2021 Garden of Life Palm Beaches Marathon

26.2 – A warm start and a hot finish will accurately describe how this race is remembered. We had a big group from our area in the half marathon, and a few first time marathoners trying this course out, also.

Prior to the race, I was involved with the WPBF live broadcast. I was interviewed by two of the morning sports news guys, Yianni and Shayne. They asked a few questions about the race, about the role of a pace team leader, and about larger marathons like Boston and New York

When being interviewed in the dark, you can’t see the camera person or the camera – just bright lights.

My pace group was smaller than in previous races, I had maybe 6 half marathoners and two that were completing the full distance. For the half I had Matt, Ashley, Jesus, Katie, and Steve that I remember. Maggie was one of my full runners, along with Kevin, in hs first marathon. He was with a group from Wellington that all committed to the race together, then ALL of his friends dropped out except for him!

I knew today would get warm, so I brought a ziplock bag of Salt Stick pills. I never missed a water stop, although the use of clear plastic cups was peculiar. They were usually half filled, with water being room temperature and Gatorade usually being nicely chilled. I ate Maurten gels at 8 miles, 14 miles and another at just after 20 miles. Getting the half marathoners to their finish was fun. I had some attrition, but a few were within eyesight when our smaller group turned for the second loop and allowed the halfers to claim their finish line. Jesus, Katie and Ashley did well to stay with me. I felt like I was working appropriately for the pace I was doing, I didn’t have any stomach, heat, or energy issues. At the end of the first loop I saw Kerry from last year’s pacing endeavor, she had finished and wound her way up to the small street behind the amphitheater to take a photo of me & the two runners I had left. (Maggie & Kevin)

All good on pace & accurate timing up to the north turnaround, Maggie fell off the pace but wasn’t more than 1/4 mile behind. I yelled to her in the turn around parking lot that she should keep us in view and chip away at the distance between us if she felt better. That didn’t happen, as the heat began to make itself known on Flagler Drive heading south. The sun was higher in the sky and we weren’t getting much shade any longer. Kevin was with me in the miles coming south from the FP&L Manatee Center to approximately Currie Park, 23rd Street and mile 18-ish. Then I was alone. Maura Hennessey found me while riding the course on her bike, she took these pictures in between miles 16-17…

Once I was on Flagler Drive approaching Mile 19, I had been doing well on pace time. I was to the second accurate as I passed the 19th mile marker sign. And in the next 5 minutes, my energy fell off. I saw my pace dwindle to 9:00 per mile, then 9:10. At first I thought I was in a bad area for the Garmin. It did feel more labored to run at the 8:45 pace, but I wasn’t worried. In the next 1/2 mile, that would change.

By the 20th mile, my large muscles on the inside of both legs were becoming a problem. I know I drank water and gatorade, plenty of Pedialyte yesterday afternoon and this morning. Things were declining fast, as I was now 30 seconds off pace and cramping. I stopped briefly (while running solo) to stretch out what I thought would make it feel better, no luck. I walked through the next water stop, the Night Runners WPB with their Naughty Girls and cross-dressed guys. I took two waters, another water cup over my head, and i walked through and stretched my legs.

This wasn’t working.

As I came within 1/2 mile of the Start/Finish Line, I knew I wasn’t on pace any longer, nor did I have any supplies ready for friends to pass to me at the most crowded portion of the course. I threw the 3:50 sign out at a corner trash can and became a regular runner – just in time for everyone to see as I approached the main race area and shortly thereafter, Mile 21.

I ran and walked the remaining 5 miles. My legs did not recover despite me taking in even more water, two more salt pills, and stretching. I’d make deals with myself akin to “I’ll run from this corner to the row of cones ahead. Some of the time I wasn’t able to do that, I’d get cramps that would stop me in place while standing straight up. It happened once very bad on South Olive Ave near the south turnaround. I knew the two guys manning the turnaround timing mat – We joked about the new 7/11 at the corner bing open (It wasn’t yet) and what I’d do for and with a large Coke Slurpee. I saw Pacer Prasantha running with one guy, then Scott also running among people. He reported he wasn’t on pace any longer, either.

I came through the Forest Hill High School aid station, took more cold Gatorade, poured water over my head and on my arms, and continued the walking and running when I could.

I am a terribly slow walker!

Heading back north for the final 2+ miles was also slow. I could not run for 400-600m without stopping to make sure those “puckers” in my legs didn’t seize everything up. I passed a group of friends from the Couture Club at the last water stop, a fun group that gave me at the very least, a mental boost.

I came around the final large bend and group of buildings at Phillips Point, figuring I could run most of the way back. Once I passed the 26 Mile sign, I waved at people I knew and ran towards the finish chute. That wasn’t how this was going to end, however. With a mere 150 meters to go, both legs cramped, freezing me in a slightly bent position. I couldn’t stand straight up, that hurt too much in the groin area. I bent over as if to touch my toes, nope, that wasn’t working, either. Daniel and Mike Reinhardt came down the chute to help – there wasn’t anything they could do. I tried walking backwards, I found that I couldn’t walk the width of a paver-brick outlined crosswalk! So ridiculous, I was only 15 seconds from the finish line. Once my legs relaxed I ran in and claimed my finisher’s medal. a final time of 4 hours + 20 minutes. What a flameout of a performance.

This would have been a good opportunity to wear a belt that carries fluids, I would have done better in this extreme heat if I could have been using The Right Stuff, a drink that has proven to be successful for me in the South Florida heat.


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