Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coral Springs Half Marathon - March 30, 2013

I've got to admit, this spring, I have become completely addicted to the half marathon distance. 

13.1 miles sucks. At my pace, it takes me well over 3 hours, and with my attention span? I'm lucky if I ever do anything for more than an hour at a stretch.

But there is something about 13.1 miles that just really works for me. Unlike 3.1 miles (a 5K) or 5.12 miles (my normal training run), 13.1 miles gives me that opportunity to do something other than just focus on running and finishing. In a 13.1 mile run, I get to really enjoy the process. 

I think maybe it is the difference between rushing through something for the destination, vs. really enjoying the journey.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but as a general rule, I try to avoid inaugural events. There was a time when we didn't care if it was an inaugural event or not, but we've been burned one too many times with promoters who have a disregard for safety or organization... and after experiencing the poison-water-pocalypse that Sunshine State put on, you could say that I've become a little gun-shy.

On the other hand, in order to get a good jump on my absolutely ridiculous goal to finish 13 half marathons in 2013, and knowing that the race season pretty much stops between May and September in South Florida, I knew I didn't have many options. The race season was winding down, and my options were running out.

So that meant I had a decision to make, would I register for the Coral Springs Half Marathon because it was really close to home, and take the risk? In the end, I decided it was worth it, and I promptly roped my friend Brina into attending with me, as her first race as a Half Fanatic
I'm glad that I entered this race. Despite the half marathon distance being a first time event for this promo group, whether it be the location or the give-aways, the volunteer support, the amount of law enforcement and traffic control, the friendly faces, the SUPER clean port-o-janes that came complete with running water for handwashing, the fuel and water stops, etc... I found that this race surpassed all of my expectations. I will DEFINITELY run this event again.

HFs Juanita, Bobby, me and Brina
The field of racers for this event was small, and the starting location was at a park, so this meant that parking and finding the start line was easy. After arriving at 5:00 for a 6:00 am gun, I met up with my friends Brina and Juanita for a pre-race Half Fanatics photo. 

When the gun went off, Bobby and Juanita said goodbye, and took off at their own pace. Brina, who had previously run the 13.1 Miami Beach race with me and later claimed to have really enjoyed our time together, opted to run this race at my pace again. I was thankful for the offer, because truth be told, after the excruciating pain I had felt not 2 weeks before at the Shamrock 10 Miler, I was concerned about whether I would be able to finish this race. Better have someone fun to distract me, than get swept in the first couple miles of the race, right?

Just like in other events, the race started and I began to regret my decision to enter. I don't know what's wrong with me. I go to these events, I get pumped about actually doing them, but then right before the gun, I get sick to my stomach and want to go home. Then I actually start running, and the first tenth of a mile I question whether I really want to be doing this, whether I enjoy this, and whether I might have been better off staying home in bed. That first tenth of a mile ALWAYS gets me.

The gun goes off, and we inch our way forward and begin our first running interval, and my brain wont let me get out of my own way. To distract myself, I picked a woman about 10 yards in front of us, and the goal was to pass her. In 13.1 miles, we didn't manage to pass her, but it was a distraction for a little while.  We giggled our way through the first 5 minutes settling into a nice pace.
We got to about a half mile in, and I realized I was holding back. I don't want to push it today, I said.

I'm scared my feet are going to hurt, I told her.
I (legitimately) was scared. I had no arch pain yet, but I knew better than to count my chickens.

You know? I just want to enjoy the journey. Lets forget about times and pacing. Lets just enjoy the morning, I suggested. 

And it sounded like a great idea. I did want to just enjoy the journey and forget about packing and times. But that is so much easier said than done.  

At mile marker 1, I didn't care. But by mile marker 2, I was chomping at the bit, dying to know what we were pacing. The sun had come up, I was enjoying myself, Brina and I were joking with one another, and we were having a great time with other runners too. But I was itching to know what kind of pacing we were making. I had a vague idea based on the clocks at the mile markers, but I wanted more accuracy.

Every so often Brina's Garmin would chirp and she would look down and smile.  I'd beg her to tell me, and she would just brush me off and start in on another story. By mile 4, I was going nuts.

Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! I begged. 

56:12. She said. 14:03 per mile.

Call me shocked. And still no pain. And we kept that pace up until around mile 10, when I began to feel some blistering in my left baby toe. And then after another half mile, there was some blistering at the right ball of my foot area (probably from compensation from the blister on my left foot).

Then around mile 11, when we began to get into the home stretch, I bottomed out. Because of course, nothing is easy with me and something always seems to go horribly wrong.

The sun was high in the sky, the temperature was rising and the air was becoming thick with humidity. I felt under-hydrated, and my stomach was upset. Every time I tried to push forward with a run interval, it felt like a 10 ton elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn't catch my breath.  Up until then, we were on pace to finally make it to my goal of a 15 minutes per mile finish time, but I also knew the risks of pushing it when I can't catch my breath. We slowed down.

Me with my 6th finish for '13, Brina with her 3rd
At mile 12, we passed a girl from Black Girls Run who was having some severe dehydration issues. I always said that even when I had a PR so close I could taste it, I would stop for another runner in distress... so of course I stopped to help her out. After giving her some much needed fluids from my hydration belt, we kept going.

Pretty soon, the finishline party area was in sight. And Juanita was standing there with her post-race flip flops and sweatpants on. I heard Juanita asking Brina if she knew what the clock was reading, and I heard Brina whispering back that she didn't want me to know.

Juanita jumped onto the course with us and I heard the thwap thwap thwap of her flip flops behind me.

As I rounded the corner and the finish line clock came into view, it was like having my own private cheerleaders.

You can do it! You're almost there! You're gonna PR!  Push it! Go! Go! Go!

And like that, I pulled out all the stops. The 10 ton elephant sitting on my chest and I sprinted toward the finish line. With Brina quick on our heels, that elephant and I ran like we've never run before.

Brina later told me that in the home stretch, we were running at just over 8 minutes per mile. I would never be able to sustain something like that long distance, because even doing what I did made me nauseous, dizzy and turned my lips blue... BUT, I did it.

Oranges, just what this (future) doctor ordered.
And that's got to count for something.

Chip - 3:17:23.330
Pace - 15:04
Overall - 509/531
Gender - 303/321
Category - 53/53

I had hoped to finish at or below 15 minutes per mile... which I didn't quite do, but I'm happy with what me and my own personal elephant accomplished. And hey, no arch pain.

*As an aside, in order to reach the next "moon" level with Half Fanatics, I needed to either complete 3 halves in 16 days or 6 halves in 6 consecutive calendar months or 8-11 in 365 days. For those playing at home, the Coral Springs half was my 6th in 2.5 months. Finishing this race qualified me to move from the Neptune (1-moon) to Uranus (2-moon) level.

The next stop is Saturn (3-moon) level with 4 halves within 37 days or 12-18 halves within 365 days or 4 halves in 4 different states, countries or Canadian Provinces in 51 days. If  When I finish my 13 in 2013, that will qualify me to moon up. Saturn, here I come.


  1. So awesome! I'm still in awe that you are doing 13 in 2013. I'm aiming for ONE in 2014! LOL!

    1. thank you so much Karen. You say you will do one in 2014, but I bet you will wind up with more than that under your belt.