A1A Marathon 2016

This one pieced together nicely! Included in the sponsor’s private team, I ran well on the “Valentine’s Day” edition of Ft Lauderdale’s A1A Marathon. Some bites and thoughts from the weekend…

  • I went to the Colavita Athlete Appreciation Dinner on Friday night with Cami as my guest. Erica and her date, Patrick from Colorado, Stacey Paton, Eric Kalina and Ryan Billings were also there. Colavita did our packet pickup for us; and provided lululemon gear for us to wear in the race. This was VERY well done at Osteria in Deerfield Beach.
  • I stayed off my feet as much as possible Saturday, doing some shopping in the morning and watching the Olympic Trials in the afternoon. Good mental fruit for the day before a race! Diane and John watched alongside me – I ate a salmon dinner early (4:30pm) before driving to Ft Lauderdale to stay with Helen and her family.
  • Stacy is F-A-S-T!

    Sleeping 5 miles from the start line, we woke up maybe 45minutes later than if I would have driven down from Palm Beach. No problems parking or getting to the event’s start line. The only person I found from the team was Stacy. We decided to start together, Helen was also planning to keep pace with us as long as she could.

“There’s always a great vibe at the start of this race.”

  • Race morning was 60 degrees at the start with winds 12 mph from the North. I didn’t feel cold at the start. I made sure I hit the restroom twice before running. I wore calf sleeves for the race, thinking if Greg and Laura Bennett use them for silly Saturday runs, I could benefit a small bit with them. And a “small bit” could be all I need!
  • Valentine’s Visor

    I wore a pink visor and some adhesive hearts from Michael’s craft store – that was easy to create. Welcome in the Valentine’s Day garb…

  • Starting out at near 7:30 pace felt fast. I didn’t have many training miles coming into the race, so when the two girls started to push faster at points I tried to remind them we were at 7:15 or faster pace. Coming over the Las Olas bridge, the familiar sunrise and cheers of the first real grouping of fans met us. Good use of the gels every 5 miles and salt pills every 4 helped today. I was able to use the VegaSport gels, once I discovered that the only local store selling them anymore is Nutrition S’Mart.
  • The run around Hugh Taylor Birch park was good for me, cool temps, light from the sun and a quick speed up to run ahead and pee in the woods. I know it stays on my mind when I try to hold that in, so here was a good opportunity to fix that before we saw fans and the streets of Ft Lauderdale again!

    Helen, my host so close to the Start Line!
  • I saw April, Stephen and Ulrike at mile 8 prior to the half marathon turn off. Coming at me, I experienced the perennial exciting sensation of seeing Aldo, John Reback, Adam Schiff, Stacy and Erica heading home in their race.

“Once the course splits, we see who is really in this game.”

  • The marathon course was windy in my face and offered no one for me to draft or follow. One guy in a white t-shirt was always about 5-10 seconds ahead of me, besides that it was the occasional pass of a guy or gal and stay focused on running smooth. I wanted to hit the halfway mat at 1:38. I had to keep care of my visor in the wind and try to stay near buildings because I somehow thought they’d shield me from some of the wind.
  • Halfway checked in at 1:38:12. That’s good, I knew that in less than 3 miles I’ wouldn’t be facing the wind anymore. I got next to and spoke with the t-shirt wearing guy, he was from out of town. I explained that we will be out of the wind soon. Then I passed him and saw the male and female race leaders heading at me. The slight turn before mile 14 was right into the wind, now since the race began it was changing direction. I was going Northwest and that’s where the wind was coming from!
  • I made it up to the “neighborhood.” There were no water stops here as in years past. I passed a few guys and noticed a brightly dressed African guy – I thought, “Am I tempting  fate passing a Kenyan at Mile 15.5?” I didn’t see him for the rest of the race.
  • Running south, I spotted Cami ahead of her pace and I saw other locals coming up for their turnaround. Winds were now more from the East, I felt significant gusts when I ran in a gap between buildings. It’s “time to run home” I thought and said to myself. Regardless of what the wind was doing, I had to make it back in less time than it took to cover the first half. I did not check my watch for time against my pace band for the final 10-mile stretch home.

“I try not to put too much thought into any distance ahead, just running smoothly and under control, breathing and pacing properly.”

  • I missed seeing mile markers 21 and 22. I was happy and my calves both began the quivers of cramping just before 23. I knew the route would be more interesting once I began running along the beach. The sun was out, it was a great day and now we had fan, run club and music support. I didn’t know what I was clocking per mile, but I felt on pace and started speeding up for the last long stretch of A1A.
  • Once I got within a mile of the finish, I saw Julie next to the pro photographers. At least one person I knew would be around at the finish line! I still felt good, the cramping was there on both legs but was under control. I made the turn and zipped into the park for the last dash to the finish line. This is what I always hoped an “A” performance would feel like at the end. I saw the timing clocks at 3:14 something, I knew I was around 2 minutes within gun time, so my pace had kept strong. Across the line I was at 3:15:14 – a personal best.
  • a1a-groupRegina, Helen and April were nearby as I drank water and absorb the day. I saw Jean-Louis, he said he didn’t run fast today, only a 3:08. What I didn’t know was, he had moved up an age group. I finished 1st for 50-54 males and in tune with Erica, Ryan and Eric, all whom also won their AG titles. It was a great showing today for the Colavita Team! I stayed around for beer, pics with friends and the belated awards ceremony. Some kooky yoga pics with Cami happened on the wall of Ft Lauderdale beach, my legs regretted doing that!a1a-group2


Recapping a great day means I was thankful to have energy, fitness and the health necessary to do well. I love the course, know when to ease into the pain (miles 7 and 14 come to mind!) and how I should be feeling rough near the end. I am fortunate that I was able to be in the right place and not injured at all for the convergence of cool weather and a South Florida marathon – thank God!

Valentine’s Day with Katerina and Audrey



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