2023 A1A Marathon

The 18th running of this event was a hot one!

I attended the Colavita Dinner Friday night at Luigi di Roma with Maria. The meal was great – the transit to the restauarnt in Deerfield Beach is crazy! This is always a test of patience as the drive down on a Friday late afternoon takes WAY longer than it ever should. Colavita had a new VP in town for this event, we met him and his wife, plus Matt Lorraine, A1A Marathon Race Director came for the first time in ten years. He sat at a different table but I did squeeze in a few words with him before he left.

Race morning was easy, I met Maureen at 3:30 am at the Publix parking lot on Northlake Blvd. We drove to the Bahia Mar VIP parking area, which wasn’t full at 4:30 when we arrived. We guided Kerry in to the same lot and went to the Start Line area. a trip to the porta-potty lineup and it was very quickly time for the event to start. I saw most of our local racers milling about before the start, plus met Maria for pics with the Colavita team at the Start Line.

It was warm already – 74 degrees and humid with a breeze coming directly off the ocean. I used a well-vented lululemon singlet, lined lululemon shorts, my first pair of Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes, Injinji toe socks, and a mid sized leather fanny pouch. I had 5 Maurten gels on board, a Right Stuff packet (didn’t use it) a canister of Salt Stick pills and three Aleve tablets in a tiny ziplock bag in case my tender right hamstring became unbearable.

I was runner #8 again, this year on a brightly colored bib that was clearly different from the “purple with white” half marathon numbers. We started 10 minutes later than expected, 6 am vs 5:50 am. I ran the first two miles at a 7:50 pace – kind of what I wanted to do as this is the pace I started and finished with last year. I saw Alicia running in front of me at the second mile marker, I ran behind her with about three people between us. I didn’t want to start talking yet, I was waiting to see (after a good amount of days off) how my right hamstring would feel at this run pace. Just past the 2nd mile, I found out. It was tighter than the left side, and it wasn’t fading away. I figured this was too early for any physical issues, I would run my pace a little slower and see if easing off helped. Miles 3 & 4 were back out of the south neighborhood, we passed by as the 6k runners were making their way out of the park and on to their race course. I stayed at between 7:50 pace and 8 minute pace for the first ten miles. I followed Alicia and came up next to her once the sun rose. This was near mile 6-7.

I saw Daniel walking back on the sidewalk, he pointed to his stomach and said he was done for this race. I ran with Alicia for maybe 1/2 mile, then we separated. I don’t think I sped up, it was getting warmer and her pace went from 8 minutes per mile to prob 8:15 – 8:20. I was now near mile 7 and running next to the tall condo buildings. I saw the half marathon lead motorcycle, the lead guy, and Brandon Smith in 4th place all heading at me. Besides that I may have only seen Rick Mongeau up near the 1/2 Marathon turnaround. I think I was closer to the race leaders at this start than in previous years. Usually I see some of the girls I know and more of my guy friends, too.

My hamstring was tighter as I got to where the half marathoners spun back towards their finish. I ate all three of the Aleve tabs I had just past Mile 8. I felt good going to the turnaround point for the first time, I figured the pills would keep things at this level of moving discomfort and I could keep this pace. I saw Rachel as I headed south, I wasn’t too far behind her. I didn’t have any thoughts of how I would catch her, this pace was good for me. It was getting warmer. I ran to the end of the condos and saw my pace slowing to 8:15-8:20. This was understandable as I went through the beachfront sunny miles heading to the turnaround for Lap #2. I saw the marathon race leader really spreading a big gap between all other runners. He was half smiling, half bearing down while keeping a sub 6 minute pace in the heat. I saw Margo walking on the same sidewalk Daniel used, she said her foot hurt.

The turnaround on the south end was easy – this allowed me to see more friends & familiar faces. The temperature continued to warm up, I did like the open breeze off the water. That changed after mile 16 when we went behind the condos again. Shade = Yes, Breeze = Sometimes on, sometimes off.

The 16th, 17th and 18th miles had my hamstring flaring up again. The 8:20-ish pace was now too much of a strain to keep without the overriding thought of sustaining a race-ending injury. I slowed and walked through a water stop briefly so I could get a pair of my salt pills ingested. I had taken one each 4-5 miles, but I know it would continue to warm up in the final 8 miles. The turnaround loop was between Miles 19-20. Again I walked through the big aid station in Lauderdale By The Sea, taking a wet towel and some of both water + Body Armour drink. I saw Rachel & Maria again at the turn neighborhood, both looked good and on their proper pace. It was definitely hotter now, the low buildings in this neighborhood don’t cover the sun after a certain time. I was anxious to get to the two miles of semi-shade behind the condos before getting the 3 sun exposed miles. My mindset changed from, “How fast will I get there” to “I’ll get there whenever – minus a hamstring pull or injury.”

The miles in the shade leading up to the final stretch of beach road were labored. I felt more soreness on the right side rear portion of my hamstring & glute. I have the London Marathon to do in two months, I can’t break at this one – only to come home with a lackluster time anyway!

I wasn’t annoyed that I had broken out of a normal pace, and I began to walk through each water stop. One cup of water to drink, one to pour on my head. I kept going past Mile 24, a marker sign placed in the middle of the street between two median planters. I went through the Ft Lauderdale Run Club aid station at Sunrise Blvd, knowing I was about 1.5 miles from the finish. It was definitely getting warm. I know the run gives me Mile 25 right before the overpass bridge thing at the Westin Hotel. From there I can see the overpass at Marriott Beach Place, that’s another aid station. I saw Tim Daughtry raking used cups & said “Hi” as I passed. In my final mile, as I thought, Kerry came up from behind me as I was walking and said it’s time to run it in. I ran next to her, chatting a little bit. She asked where the final mile sign was, I explained where the park entrance was and we ran together through a group of race photographers. At the park entrance a family toting beach chairs and backpacks crossed right in front of out path. The usual set of cones directing the runners into the park weren’t there, so I told Kerry to follow me and run up into the other lane to get around the “beach family.” We ran towards the Bahia Mar pedestrian overpass to where the Mile 26 sign usually is. I saw Team Boca on the right in their usual spot, party in progress! I told Kerry that this is the day, ths is what PR feels like, go run for the finish! She did with a big smile on her face, crossing the line in 3:50 for her new personal best time! I didn’t want to be in those photos – I just went my slower pace to finish 15-20 seconds later.

My 3:50 finish time earned a 7th place age group slot. The AG winner at age 59 posted a 3:05 I believe!

I found Kerry and Maureen once in at the finish, then Judy and Natalie, too. We found a new unbuilt cardboard box to lie on in the shade of a tent. That proved good to stretch out on and take off my Injinji socks and shoes. We met up with perennial A1A runner Dave – the “Sexy Canadian” and had a beer with him. I dipped my feet in a kiddie pool full of ice water at a vendor’s tent, that was good but still amazingly cold on my tired toes!

We stayed until almost noon at the finish line area, then drove back to Southern Blvd and Flanagan’s Lounge for food and drinks. Maureen, Anne, Mike, Nicole and Fiona came to that. I did get Nicole ot take the above photo of Anne and I, the two runners left with the A1A Marathon 18 year streak of successful starts and finishes.

I was happy to have that as a hollow victory at least. I can still run fast, I don’t want to shift to be a person recognized for “signing up & showing up.” This event was for me to finish and not make my tender hamstring worse. I’ll retool and get a better time in London, only two months ahead on the calendar…



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