Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon Recap

Well….

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I did it!!!!  I ran in the half this past Sunday, and my official time was 1:57:57 🙂  A little behind my training plan, but beat my goal of 2 hours!!

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s rewind a day.

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On Saturday, after my MBA class, Jeff, his parents and I went to the Pre-Race Expo:

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I’ve never been to a race expo before, so I was really excited!  I grabbed my bib and packet right away and took another look at the course map.

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There were tons of goodies and free snacks so of course I had to sample some 🙂  I also spotted a sunglasses table since I’ve been wanting a pair to run in.  Quickly picked one out and kept on going.  There was a mix of food, running apparel, and event vendors and I’m pretty sure I stopped at every single table.  Yes I’m a nerd.  Even Jeff got involved when an e-stim vendor pulled him over to their table 🙂

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I have a feeling I know what I’ll be looking for when the next holiday rolls around.  I made one last stop to pick up some Shot Blox to have during the race (I knew they were offering Powerade Gels at the water stops and they kind of freak me out) and then headed to get some of the best pizza I think I’ve ever had.

We went to sleep nice and early since I had a 4am wake up call!  Before going to bed I made sure to lay everything out so I wouldn’t forget anything.

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I had my brand new sunglasses, a tank top from Target (hello why did I not know their exercise clothes were so cute?!), oiselle arm warmers, Pro Compression Marathon Socks, Shock Absorber Sports Bra, Under Armour Shorts, and of course my Mizuno’s.

4am wake up didn’t seem as bad as I expected.  Got ready, had some Ezekiel toast with Almond Butter & Apple Butter with 2 cups of coffee.

Ready to GO!

Ready to GO!

I headed out and found parking at a parking garage a few blocks from the starting line.  It was a point to point course, so they actually offered shuttles to runners that wanted to park near the finish line to get them to the start.  I decided that I knew the parking near the start line better and didn’t want to stress at all.  Of course, as soon as I was a few blocks away, I realized that I had forgotten my sunglasses.  Oh well, too late to go back.

A few things to set the mood: 1) I was still feeling sick – sneezing my head off and coughing a bit and 2) this was definitely the COLDEST morning I’ve ever experienced living in Florida.  When I got out of the car, it was 41 degrees.  I know that compared to most places during the winter that is nothing, but the coldest I had run in training for this race was a good 20 degrees warmer.  Nonetheless, as soon as I made it to the start line and checked my bag, I started to get excited.

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I made my way for a quick stop at the porta potties and when I came out the starting line was packed.  Because I still wasn’t feeling 100%, hadn’t run in over a week, and it was so cold, I immediately made the decision not to put pressure on myself, and hopped in a little behind the 10 minute mile sign.  I felt good about the decision but had that pang of feeling disappointed as my view forward was the sign for the 2:00hr pacers.  Next time I kept telling myself.

The gun went off right on time for the wheelchair racers, and then again for us 10 minutes later.  There were about 4800 people racing, and everyone left at the same time – all paces, both half marathon and marathon runners.  The course for the half and the full is the same until about mile 9 or so, then the half marathoners make a turn while the full runners keep going.

I took a look down at my garmin about half a mile in, and it said 11:30 was my pace.  I tried not to let that deter me as I knew the first mile is always going to be slow until the course empties out a bit.  I guess I was able to make up for it because when I looked at my splits after the race I finished that mile much faster.  The first few miles of the course are running straight toward the beach, and it was absolutely beautiful.  I checked my phone with my bag so I couldn’t take any pictures, but we were running toward the sunrise and if you’ve ever seen a Fort Lauderdale sunrise, it’s undeniably gorgeous.  Jeff got a shot from the finish line though –

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Before I knew it, we were there – on A1A, a quarter of the way done with the race and turning on to the next road.  At this point I was feeling pretty good, and I told myself to treat it like a tempo run.  That I would at the very least get a good 5 tempo miles in after the first mile and then I’d see how I felt after that.  I saw the next few miles clock in around 9 minutes each and tried to push each one just a little harder than the last.

I skipped the first few water stops (they were at every mile practically!) and we then turned off A1A to take a loop of a nearby park.  Here is where I started to feel even better.  It was the first time that I realized that I kept passing people.  Not being used to racing AT ALL, or even used to running with other people, this was such a strange thing to me.  My mind was racing – why am I passing these people?  Am I going too fast?  Am I going to burn out?  They look like they’re doing just fine, what do they know that I don’t?  Is there a secret hill we’re about to climb?  It’s funny how my mind will always jump to doubting myself first.  But I was able to push those thoughts out and keep going.  Grabbed some water, at one stop, had a shot block, grabbed some more water or so I thought, wound up being Powerade and got it in my eye.  I never claimed to be coordinated.

Right around mile 8 I realized that the past few miles I had done were between 8:30 and 9, and that I might be able to push myself through the whole thing and come somewhat close to 2 hours.  There weren’t many spectators on the course but the ones who were there were plenty energetic!  There were also dj’s or bands at some of the water stops with volunteers that were dancing so that made it that much more fun.  I was shocked at how good I was feeling.  At this point, the sun was out but it was still cool.  I had anticipated needing to roll down or take off the arm warmers, but I never did.  I didn’t even feel like I was sweating since it was so chilly.  I kept cruising along until about mile 10, where things got a little bit tough.  I felt my pace slowing and those last 3 were definitely tough love miles. There was a ton of self talk going on because at this point I knew that if I kept pushing myself that I could make it under 2 hours, my goal was within reach only if I didn’t give up.  I’m pretty sure I kept saying ‘Push!’ out loud.  I’m also pretty sure that I was getting a few stares from other runners, but I didn’t care.  This was my goal and my race and I was going to own it.

When I saw 12.5 miles on my Garmin, I tried to find that last gear and really kick it, but there was nothing left.  I was in cruise control and couldn’t go any faster than my pushing it pace.  That was ok, I knew I had it.  I slowly made it to the finish line where I saw Jeff and his parents screaming their heads off.  For that last .1 or .2 miles there I finally found my kick and past the last handful of people who were slowing down before the finish.  In my head I was brought back to softball practice in high school training to run through first base – don’t slow down right before the finish line!!! I didn’t want to cheat myself out of any last second.

I saw I had done it and I couldn’t be happier!  And look how cool the medal is:

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All in all, it was a great experience.  Everything about the race was incredibly organized and they definitely had runners in mind when creating the course.  You can’t beat the beach!  And I have a shiny new PR to hold on to 🙂

Did anyone else race this weekend?

What are your big goals?

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