I was really unexcited for this race. It has a pretty bad reputation for inadequate water stops, the forecast called for ridiculously hot weather, and the race course itself included two giant bridges at the end of the race.
So while I attempted to talk Matt out of spectating - since I wouldn't be racing it anyway - I also decided to rope Kristin into joining me. Misery loves company!
|Apparently bridges are a selling point for some people.|
Kristin planned to meet me at the house at 4:45am so we could run 5 miles before she signed up the morning of. Then we'd have some time to relax and stretch before the race began at 7am. (Race organizers in Florida need to realize that a marathon/half marathon should start at 6:30 at the latest. Starting after sunrise is asking for disaster.)
|I hate you, Florida. Honestly, the weather is making me really nervous for BDR.|
Matt was insistent on cheering us on, even though I told him he didn't have to, so I told him he could join us at the finish line so he could sleep later. He decided to come with us and run the 5 miles and spectate the entire race. His presence ended up being our saving grace...but more on that later.
|After our five miles, the starting line began to fill up.|
Our five miles went smoothly. We got perfect free parking at the start line because we were there so early, and we had plenty of time to have water, use the bathroom, foam roll, and eat before the race began.
|And we're off!|
The race itself was hot
. I know that complaining about weather is one of the most annoying things ever, but seriously. My eyes were burning from my sweat for most of the race, and the heat made it really hard to fuel. Sweet, thick, goopy Gu is just awful when you're running double digits in 90 degrees.
We saw Matt at mile 3 or so and told him to bring us ice the next time we saw him. The course wound through semi-shaded neighborhoods. We struck up conversation with a few other runners. One of the highlights of the course was around mile 5, when we saw "puppies" playing in a yard that turned out to be baby goats. So cute!
We were soon taking walk breaks at each water stop - about every two miles or so - and using landmarks to get ourselves running again. We saw Matt around mile 8, just before we began climbing the first bridge, and at first it looked like he'd forgotten the ice...but fear not! He'd put some in his water bottle for easy transport.
|Still all smiles despite the heat.|
I shouted, "You're my savior!" as Kristin and I dumped ice in our bras.
We had agreed from the beginning to walk the bridges' ascents. The first bridge had a slow, long slope, and this was our first really long walk break. There was no shade or protection from the sun here, and very little breeze. I began to play mind games - as a race director, what would I add to the race to make it better?
Watermelon. Fruit kabobs. Misters. Troughs of ice along the route. A giant sun-shade to protect the course.
We ran the descent, but the bridge brought us to blacktop and a long, hot slog along 41. Desperate for water, we veered off course to a Wendy's to see if they were open, but no luck.
I texted Matt:
By the time we got to mile 11 of the race (16 for us), we had decided to run to the start of the next bridge, then walk up, as planned. Around 11.5 a woman on the side of the road was providing handfuls of ice, and we gratefully stuffed our bras again and kept trucking. At this point, I just wanted to be done.
My legs felt fine
the entire run, but I was just absolutely sapped of energy from the heat. It was really frustrating; if it were cooler out, we could have killed this run.
|Bridge 1 on the left, bridge 2 on the right.|
Anyway, we got to the base of the bridge and walked. I thanked Kristin for joining me last minute for this long run/race because I think I would have quit without her, it was that miserable. Having a partner really, really helped.
At the top, we knew there was only about half a mile or so left of the race, so we ran down and refused to walk from that point on. We saw Matt just before the finish, and Kristin shouted, "There's Matt! I've never been so happy to see your husband!" I heard Matt yell, "You're almost there, I have your Cokes!"
We ran through the finish together and sat in the grass, where I finally checked my GPS. The half was long, at 13.7 miles.
Matt found us and gave us our Cokes. (Mine said "#1 Fan" on it...so sweet.) Coke after a hot, long run is seriously like the nectar of the gods. If I ever had a doubt before, I know with 100% certainty that Matt is the best spectator ever.
We had water and bananas and generally just tried to cool down in the shade a bit.
The official half time was 2:42ish, about a 12:26 pace, which was fine for a long run, and considering the course was long, my GPS puts the pace at 11:59. Either way, I'm satisfied with that. Our 5 miles before that was at 11:21, so I'm pretty pleased, especially considering all the walking and the horrendous conditions.
|Sean had a Go Kart race and couldn't come to the marathon, but he joined us at the end to cheer a bit. It was cool that the top three marathoners were women, but the fact that the lead man had to DNF due to the heat is pretty telling.|
After the run, we had breakfast at First Watch.
|I had the avocado and bacon skillet with three eggs over easy.|
I took a super long nap once we got home. My legs and feet actually feel great, but I'm exhausted. I really hope we get some cooler weather for BDR, because I can't imagine doing a full in this kind of heat.