Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 Ft. Lauderdale A1A Race Report: The time I got my BQ

After much hemming and hawing, I decided to run the Ft. Lauderdale A1A Marathon this past weekend (February 17, 2013).  Barry I drove down from Stuart to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday and the weather was just miserable - rain, rain and more rain.  We checked into our hotel (the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Hotel which was RIGHT at the finish line) and made our way to the expo.

Finish line from our hotel room!

Great Expo for small race - TONS of free stuff!

Packet Pickup went smoothly though there was a line up to get the swag bag and the T-shirts were poorly sized.  My extra small fit Barry!

The Marathon Course

After the expo we headed out for a bit of shopping and dinner before heading back to hotel.

 We spent Saturday walking, Barry swimming and taking in the Fla/Tampa hockey game.
We stopped in at the dollar store to pick up some cheap throw away gloves for the race then retired to the room.  While lights were off by 9am, it was the typical pre-race night of non-sleep.  It seemed like forever before the 4am wakeup call.  Like every race morning I jumped out of bed and got the coffee made.  Due to the weather there was some decisions that had to be made about the clothing choices and I ended up going to my grey and pink lulu pants and long-sleeved shirt.  I figured I could always take the shirt off  and I like running in the tights - it really cuts down on chafing!  Like clockwork we were ready to head out the door at 5am.  The shuttles were right at our hotel so it couldn't have been easier.  We joined up with a bus full of runners and we were off to the starting line.

I was incredibly nervous on the bus ride to the start line.  There was a lot of chatter on the bus and my stomach was flipping and flopping.  I even came to tears at one point, doubting my training and fearing my goal.  I was more nervous than I was at the start of IMFL!  Barry, being the rock that he is, continued to reassure me that I was going to kill this course and it was going to be a great day.  We were thanking our lucky stars we were dealing with the cold and the wind instead of the heat and humidity!  It seemed like a long bus ride but I don't think it was.

We had pretty perfect timing and the event was well organized.  We got off the bus at 5:30, lined up for the potties and got into the start corral around the 3:45 bunny and waited for the gun.  It was a bit of a late start for some reason but finally the national anthem, the wheel chair gun and then 2 minutes... 1 minute.... 15 seconds .... BOOM.

It was a small race - probably about 4,000 runners total.  The Half and the Full start together and run the first 9 miles together.  The course was fairly narrow which caused for a slowish start dodging all the people who don't seed themselves properly - just a note for those uninformed - if you are going to be walking at all in the first mile - don't toe the line.

The first mile was the slowest of the day.  I felt great and it felt great to get warmed up.  The 3:45 bunny was  running too slow for me so I made my way in front of the group.  I found myself running with the 1:50 half pace group which felt good.  Just before mile 3 we hit the only "hill" which is a very short bridge over the Inter-coastal and I passed the 1:50 bunny.

I had 2 "opps" moments in the race and probably ticked some folks off.  When we got to A1A and turned north my visor blew off my head - I was in front of the huge 1:50 half marathon pace group so me stopping, turning and running back to grab it was not pleasing to some.  Then when we were running through the little park around mile 6 or so, my water bottle, which I had been running with stuck down the back of my pants flew out - again I was in front of the (SAME) 1:50 pace group and again - I think I ticked some people off.  SORRY GUYS!

The first 9 miles went along great - every time I hit a mile split I would look at my race band and think - oh, I had better not blow up on the back half of this thing because I'm flying.  I was supposed to be running 8:30 min/mi and I had been clocking in well under 8:20s.

Just around mile 9 the Half Marathoners turned off and the crowded race became very lonely, very quickly.  This was not a spectator race at all - in fact, once the marathon split from the half - i think I can count the spectators on one hand.  Shortly after the split the winds really started to pick up and we were running into a pretty strong headwind.   My 5 slowest miles (besides the first) were miles 10 - 14.  I had studied the course and knew the turn around was at 15 1/2 miles so I just put my head down and ran.

My body felt pretty good and I was very pleased with my splits even though they were much too fast according to the plan.  I was happy to make the turn south at the 15 1/2 mile mark and settled in to my last 10 miles.    While I thought the wind would be at my back but instead of a tailwind - the winds just picked up and swirled around.  I passed quite a few people between mile 16 and 24.  I got a lot of encouraging words like "you look strong girl" and "keep it up".

I banged out mile after mile.  I took my Gu's every 5 miles and felt pretty good for the entire run.  I had started out the race with a disposable bottle of water with NUUN and I told took sips of water at most of the water stations after about 10k.  At about mile 21 I knew I had nailed my Boston qualifying time and I also knew I had blown my new coaches plan out the window.  I kept telling myself that I couldn't blow it now - not after going out so fast for the first 21 miles. I kept my pace fairly steady and tried to enjoy the beautiful ocean views on the last 3 miles of the course.  The balls of my feet were hurting a little bit and my right calf was a bit sore.  My Quads were screaming at me.  I just kept thinking the finish line is coming - just 45 more minutes, just 30 more minutes, just 2 more miles - LESS THAN 20 MINUTES .... and then I'm entering the parking lot and it's all out sprint to the finish.  My fastest mile split on record was mile 24 at 8:01 min/mile (4:59 min/km) though I didn't hit the stop button at the very end so my last split had to be faster.

Finish: 3:36:57 chip time. 127th overall.  4/60 in my Age Group

I left it all on the course

beautiful sand sculpture
COOLEST medal ever!
Best place for a finish line!
Obviously, I had a blast running this race!  If I'm in South Florida at this time of year - I would definitely run it again! It was well organized and except for the miss-sized T-shirts and few short staffed water stations, it was a perfect day.

 And for now, all I know is I'll be running in Boston in 2014!

Here are some of the race photos:
it was dark for the first 45 mins

feeling good

smiling for the camera
BQ in the pocket

always great to have Barry at the finish line!

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