A1A Marathon ’10

26mi. Wow! Today’s weather was really good for this race. I was a slight bit cold at 5am while deciding to run shirtless, but it was definitely the right choice as it warmed into the sunny 70s during my time on the streets. I was excited to run this morning, maybe because I was one of the “regular gang” this time, staying over the night before, having a good day and dinner down in Ft Lauderdale Saturday, and knowing so many people doing either the half or full. In prep, I found myself not well rested from the Australia trip. I stayed up to watch the Olympics at night which glommed my chances of normalizing the 16 hr time difference.  It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I did that four nights in a row! Not advisable.

Equipment: In the morning, I remembered to put the body glide stuff on the back side of my arms near my shoulders, I get some chafing on my back and inner biceps, so if I can do that little treatment, it works well.  I wore a visor and short track shorts, plus I used a tight fanny pack to store succeed pills and gels. Oddly, I could not find strawberry vanilla Power Gels, my fav flavor, but the ones I had worked well. I wore my polarized Oakley Jawbones on my head until the sun came up, then at mile 7 I stuck them on my face. Good move. My new iPod shuffle worked well, good songs and easy to control. No shirt meant I put it clipped to my waist pack belt. No problems with that setup.

The race: I started running as a pacer for Chiara and Adrienne, straight 8 minute miles was the goal so each of them could get PRs at below 1:45. Mile 1 was crowded, but still we did 7:50. Chiara’s leg started to bother her at mile 2, she fell back and worked to press through the uncomfort. I didn’t know it then, but she would not make it back up with us on the right pace. She ran under control at a slower pace – good for her in not quitting! Adrienne and I ran and chipped into the pace by about 5-10 secs per mile, soon we were in the Hugh Taylor Park with 50 seconds below the goal time pace.  I kept telling Adrienne that she looked strong (True!) and that she’d be able to keep her pace, maybe even pick it up faster in the final miles. We ran together for the first 9 miles, when I left her, she was looking good, working, but definitely performing well. I enjoyed seeing the half marathoners I knew running fast back at me from the turnaround.  This was John Reback, Ian, Lanae, Erica, Kyle Smith. A small breeze made running this am very nice.  Once I broke on my own, I told myself I wouldn’t go the iPod until I got past the half mark. Before that, I came up upon a guy from Renaissance Rehab doing his first marathon. He was good to talk to, trying to beat 3:35 or so. He was going too fast too early – I suggested he calm down but he didn’t, he said he felt good.  I didn’t get his name, I have no idea if he held on to get his time.  I ate the succeed pills, gels and water on my schedule. It seemed like the gels came up quick, sometimes I didn’t want to eat them, but I did anyway. In the turnaround neighborhood, I saw Gary Walk doing well, Charlotte with her 3:40 pacer, then Jon B., going faster than I thought he would be , somewhere ahead of the 3:50 pace group. As I went back to the long straightaway to the finish, I felt my legs tightening around mile 18. Not prohibitive, but noticeable. I kept my visor low to deflect sun, I took water at every stand I passed, and did a good job picking off people as I looked to slowly eat into my first half time to deliver a healthy negative split. On the Galt Ocean mile section, I passed several guys and girls. One girl, dressed in all black, must’ve lined me up as a result, because after mile 23 she surged past me!  I closed the gap after mile 24, but then my left calve puckered and threatened to cramp.  I tried changing my stride and stretching it long on the run, but it didn’t work.  I stopped to stretch it, once, then again in those final two miles.  I was not doing 7:40 pace, I was slowing because of my one leg. The final mile of the race was labelled the “Publix Mile” and they had a mat out to time it. I thought about how cool it would be to press a good low final mile, but when I pressed hard, my calf cramped so about half way to mile 26, I had to stop at a pole and stretch again.  Not bad, I wasn’t annoyed, I did that, got back on the pace and finished in 3:27 and change. I wanted anything below 3:30, so good effort. It was good to see Suzanne, Sal, Chiara, Adrienne and Kyle at the finish waiting for me. Sue and Jon B Jr. found me wandering around the finish area, I told them I would go back to mile 26, run in with Charlotte, then go back there again and come in with Jon. I did that – and gladly got off my feet to enjoy beer and some of the chocolate chip cookies.

For me, I had a great day with great people. A PR for Adrienne, a press thru the pain for Chiara, Charlotte and Stanton grabbed medals for a full and half performance. Ian was fast, Suzanne was happy with her time, Jon slowed considerably to finish later than expected, Erica got a second female overall and new PR for the half.  I didn’t get to see Heather Smith at all after the race, nobody from last night’s dinner saw her finish or milling around the area afterwards. She did a really good first-ever half marathon at 2:08, I hope she realizes that’s a great day on a good flat course. She had some stomach issues afterwards, so she retreated to her hotel. I hope she keeps up her running habit and continues reaping the rewards of fitness, confidence, stress relief, and selfishly, the exposure to new friends. She’s a winner!  New medals for the 5th ever running of the race were neat, a clamshell design as shown below. I hope they offer a blitz for early signups again in the coming weeks, I enjoy this course and the whole experience. I’ll take a chance at the course for year 6 in a row!

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