I wasn’t sure how well this race was going to go. I hadn’t run more than 7 miles at one time since December 7 and the last time I ran longer than 10 miles was the Cambridge Half Marathon in November. Being laid up in an immobilization boot for the better part of December, I went from December 7 to December 31 without running.
Since then, I’ve run every day in 2018 except two – January 4, the day of a blizzard that shut down just about everything, including the gym, and yesterday when I just couldn’t get my stuff together to run the weekly 5k before I headed to the airport.
So, it’s race day. The thing that saved the day from ignominy is the fact that Florida is as flat as a pancake. The only elevation gain was from the two bridges and the out and back course. 344′ of gain. It saved the day, and cursed the day, but more on that later. The race started at 7:05 and about 58-degrees.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the race. My night sleep was sketchy, but my nutrition was on point. Up and out to packet pick up by 5:30 AM, with a cup of coffee and an ill fated trip to the porta potty set the stage.
About 0.5 mile into the race was the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge. I wasn’t sure I was going to accomplish this in the time I wanted, yet the next song to come up on my playlist was “Barometer Soup” by Jimmy Buffett. Feeling the Margaritaville vibe with the view of Clearwater was magnificent.
I wasn’t sure what the race held, but I was happy I was there.
The coffee helped get my metabolism going, but unfortunately caused some other issues for me, which wasn’t immediately a problem but about 4 miles in they began.
Just before the second bridge, there was a breakfast place that had obviously just fired up their offerings with the net result was all I could smell was bacon…for like a mile. THAT would’ve been AWESOME if I weren’t battling the GI ninja.
Its also the day of the AFC Championship Game – Patriots vs. Jaguars. So, ever the master of race couture, I wore a TB12 jersey…the whole race. Not one hater on the course, some fist bumps, high fives, hoots. It was fun and served the purpose I set out to achieve wearing it.
I was fully on pace for a personal record right up to Mile 12, right where the last bridge started inclining and I just couldn’t push any further. For that half mile, I pretty much walk-ran the bridge. The second half was down hill, including a ramp down into the park. I’m pretty sure that mile split was 13:00 m/m for the first half, and 7:00 for the second.
Ultimately, I finished with a 1:56:32 time. Not my worst by a long shot, and about 3.5 minutes shy of my best. Much like Cambridge was in November, this was an opportunity to PR – an opportunity lost. BUT, it was a personal victory; I’d not had a long run in months, I haven’t been running well at all.
A sub-2 hour half marathon is, in my book, a good race. It didn’t feel like a good ending, but over all it felt like a good race. I wound up with an 8:56 pace, with the last three miles taking their toll on my pace. Lessons to build on.
I was disappointed and not a little salty that the Half Marathon finisher medals weren’t available at the finish line, but the communication around that really was top notch. It was a regrettable situation, and the RD clearly regretted it. We got a note at the finish, an email to follow up and I received this by week’s end.
It’s a really slick medal, and truly the reason it wasn’t available (beyond the shipping issues) was that they had a custom medal for each distance; whatever happened behind the scenes, the public face of it was handled well and appreciated. Not every race does that (I have two “Half Marathon-5k” medals and one “Marathon & Half Marathon”) So while it was a drag at the time, it’s pretty sweet swag overall.