“I can’t believe it’s over,” I gasped out loud after I crossed the finish line and put the heavy A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon medal around my neck.
The hubster supportively smiled back at me, most likely believing very much that all the training, my plague of sickness and slowing down his pace to stick with me, was finally over.
- 3:00 am- Rise and shine
- 3:09 am- Really rise and shine
- 3:10 am- Slowly eat a bagel thin with peanut butter and half a banana
- 3:15 am- Pray for poop
- 3:16 am- Sip on water
- 3:20 am- Put on running clothes I laid out the night before
- 3:30 am- Try to poop. Unsuccessful.
- 3:35 am- Fumble with hair. Messy buns should be easier.
- 3:40 am- Gather all race gear into one bag
- 3:45 am. Try to poop. Success!
- 3:55 am- Lace up shoes
- 4:00 am- Head out the door!
- 4:03 am- Head back in the door to get my Garmin I forgot.
We arrived around 4:30 am and paid $10 for parking in an off-street lot. From what I hear the $5 parking public garage was a zoo and many people were rushed. The extra $5 was worth it for my worried heart.
We waited for a bit and then went to the porta-loos where I tried to get out the nervous pees. Yes, I just made that term up. I also got a weird case of the dry heaves. It could have been the smell or my nerves. Either way it was odd, and something I haven’t experienced since the hell of my parents divorce as a kid. So that was great to have happen at 4:30 am, right?!
The hubster fell asleep for about 45 minutes and I checked my email hoping someone was up. My boss probably thought my 5:00 am email was especially odd. Then I debated about wearing a long sleeved shirt or not. It was 48 degrees out. I’m from Michigan! That’s not cold.
Real talk: I lost my winter street cred last year when I put the butt warmers on in my car when it was 60 degrees out.
Once I woke the hubster up, we decided to opt for long sleeves. I sipped some coffee, which I hadn’t had in weeks.
It. was. glorious.
At 5:40 we made our way into the corral (after one last nervous pees stop in the porta-loos).
They have great pace signage and after my whole debacle last year at this race, being stuck behind a huge group that I had to weave myself around for nearly the entire race, we decided to start with the 11 minute mile pace group, which isn’t too far off from my running pace. I opt for the run/walk/run ratio so inevitably it will be slower over the course of the race.
We snapped a selfie and at 6:00 am the guns went off and we slowly made our way to the start line.
I told the hubster not to listen to his music right way, to listen to the crowd cheering us on as we cross that start line on our 13.1 mile journey. It’s hard to describe to people who don’t run, but that moment at the start, that moment when the crowds are cheering, the cowbells are ringing, the slow pitter patter of thousands of racers hitting the pavement in the brisk early morning hours…
That, right there, is one of my favorite parts of running.
Even now I get choked up writing about it. I hope everyone can experience that incredible feeling.
Around mile 2 I took off my long-sleeved shirt like a drunken stripper trying to maintain rhythm.
I kept checking my Garmin to make sure our overall average was around 13:00 minutes when running. Too fast, I was worried I’d burn out. Too slow, I was worried I’d get bored and start aching. (Don’t ask me why, but the slower I go, it seems every ache and pain is amplified.)
The thing was, when running we were clocking in between an 11-12 minute miles consistently and I felt fine. But I’ve heard so much about pushing yourself the first third of the half-marathon and then needing to crawl to the finish line.
But I felt good.
I held back and purposely slowed us down twice during the first 3 miles and then I just stopped doing it. I set my Garmin on my current pace (not the overall) and enjoyed the ride. Literally.
I let my body tell me what it wanted to do and it felt good at that “faster” pace. That’s typically what my training pace was, but this was game day and on game day, you need to calm the eff down and reign it in a bit.
We passed by one of our friends who is a police officer and was patrolling the race. We gave him a shout and asked where the beer was.
No really, where’s the beer?
I had an urge to pee but not enough to wait in line for a porta-loo. I waited 8 minutes last year for one and while my goal was just to finish the half last year, my goal this year was to beat last year’s time. My theory was I’d eventually sweat it out and I was right. After mile 6, I was pretty set in the pee-department.
I wouldn’t let myself look at my Garmin until we hit 7 miles to see our overall pace, which proved to be a very good tactic.
As we entered Hugh Birch State Park I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even turned on my music yet. The hubster and I were just chatting away. If you know me, you know how important music is to me. I agonize of over play lists to the point of perhaps a musical mental disorder.
I really was, honest to baby Jesus, enjoying myself.
Around 8 miles I told the hubster on our next walk break that I’d need to use my new fancy inhaler. We both forgot I mentioned it and around 9 miles he could see I was struggling and had coughed a bit.
“Want to do some drugs on our next walk break?”
He told me my reaction was quite priceless. I was pretty confused.
So after taking at hit of my inhaler (see what I did there?) we had turned the corner to run the final leg of the race down A1A Avenue and the beachfront.
It was at this point the hubster mentioned that at our current pace we were going to break the 3 hour mark.
That’s something I never, ever thought I’d be able to do. So, of course, I got nervous.
I could see him checking his phone to monitor our pace more and that annoyed me. I felt extra pressure. It was only pressure I was putting on myself and I got cranky. Thank God the photographers weren’t on this portion of the course. I wanted to focus and concentrate and it just wasn’t happening knowing there was this pressure.
I told him to stop checking his phone. I probably told him that in a really sweet, caring tone too. (Love you honey!)
We kept up with the 3 hour pace group for quite a while and I was lucky that the pacer was so enthusiastic. Who are these people? Smiling and shit? Oh yeah, I was one of them, too. Crazy runners.
Around mile 12 we were passing by more crowds of people. The MARATHON winner passed by us via police escort and for .3 seconds I briefly imagined the police escorts were for me and my slow butt.
My imagination rules sometimes.
I could tell that if we were to break 3 hours it would be very, very close. Then I kept monitoring my pace on my Garmin. As we turned the bend to see the finish line I knew we were just going to miss it.
My heart sank a little bit.
I had to remind myself I never thought my time would even be this close to 3 hours, so it was a victory nonetheless. At this point, we had run through the last two walk portions of our run/walk/run ratio and I was feeling light headed as the sun, crowds and adrenaline once again kicked in.
We picked up the pace as we entered the finish line area and I went to grab the hubster’s hand, but he had no idea what I was doing because for the last 3 miles I’d nudge him to the side as we weaved through people. He thought I was nudging him again. The photo sequence is pretty funny.
We finally grabbed hands and smiled across the finish line.
In the books.
Medals and beer.
Overall, I love the A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon. It’s well organized, the runners are friendly, the scenery can’t be beat and most importantly, it’s a nice, flat course.
I’m lucky that I had the hubster by my side to push me, even when I didn’t want to be pushed. I never thought I’d so “easily” run a half and beat my previous time by nearly 18 minutes. All of that worrying was so unnecessary as soon as I sat back and enjoyed the fruits of my training labor. It was, hands down, my favorite race to date.
I can’t believe it’s over.