A1A Marathon & Half Race Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to A1A Half marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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Now on to this weekend’s events: On Saturday I attended the Publix Health & Fitness expo for the A1A Marathon and Half with my toddler. It was slightly different this year than last, this year our names were all on a huge poster instead of a car like last year. Packet pickup was a breeze, no long lines for me, but I did get there as soon as it opened pretty much. Some vendors were still setting up their booths when I got there but most were ready and willing to offer lots of samples. One of the first booths we came to was the Honey Stinger booth, I love Honey Stinger chews and waffles and train for long distances and races with the chews so I took a couple new flavors to sample and gave one to Phoebe. The guy at the booth kindly gave her a brand new box of a new kids line of waffles they just came out with, she was super excited about it! Treo had a yummy birch water drink, I tried a sample and went back for a full size drink to share with my daughter. Geico was out there and got another pic with the Geico Gecko, who my toddler could not stop talking about when we got home from the expo. Also won a Team Geico shirt, they promised to provide a free massage if you were wearing their shirt when you crossed the finish line, it was a little warm for a shirt with sleeves yesterday but still a great quality training shirt by Brooks. I will be running around Miami wearing my team Geico shirt for sure, and I am a policy holder too, haha! So we left there with some new products to snack on and my race bib fairly quickly, I had some mom weekend errands to run (Target, of course) so had to hustle out of there kind of quickly. My tip to you about the expo is go on the Friday that it opens or early Saturday to beat some of the crowds if you are interested in seeing everything and getting your race bib quickly.

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Race morning, my wake up time was 3:15am in order to leave my house by 4am to get parked and situated at least an hour before the race started. So timing was good and I made it up to Fort Lauderdale (a 45 min drive from Miami) and parked in the parking garage that I always park at for Fort Lauderdale races. Unfortunately I assumed that the race would be starting where most of the Fort Lauderdale halfs I have run have started in the past, umm, no, so guys, please check the address of the starting line BEFORE you park. So I decided to walk over to the McDonalds across the street to use the bathroom and of course that was locked up and the store does not open till 6am (when the race starts) but luckily I met two ladies from out of town and walked over to the starting line (about half a mile from where I parked) with them. The port a potty situation was a weird one, they were lining the sides of the starting corrals but there were lines for the potties in all different places, nothing like I have seen in the past. I was able to use the bathroom before I started the race and meet up with fellow BibRavePro, Dawana. Always fun to meet up with other pros, whether local or semi local, we both agreed to have no goals going into this race due to the high humidity and warm weather.

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The race had a slightly staggered start in the corrals, they would let a big group go and then stop the next group till the first group had a bit of a head start in order to minimize the possibility of trampling. I did not mind, it would’ve been annoying if I was going to run with a pacer that was well ahead of me but that was not the case. I always want to start out slow and get faster as I go but that almost never happens. I just looked at my mile split times for the race and my fastest mile is my first mile. I really liked the part where the course went into Birch State Park, I had never been there before and now I want go back and take my whole family to check it out. Definitely was cooler in the woodsy area and scenic, but the race never got extremely hot due to the overcast skies.  I was pretty even paced till the halfway point when I slowed down, also I met up with an Oiselle Volee teammate on the course that I never met before and we ended up talking about kids and races. It definitely helped those humid miles go by quicker when not focusing on how many miles are left, I ran with her until the last mile when she wanted to sprint to the finish. I wanted to take it slow and looked more at this race as training run because I have another half in two weeks and am not really sure I was in the best half running shape after running Miami Marathon only 3 weeks ago. It’s usually not advised to run race miles till 26 days after a marathon, not sure if it has been that long.

After crossing the finish line I had no issue getting water & Body Armor before collecting my awesome new jellyfish medal! Definitely one of the coolest medal I have ever earned from running a race, in fact it might be the coolest most unique medal ever. I have a few favorites and this one has joined those ranks. I haven’t ever had a medal with rubber moving parts, and the tentacles on this one are soft rubber.

I walked through the post race party area and first came to the Michelob Ultra beer trucks that were handing runners plastic cups full of beer, I passed on that. Kept going to see a Bubba Burger truck with a few burger options including a veggie burger option but passed on that too because I really did not think that having a “burger” after just finishing a race was a good idea. I did however have a slice of a cheese quesadilla from the Mission tortilla tent, because I think my body needed some sort of cheese at that moment, haha. I also took a carton of Vita Coco coconut water and a banana from the Publix tent, put them in my awesome Oiselle pocket jogger shorts that you can stuff full of stuff due to the crazy amount of pockets on them. I walked over to the beach to take some pics and just relax away from all the noise for a little bit. I did enjoy the cover band that was playing some old 90s rock songs every time I passed by, I like that kind of entertainment. Took one more walk around the post race area and talked to some friends who had just finished running the race also and made a little pit stop in the beach bathroom building before heading across the street to catch the bus back to the starting line. While on the bus I started to feel a bit sick but I figure it was due to the fact that I was finally sitting down after running a warm race, I felt much better after getting off the bus, even with the hot sun on my face as I was finally able to use my Goodr sunglasses to walk back to my car. I made sure to eat that banana that I got from the race food tent before driving home just in case I was going to start feeling bad on the 45 min drive home. I even considered going to the Starbucks drive thru that we passed while on the bus ride back to the parking area, but changed my mind as I just wanted to get home and wash the sweaty salt off my skin. Today I just heard there were a lot of DNFs at the race yesterday, most likely the marathoners as it was quite humid but surely started getting hotter during their second 13.1.

So while I went into this race with a sore, achy shin for the past few weeks, I ran the race with no pain at all and was not even limpy after the race like I have been after some runs in the past few weeks. Hoping this means that I am on the road to recovery with the shin splints and that it was just because of wearing the wrong shoes to work in the past few months. I know in the past few years most of the time this race is a very cool weather race, in fact I think a few years ago it was in the 40s when it started, so hopefully when I run it next year it will be cooler.

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Miami Marathon – February 2, 2014

A year ago I told my coworker that I had just signed up for a half marathon, at the time he had said soon you will be signing up for a marathon. At that time I said “No way! A marathon is way too much for me” actually believing that I could not do a full marathon. When I signed up for this race I had just finished the Tropical 5k, which is the 5k the day before the big race. There was a race blitz and I decided to sign up for the half marathon distance since it was 20% off by the time I got a chance to sign up. At the time I hadn’t even ran my first half marathon, yet was planning for a year in advance to run another one, the Allstate 13.1 Miami Beach was still a month away.

Fast forward to June, when I finally was cleared to start running again after my surgery I decided then that if I could survive such a big scare then I could run a full marathon. I started training a bit early in September since I was not sure how the holidays would go and effect my long runs. It is a good thing I did since lots of things came up the last few months of the year: a friend’s wedding & all the events that come with weddings, baby shower, unexpected races and travel. Since the Fall here is generally (not this year) slightly cooler than the rest of the year there are tons of races and I had to sign up for a lot of them I had to alter my long runs at times. For the most part I got in most of my long runs and two 20+ milers during training luckily still.

sparkle duct tape lettering, got the idea from Fannetastic.

sparkle duct tape lettering, got the idea from Fannetasticfood.com. Amazingly stayed on through sweat & rain!

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When race day started to approach and I started to taper a bit it was a very strange feeling, since I hadn’t tapered for any races since March. I will admit I might have been a bit more agitated by things around me also at the time. Otherwise I was feeling very confident in my training and the goal was to just finish the race feeling good. I’m proud to say I accomplished that goal and was able to make my final mile the fastest in my splits.

Before the race selfie.

Before the race selfie.

Waiting with Matt in Corral F.

Waiting with Matt in Corral F.

Race day morning I got up early, I’d say 3:30am and got ready to leave for the race, packing a small bag of things I might need. I got a ride with my aunt, who was doing the half marathon that day, she kept being negative about how she was probably going to get a call from a race official to pick me up from the road. Those kind of comments do not get me down, instead they just make me more determined to prove them wrong. I dropped my bag off at my aunt’s Galloway group tent and headed to the AAA to use the bathroom. When there’s a real bathroom I will take it any day over a smelly port a potty and luckily I got there just in time for them to open up another ladies bathroom. Then I headed to find the F corral where I would wait till the race started, it was a bit confusing to navigate especially with sooooo many people waiting around. Eventually I found it and sat down on the curb to wait, I find resting my legs as much as possible before the race begins helps me conserve more energy. I’ve never been one to stretch and hop around before a race and it’s always worked for me. My friend Matt met up with me in the corral and we started out the race together. I did not want to start out too fast so he kept me slow for the first couple of miles till he dropped off at the first water spot to stretch out his legs. I never really understood why people put their names so big on their shirts for races till I did the same, at first it was a bit weird having strangers scream “GO LISA” but eventually it really really helped me. I liked all the crowd support right over the Venetian Causeway, a giant mob of cheering faces. I stopped at a few water stops in the first half but all the water stops in the 2nd portion, by then it was getting very very warm. Even when the race started at 6:30am it was already close to 80 degrees so I knew I had to stay as hydrated as possible.  Basically the first 12 miles were super crowded since 75% of the people were signed up for the half marathon distance. Just around the time of the split I saw a couple people start to walk, I started cheering and telling them to get going and finish the half strongly. By the time we split off it was desolate and only a couple runners ahead and a couple behind but pretty quiet. Less cheering squads except at the water stops, usually there were cheerleaders there which were helpful and cheered for me by name. I have to say the Coconut Grove residents who were out in their front yards cheering and giving everyone water/snacks were awesome! At around mile 16 in Coconut Grove the skies started getting dark and when the wind picked up I knew we were about to get some rain. Quickly I pulled out my phone to put it in a plastic baggie so it wouldn’t get soaked and my grandma was calling. I picked up and told her I had 10 more miles to go and had to get off the phone because rain was coming. Five minutes after I hung up with her it started pouring, so for the next 5 miles I ran through the rain. Ran by an awesome resident giving out ice cold beer just before the Rickenbacker Causeway but didn’t partake in any. I just wanted to keep up the momentum because I knew if I would slow down for too long I would get lazy and walk too much. That was the hottest part of the race, there is no shade out there with Biscayne Bay beside you. Back in Brickell I passed lots of brunch’ers who cheered me on drunkenly while stumbling down the sidewalk, that was pretty amusing. I was so happy to see that mile 25 sign that I increased my speed and it ended up being my fastest mile of the whole marathon! But that last mile did seem the longest with a steep bridge just before the final .40 , I trudged over it and once I turned the corner and saw that finish line arch I sprinted to it. Never had I felt so accomplished after crossing that finish line. I got my medal and put a Nuun tablet in my water immediately and grabbed a banana from the food tent. Then met up with my aunt and her running friends at the Galloway tent to rest, I knew I had to keep moving for a bit longer so that I wouldn’t get really stiff afterwards. By that time the side of my knee was aching and I was kind of hobbling around, my IT band. Never have I had a problem with it before, but probably going those 26 miles for the first time aggravated it. When I got home later that day I made sure to ice it and put my Zensahs on, seemed to help. For the next few days my quads and hamstrings were achy but nothing crazy, so I rested and did not run for 3 days after.

Almost to the finish line!!

Almost to the finish line!!

1st Marathon medal.

1st Marathon medal.

Got my trusty Zensahs on & still got all my toenails!

Got my trusty Zensahs on & still got all my toenails!

Here are my mile splits:

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Overall I felt that this marathon experience was a great one. I didn’t worry about my finishing time, this race’s goal was just about finishing and feeling good still. I succeeded and signed up for next year’s marathon again. Can’t wait!

Palm Beaches Half Marathon – December 8, 2013

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This race was a last minute decision race, I actually ran it for a friend of mine who was not able to make it to the race. And who could turn down a free race? I knew that even though this race would not count towards my Storm Series medals I would still have the satisfaction of being a secret category 4 runner. The only thing that had me stressing about this race was the fact that it was 2 hours from home. I tried to weigh the pros and cons of getting a hotel and staying overnight there or driving up there very early the day of the race. I ended up driving up there the day of, which I will not do if I choose to do this race again, next time I will stay in a hotel and get some rest rather than waking up at 3am to drive on a very lonely highway. On the way up there I noticed a couple of cars swerving so I was  a little paranoid about getting hit by a drunk driver on the way there. Turns out I did end up getting hit by a car, but not on the way, but rather while I was parked and racing. Not a terrible hit, but still a dent in the side of my car from apparently someone who does not have a cell phone or phone number to call and report.

A sweaty thumbs up.

A sweaty thumbs up.

Finish line focus.

Finish line focus.

Anyways back to the race, I had never been to beach area of West Palm Beach, only to the concert venue up there, which is not close to the beach at all. I drove up the day before to pick up my race packet since there was no race day packet pickup, and ended up making the day of it, stopping by Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale to go shopping. For the race I decided to again find a pace group and run with them, I choose the 4:20/2:10 group. This race was a half and a full marathon and some of the people in the pace group were doing a relay option for the marathon. I talked to a lady who had been running for 20 years while I ran the first 7 miles. Then I started to feel really bad, crampy and just lightheaded so I started stopping at the water stops and walking through them, at that time my music started getting screwy and skipping songs after 30 seconds. It was an extremely hot morning, I’m pretty sure I got a tan it was so hot. I knew I had to stay as hydrated as possible and keep going, even if I had a bad time it would not count against me. There was hardly any shady areas in this race, meaning we were being roasted by the sun the whole time. I was never happier to see a finish line when I finally got there. Another kind of bad thing about this race was that we had to run by the finish line when we still had about 5 miles to go, kind of annoying. Something I really liked about this race was the fruit on the course, they had strawberries, I normally do not eat the food/gels on the courses since I bring my Honey Stinger energy chews but this time I walked eating a cup of strawberries. I finished the race in 2:16:01. I exchanged my race shirt for my size and went over to World of Beer for my free beer, I choose Sierra Nevada since it’s a pretty light beer. I normally get a banana at the end of races but this time when I went to get one they were green so I passed on that. I ate a Luna bar that I had in the car instead. I rested a bit before the long 2 hour drive home and then journeyed home to later discover the dent on the side of my car that I overlooked while in my post race daze. This race was dedicated to Matt, who could not race this one.

Pretty sand castle.

Pretty sand castle.

Sierra Nevada & new medal

Sierra Nevada & new medal

Close up of my 3rd half marathon medal.

Close up of my 3rd half marathon medal.