This year’s event was thankfully sponsored by Colavita again, which made for a great weekend of fun. The race was held on what I refer to as “the covid course” of two loops on A1A. This route was the substitute used last year when bus transportation and a crowded start area was to be avoided. It does allow the race management to enjoy a savings of $$ and resources with less water stops, police coverage, road closures, etc. So I think this may be the “A1A way” going forward.
We had a great Colavita dinner in Pompano on Friday to start the weekend. I went with Maria, and had to remember to buy ice after that meal to use for the PBRR Juno water stops the next morning. Easy enough, but I didn’t really feel like waking up so early to not be a part of the running the next morning.
I went to the Expo which was held at the Broward Convention Center. It was good to see that piece of the weekend restored. Maureen, Mike and his sister Stephanie and I wandered the hall and collected samples.
Race morning was an early meet with Maureen to drive to the Start/Finish Line area. We knew to come into the race zone from the south, that made it easy to park and walk across the street to the beach park start line. The lines for the portable toilets were very long, this occupied me such that I wasn’t in the Colavita Team photo that was taken at the beginning. We met up near the start and took a few of our own photos, then the race began with a normal, no-staggered start.
In speaking with Maria, we were both content with running a good managed pace and finishing well for our respective age groups. The forecast was for warm 71 degree temperature at the start, humid, and warming throughout the morning. The wind was a big factor this year, coming from the north, it would make both loop segments heading i that direction a challenge.
The first 3 miles runs south of the start area, through a residential neighborhood near the Port Everglades inlet. It’s dark and there are traffic speed bumps, I had to be cautious not to watch other runners in some of the dark areas, instead paying more attention to the route and road surface. I ran past Maureen and Tina Daughtry, then Alicia Schultz. I saw a few others I knew on this short loop – all before the daylight came. I ran near an eight minute first mile, I wasn’t restricted by crowds, I could have gone faster and still not have been in a bottleneck. My next few miles were faster, 7:35 and such before I was back on A1A heading north.
Once in the wind, I found a few guys that were running at my same 7:40-7:50 ish pace. I ran next to them, behind them, but the benefit was being with them. I felt the wind, very gusty at times, but having a group to bite into the breeze really helped. We went through miles 4-7 together. One of the guys was very tall. As we began mile 8, he increased pace and the others slowed. This was where the condo buildings came on the east side of the road and also where we began seeing the lead half marathoners returning. Our course went north of their turn around point, continuing to Palm Ave and in the Lauderdale by the Sea neighborhood. I was running solo now on a less crowded road, the marathon doesn’t have as many runner as the half. Now that becomes very obvious. Mike Reed was heading south already and saw me before I turned around and yelled my name. He was having a great run, this would lead to him finishing in 3:08 for a new PR. We head north for a little over a mile, then I reached our turnaround. That’s near mile 9.5. Now it’s south running with a wind behind me. I still had the same 7:40-7:50 paces for each mile. I ate Maurten gels at near every 4th mile, I took water from the aid stations and carried Right Stuff liquid in a bottle belt. I sipped at that often, so as to mix it in early and hopefully avoid cramps when the later miles and hotter temps came.
I was not running near too many others on the south portion of the first loop. This goes to about mile 14.5. I mixed in with a few slower half marathoners as they ran for their finish line. I saw a few more friends here, Lisa Smith, Rex Noble, Angie Kapala and Anne Carroll. I ran almost to the entrance of the finish line park for the turn around to begin Loop #2. It was now more windy than the first loop, and there wasn’t anyone to run along with. I was happy to have sunglasses for wind, and yes the sun was also up now and making this stretch for miles 15, 16, 17 warm. I ran up again past the half marathon turn point, still at pace under 8 min per mile. As I came to Palm Ave again, I saw Mike Reed a second time. He was now approximately 2 miles ahead of me – running solo and at a good pace. I told him he looked strong and I headed back to Lauderdale by the Sea. I was keeping a good rhythm, I wasn’t feeling slower or cramping. I saw Maria after I hit the 20 mile mark which is near the northernmost turnaround for loop #2. She was running with another lady and chatting. I figured she had gotten closer to me since I last saw her at the bottom turnaround. I guessed she would speed up and pass me, giving an encouraging pat on the shoulder as she went by. This didn’t happen, but as I made my way south again I thought she’d be coming past a few times.
I was now in the final 5 miles of running. I could keep the pace, the heat was up, and I took focus of remembering to drink the now warm Right Stuff in my carry bottle. A marathon always has that challenge, even when you’re not pacing at a max speed. There’s pain, there’s fatigue, and you’re in your head about how to deal with it. I felt small hints of leg muscle cramps, this was near mile 23. Now I was running towards the finish line, taking as straight of a path as possible, and feeling the hurt. I could have kept the pace, but as I came closer to Sunrise Blvd, I was happy to not trigger the niggles of cramping. I slowed as I weaved through the slowest of half marathoners, some waking in groups across the road. When I was still north of the condo buildings, I saw clouds cover the sun and give shade to the exposed last 3 miles of the course. Now that I was running that segment – I could see ANY clouds that were lining up to block the sun. I saw a large ship docked offshore that hadn’t moved all morning. I saw a cruise ship leaving the port. And I felt my legs becoming heavier. My mile 25 & mile 26 were both at 8:05 pace. I ran into the park and happily completed the 17th year-in-a-row for this race.
My final time was 3:25, which was a positive split of near two minutes for my first half vs the second half. The heat and wind did give me some trouble, this was a good “reality check” training run to remind me that all marathons have struggles. My placement in my age group results was 4th, which showed that faster guys are running this event in the 55-59 category. Last year my time was even slower but it made for a 2nd place AG award.
Around the finish I reconnected with our group, listened to the live music, and met and chatted with more friends. Gary Morgan and Dave (The Sexy Canadian) were around, and the Colavita Team won a few good awards. Eric K finished with a 3:01 in the warm conditions. He credits that to ultra training in the heat for long South Florida training runs. He did well!
We have had two warm ones in a row – here’s to hoping next year we even the scales and get a cool morning for this race.