Sunday, November 14, 2010

13.1 Ft. Lauderdale

2 mile w/u
Target: 13.1 @not super slow
Actual: 1:25:30 (minus a few, er, stops); 3rd female
Total: 15-15.5 miles

If there's one thing I love doing on a Sunday, it's waking up at 3am. Let's just say that neither myself nor Nora, the Florida sales rep, were super pumped when my alarm sounded at a time when cool people are probably still awake. For uncool people like us, the alarm meant it was time to wake up and head over to the finish line where we would be setting up our wares for the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale race. This morning's festivities would cap off four days in South Florida, which began with a packet pickup at Runner's Depot on Thursday and continued with two days of packet pickup/expo at a local hotel before concluding on the beach today.

We arrived just after 4am and immediately began setting up our tents, tables, footwear and apparel as best we could in the darkness. Even with daylight's savings time the
sky wouldn't begin to lighten until well past the race's 6:13 start, as I would find out several hours later. By 5:45 our setup was complete, which meant it was time for me to strip down to my race skivvies and jog the ~2 miles to the start line. I wasn't anticipating any record beating times given my current state of fitness and my even more current state of exhaustion, but what the heck. Might as well get in my long run with a few thousand strangers and some supported water stops, right? Since the race offers no prize money I entertained thoughts of winning, but there was no way to tell who else would show up just for kicks. Once I reached the start line I spotted three other women who looked reasonably legit, all of whom were a bit older than me and all of whom were wearing racing flats. I, on the other hand, was sporting the Fast Rides I'd been rocking all week, as I didn't think the increased speed was a fair trade for how banged up my legs would be after pounding the pavement for 13 miles. Were this a serious race I would've definitely gone for the lighter shoes, but for today I didn't deem it necessary.

The race started precisely at 6:13, and immediately I settled in behind the lead g
roup of women. The three I'd spotted at the start shot out in front of me, and although Jordan had counseled me to start with the leaders regardless of pace I thought it best to hold back. I kept trying to remind myself that feeling good in the first few miles meant nothing; the lack of quality workouts still missing from my regimen would surely catch up with me later in the race. Despite this mentality, I still split 6:06's quite comfortably for the first two miles; by this point I'd passed one of the women, but the lead two were already a good 10-15 seconds ahead. I had no idea what kind of time they were hoping to run, but sub-1:18 pace was simply not something I was willing to go for right now. I continued to hold back, instead trying to find a few dudes to latch onto.

About four miles into the race we approached a causeway bridge that would take us back toward the beach. This was one of only two "hills" in the race (the other coming in mile 2 when we ran down into a tunnel and then came up and out the other side); other than these minor blips the course was perfectly and completely flat. I'm confident the same could be said for most races tha
t take place in the Sunshine State. While the terrain is an undeniable "'pro," a few marks could be made in the "con" category regarding the weather. Turns out it's warm, humid and windy here pretty much year round, and today was no exception. While my coworkers are suffering through freezing temps in Boston I'm sweating it out in 70-degree weather (near 80 by later in the morning.) Pretty crazy.

Shortly after descending the bridge, the course hooked a left to pop out on the A1A, which runs parallel to the beach. This is when the wind began to play a noticeable factor, as evidenced by the swaying of palm trees surrounding us. This is also when my stomach began to play a noticeable factor. Everyone who knows me is aware that I struggle with digestive issues while running, though mercifully they usually seem to abate on race day. For whatever reason, this was not true today. About halfway through the race I felt my stomach beginning to cramp up, and a mile later it became so uncomfortable that I actually stopped and wa
lked for a bit. Had there been a bathroom nearby I most certainly would have utilized it, but I didn't spot any in the vicinity. After about a minute of walking I began to run again, more than a little frustrated about my condition and also the fact that I had actually been gaining on the two lead women. The turnaround point came just past mile 8, and at that point I was able to gauge that they were about 150 meters in front of me. I stepped on the gas a bit in hopes of catching up.

My comeback was going smoothly until a few miles later, when I realized it was imperative that I stop for the bathroom. Fortunately one was within striking distance, but unfortunately this put the leaders hopelessly out of reach. Again, I was frustrated, and again I channeled this into running hard. I covered the last three miles at 6:15 pace--by no means blazing but a strong finish for where my fitness is right now--somehow m
anaging to hold off all the other women to finish third. Had I been passed while in the loo I probably wouldn't have crossed the finish line, but it seemed silly not to since I managed to make the podium in spite of myself. 1:25 is slower than I've run in quite some time, but subtracting a few minutes for the stops puts me right at Olympic Trials qualifying marathon pace. Did this feel like a marathon-paced run today? Definitely not. Am I confident I can run 6:19 or faster after 11 more weeks of training? Absolutely.

For better or worse, I had no chance to cool down after the race. The Karhu tent was bustling with activity and I'd already left Nora alone for long enough. I spent the remaining few hours selling schwag while admiring the aquamarine ocean waters, still in awe of the disparity between our climate here and the rest of the country. It truly was like a postcard, as you can see below.

I'd like to write more, but as I type this I'm in the lobby of the Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale, finishing up a load of laundry before catching my airport shuttle, a full 12 hours into my day. I'm off to my home state for our sales meeting and the Running Event in Austin. I can't wait to reunite with friends, coworkers and even Jordan for the next few days. I'll follow up soon from the Lone Star State!