I decided to run the 2013 Allstate 13.1 Fort Lauderdale half marathon at a slower pace, and the reason I decided to run the 2013 Allstate 13.1 Fort Lauderdale half marathon at a slower pace was because I was physically incapable of running it at a faster pace.
I believe in logic.
This is my second year running this particular jaunt, and my 11th Half Marathon in total (my 5th Half of the year, with one more to go). If you read my review from the 2012 race, you’d remember that it was the time and location of my Half Marathon PR of 2:07:03. Plus I was full of elation and jolly good feelings throughout the event. I came out happy and exciting and very pleased with myself.
This year? Not quite so peppy. But still a small feeling of accomplishment. More on that in a few…
Oh don’t get me wrong, I had a really fun time and it definitely was a good race. My issues weren’t with the event, the people, my running buddies, or anything like that. No, my battlefield lay squarely within the borderlines of my own limitations. What was it that comic strip character Poco said? “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Something along those lines. I’ve also just received word that the comic strip was named ‘Pogo’; ‘Poco’ was that 70s yacht rock band with a pre-Eagles Timothy B. Schmidt. They did that song ‘Crazy Love’ you used to hear while waiting in line at the bank in the late 80s/early 90s. Or the dentist. Or in an elevator. Or perhaps all three at once, if your insurance covers it…
I’m stalling, I know.
The Pre-Race routine was rather… routine, really. The alarm was set for 4:00 AM, but I managed to wake up at 3:45. I had gotten a great night’s sleep; I woke up early the previous day and we had spent it enjoying my niece’s birthday at SkyZone in Doral, followed up with a quick visit to the mother-in-law in Kendall and a return home to veg and watch classic kaiju movies until bedtime. I think I was out by 9:00. Xanax always helps. So I was up right on time, made my usual oatmeal-and-peanut butter breakfast, got dressed in my Sunday (running) best, gathered my gear, and by 5:10 AM we hit the road, making our way to downtown Fort Lauderdale. At the Miami Beach Halloween Half two weeks previous, I came in just a few minutes too late to make the group pictures, which made me sad. This time, no way I was missing anything. I needn’t have worried; we arrived by just after 5:30AM. Pictures were scheduled for 6, and the race was to start at 6:35. I had plenty of time.
I found my FIT buddies lounging about the Start area, and managed to snatch some pics and socialize excitedly (again, not an extrovert, just a nervous blabby introvert), and we finally made it to the Start Line to take some group pics. Being 6’2″, they always shove me in the back, so you only see just a head. Which is fine. I have a freakishly-shaped oblong Alien head anyhow, so that’s usually what makes the headlines.
Otherwise it was a standard, straightforward, pleasant pre-race area. No loud music or dancing or DJ’ing or anything like that, but plenty of water, porto-potties (although plenty of guys — AND gals! — were peeing in the alleys when the lines were getting too long), and aid tents ready for runners.
We had another 20 minutes of sitting around and waiting, so while chatting about I was fiddling with a new piece of gear; my brand-new Jaybird JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Headphones. I’m going to throw in a mini-pitch here, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you want. When I run, I need my audio, period. My problem with traditional headphones/earbuds is threefold: 1) Sweat and wind can cause your earbuds to slip or be pulled out from your ear, 2) Excessive sweat (which is gonna happen while running) can short out your earbuds, resulting in a silence you never wanted in the first place, and 3) Accidentally yanking on the cord can pull your earbuds out, sometimes rather suddenly and even painfully. I wanted something that would go in my ears, stay in there, and be entirely cordless. I did some research and decided to go with the Jaybird JF3’s, and I have to say they were pretty remarkable. The pairing to my Galaxy S4 was quick and easy, the sound quality is reasonably good, they stayed inside my ears even with sweat and wind, and since they come with a lifetime warranty against sweat damage, they never even began to start dimming or fading. So yeah, this was a great choice for me and my running audio needs. And so ends the completely unsolicited endorsement from your pal Hokeydude!
Moving on… at just before 6:30 the National Anthem was sung, the disabled athletes went off running, and soon we were off on our way on the 2013 Allstate 13.1 Fort Lauderdale race. My strategy for this race was to run 6:1 intervals, my traditional race running pattern. I still didn’t feel comfortable doing 10:1’s for 13 miles yet, although in retrospect I probably would have been fine. The morning weather was warm, near 70 degrees at Start time with about 80% humidity, but it felt pleasant enough to me. There was a cool breeze blowing, which would turn much stronger and more invigorating (and challenging) as we got to A1A, but as far as weather was concerned I didn’t feel any particular issues.
The first 2.5 miles of the race are probably the most interesting, in that they have the least amount of straightaways. Check out this map sequence right here:
There were six turns in the first mile alone as we traversed our way through Fort Lauderdale! I have no complaints about that, as I think it makes the course that much more interesting than just taking off in a straight line. During this first part of the race we passed the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art and the Helistop, make our way south on Federal, through the HAUNTED Kinsey Tunnel (and as an aside people, do you REALLY need to scream at the top of your lungs just because you’re in a tunnel? Honestly…), then up and around 7th Street back to Andrews Ave, over the Andrews bridge, then back to the Museum of Art again as we headed East down Las Olas towards the beach (with a quick loop around Las Olas Way bordering the River).
Las Olas was the first of our three straightaways, and it was around here that the rather cramped conditions of the earlier portion of the race started to open up a bit and I settled into a groove. Mile 1 I completed at 9:30, Mile 2 at 9:46. My goal was to keep a total average pace of 10:15 throughout the run, so I slowed it down a smidge. Past the 3 Mile mark I saw the first of two FIT water stations, and was able to high-five my buddies there (including Sandy, Mare and her kids, Brett, Meredith, Hali, and many others who I’m totally forgetting right now!) Meanwhile all the diners hanging out at the Las Olas cafes were certainly amping up the envy factor, but never mind that; I’m an ath-e-lete! Keep on truckin’ son! My good buddy Denise was chilling outside the Floridian and cheered me on as I passed by; I responded with a smile and wave, and almost wanted to sit down for coffee. Almost.
Soon we were up and over the Las Olas bridge, which was very congested due to construction. Many people were walking this portion, which led to bit of a bottleneck. No matter. We had just passed Mile 4 and were now heading north on A1A, on the second of three straightaways. This would take us about 4.5 miles North, past Oakland Park Boulevard to NE 40th Street. Boots was stationed here just past Las Olas with her buttkickin’ camera, one which she realized she had forgotten at home after dropping me off at the Start Line, but she was able to quickly return and retrieve just in the nick of time. Phew! Anyway, she was able to capture these Action Snapshots of me making my way north (as well as capturing pictures of all FIT runners, which you can also see by clicking here.
We had a killer view of the Atlantic Ocean to our right, with cheering crowds on both sides, as we headed up to the turnaround at just before the 9 mile mark. I distinctly remember a classic rock band playing on raised platform around Sunrise and A1A, belting out a serviceable rendition of “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2”. I’m not making that up, and the reason I’m announcing that I’m not making that up is that this was right around the time where I suddenly, painfully, and rather coincidentally SLAMMED into the wall myself. The fifth mile took me 10:51 to complete (almost 40 seconds longer) and I was feeling it. My legs were heavy, my breaths shallow, and I felt I had literally NOTHING left in the tank. I took my first GU during the period, and by the sixth mile I had recovered back to a faster (but not quite my desired) pace. Soon afterward I was slowing down again, drained, exhausted.
I mentally went through a checklist of what could be causing my sudden and complete lack of energy… I certainly fueled properly the night before, hydrated well, spent all day Saturday mostly doing low-impact activity (if I were on my feet at all!), was definitely getting in my electrolytes and supplements, and wasn’t going at an unsustainable pace or anything. Of course all that would have been moot if I hadn’t been actively training and getting my long runs in, but I definitely had been regular with my mileage. I mean, I had run a Half Marathon two weeks before, and it wasn’t like I was exactly NEW to the concept of running a half. Hell, I ran a full 26.2 miler last January, with plenty of other long runs in between.
Maybe it was just one of those things. Or maybe going out and having more than a few shots and libations Friday night with some old-school buddies was still affecting me…
Regardless, I quickly let it go. I wasn’t out to PR to begin with, and besides I just wanted to enjoy the ride. If I had a goal, it was to beat my time from the Halloween Half of 2:25:06. Otherwise, I let go of any and all time pressures.
I’m glad I did. It was a low-key, enjoyable race. Before the turnaround I spotted my buddies Rich and the two Jose’s ahead of me, and coming back I was able to high-five everyone behind me. Jeanne caught up with me from behind and asked if she could pace with me. I told her I’d only hold her back, and I was right. She took off and ended up finishing about 3 minutes ahead of me, so apparently I was right! I didn’t let my lack of energy bring me down, though. I kept moving south on A1A, slower now but steady. Soon we passed the Pelican Bay and were back with that killer view of the Atlantic. I also managed to hear, then see Doctor Dribble again. Man that guy gets around. I later found out that he’s a basketball coach at the middle school I attended. Cool!
The way back covered the same spots as before, only coming from the opposite direction. The breeze, which had dissipated as we went north past the Pelican Bay, had returned as we passed it coming south, and it felt really invigorating (and strong!). I soldiered on southward, spotted Brett on his bike who gave a hearty shout-out, and caught up with Boots again who managed to capture these “on the way back” shots:
Finally it was the last mile and we were passing Las Olas, then 5th Street, then approaching the Finish Line area at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. As usual this was lined with cheering spectators encouraging you onward. A lot of people gun it as they approach the Finish Line, which is their prerogative, but I think it’s kind of silly. To me, “finishing strong” means finishing upright, confident, and satisfied, not tearing through that last tenth of a mile like it owed you money. I kept pace and crossed the Finish feeling tired and drained, but also confident and happy. Another half marathon run and done, in the books.
My total time ended up being 02:23:06 — exactly two minutes faster than I had run the same distance two weeks ago.
So maybe it wasn’t a bad run after all. While it was a far cry from the 2:07:03 I had run the same course 364 days ago, I was showing some short-term improvement. Now all I have to do is keep on training and running to get to where I want to be.
I grabbed a water and headed to the Publix tent for some post-race grub. I’m rarely hungry after a race, but I definitely wanted to replenish my levels. They had bananas, oranges, muffins, cookies, and Pollo Tropical for the scarfing. The Pollo Trop was kind of bland and mushy, so I nibbled on a cookie and orange without finishing either. After Boots met up with me by the FIT tent, we chatted for awhile with our buddies, then made our way to the Beer line for our “free” Michelob Ultra. All I can say is that when it comes to stale American beer of the Michelob variety, “free” means you still paid too much. Your proverbial sex in a canoe, as it were. Email me if you require further explanation…
Overall it was another successful 13.1 event, with a mostly flat and very fast race, plenty of well-managed hydration stations, on-course entertainment (dancers, cheerleaders, bands of the rock and marching variety), a solid pre-race area and a very festive (and nosh-filled) Finish Line. Next up is the Palm Beaches Half Marathon on December 8th, four weeks to the date after this run. Let’s see if I can take my run time down to under 2:20. Plus this was the first race of the Florida Storm Series, of which I am doing all five this year in search of the legendary Cat-5 status and bonus bling. So technically I’m now a Cat-1, which means nothing but I’ll still take it. A hurricane’s still a hurricane, right? Here’s the the rather appropriate video: