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.
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…
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.