Garden of Life Palm Beaches Marathon and Half – December 11, 2022

Disclaimer: I received entry to Palm Beaches Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Ambassador. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Ambassador, and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

I used to run this race every year, 2013-2017 I never missed a year but then life happened and I stopped running it every year, plus I believe a few years it was canceled. I have never attempted the marathon option of this race but 2 loops of the same thing does not interest me much. I will probably stick to the half marathon option in future years. When I signed up for this race a few months ago I had an ultra marathon schedule for 3 weeks before and was not sure how my legs would feel for this race. But when the ultra got canceled I kind of slacked off with training. I went into this race really not knowing how I was going to feel or do for time and just looking at having fun and possibly running with my Bibrave teammate, Sarah.

I drove up to West Palm Beach on Saturday afternoon after my daughter’s swim class to pick up my race packet, as well as Sarah’s race packet. The expo was at the Meyer Amphitheater, right along the waterfront in downtown West Palm, it was in a large white tent and the weather was not too hot with the ocean breeze that afternoon. There were no lines to pick up my race stuff and all of the staff was super helpful so the whole pickup process took around 5 minutes, first to pick up race bibs, then race shirts and then the huge goodie bag of Garden of Life vitamins! Definitely a stress-free packet pickup, which is usually madness for other races in the South Florida area! Also there was a 4Ocean.com booth with beaded bracelets made from plastic retrieved from the ocean/rivers and some stainless steel cups so of course my daughter grabbed a couple of bracelets and hasn’t taken them off since. Overall it was a good race expo experience.

After the expo we headed to Jaxson’s in Dania Beach to celebrate a friend’s birthday and carb load with some fries and a giant strawberry sundae. These are the kind of bad nutrition decisions I make the day before longer distance races, but it all ended up fine and I had no tummy troubles for the race the next day, haha. I also tried to get to sleep a little earlier but that did not happen exactly but sometimes it’s worth it to lose a little sleep the night before a race. I had less pre race anxiety than I usually have, maybe I wasn’t too worried about running a half marathon again or maybe it was just I was dreading that long lonely drive up at 4am lol. My last half marathon did not go well but that was due to a very stressful situation and I was looking to redeem myself a little with this race.

Race morning –

Woke up at 3:15am in order to get out of the house by 3:45am to start the drive up to WPB, that 1 hr and 15 minute drive to the start line. My pre race food was a vanilla Honey Stinger waffle and a Just Egg folded in an english muffin. Also I usually do not drink Nuun before races, usually after but it seemed to work very well for me this time so I will have to add that to my pre race routine. I messaged Sarah which parking garage I parked in and she parked right beside me. We gathered our stuff and headed to find a bathroom, the last time I did this race there was an actual bathroom open but this year all we had was porta potties so we had to use those. We headed to the start line with about 10 minutes till 6am and it wasn’t too crowded like other races, it started getting crowded around 2 minutes before 6am. The race did not start on time but was around 7-8 minutes late but the sun was still hidden so that was okay. I quickly tucked in behind the 3:55 marathon pacer because I always start too quickly and was testing myself to see how long I could hold onto to that sub 9 minute pace. The weather was still slightly cool, around 67 lol, that’s cool weather for us down here. The pacer was super entertaining with all the info about the surrounding landmarks and running stories so it was easy to be distracted from the actual running. I did not stop at water stations until around mile 3-4. Just before mile 5 I heard and then spotted one of my favorite running friends, Harolyn! She was cowbelling and yelling at everyone, I detoured quickly and gave her a huge hug before sprinting back to the pace group. She got a pic of the moment and it’s hilarious to see the looks of the other runners in the pic. She biked the course on her daughter’s bicycle and caught me a few times along the way, like a personal race photographer 🙂 Miles 6-10 were kind of uneventful except for a part where we went under a little bridge, that was different and very cool under there. Around mile 10 there was a sign for mile 23 for the marathoners and some guys in front of me turned around with panic in their faces and asked “Is this still the half marathon?” LOL I assured them it was just the half marathon unless they did another loop for the marathon and they ran on. I do admit I took a couple short walk breaks along those last few miles. As we ran through the 12 mile area, where there was a relay team exchange I gave a high five to another runner friend, Stephanie of The Cookie Runner blog. The last mile always seems like it will be the longest but always seems to go by so fast. Once I saw my friend, Harolyn cheering me on and urging me to go faster just before hitting the finishing chute I sped up and passed a couple of runners before crossing the finish line. I was impressed with my somewhat fast finish of 2:00:17, much better than March’s half marathon. I collected my medal, water and Baptist Health ice cold cooling towel and headed back to find Harolyn. Found her right away and we went to the food tent to collect some post race food, this race had pancakes, sausage, bacon freshly cooked by Harolyn’s neighbor lol. I did not partake in the not vegetarian options but did grab some pancakes and a banana and bagel before leaving the food tent. They also had mimosas if you want a little bubbly after your race! Since I parked so close to the start/finish line I made it to my car very quickly to head back home.

Now currently still recovering with some hamstring/calve soreness but already for my next races, this time in Miami, so closer to home and allowing more sleep time! Definitely recommend this race if you want good weather and a fun place to stay before/after the race, there is so many more places to eat and stuff to do in WPB than I realized before. Plus that giant holiday sandcastle is nice to see too!

QUESTION: Who else has ran this race and what is your opinion of this double loop for marathon distance course?

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