing the guy playing the white baby grand as in all the photos but I guess that wouldn’t work in this awful weather.
11:06, 10:54, 11:25
As you can see, each mile I am running slower and slower. I’m sure that I was probably passed by the 2:15 pacer by this point. Since my feet hurt and I was feeling like a drown rat, I decided to just run and not worry about my finish time. You could call it giving up. I call it just “Not Feeling It.”
We ran by some crazy, gorgeous homes that are right along the river. I wished I could have enjoyed the ocean views because almost the entire race had them but it was just sea of grey skies and fog.
11:22, 11:22, 11:03
Around Mile 10, I took my second Gu hoping for an energy burst. Then at mile 12 (how cruel), we hit the 2nd causeway – the Melbourne Causeway. I ran/walked it not because I was saving my legs but because it didn’t really matter at this point. The 2:20 pacer had passed me awhile ago and I made a lame effort to catch (and almost did).
Mile 13- 13.23:
Finally we made a few turns and ran through the green arch and then turned to run through the strawberry arch. I did my best to sprint but it was hard to do with all the puddles and my belt falling down!!
Garmin time= 2:20:21
Gun time = 2:20:50
Chip time = 2:20:29
I got my medal and since it was raining hard, I headed back to my car to change and get an umbrella.
There was entertainment and lots of food booths outdoors but I went inside to stay dry. First I had to try the pancakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
The rain let up and I went back outside. I chatted with other runners, had some Starbucks coffee and contemplated waiting in line for some strawberry cider but then it started to pour again so I went inside for round two of post-race fueling. This time, I had 2 pieces of pizza.
Before I left I checked the results. I doubted that with my finish time that I would win an award.
Nope. I came in 4th. Too bad because you got fresh strawberries, strawberry sunglasses and a pint glass.
But as they say “Finishing=Winning”
Additional Race Reflections:
I have yet to figure out how to get past my foot pain and finish the second half of the race strong. I also feel defeated when I realize that I cannot accomplish what I am capable of.
My finish time was slower than my previous race which was all hills and a much more difficult course. I do not even expect a PR (under 2:06:52) and especially not one with those weather conditions. However, I do think that my finish times should be under 2:15.
Enough whining…I am so grateful to be able to travel and run races.
My only regret in this race was that I didn’t wear my compression leg sleeves. I have never raced without them or run any training runs longer than 3 miles without them. Though, my leg never hurt during the race and I walked around a botanical garden for several hours after without pain, I wonder if my injury on the beach was related to my not wearing compression.
We’ll never know for sure. Hopefully, I am NOT seriously injured and I can start training for my next race.
All in all, I thought this was a great race.
- Easy packet pick-up.
- Real bathrooms and comfortable location to wait at the start/finish.
- Free beer, cider, Starbucks coffee post race.
- Strawberry pancakes & pizza post race.
- Bag Check.
- Water and Gatorade stops every mile.
- Cliff Shot gels and banana halves available at many water stops (as well as pickle juice).
- Many porta-potties along the course.
- Music along the course.
- Water views along 90% of the course.
- Well marked course.
- No major injuries.
- Walker friendly – 5 hour course limit.
- Pacers at 5 mile intervals up to 2:20.
- Cool medal.
- Logo caps and tech shirts.
- Post race concert.
- Free race photos.
- My loose race belt.
- Bridge at mile 12.
- The weather
- The Weather
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
This was one will be the totally different – no beaches or water views or warm temps and humidity but big crowds, lots of excitement, hills of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, finish in Central park… Looking forward to it…. Hoping for a dry day!!!!!!
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies.