It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever (since February 2019, I believe).
So this year, I did run the Publix Florida Half Marathon as my 55th Half Marathon for these reasons:
- A warmer weather race-cation opportunity.
- I had a enough frequent flier miles for a free flight.
- I had enough points for the night before in a hotel.
- It was advertised as a scenic course with ocean views.
- I had run this race before in the POURING RAIN. I wanted a re-do.
- I had four friends that lived nearby (for the winter.)
- When I originally planned to run it in 2020, my SIL & niece lived here (and I would stay with them).
- I had gotten BOTH of my COVID vaccines and the booster so I felt safe (even in Florida).
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 three weeks prior, a cold hilly one, in NYC.
As with all my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3 easy miles.
However, I do try to do longer runs on the weekend. I did manage ALL year to run 8-10 miles every weekend. But with the change in my NYC half marathons, I had run one three weeks earlier. So I just recovered and then tapered.
Adjustment from freezing temps to humid Florida temps would most likely be my biggest issue.
Though I did feel somewhat prepared to run 13.1 miles, my goal for this half marathon was still to just finish and to ENJOY RUNNING A RACE with warm temps and ocean views!!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Although the half marathon was scheduled for Sunday morning, I arrived (with no flight drama) in West Palm Beach on Thursday afternoon. I rented a car there and drove Delray Beach where I spent the next two days staying with a friend.
I got to hang out with several friends while visiting the beaches, gardens, bird/turtle/fish sanctuaries and outdoor restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
On Saturday afternoon, I left Delray and headed up to Palm Bay (3 hours away). I stopped at a favorite garden in Vero Beach on the way.
After checking into my hotel, I headed to the expo in Melbourne to pick up my race packet and figure out the parking logistics for the next morning. Th expo was quite small but you could buy essentials and pick up freebies. This year, you did not get a race shirt unless you paid extra. They were long sleeves and gender-specific but still I did not need another shirt.
It was still early so I stopped on my way back to the hotel and visited a nearby nature preserve.
For dinner, I ate my usual pre-race pizza.
And I headed back to my hotel in time to organize my usual race outfit (tank, skirt, cap) and hit the sack earlyish.
There’s always a chance for RAIN in Florida. Fingers crossed that it would not happen until after my race if at all (although the forecast indicated otherwise.)
I brought my oatmeal and coffee from home with me and got up around 4:00 am to get ready and have breakfast in my hotel room.
I left early to make sure I got parking close to race start/finish area. (There was a parking garage but it was quite a hike).
And yes, it was raining. I did find a spot in a nearby lot and stayed in my car for awhile to stay dry.
Eventually I did venture out to use the rest rooms. There were multiple canopies to wait under
in addition to inside the building where the expo was. Here there was also bag check. I did check my Oofos, a jacket and umbrella for after the race.
The marathon started at 6:30. am, then the half marathon at 6:40 followed by the 5k and 10k at 7:00 am.
We were soon told to line up with the pacers. I reluctantly took off my rain poncho and throw-away. It had been pouring but now it was just a welcome drizzle.
I started with the 2:15 pacer but knew that I would move up and then back down (And I was right.)
I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)
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 around every 4 miles. I planned to walk whenever necessary and NOT RACE it. I was obviously not acclimated to the weather.
We started through the green arch and headed North along the old U.S. Highway 1.
The water was on our right and we even had a dolphin pacing us for a while.
As I mentioned I started with the 2:15 pacer but quickly moved up and ran with the 2:10 pacer most of the race.
It rained the whole race but it didn’t rain hard until the end. Just a constant drizzle that actually felt great… cooled off that heat and humidity. (I was secretly hoping that the sun would not come out until the race was over.)
I ran with my usual comfortable early race pace – IOW positive splits…
There were water and Gatorade at every mile and I stopped at each one for a drink. Most of the stops also had tangerines. (How do you run and peel them at the same time?) Some even had pickle juice. They also gave out CliffShot gels on the bridges.
Around mile 4, I took my first Gu and then at mile 5.5 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 baby grand as in all the past race photos.
Yes I tried to look happy for the photographer but we were running UP over that bridge.
Going down was fun, though.
For awhile, we ran by some crazy, gorgeous homes that were right along the water. I was surprised at how many spectators were cheering along the course, even in the rain.
I continued to slow down as the miles wore on but I only walked at the water stops. I ate my second GU around mile 8.
I was slowly losing the 2:10 pacer, then the 2:15 one but still held on to not being passed by the 2:20 pacer.
In spite of the weather, there was a lot of music along the course – either digital music played through speakers, or drive-by tunes from motorcycles as well as many live musicians playing under canopies.
I admit that at this point, it was getting hard. Nothing hurt but I was losing steam. I kept pace with a woman doing intervals for a while. I got ahead when she walked and then she passed me when she ran. We kept cheering each other on.
I took one last gel around mile 12 – a honey stinger… blech!!
Then at mile 12.5 (how cruel), we hit the 2nd causeway – the Melbourne Causeway. It seemed like an eternity until we reached the top.
Fortunately what goes up, must come down.
Not as much fun as the first bridge due to cramping legs.
And there went the 2:20 pacer. Not that it mattered but there were no clocks on the course, only mile markers. (I never looked at my watch until after the race.)
Finally we headed toward the finish line and I dragged my cramping legs as across it as fast as I could.
I crossed at 2:20:XX. Injury-free and smiling!
Post Race Activities
I was immediately handed the finisher medal. The food table had bananas, tangerines, donut holes. I ate a banana which seemed to alleviate the cramps. I ate a few donut holes, as well.
It was raining pretty hard now so I made a beeline for bag check to get my umbrella and change out of my wet shoes.
Frank Shorter was waiting to give out awards. I scanned my bib and as expected, I did not win one so I walked to my car and headed back to the hotel.
I felt pretty good after a hot shower. I quickly dismissed any negative thoughts about the race and focused on the rest of my vacation,
On the way back to Boca Raton, I stopped off to visit an old friend who lived in Jensen Beach. We had lunch together.
Afterward, I drove to my final destination, my college roommate’s home. She winters in Fla (and lives on LI the rest of the year.) She kindly invited me to stay with her for two nights.
The rest of my race-cation included a trip to Miami to see South Beach, Immersive Monet exhibit, Wynwood Walls and Little Havana.
and finally a run with fellow blogger, Jenny.
Additional Race Reflections:
- Easy packet pick-up.
- Small expo
- Sufficient number of port-a-potties at start/finish and along the course
- Real restrooms at the start/finish
- Bag Check
- Beautiful course. Water views throughout.
- Water stops at every mile (with Gatorade, gels, tangerines, pickle juice)
- Friendly staff, participants, volunteers, residents.
- Walker friendly – 6 hour time limit for the half marathon.
- Several distance options – full, half, 10k and 5k
- Legendary Frank Shorter was there handing out awards (and he ran the 5k)
- Big coconut themed medals (recycled metals)
- Free Photos
- Race Hats with the Coconut Themed Logo to all runners
- Music played throughout the course
- Brews courtesy of Florida Beer to runners
- No shirts – purchased separately (maybe that’s a good?)
- Bridge crossing at mile 12.5!
- I had no friends running this with me.
- My SIL no longer lived here (a long drive from where I was staying).
- the RAIN (felt good but limited the entertainment and post race festivities)
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
It was super well-organized. The course was beautiful. And if the sun comes out, it will be even better.
I am so proud that my body can run even when the conditions are not optimal.
A far cry from my 2:06:52 PR in 2017 and my NYC qualifying time of 2:11:15 in 2019.
This old broad will just have to be content finishing upright from now on, I guess. And three years after I ran this same course, I was only 26 seconds slower!!
Central Park Half Marathon (in NYC) – back to get redemption on those hills of Central Park.
Happy Running! Have you ever been to Melbourne, FL? Ever run this race? Any in-person races planned for 2022? Please share.
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.
I’m linking up also with this new link-up: