26.22 mi. Our substitute run for the canceled Palm Beach Marathon went well! We had 13 runners attend, many completing the half course. A few broke off from before the half course to find their stashed water and to continue on ~ completing 17 miles.
There weren’t many people out at 5:15 am when I arrived. Thankfully Starbucks employees allowed me to use the restroom. I parked on Clematis St and left 9 small water bottles on the hood of my car in a Publix bag. My plan was we would run right by these at mile 9-ish, I’d have some to drink and some to share.
I went to the traditional Start/Finish Line of the Palm Beach Marathon.
No other runners arrived at 5:30am as I advised. All I heard the changeable message board flash and blink its recurring text. No cars, no breeze, it was very still. I had a forecast of a SSE wind, but nothing yet. I heard voices and at ten to six, I saw some runners. I met “Team Sweden” plus Adam Schiff, Set Kaufman and two others I didn’t know. I went over the printed maps I had made, informing everyone that the course was marked in a special way with temporary white spray paint arrows at every turn. We took a few pictures, and moments after 6am, we started the run. As a group, we ran together for the first 3/4 of a mile. Ulrike, Steve, Hamed and a few others went ahead at a faster clip. We went up Flagler Drive, making a detour for the seemingly neverending north bridge construction. At just before 3 miles, we saw Pete Willis’ Podium Performance water stop. They had
enough drinks and fruit slices for double our group’s size. The course heads north up to 58th Street, then south back down to 36th St again. We found the first group at the stop, they went ahead again for the next 3 miles until we came back to the same stop as we would have in the marathon. Then we ran the trickiest part of the course, following the painted arrows zig-zagging through the Northwood area of homes.
I commented that by runner experience, this was the best pace group I’d ever been with. Dave Garfield, Gary Walk, Adam Schiff, Seth Kaufman, Dave’s daughter, Mary Monks, we had plenty of race day knowledge. This made for some good stories, many were centered around Palm Beach Marathons in the past. We spoke about what could occur next year, when the race comes back under new ownership and race management.
We ran south on Dixie Highway, making it back into downtown West Palm Beach and among the buildings. When we got to Clematis Street, we discovered the bag full of water bottles near my car were gone. It was light out, that must have been a welcome sight and treat for whoever took them.
Our slower paced group continued south. Past Okeechobee Blvd and into the nicer neighborhoods south of downtown. Past PBA College, into El Cid all while following the painted markings on the street.
At 11 miles, I lost my escort. That’s where the course splits and the half marathoners head back to the Meyer Amphitheatre area. Ulrike, Steven and Hamed broke away a mile earlier. They took a different route along the Intracoastal to match up with water they had stashed along the way. I had done the same the night before while marking the course, but my water stops were on the real course, hidden in bushes.
Southern Blvd and Flagler Drive was closed for construction. For cars, this would be a problem, for solo runners – easy! This is the first place I had water left for myself and whoever was along with me. There’s a short turn into a neighborhood to burn a few hundred meters, I do that and don’t see anyone, runners or homeowners. I see at mile 13 or so that I have kept myself at about a 2-hour running time. I know I should go faster on the back half, so I come up with this:
I’m pacing the Miami Marathon in January as a 3:50 runner. I will work to get myself back to the finish line in time for that – as if I had a group to pace on today’s run.
Almost, because I did stop my watch to scurry in the bushes and find my hidden waters, plus I did a porta potty break in Lake Worth on the way back north. It is a good route along Flagler, it’s breezy from the Southeast. I come around the canal into the College Park area, where I have more water. I am using gels and salt pills for this run. I didn’t eat all of the gels, but I was accurate having salt pills approximately every 4 miles. And I kept water with me. I put too much water out, not knowing I’d be alone for the back half of the run. It was ok, but not a good route for scenery. IN the race, there would be aid stations and other runners. This is not an ideal solo training route, however!I make it over to Federal Highway and head as far south as the route goes. Once I get to 2nd St, I snap a “proof” picture to show I’ve made it to the furthest point south on the course. It’s also a water hide spot. I use this mini break to remove my run shoes and stretch my toes. The Skechers Go Run Ride 5 are constricting to me, even with the triathlon laces. I’ll have to revert back to the wonderfully comfortable Go Run Ride 4s or try a new shoe for the next race.
I now head north, knowing each step will take me closer and also in the correct direction. I stop at a home under construction for a bathroom break near Harvard St and the Intracoastal. I end up checking my buzzing phone, it’s a text from Nina Krauder who just drove up from a long night at Art Basel in Miami. She thinks she may have seen me running in Lake Worth a few minutes ago.
Once around the canal and back on Flagler Drive, I feel my muscles tightening and feet becoming uncomfortable. I hit the same water stops again and cross back into WPB. Past the Southern Blvd torn-up construction zone, onto Greenway Rd and the well-known Mile 24 water stop spot. Then I’m on familiar ground, I head north on Flagler Blvd towards the Okeechobee bridge. In my head, I wonder if anyone will be waiting for me at the finish. Maybe some of the runners that did the half got breakfast and will return to see me?
This doesn’t end up being the case. I round the last curve of the downtown waterfront and towards the breezy and still silent Meyer Amphitheater. There’s no one out, I run in and finish with 3:49:27 – a good time for pacing. I see Kimmie Meissner and her friends starting a 6-mile run. they said they wanted to come out earlier with our group but got crossed up on that plan. I’m sore and walking slowly back to my car. I do get a couple to take my photo near the finish, holding a printed copy of the route map I started with and hid in the shrubs near the street. I walked down to Run & Roll but they didn’t open for another 35 minutes. I couldn’t wait for that – so I drove home.
I’m glad I went through with it and completed the whole course. Years from today I’ll be very glad I ran when I didn’t need to run, and didn’t stop when I wanted to hang with the group at halfway.
Here’s the route I ran on Garmin Connect website…
That’s 13 Palm Beach Marathons in a row. And 12 medals.