Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A1A Ft Lauderdale Half Marathon - Feb 16, 2014

Let me just say that there is no doubt that this race is BY FAR, my absolute favorite race, with the flattest fastest course that I have ever seen. I love this race. It was my 3rd race ever last year, the first race that I really felt my body working to PR at when I first started running half marathons, and a race that I really looked forward to this year... despite the ongoing health saga that I seem to have been dealing with the past few months.

I had finally kicked my illness that in retrospect may have actually been the flu, I was breathing great without having any residual coughing or wheezing. My body seemed to be recovered from the Miami half a couple of weeks prior (I was SORE SORE SORE for days after this half as it had been my first back after my awful foot injury), and I wasn't really experiencing any twinges of pain that may be residual from that injury either. I was stoked for this race.

And it didn't let me down.

The night before the race, I had a sleepover at my friend Seth's house, and we stayed up probably a little later than we should have laughing and talking about our races past and our upcoming plans for the future (another 5 in 5 days in April). We finally went to bed around 10pm, and I barely slept. Part of that was being somewhere other than my own house... the other part of that was probably just standard pre-race jitters. Because he lives about 2 miles from the start line, that meant that we got to sleep in a little the next day, but the wake-up call still came a little too early for my liking. We got ready, had a few wardrobe disasters, and headed to the start.

We met up with some friends before the start, and headed off to the start corral. One of the things that I really enjoy about this race is the soft starting corral system. This year, there was a huge group of charity runners from the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, and they all staged at the back of the corral.

While I love charity runners, and while HASC is great because they take kids and teens with disabilities to do something amazing at these events, it was quite difficult to share the course with them. First of all, they notably had WAY more energy than anyone should legally have at that hour. Second, when the race started, a number of these kids plowed their way through the waves of runners who were aiming to improve their times, and who had just as much right to the course as anyone. Again, I want to clarify that they were an amazing group to share the course with and they really inspired me to be the best I could possibly be... but in the end, they were just waves of teenagers who didn't really understand race ettiquette, who ran zigzagging patterns through clumps of runners (running me over in the process more than once), who stepped on the heels of runners (myself included again), and who walked 4-5 people abreast with the strollers and were not aware of runners trying to pass them.

And while I loved that they were so supportive to one another in their endeavors, after 10 miles of having one girl continually screaming and whooping in my left ear, I was ready to put her in her place. Thankfully, I didn't because I reminded myself that they were just as entitled to be excited about their first race as I was excited about mine... but that doesn't mean that I didn't *want* to say something.

And now, I'm sure that I sound like a grumpy old woman who begrudges the neighborhood kids who walk across her yard on the way home from school...  But I swear it wasnt like that. I think these kids just needed a little more training in ettiquette and what to expect during a half marathon and it would have made the experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

The course this year was the same as years past. It started next to the Museum and went down Las Olas, across the drawbridge (that thankfully didn't open!), and out to the beach for a spectacular sunrise.

From there, we traveled about a mile north then west for a quick 3 mile detour through John Hugh Birch State Park. I think the park portion of this race is absolutely my favorite part because the road is narrow, and there are overhanging trees and it is shady and peaceful. By the time I get there, the crowd has thinned out a bit and I am able to get into a good groove. It winds up being a very serene and peaceful time running. At that point, I was well aware that I was on track for a PR.

entry to the park
But the truth is (and I think I was trying to deny it), it wasn't really a PR that I was on track for... it was complete burnout. As a run/walk/runner, I do 60 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking and repeat through the duration. Under normal circumstances, I will average about 15 min per mile for the first half of a race, and then get a bit of burnout at around mile 9 and struggle the rest of the way. I know I fall apart, but there doesn't seem to be much that I can do about that. Finishing up my first 10k, I was averaging 14:33 per mile, which I somewhat feared I couldn't maintain, and would lead to a massive breakdown around mile 9. But I couldn't seem to slow myself down to better pace myself.

I was feeling excellent. I was happy to be out there. I was happy feeling the ache and burn in my muscles. I was happy to be alive. I left the park, and ran past my own personal little cheering section (I have a friend who is a TNT coach and who is super supportive of me). He told me to slow down a little, but I was on fire. And it sounds funny saying that because my "on fire" pace is still comparatively so slow when you consider others... but whatever. Enough self-depreciating talk.

I headed back out to the beach and north until mile marker 8 where the turnaround was. And suddenly, the sun was REALLY hot. it had been chilly when the race started so I wore a jacket. I was overheating but the breeze off the ocean gave me a chill when I unzipped my jacket. I felt my face getting sunburned. Those last 4 miles were bound to catch up to me. I knew with every passing interval, I was about to hit my breaking point and have my never-fail break-down moment where I would fall apart.

But it never really came. Sure my time slowed down as I entered the last 2 mile home stretch. I wound up missing my PR by less than 2 minutes, but I never really broke my stride.

And apparently I didn't break my heel either because there was almost no pain in that pesky injury!

Before I knew it, I was entering the chute and collecting my medal. No PR for me, but I got something way better.

The knowledge that even after such a bad injury and months laid up, I'm back! And I'm just as strong.

Gun- 3:23:07
Net- 3:18:01
Pace- 15:07/mile
10K Split- 1:30:20
OA- 3204
GRP- 266/285

*strangely, about 20 minutes AFTER finishing this race, I once again developed a cough and severe wheezing indicating an asthma attack. I haven't had a legitimate attack in years. not sure why it happened after the race rather than during, but hope it gets gone quick, I've got a big weekend coming up!


  1. That sounds like such an amazing race experience, other than the screaming in your ear. That would've gotten to me too! Even without a PR, it sounds like you felt really good about everything which is so important!

    1. thank you. i actually love this race. should you never have run it, i would recommend it highly!

  2. Woot! Sounds like a great race, I'm so happy you are out of that damn boot...and Peacock Orchid looks FABULOUS on you!

    1. thank you. i wore orchid thinking it worked well with my hf diva shirt. but i never even took my jacket off!