Ideas, photos, routes, and how I fare doing all sorts of workouts. Riding, swimming, biking, etc. Dave Masterson's workout blog.

Archive for the category “races”

2017 Palm Beaches Marathon

The 13th running of our hometown race was memorable. The new ownership does things right, the financial hindrances of the past are gone. This race and its accompanying weekend of events are a stock on the rise.

The Bill Bone 5k on Friday night was a fun race. The event was larger than last year, and the fireworks were a very big hit! Having large local sponsors and a presence from so many businesses in our community was important. Our Palm Beach Roadrunner tent was a gathering spot for locals to leave gear and have a beer afterward. We even met two girls that signed up for our club the next day ~ and returned to hang out and cheer in our tent for Sunday’s races!

The pacer’s dinner was good from the food side, but bumpy otherwise. Brio restaurant claimed there was no reservation but I had confirmed with their folks just hours before via their call to me. They claimed the reservation was for 12 people at their Boca Raton location, 35 miles south. We sorted that out and were seated. Rachel did a good meeting at the dinner, it was helpful to the new pacers in the group. Everyone had their signs and new singlets, that was all well organized. Our plan was to eat and walk down to the festival area and start line for the second night of fireworks. Our service in the restaurant was slower than normal, and we sat and heard the fireworks as we ate our food 😦

Sunday morning was early for me. I arrived at 4 am to help set up our PBRR club tent and get ready for the beer sales our nonprofit would administer and benefit from. Our group gathered a few minutes after 5:20 for the photo at the Start line, then we had a few minutes to get ready before the delayed start.

PB pacers 17

The day was nice weather for those doing the half marathon, the temperature was 67 at the start. The decision to push pacers back by 10 minutes was a wise move. The second half was very warm, in direct sun, and temps were rising. The course had plenty of aid stations and they were in good spots, but unless athletes trained in regular daylight with long runs, they would not be performing at a high level.

My group was mostly half marathoners, with two exceptions. I had Lisa, David, James,  Dave, Julie, Morgan, Mai-Vi, Katherine, Reinhardt (from Austria), Haim (from Staten Island but born in Israel), “Du” and Sabrina as half marathoners that I spoke to before we began. There were others nearby, but they had music earphones and weren’t communicating with me. There were two ladies that started with me as full marathoners, Maria Gisela and Emily. I took time in the corral to explain the route, that we would have water before going to Palm Beach and on the bridge coming back but none on the island. I touched on the course, shoe tying, how to jog through the water stations, and what we look to do for even pacing. I explained the first two miles are sometimes slower because of the start of so many runners looking to be all at different speeds. I liked leaving the start area with so many people clustered around me!

We got out in the open quickly and mile #1 included a small rise to get on the bridge to Palm Beach. The group was fine, coming off the bridge one man kicked the curb and fell, someone next to him helped him up and caught back with our group in a quarter mile. It was still dark, but that was perfect to run directly in front of the Flagler Museum mansion, decorated for Christmas and all lit up in white. We passed onto the Lake Trail, rumored to be susceptible to flooding, but all dry and newly paved. Our group liked the views back at West Palm Beach, all lit and enjoying the first bits of a sunrise. Running on Palm Beach was touted as special for this year’s race, I know people in my group enjoyed the quick 1.75-mile tour of this exclusive zip code!

On the other side of the bridge, our run club staffed the wacky water station. Named “Winter in Florida,” it poked fun at stereotypical touristy garb and people who overdress in 69-degree weather. We were on pace as a group, easily zipping over the second and final small hill/bridge on the course. My group was good at the slightly below 9 min pace, I explained that if they went with me to the 12.8-mile mark, they would be trusted with a quarter mile on their own to finish. If they could keep the pace alone for a loop around a high school track, they’d beat 2 hours for their race.

The course wound through the small downtown area of West Palm Beach. not much crowd support here, as it’s mostly businesses. I spoke with and to the group, relaying run stories, funny marathon signs each and any of us had seen, etc. The breeze was coming from the north, so when we turned back onto Flagler Drive and along the Intracoastal Waterway at Mile 5, it felt good. We kept pace up through Northwood neighborhood, we saw the race leaders for the half and full marathons led by a motorcycle and truck with time clock. My son’s former XC and track teammate, Sammy Luttier, ended the day winning the marathon in 2:33. By 22 minutes. In his second 26.2 race. Big WOW!

Our group went north to the turnaround point at the FP&L powerplant. The loop through the parking lot at the Manatee Point curve was probably set up incorrectly, as the runners had to cross over each other’s paths twice, almost like a “Hot Wheels” crash ’em up derby track. Routing the runners into the park first would avoid that next year. The gal Emily disappeared out of our group, I didn’t see her for the rest of the day. Maria Gisela was breathing heavy and sweating hard, I reminded everyone to hydrate well even if they didn’t feel like it.

We ran south along the same road, now adjacent to the many runners at slower paces. I know many in the local community, so the out-of-towners in my group were surprised with all of the shout-outs to and from myself. At Mile 10 we were very close, prob within 6 seconds of perfect time. I reminded and encouraged everyone that they could on any given weekday run next to a friend at a 9-minute mile for a 5k. That’s all we had left! I did more of that type of encouraging and positive talk along with a dose of humor to keep people comfortable and focused on the remaining 28 minutes. Now we were running back to the Start/Finish area. They could see the tall buildings and a crane near where they’d finish. I think that helped some of them realize they were on their way to a good finish.

Maria Gisela faded and I didn’t see her after between mile 11-12. Now we had more spectators and were back among more populated water stops, so it was more fun for the runners. As we approached the start area, which we had to pass again one more time for the halfers, music and crowd support increased. They were right on for the 1:57 – something finish, and I pointed out where we split off for the half marathon turnaround. Many thanked me and made the u-turn for the finish. I was alone heading towards my run club’s water station again, I looked back and couldn’t see a single blue (full distance) marathon bib behind me. This was a first…

I ran to the 13.1 mat and clocked in at 1:57:18, three seconds off perfect timing. The next 7 miles were spent passing people running with music that didn’t respond to me talking to them. I stopped briefly into a porta potty for a quick pee break. I held my pace sign near my head to shade me from some of the sunlight. I chatted with water station folks and the sparse amount of spectators on the back half of the course. I had two relay runners pass me. Once I got to Lake Worth, I came up next to Amanda, an ultra runner using today’s race as a long run for something else she has coming up. She ran with me for two miles then worked hard to keep me in sight. Once I headed north, the sun was now behind me, thankfully. I didn’t use sunscreen or wear glasses for this one, silly to think my visor would do it all.

The last miles were a solo run through the well-shaded El Cid, Sunset Park, and the south WPB neighborhoods. It was a good decision to make the course finish in this manner. I ran the last mile with a guy named Jacques. He was struggling and I convinced him to finish strong with me. The final 3/4 of a mile was back on sunny Flagler drive. When we got within 600 yards of the finish, I encouraged him to go for the line if he had any energy left – he thanked me and picked up his pace.

I finished alone, but less than 60 seconds back was Amanda, the ultra runner. She kept me in sight (except around corners in the neighborhoods and thanked me for suggesting that she come with me. She was happy she didn’t quit or relegate herself to a walk/run mixture. Here she is!

I had to work more than I thought in the heat. I had all of my usual nutrition and salt pills. I attribute some of it to being alone for so many of the latter miles.

There were many people at the PBRR tent, Maureen, Julie and Andrea stayed to watch many of the final finishers come back. We offered them extra beer and a nice shaded place to sit. It was a good day for the Roadrunners!


2017 Space Coast Half Marathon

We had great weather conditions for this event, we had 60 degrees at the start and 63 degrees at the finish line two hours later. The team dinner was good reconnecting with the group that comes to this race each year. Only Miami Marathon has more pacer people!

My morning started early as I woke up at 3 am for unknown reasons. Not a bad thing, it’s good to have extra time to prepare. Everything in that realm is well sorted, I drive to the race and park in a new place – a dry cleaning business that’s closed for the day. I am only 2 blocks from the start line. I know the pacers are meeting at 5:15 for a photo, I’ll have been to the restroom already and in place for that. My group at the lineup consists of all ladies… Jennifer, Valerie, Keibe, Hannah, PJ,  Lori, Sondi, and Jennifer Keyes whom I know from Palm Beach county. The other Jennifer lives or runs in Jupiter, Fl. I tell her about our group and where we meet each week for long runs. Lori and Sondi ran with me last year in the 1:50 pace group – they will look to stay with me for most of the miles then surge ahead later if they feel good. Hannah is someone that knows Pacer Kristen and was told by her that my 2 hr group would be a good fit. I give a brief talk on how we handle water stops, reminding everyone to tie shoes securely and that I will do most of the talking when the going gets tougher in their later miles. A guy dressed in orange named David joins in with us during Mile #1, he stayed for most of the race before scooting ahead in the last 2 miles.

We ran the first mile in 9:54, above the recommended 9:07 pace but the road heading out was crowded. Plenty of people disregard the pace per mile signs and feel if they are in a race, they need to be near the start point. It’s considerably different than the 1:50 group which I’ve done for the past three years. In those years we galloped to pace pretty quickly. Mile #2 had us 20 secs closer and by Mile #4 we were within 10 secs of perfect timing. I chatted with some of the frontrunners in my group, we are behind Pacer Callix and his 2 hour gang. The Galloway 2 hour group correctly starts behind us, almost catches up and then takes their walk break. We do well on the first “out” portion of the course to the turnaround. I remind the group to drink and eat their nutrition before they feel hungry or thirsty. I guess that my group has a dozen people, plus a few of the “followers.” Followers refers to the runners that won’t say they ran with a pace group – but they tail us the whole way until they drop off or zip ahead near the finish.

At halfway, we turn towards home and a few have peeled off. I told folks that we would invariably go through the turn area mile a teeny bit slower than we should, there are porta potties, two aid stations and a run over the halfway point timing mat. We leave there and hit Mile #7 about 12 seconds slow. Hannah is now up front running next to me. Her mom is in the race, too, following a slower pace team. Her dad was at the turnaround, they are Space Coast locals! Today’s run will be a personal best if she can finish in the 1:5x:xx zone with me. Our group is good as a gang of 6-7 in the 8,9, 10 mile areas. We pass a few people, I invite them to join and stay with us but they are already tapped on energy for today. Hannah says at mile 9 that it’s beginning to become a struggle. I fill her with only positive thoughts about how she’s already done all the hard work in training, the majority of the miles are already done, and how soon we will be celebrating at the finish with a group photo! She was so good in breaking through whatever she was experiencing. My chats with her got head nods and positive smiles and affirmations. This was us running down River Rd. one on one, going for her best time ever. So fun!

Well here’s a race day first. At around 10 miles, I reminded my group to use the nutrition they brought. Eat a gel, chew on the gummies, whatever, don’t think that taking anything any later in the race will help your performance. Hannah pulled out a sleeve of Clif Shot Blocks, the same thing I had in my pocket. She futzed with the packaging, and I offered to help her open it so she could focus on the running. She said she was ok and that it was open and ready now. Seeing her eat the gel block, I thought I’d use some of mine – the flavor I chose to carry today was a good one. I keep mine in non-ziplock plastic sandwich bags, so they are easy to reach in and grab. I put one in, chomped down and felt a crunch. Huh? They don’t crunch! I reach in and remove it from my mouth, along with a 35-year-old tooth crown stuck to the gummy. Really? Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 11.20.12 AMI pulled the tooth off the gel and store it in my Nathan 10k pouch. I’ll be glad I did that vs pay for a new one to be created. I tell my group what happened to many laughs. Seriously, I exclaim – “I will do anything to help you reach your goals, including shed body parts and other essentials!” This lightened the mood for ½ mile and made for a good bunch of laughs as we rolled forward with less than 5k to go.

At 11 miles, I told two of the runners, David and one of the gals to go faster if they felt good. At this point, the bridge at the base of the finish line area was well in sight, I used that to encourage them to really go for it, which they did. Hannah also soaked up these truths, she was a mere 19 minutes from the best time she has ever had, and although hurting some, I kept encouraging her to just run with me, not waste energy talking unless she wanted to, and keep rolling forward. I distracted her and the group back at the turnaround, asking them to “remind me at mile 11.5 to share with you my confession for the day.” That builds curiosity and Hannah was quick to remind me once we passed the 11 mile flag. I told them that our goal as a team was really to finish 30 seconds early – if they were with me and had started in my group, they were definitely going to get a sub-2 hour time if we finished together. I think that realization, with the tall condos and finish area in view, helped Hannah and two other gals significantly. They knew and believed they could!

The final 2 miles had all of us making sure we had good bib placement and smiles ready for the on-course photographers. I told my group the photographers usually sit on the long last straightaway. I also cued them in on the fact that spectators line the road and final finish area and these folks would be cheering for them. “Tingle time” for Ms. Hannah! She was right with me and at 12.5 miles I told her to run for the finish, she was so close, the last 800m was only two laps around a high school track. The rest of my small group did the same. Lori and another gal we had passed lined up next to me and sped up. I explained that I had to finish on time, but they were encouraged to surge if they had energy and felt good. For the final half mile, only I ran in with the 2 hour Galloway pace group leader. He said his group ‘kinda all ran with me, the run pace of a 2 hour run/walk group was pretty aggressive he explained. So I finished at 1:59:27, almost tripping over a rug they put done on the last curve to cover wet dirt. I took good pics with some in my group at the finish. Hannah was clearly the star of my group, she fought hard and really achieved what she hoped for a mere two hours before.space coast

It’s very rewarding to have been a part of that type of personal triumph. I know she was working hard and feeling discomfort. A few of the others met me at the finish line to thank me for the experience. I waited for a few of the girls I started with who finished in 2:02, 2:03 range.



Chicago Marathon 2017


The second Abbott World Major Marathon of the year for me, and again I’m there in a unique capacity. Part cheer squad and spectator, part volunteer, this was an amazing weekend!

Is there such thing as an “Elite Spectator?” Trademark, Dave Masterson, All Rights Reserved!

I arrived Thursday morning before anything marathon-related was underway. I stayed in my brother’s hotel, he was in town early to attend meetings for his company. I ate lunch at Portillo’s first (a must!), then rented a Divvy bike for the day. I had a good time by myself reacquainting myself with the city. I used the bikes to see some of the 5k run course, the Lakefront, riverfront bridges, Grant Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo, Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, and the Loop. It was sunny weather and cooler than Florida – a welcome change! Dinner was at the Kerryman Irish Pub with John and his coworker, Ken.

Friday morning, I woke up and ran 6 miles around the lakefront and Grant Park area. The race facilities started taking shape, jeez this is a big production. Different than New York and Boston, all start and finish area things are in the same place. That is an amazing logistical feat, so many tents, trucks, and things to support 40,000 plus athletes and many more spectators. I moved our luggage to the Chicago Hilton while my brother, John, worked, this was our base for the weekend. Having a room up high in the race’s host hotel added so much to the experience!

Since I rented the Divvy bikes for a 24-hour day, I rode it to the Expo on Friday morning. It was very crowded! I thought the largest crowds would be Saturday, but Friday had McCormick Place Convention Center full of runners and run fans. I met Joan Benoit Samuelson and Deena Kastor, two cheery and personable lady running legends. One guy, I believe he was with RRCA, had old photos of Joan from in the 1980s. He gave them to her, I think she knew him from far-gone racing days. The expo had many vendors, this is one of the biggest and best-run shows anywhere. Nike as the shoe sponsor had a huge presence. They have a hip and “now” image, plenty of pumping music and lines around their booth with people waiting to pay for logoed apparel from the event. I left the expo after lunchtime once I picked up my 5k bib for Saturday’s Chicago International race. Last year they had 2710 finishers. This year the race had over 7000 signups, it was a big deal. Early registrants got their home country’s flag on their bib. The packet pickup for this event was way easier than for Sunday’s marathon. Since I registered later, my number was 7000-something. No line for me to get the bib, thank you!

I lingered and walked around near the downtown area until John finished his meetings, then we met at the hotel and both went to the expo for his race things. Surprisingly, there weren’t as many people there, the floor was way easier to navigate. We saw and got a pic with Deena, I think this got John excited for all the people we’d meet this weekend. Once I explained who she was and what she was famous for… he was on the running celeb spotting train!

Our hotel was getting crowded. I went down to the Media Center and met a gal named Tamrin. She gave me an official Media Guide which I really enjoyed. A full digest of the weekend events plus runner bios, race history, stats, everything the local announcers would reference for the audience. So that’s how they know all that stuff! I saw plenty of lean, elite looking Africans milling about in the lobby and common areas. I guess all the top guns stay at this hotel! I got photos of the Winner’s trophy, a large testament to 39 years of male and female past champions. Very impressive!

All the other runners from Florida were arriving Friday after dinner, I knew people staying in different parts of the city. On Saturday morning, I woke up early and went for a strider run outside the hotel. Then I met with Monica and we walked to the 5k start. It was in the middle of downtown. They had roped off corrals, sorted by minute per mile. This was considerably bigger than I thought it would be! I did more warmup intervals on a closed off street near the start, and also tossed in a “gut-check hurdle” of a police barrier. Two others were warming up and we were watching each other, you know, without watching each other. Those high-knees exercises and 50-yard sprints take second to a steeplechase-like hurdle at 7 am. Or so I believe! I then found Jen Rapaport and Chris McKnight in the corrals. It had rained only an hour before the race, so the white painted lines on the road were very slippery. That and puddles. A small kid ran next to me down the first straightaway street until we turned under the elevated railway. He stepped in so many puddles, splashing all who were close to him. I was glad he faded in the first ¾ of a mile. Joan Benoit and Paula Radcliffe were there to start the race, I also saw Carrie Tollefson and Khalid Kannouchi in the corral up front. Big names for a big city 5k!

My race was ok – right at my usual 5k time. I noticed the GPS signals were weird among all the buildings – sometimes I was running 4:35 miles (according to the watch) and other times no readout due to running under Chicago’s famous L trains. A good course, good number of fans out early, and a great finish area scene made this event something I was glad I entered. (5k race recap here) I found Jen and Chris at the finish, Chris’ daughter Laura and then Teresa, Janet and Tom joined us having watched the run. We took a walk to show them “Mt Roosevelt” at mile 26 so they’d know what to expect on race day. I think they benefitted from the reality check of knowing the hill wasn’t a big deal.

Teresa, Kathy and Cecelia and I walked back to the Hilton and had breakfast at Kitty O’Shea’s in the hotel. Before going in, I spotted Noah Droddy, the American “first timer” looking to score a good time at the marathon distance. He had the big mustache, the hair down to his beltline, and the baseball hat on backward. He was going across the street into the park for a run, we got a good photo with him.

Back at the Hilton, John and I had some breakfast then got a ride to River North to meet Christie Brinkley. She was in town to promote Little Smiles charity and also her new line of Prosecco drinks. John went along and we really had great laughs with her and the others that came out. It also made for some amazing photos!

John wanted to minimize his walking around, so we did local things near the hotel. I connected with Monica’s husband to shore up a good strategy for him and the kids to see their mom on the course. It’s really nice to be a part of all the race buzz minus the concern of actually having to run the marathon. I went out with Teresa, Kathy, Cecelia, Teresa’s aunt and Brenda to Miller’s Pub on Saturday night. (Teresa’s first view of it had her saying we should stop at “Killer’s Pub) A few drinks and laughs, why not. Back to the Hilton, where things were quieting down. The big race was tomorrow and most were already in their rooms sleeping or winding down.

My AWD volunteer duties had me up for a 5 am meet up with the group. I met Marcel Hug on the el

evator and recognized him easily. He was with his coach, who John and I saw and spoke with the night before. I asked him if the black fabric bag on his lap contained a certain chrome helmet, he replied, “Yes” with a big smile and I wished him good luck. I received a hat, jacket and Start and Finish Line credentials. AWD athletes were already in the lobby, they know the drill. It takes time to get them and their gear to the start, that was our first role. I walked over with Ernst Van Dyke, a pre-race favorite from South Africa.We had a special tent on Monroe Street where we helped athletes get settled and prepped for the start. I ushered a few up the hill and into the tents, then stood at Monroe and Michigan Street with a Chicago policeman answering questions and helping runners located the entrance to the general corrals. Once 6:25 am came, I headed to the tents and start line area. I helped some of the non-wheelchair bound runners across the start area to the restrooms. I got some great pics of the elite warmup zone. I met Jordan Hasay’s aunt, who was looking for her dad and the elite runners. Press, photographers and running “dignitaries” were all over. I saw Dave McGilvary walking around the starter’s area, Carey Pinkowski, the race director, and Alberto Salazar. The wheelchair athletes were warming up and doing equipment checks, the American athletes in the Development program had an area to wait in for the start, it was exciting to see. The elites had their own tent, porta-potties, and patch of Grant Park grass to warm up on. Jordan Hasay came out early, sat on the start line and adjusted her shoes and socks. I saw Dennis Kimetto, Sam Chelenga, Noah Droddy, Kirui the defending champ, all of them. When Galen walked towards the start area, a coach put his hands on Galen’s head, they bowed towards each other, then Galen blessed himself and got ready for the race. This was the whole show unfolding very close to me. And I took this video – look how calm the eventual race winner is!

All of the runners were in their corrals prior to the National Anthem being played. I couldn’t see the end of the corrals – it was so many people. I was right on the start line for the wheelchair start – getting good photos of the top male and female push rim athletes. A few minutes later, the rest of the runners from Wave #1 were sent out, led by the elite men and women. In between Wave #1 and #2, we moved all of the AWD day chairs and gear to the AWD finish zone. I met Kelly Breen, one of the AWD leaders in Chicago. She explained how it’s taken years for the Achilles and AWD organization to get the prominent placement in and around the start and finish area. The finishing tent was well appointed with coffee, drinks, food and massage tables for the finishing athletes. And private restrooms!

Once the athlete equipment was moved, we got to the Finish line area to begin waiting for the wheelchair finishers. Marcel Hug and Tatyana McFadden won the push rim races, I helped a guy with an Illinois jersey along with his female teammate back to the tent. I made another run back and forth with a different finisher before waiting at the finish for the men’s and women’s race winners. Galen Rupp sizzled around the final turn and won convincingly, that drew a huge roar from the full bleachers! Turunesh Dibaba was uncontested in her win, but the big deal was Jordan Hasay’s 3rd place finish in a new American woman course record and second fastest US lady marathon time ever. The whole finishing zone was amazing – great sunny weather, all sorts of buzz and great finishes by Americans. I saw Luke Puskedra and Noah Droddy finish strong also. As a group, we kept escorting athletes back to the AWD tent and cycling back to the finish to repeat the process.

I checked in on our locals using the race app. TCS made it very easy for fans to see where each runner was on course, including split times and estimated arrivals. Tom and Janet would be here first, Teresa and Missy not far behind them. My brother and Monica started in the third wave, so they were an hour off gun time. I waited in line to help athletes all while looking for those I knew to finish. I somehow missed Janet and Tom. I saw Jen Rapaport. Then I missed Missy and Teresa. It’s a real challenge to see all of the finishers coming across the line while trying to pick off their faces. It was considerably warmer now than when the first runners came across. It was going to be a long day for the Wave 2 and 3 runners.

I was in the right spot for Monica and John’s finish, getting a short iPhone video of each of them. I helped Teresa with a quick med tent visit, she was tired and dehydrated. The a/c in there was very cold, I think that aided her quick turnaround. Good staff and a personable 68-year-old physician made that a positive experience. Our group met in the Afterparty area, that was also well done by the Chicago Marathon team. Live music, happy runners, and beer flowing. Chicago’s runners had good weather this year. Too warm for some at the end, but most took advantage of it at the after party.

We went back to Kitty O’Shea’s to celebrate after the race – this made for good pics and laughs. I saw Sam Adams 26.2 Brew for sale, that was a surprise. The familiar taste and accompanying good cheer was not a surprise. Today, I saw running history with the Galen win and Chicago’s 40th anniversary of the big race. The course’s back half was very exposed to the sun and heat – but everyone adjusted and made it back – no runner dropouts among our group. I’d race Chicago again – this is a great scene for the runners and the people like me that came to be a part of the event.

We saw more pro athletes in and around our hotel on Monday. Marcel Hug at the coffee shop, Tatyana McFadden walking her dog outside the hotel, and John met Noah by the hotel entrance. He told John that he has 25 marathons in him, not to stop at “21 and done.” 

So that’s the advice a first timer like Noah is giving to the mortals?

DTR Oleta 10 mile Full Moon Trail Race

oleta110 mi. I know Oleta River State Park trails, even if I haven’t ridden here in two years or more. There were good people doing this race – Ken Baxter and his 2 sons were running, Romo Melendez, Hamed, and Jodi and her new boyfriend, Randy. Julie and Frans were working at a water stop on the course, so this was made to enjoy.

I decided to wear my Saucony Grid Peregrine shoes from a few years ago, They have more grippers on the bottoms and should work better than road shoes.

I arrived early, did the easy packet pickup and took a small warmup lap on the trails near the parking lot. I had two lights, one belt mounted and a head lamp. I discovered the belt mounted light wasn’t bright enough for this use, it works ok for running on the road early mornings. The headlamp is probably best suited for camping, not the super bright trail setup I would need. My eyes aren’t as good in the dark, so if I continue doing these it will be with a MUCH better light.

The race started and I went with the first of two waves. My first mile was done in 7:10 – I only had one girl (Alice Henley) in front of me. Once we entered the single track, that’s when my lights and vision proved to be dim. I saw how easy it was to skip or trip and fall. I didn’t fall, thankfully. I caught myself tripping twice and I recovered in time. I did get momentary cramping in my calve muscles as I went through the “save” process. Both of these happened in the later half of the race.

At the end of the Half Pipe section, we run along the road by the cabins and then into section #3. I saw a girl wearing the iRun kit cheat – she came right across the road and tucked in behind me, even though I loudly spoke to her twice and said, “NOT COOL!” She never passed me but I hoped to see her try that during the remainder of the race.

I had a few younger guys pass me on course, maybe 4 or 5. I was focused on not allowing anyone that could be in my ten-year span age group to pass me. I counted off the miles in my head – saying “3 miles clear” meaning no falls. I was careful in that respect, knowing a bad ankle pull or roll would cause me to have to walk back.

Just after mile 6, I didn’t see any markers or reflective arrows. I tried to back up on the trail, then I couldn’t find the original trail! I waiting in one place for the next runner to come down the trail. A guy came down, I asked if he had passed mile 6 yet, and he thankfully answered, “Yes.” I ran with him, he went ahead a bit,  then slowed to walk. We passed each other a few times – finally, he fell back and I didn’t see him again.


I ran up the only real hill on the course, I saw a photographer and heard people cheering ahead. When I ran up the hill, a guy yelled at me to not run towards the photographer, he questioned if I was looking for “more gains.” I really couldn’t see a difference, so I kept going until I almost ran into the photographer! They said my lights were low and asked if I wanted to borrow a candle or iPhone. Yeah, hint taken.

The final trail section was on a trail called Rocky Mile. It was tough, the limestone rocks and roots made for tough foot placement. I saw the “verification” timing mat hidden in the woods, right at mile #8. It took my best concentration in the final miles to run clean and not fall.

Once out of the woods, it was approx 1.5 miles to go. But I wasn’t going to do another 7 min mile. My legs felt heavy from the different type of running I had done. Up on my toes and plenty of side-to-side action had different muscles feeling it. Especially my feet! I saw the light of the guy behind me as I went around the “Caribbean” style beach, but he wasn’t going to catch me. I came in solo in 1:43:xx. This was best in the 50-59 age group, but there were no AG awards at this race.oleta3

I stayed after for about an hour. Hamed won 3rd place overall, I never saw Ken or his family, Frans and Julie came back just before I left. While waiting for the awards presentation, I took off my shoes and went in the water. There were “No Swimming” signs due to bacteria in the water, but I had to cool off and clean off. My feet and toes were cramping! The shell rocks and bumpy beach added to the discomfort.

A new headlamp and some off road practice before the next one, I promise!

Sunfest TGI5k 2017

Sunfest 5k time! It’s warm and sunny at 5:30 pm. But that’s not the whole story. We are delayed due to a train stuck blocking Okeechobee Blvd. Apparently, runners stuck on the other side called-in to friends on this side, which got to race management in time to stall the start.

I warm up by running down the first straightaway to the traffic circle, then to Flagler and south to First Baptist Church, now called Family Church. Maureen does the same warm up, looking to avoid pre-race anxiety as she experienced at the Garden of Life race. We do 3 descending sprints up the side of the church alleyway, that shows I’m running well with no issues to attend to.

The race begins after a 15-minute delay. I see Stacy Willette and Jamie Rogers at the start line, also John Reback is here. We start and I’m out of the crowd quickly, not too fast but making 5:35 pace for the first 400m to get clear. I settle into a 6:05-6:10 pace. Hamed and others are already ahead, they’ll get a great time or blow up in the heat. The first long straightaway is more than a mile long. I get to the first mile in 6:10. The second mile turns through the Sunset Park neighborhood and out onto Flagler Drive heading north. With wind supposedly coming from the Southwest, I should be enjoying the tailwind. It doesn’t feel like anything at all. I am in a good rhythm of breathing and exerting. I see the three lululemon girls cheering and go by Mile #2. My watch says I’m at 6:25 pace, I don’t want to slow down that much, I won’t finish under 20 minutes with that pace. I concentrate on the two guys ahead of me. They are lining up for a duel. We go under the Okeechobee tunnel and pop out on the Sunfest side. I see the first tent and Meyer Amphitheater – I know where this is going. I am funneled into the road by traffic cones. No one passes me, I pass one maybe two runners in the last 1000 meters. It’s very sunny and I keep the pace all the way to the finish arch. It’s a good one at 19:17. That’s enough to win for my age group, even as I am listed in an “Uncategorized Male” group with two others. Matt Triggs wins the 50-54 AG with a 20:11. I’m happy with the result!

It seemed as if we had a few moments of shade had the race started on time. Once we get to the finish, it is as if a shade gets pulled over the sun. I am in the shade of the large palm trees but it’s breezy and cool. a few beers from bib tickets and it’s a good race to grow from..


A 5k first! 

photo credit Andrea Moxey

Today I attended the 2nd Garden of Life 5k at PGA National Resort and Spa. I was a volunteer for this event like last year. For the first running of this race, I was at the “crossroads” of golf cart paths that get run past twice on the course. It’s an important spot where four cart paths meet that runners could mix up and go the wrong way.

This year I was the lead biker for the Elite Female division. Garden of Life has made a large investment into this really fun local event. Prizes for elites are $3k, $2k, $1k for male and female. Additionally, there are $100 prizes for the top runners in every age group! So the 500+ people from last year have now grown to near 1200 runners.

There are 10 designated “elite” slots for male and female respectively. Each athlete had to submit times to qualify to race for the cash prizes. If they win their age group and not a 1, 2, or 3 prize, they get the $100. I am tasked with riding the course in front of the elite ladies, some of these girls are from here. Regina Goolsby, Jen Nicholson, and Lee Dipietro are in there. One lady came from Massachusetts, Rachel Schilkowsky, she is on paper the fastest entrant.

Time to Run!

We take off only 2 minutes behind the men’s elite runners. They have several athletes that flew in from elsewhere to try for the prize money. The winner is Jordan Chipangama, a marathoner from Zambia. He came from Flagstaff, AZ for this race. I spoke with Jordan earlier, he is concerned someone can “take him on” in the 5k distance, not his strength. He ran in the Rio Olympics in the marathon for his country. His best marathon time is 2:11!

The ladies start is on time and Rachel is an early leader, surging quickly ahead of any contenders. They don’t pose any threat to her as we round the parking lot, hotel, and head onto the golf course. She is running well, definitely working for it, but pulling away by mile #1. This race and the $3000 prize for first place is all hers if she can stay ahead, which looks very likely. Only an injury or mishap could take it away – Rachel is powering hard behind me. I have to keep checking that I am ahead of her by enough, sometimes I coast and then get spooked when I turn around and think she might catch me. She doesn’t really get close to me, it’s just us two circling the course, we don’t see fans or any others until the midpoint water stop. There are WT Dwyer HS volunteers and a few adults cheering and handing out drinks. Rachel is so far ahead – my guess is a full 300-400m from the second place girl. We come around the next hole and double back to the water stop on the other side – now there are regular field runners hitting the first side of the dual water stop. I see Maureen Flynn walk through and head up the small roller labeled “Heartbreak Hill.” I lead Rachel through the “crossroads” path area, now she can see the finish. There is one slight rise on the course, but she can hear the cheers of those around the finish line. I see Bill, the lead cyclist in front of the men. He comes back riding towards me and says the winner finished in 14:26. Close behind second was run in 14:29 followed by the third place male in 14:47.

Rachel wins in 16:47, second for ladies is 17:40 and third place gets $1000 for a 19:01 finish. As was the case last year, Garden of Life gives out very impressive goodie bags filled with their products to all runners. I received one, I see it is different stuff from last year but plenty of bars and powders. This race is well done and may be outgrowing PGA National as a venue.

I’m happy I was a piece of the exciting morning only a few miles from my house. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to be the solo lead cyclist responsible for guiding an out-of-town girl to a $3000 prize, but it was fun to experience this side of volunteering for a 5k.


Strive for the Hive 5k

Strive for the Hive graphic

5k This one has a story –

shamrock2017greenYesterday was the 41st running of the Shamrock 10-miler and 5k. I was involved in running the Palm Beach Roadrunners tent. I was also tasked with making some announcements along with the awarding of overall awards. It was a successful and busy race with over 1000 entries. I did not run in either of the Shamrock events.

I met Deborah Feinsinger in February. She is a teacher at Allamanda Elementary School, and director of the Strive for the Hive annual 5k at the Gardens Mall. She offered a discount to any runners that wanted to do both races, Shamrock on Saturday and Strive 5k Sunday. In setting this up with her and our club, I decided to run the Strive 5k Sunday morning.

It was Daylight savings day – set the clock an hour ahead last night to have it be darker at 7am when I left the house for the mall. Dinner and wine last night wasn’t the best pre-race strategy, but my goal was to use this race as a base for my 5k time. From here I can be specific in my training to improve the 5k time as we have several coming up. Add to that I am not running any marathons for over 6 months, this is a good goal to train for.

I arrived at the mall moments after 7am. I took a lap around the mall slow with a  few pickups to 5:50-6 min miles. I wasn’t sure where the course went, I saw some mile markers and a water stop – I’d learn it for the race as I ran the race. I didn’t see April or Seth, April said she was running but perhaps had too much wine last night? Seth was last year’s winner, I think he ran yesterday at the Shamrock Run. I decided to run shirtless after the warm up jog around the mall, it would only get warmer and I didn’t feel the singlet was offering too much airflow.

The race began on time – we were told to follow a guy on a bike wearing a bright shirt. plenty of kids crowded the start line as they were eager to get their race going. I saw a few adults that had the “I run 5ks all the time” look. I figured there had to be a high school kid that would be using this as training. Nope. I ran with a few kids for the first 200m and then was alone behind the cyclist around the mall!

I did not plan on running at the front start-to-finish. It was neat to see people cheering at the first runner they saw. I didn’t want to peek back and see if there were any chasers, I wanted to keep on my pace for as long as possible. My watch had 5:58 at mile 1 and 11:59 turning to 12 at mile 2. Really? It was a surprise because several times I looked at the pace reading and saw 6:25, 6:15, 6:40. It was bouncing around. I was more concerned with keeping a lead in a race I had no intention of coming and winning. This would be more important than the time. I was good through 2.4 miles, then I felt my stomach tightening and my breathing becoming more labored. I didn’t hear anyone that close to me, as long as I didn’t cramp or fall, this would be my first OA win in a race like this.

The last marker was at 3 miles, two turns and I was home. I finished in 19:37, right about where I imagined I’d be. First female was Niki Desjardins, she knows Deborah Feinsinger from Orangetheory.

We had a good breakfast at Brio which is a post race amenity. I am glad I put things together to do the race and may this serve as a rung on the ladder of 5k specific improvement for me. I plan to do the Mercedes Corporate Run and probably Sunfest 5k, so a few more ahead!


Here’s a local news coverage video of the race…. Allamanda Strive 5 for the Hive

Ft Lauderdale A1A Marathon 2017

Year #12 for this race was back to the warm weather we have had in South Florida for many Palm Beach and A1A marathons. Temperatures at the start were 70 degrees, with a daily high of 87 degrees predicted. I was ready, I had a good formula from last year for preparation for nutrition and race day things. It did not come together for me this time. I ran the course in 3:36:01 – my slowest full marathon time since 2011.

Colavita Dinner

I was happy to be included in the Colavita Team again this year – we went to a very delicious dinner at Dino and Frank’s in Deerfield Beach. Most of the same runners were there with a spouse. Pam Figoras was a new addition, I drove down with her and her husband. Kristin Harvey got married to Bobby LaBonte of Nascar fame, so we met him, too.

Go to bed, Dave

I stayed with Helen McKenzie again, that works out very well. Her home is only 4 miles from the start. I can eat
early, which I did, and drive down before it gets dark. I made a similar salmon and quinoa/rice meal for myself at home, then drove down. Helen and her daughter ate more quinoa and sweet potatoes. I had some of those, also. I don’t believe any of that “extra” nutrition played with my stomach, everything felt fine heading to sleep Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, Helen’s friend Denise came to babysit while we went to the race. I showered, ate a banana and did the potentiation setting on Compex before leaving for the race. The drive and parking were easy – we left enough time to get prepared, drop off the after race bags and go for a Colavita Team picture.

The start area had less porta potty restrooms in the usual spot by the RR tracks. Apparently, they had a better idea, locate more at the Start line! They had many on either side of the corral. The lines of people waiting to use them spread out into the corrals, making it prohibitive to use the restrooms AND walk through the corrals! They had plenty of room behind the UPS trucks. Helen and I went further down the street and found a spot in the bushes instead…

Let’s Run!

The race started a few minutes later than 6 am, we ran well in the dark down Las Olas Blvd. Our first mile was 45 sec behind the pace we wanted – 7:30 minutes per mile. Rolling down Las Olas, we did not use the water stops, we stayed in the middle of the road and went past without breaking pace. At mile 2.75, we went over the Las Olas Intracoastal Bridge. I saw and briefly spoke with Molly Ragsdale, who said she and Dave were in today’s half marathon. Helen and I were together up A!a to the Taylor State Park, where it began to get light. A few minutes makes a difference this time of year! Helen knows many of the local FTL runners so she greeted them and was cheered on by many different groups.

This is NOT how things should be

We were still 1 minute to 1:30 behind our goal pace. By now I was sweating such that my singlet was wet all the way through. I knew we had to adjust the pace, we were at 7:30-7:40 but working just for that. We would not last for another 20 miles in this!

I took gels and salt pills at the regular intervals, same products and always washed down with water. Leaving the park, we went down newly-paved A1A. It has been under construction for the last 4-5 years, it really looks nice with palm trees in the medians! Helen was with me at mile 7 – but breathing hard. This is what happened last year. I felt like I had a bubble in my system, I needed to burp, fart or do something to relieve a bloating feeling. I saw the half marathoners come back towards me, Erica, Rick Mongeau, Atilla, Alicia and more. I didn’t see Teresa and Janet, they must have been enough ahead to turn around after I passed the outlet of returning half marathon runners.

At the split, I began counting how many people I passed. Helen had dropped off my pace right before the turnaround, but she had to be close and still within sight. I didn’t look back to check. I passed 3, 4, 6-7, all on the way up to Post Rd where we leave A1A for a mile. This has always been a part of the course, but it was omitted on the map and the text description of the full marathon. Approaching mile 10 I thought, “How is it that my stomach is so disturbed, does the fight begin here, this early in the race?” Yes, it did.

The fight is on

I ran and made the halfway mark at just over 1:40. Adjusted for heat and not feeling well, I believed I’d be able to run at 7:40 pace or slightly below for the other half. I saw the race leaders coming down A1A – the winner who finished in 2:41. A guy pushing a double-wide stroller with two kids at his mile 16.5 as I made mile 14.5. This was work to keep eating the salt pills and gels on schedule. I thought about throwing up my insides in a porta potty, but reconsidered. I didn’t want to wait in line for that privilege! I came into the neighborhood and ran solo down the first street. A guy in a bright colored iRun uniform passed me, at that I pulled off and puked in the bushes near the end of a driveway. It took less than 30 seconds, but I felt clearing out whatever was in there was worth it. I had that taste in my mouth that reminded me I was definitely taking my time drinking at the next water station. Two other guys passed me while running near MacDonalds. With a clear memory I recalled how well I felt at this spot last year in the race. I left the neighborhood, saw Maureen Flynn’s niece Brigette at the aid station, and began the 10 mile straight run home. I stopped at a traffic cone to squat over, secretly pee and stretch my legs. I thought I’d receive a benefit from purging my stomach, but it wasn’t coming yet.

Helen is back!

Running south past the halfway point means mile 18 is coming for me. And so was Helen. She ran alongside me as I stopped to drink. She said she saw me and tried to catch up. I was glad thinking we could use each other to talk and get back home together. Guess what wasn’t going to happen?

We ran the long A1A straightaway to mile 20, turned for the one mile close to the pier segment, then back on A1A. I wasn’t feeling good now, I wanted to walk through each water stop. I have never been sidelined by a stomach issue, I don’t have digestive problems, this was all a new experience for me. I figured I hadn’t had any nutrition since mile 14, I should be able to have a gel. I did that near mile 21. At the water stop at mile 22, it came back up. Helen was doing well to chase other ladies that had passed us by, I was not going to be able to run with her past mile 22.5.

The humbling solo slog home

Once in the sunny final 3 miles of the course, I struggled to get to each successive water stop. I made deals with myself to run to a traffic light, to keep going. Older men made their way past me, people that should never be near me in a race. I was glad to be close, but wishing the last two miles would go by quickly. This was rough. I wasn’t perky for the final mile where the most spectators stand and cheer. I came into the park and under the walkway, new Publix arch and finally, the finish. What I learned was I have to work very hard to figure out how this happened.

It wasn’t good enough to qualify for Boston – not something I thought I’d be in jeopardy of. I had placed 6th in my age group out of 66 guys.

I was drained but very good on my feet, I guess running considerably slower left some energy in my legs. I went to the medical tent to put ice on my legs. I called and sent text messages to friends letting them know where I was. When I took my Altra compression socks off, this is what I saw on my right foot – third toe…

I usually get a callous on the longest second toe of my other foot. This thing was throbbing, so, time to employ the first aid tool provided at nearly every race you’ll attend…

The safety pin from my bib! No lighter to sterilize the metal, it’s “kiss it up to God” and proceed forward. Like a Monty Python clip – it squirted out fluid very generously.

The great finale

Every year, the after party is very well done. I spoke with Chip and Kristin from Colavita who stayed to hand out the Age Group Awards. We didn’t do as well as last year team-wise, but they were happy with us representing the name.


The beer truck was well managed. They shut off the tap at about 4.5 hours and restarted it an hour later. They enforced that marathon bibs took priority over half marathon runners. This made it so everyone had some and the truck did not run out. I had beer and snacks with Erica, Pam, Cami and Jeff. It was a great warm weather day and like always, a good time to not rush away from the festivities.

How do I make this a lesson? I don’t know what or why my stomach became so fragile and caused everything else to slow down. I can try smaller gel packets, the VegaSport ones are very large. Other than this, more miles in heat will make a 70 degree start temperature feel like a cool day.











2017 Miami Marathon

pacer-group-miami-2017Our morning started out uneventful. The Hilton is a good place for us to stay, I was rooming with Jeff Zern from Arkansas. A few other pacers were waiting for us in the lobby, they knew I was local and could lead them to a good parking spot under the American Airlines Arena. Seriously, how is that so convenient and still only $5?

It was 59 degrees at 4:45 am when we arrived at the Start area. My Altra shirt fit tight, size small was – SMALL! I went to the restroom inside the arena and came out and made a really good decision. I did the pacer group photo at 5:15. Then, I went back to my car quickly and put on long-sleeved Under Armour shirt. It was cooler than I thought and temps were predicted to drop all morning. This shirt was my insurance policy. And it matched the graphics on the Altra shirt – bonus style points for the race pics.

I met people in Corral E waiting for me from the Expo. I had 4 or 5 half marathoners, among them a friend named Jodi. Also, I had a few blue-bibbed full marathoners. Nicole, Jorge from Mexica, Leonardo, Maddy and a gal from NY dressed in all black. A few others stayed on the periphery, not talking or introducing themselves but definitely running with us. I went over the things I cover pre-race with my group: pace strategy, water stops, bathroom breaks, shoe lace tying and tidbits about the course. Some asked about the weather, I relayed what I knew… It would be cooler at the finish and we had an 80% chance of rain at 8:00 am. The race started on time and we didn’t have a prohibitive crowd running the first mile up the causeway hill. Staggering the start of the corrals has proven to be a good idea!

We ran the first mile 40 seconds slower than goal pace. I reassured everyone that we’d be on the right schedule very soon, start-line-miami-2017which was true. Mile 2 had us 25 secs off goal and Mile 3 was 12 secs above. It was dark and we had our first encounter with rain in the second mile. No changes for us, we were on the dark causeway distracted by the views of the cruise ships, a fireboat firing off the hoses in the air a la NYC, and a car ferry docking near the inlet. The rain stopped as we made Miami Beach, we ran around by Joe’s Stone Crab and up Ocean Drive with no showers.

A new part of the course had us run south on Washington Ave and then back north on Washington Ave again. We had more rain here on miles 5 -6 -7. My group was very good at keeping pace, we picked up another lady who spoke Spanish only, so I didn’t understand her name when she told me. The NY gal was good with conversation, I soon learned we had a big Spanish contingent that really wasn’t listening to me chime on in English. In my fourth year of pacing this race, this was new for me. Most everyone just smiled or made no reaction when I spoke directly to them. Odd, but the rain kept us quiet. I still gave advice, offered some touristy bits and helped thsouth-beachem know when water stops and aid stations were coming ahead. The Venetian Causeway was open this year, a welcome change from doing the Causeway bridge again at Mile 10 like last year!

On the Venetian Causeway, I picked up two full marathoners, Andres and Riccardo. Andres was wearing my home run club’s bright orange shirt, Riccardo was tall and dressed in black. They both ran up front with me and did some talking, which was perfect as we approached Miami. We were on pace for the miles 7 thru 11. Once we hit the mainland, it’s only 3 more miles with the half marathoners before we go south with just the full marathon runners. Maddy, who had drifted off to run and talk with a “cute guy” that spoke her language, was now back in our fold. We ran in the rain through Overtown and past various drum lines and bands. It was good to have fan support again. I was definitely getting cold. We parted with our orange-bib half marathoners and began heading south. Andres commented that, “They are weak” for not doing the full. This was his first marathon, he was big on the bravado to psych himself up, I guess! We crossed the halfway point at about 5 seconds off pace. I think  we slowed through the half/full split area.

Once at Mile 14 we went over the last significant rise in the course. Andres, Riccardo, Maddi and a few others headed away from downtown towards Coconut Grove. I took a pee break at the Mile 15 porta-potties, I told the group to stay at the same pace and I’d catch them. It wasn’t difficult, it felt good to stretch out and pick up the pace for a few minutes to catch them. And Andres’ screaming orange shirt was very easy to spot. We went through the neighborhood areas then into miles 18-20 in Coconut Grove. Andres dropped off, but we picked up a guy in red with headphones and a Camelbak. He would not drink at the aid stations, but he always stayed to the right in the way of everyone trying to get Gatorade or water. Annoying!

riccardo-dave-miami-2017Riccardo and a girl in a sports bra (Mimi?) were my closest runners, with a few in tow hanging on to our pace. The rain started up again near mile 22, here’s where we turn to run to, under, and back from the Rickenbacker Causeway. on this stretch I was mostly with the Camelbak guy and Mimi, Riccardo made a move to go for better than 3:50. Another guy in a blue shirt who was with us for awhile started to fade. A few others passed me – I encouraged them in the rain to go for the finish, they were running strong in the final two and a half miles.

The rain really picked up for our finish. I was alone and on pace in the final mile. I kept checking behind me to see if I could urge another follower to run in with me – no luck. The final small drawbridge at Mile 25.7 saw a few people walking and a good number of fans encouraging runners through the cold and rainy conditions. I finished up right near perfect time, (3:49:34) and quickly lost plenty of heat waiting for Helen to take the pacer signs. A few of my runners stopped to thank me, one older guy who I didn’t catch his name said he had paced with me three years in a row and was happy with his time. I quickly made my way to the VIP zone once Helen took my signs – the weather was getting worse and I was standing around in wet clothes. Coffee, eggs, bacon, it all helped!



Space Coast Half Marathon Pacing 2016

space-coast-2016-1I had a smaller group than in years past, but a fun collection of runners spanning all ages. Hazel, a younger gal I ran with last year, explained that she wasn’t able to keep up in 2015 so she “had to let Pacer Dave go.” Our group had many good laughs with her about that for the next 13 miles!
Other runners that stayed close to me during the race were Deb, Lee, Sondra, Janet, Tim, and Yolimar. Two older guys, perhaps late 60s, Bud and his friend, “Flash” also committed to stay with me for the 1:50 goal.
I gave a good explanation of things I usually cover prior to the start:
  • shoe tying
  • how we handle water stops
  • how to hydrate and not break pace
  • GPS watches vs time and mile markers
  • a consistent pace all the way.
  • bathroom breaks
  • communicating with me in early miles when they feel good and later if they are struggling.
I know this course well now, the start is exciting and we have two 90 degree turns before we are gliding down the river road for our out and back race. We cover our first mile in 8:47, the pace we need to center in on is 8:22. We are on that pace in mile 3 and make our time marks by mile 4, slowly increasing speed. I keep everyone apprised of our progress vs perfect time at each mile. I never tell them we are really scheduled to arrive 30 seconds early, I save that gem of a surprise for the finish area!
We can run on both sides of the road or right up the center, at least until we see the leaders of the half coming back towards us. That doesn’t usually occur until Mile 5-ish. I let people know about “running the tangents,” straight lines that keep your final mileage closer to the course distance instead of running more than required. I know where the only little “hill” or rise on the course is, so I jokingly ask the group about any special training they may have done for running up a driveway or such. Hazel, Deb, and Sondra are close with me, I notice a few others I didn’t start with following nearby, but not engaging me. Tim and Flash are behind me but attentive to our conversations. 
The middle miles have us all witness the sunrise and I ask folks to act as “dolphin spotters,” so if any of us see them, we can brag later about the on-course views. The race leader, a guy in a Skechers uniform, comes by us heading back, and he already has nearly a 2 minute lead on second place. The race gets more exciting now that the sun is up and we are seeing the faster groups go by us heading home. At the turnaround, we take water and notice no turnaround timing mat? Not that anyone we saw did, but any athlete could drop into the porta potty and come out and turn for home…
Once we turn around, my group becomes quieter. Some are near their max exertion I surmise, so I keep talking and offering tips and tales to distract them from the running. I build some excitement by telling the group that we are now the runners of desire, meaning the folks still heading to the turn around wish they were us! And it’s true, we get good shout outs and compliments on our time and we “high five” a good number of runners on the other side of the road. It’s fun and a good diversion for the people in my group that choose to participate.
We are right on pace, crossing each mile marker never more than 8 seconds off on the slow side, and we hit mile #11 2 seconds fast. Hazel drops back and is still in view, Deb, who wants to break 1:50 for a half marathon qualifying spot to her first NYC marathon, tangles with another lady and the other girl falls but recovers. Deb is nearby and still able to keep our pace. In the last two miles, another girl joins my group and powers ahead, I didn’t get her name. Flash is right next to me, Tim is right off my right shoulder. Hazel is less than 20 yards back and I keep motioning to her to stay with us. An occasional “thumbs up” lets me know she is doing well.
The final mile and a half is flat and basically a straightaway leading to the curvy finish area. Now we have fans cheering for us and we see the first marathoners coming at us with police motorcycle escort. Sondra asks if I think she can “go for it,” I say definitely and she surges forward. We are right on time at mile 12 and 13. I tell the group they can go ahead but I have to finish near the original goal time, which I do in 1:49:33. I collect my runners at the finish area and review their progress, which is significant! Yolimar, who stayed near us has a PR for the half. Tim does, too! Flash compliments me and compares this great finish with his last half marathon. He apparently went with a 1:50 pacer that stopped running altogether at mile 9, leaving him to finish in 1:55 something. He is very happy with his time today!
Hazel comes in less than 120 seconds behind us, satisfied with today’s effort. I bet I’ll see her again next year, she is a local member of the Space Coast Runners club.space-coast-2016-2
I am happy to run this event, the course and organization is very good. The after-race amenities and finish line area is terrific! I recommend this event to anyone – the weather was warmer this time but still very favorable for Florida runners entered in the half marathon.

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