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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Boca, Bitches! aka The PAL Boca Half Marathon Race Report

Pre-Race
Last night we went out to dinner with some friends and then afterward we went to their place for some Rock Band. We didn't rock out all night, and for rock stars, we were pretty conservative with our beer drinking, but still, I had a total of about 5 beers. I don't typically drink the day before a race, but I figured if I limited myself and was still in bed by 10 pm, I'd be fine.

I was right.

I got up at 4:30 this morning feeling exactly like I hadn't had a single drink the night before. So this pretty much de-bunks the myth that I can't drink the night before a race. Wish I had tested this previously, because there have been some pre-race days where I really could have used a beer.

Anyhoo...got to the race, in Boca Raton, at about 5:45 this morning, and picked up my packet and timing chip. It was a small race, less than 500 running the HM, so packet pick up went quickly and easily, and after standing in line for the bathroom, I had about 5 minutes to get to the start. Perfect timing -- I hate standing around at the start for a long time.

Start - Mile 7
The race began without much introduction, no National Anthem, no gun, nothing, just "go" from someone with a megaphone, and we were off. We started on A1A, and headed south. At about 1.5 miles, we turned off A1A and ran through a residential neighborhood, and then rejoined with A1A again until a turn around the 3.5 mile marker.

A1A is a nice road for running -- nice and flat, and because we avoided the bridge that Wendy and I usually run over when we run in Boca, it was an easy road for running. However, it's not that interesting. You can't really see the ocean along this stretch because of the hotels, etc that line that side of the road, so with the exception of the residential neighborhoods that we detoured through, the scenery was pretty boring.

At mile 7, I was puzzled about the course because we were re-entering the Spanish River Park (where we started), but I was seeing front-runners circling back along A1A. At this point, I began to deduce what the second half of the course would be like (a second loop), and it was here that I knew that second half would suck.

Splits:
1: 9:33
2: 9:31
3: 9:43
4: 9:38
5: 9:45
6: 9:56
7: 9:58

Miles 8-Finish
Mile 8 took us through the park and circled right by the finish line. This was terrible. I've never run a race like this where you circle past the finish, but to any race directors out there? Do NOT do this! It is demoralizing to run by the finish when you are more than 5 miles from finishing. And while there's nothing wrong with an out and back course (actually, I kind of prefer this kind of course), an out-and-back-and-back-out course really sucks because it feels like you're doing laps.

So, we looped back out of the park and onto A1A, again headed south, but this time, traffic wasn't being re-routed, so we were running on the side of the road with cars going by us. NOT safe. We got to the 10 mile marker and then again deviated off A1A into a residential neighborhood before re-joining A1A again, but this time we were running on the path that runs parallel to the highway (this path is what Wendy and I normally run on -- it's nice, wide, and asphalt -- it's a nice path except that this morning it wasn't closed to the race: there were regular Sunday morning runners, people walking their dogs, and even people rollerblading past us).

Just past the 12 mile marker, we again entered the park as we made our way to the finish, and this time when I neared the finish, I wasn't looping past it. Because it was such a small race, there wasn't any kind of crowd at the finish, so I crossed the mats, stopped my Garmin, and got my medal, all without much ceremony. I got my chip removed, grabbed some water, and was done for the morning.

8: 9:59
9: 9:53
10: 9:57
11: 10:13
12: 9:58
13: 10:27
.28: 2:41

Total Time: 2:11:19

Post Race Reflection
In short, I would not do this race again. The course was poorly designed (and I overheard some other runners speculating that it was mis-measured, which makes that .28 instead of .1 on the end make better sense, but I don't know if that's true or not), dull, and a little dangerous. On the course, there were fluid stations, which were well-manned and stocked, but there were no porta potties on the route and no medical stations.

At the finish, there were no bottles of water, just paper cups with a big five gallon cooler of water and Accelerade; plus, while they did have a pancake breakfast, they didn't have any portable food like bananas or bagels. I was by myself, so I didn't want to sit down for pancakes (and I rarely do right after a race -- I'm not truly hungry until about an hour later), but I would've liked something to take with me for the drive home.

Lastly, the last part of the course ran through the park, as I previously mentioned, but this is also where we parked, so as I was finishing, cars with racers were trying to leave, and the same was true when I finished, I was trying to leave but I was literally driving around and waiting for racers still on the course. I made sure to give racers plenty of time and room, but some drivers were a bit more aggressive, and I think this also made the course A.) dangerous for runners, but B.) again demoralizing: when you know these people have finished and are trying to leave and you're not even done yet, it stinks!

So, yeah, I had a lot of gripes about this race, but ultimately, it was still a nice morning for a run, and while I didn't PR, I did the race in a respectable time, I got a medal, and I completed my 4th HM for the year.

Hopefully, the Ft. Lauderdale HM that I'm running next Sunday will be better.

37 comments:

Erin said...

I can't believe they didn't have the route laid out better. That sounds crappy. Can you write to the race officials? Glad you had a decent run but under those circumstances, I would be upset too. It took away from the actual race. Better luck next weekend!

teacherwoman said...

Sounds like an interesting race. Am I completely out of the loop? I didn't realize you were doing a half marathon this weekend, let alone next weekend as well! Geez.

Cindy said...

no portapotties? can they do that? seems cruel.

AnthonyP said...

Sorry to hear that the course was poor....but, nice job !

MCM Mama said...

Nice job on the race! Sounds like a poorly laid out run all right. When I ran Zooma, we were on a trail and they hadn't closed it, so we were constantly dodging bikers. At least they did keep the roads closed for us.

Hope next week's course is better. I'm so jealous of you right now, I have a bunch of HMs to run in spring, but not much in the way of longer races around here right not.

kelsalynn said...

Yeah, that doesn't sound like that great of a race. That's too bad. I can't believe they would have it THAT unsafe- you're absolutely right that it's dangerous and demoralizing.

You're having such a strong year for races in 2008. I can't wait to hear an overall reflection on the year and how you think 2009 will compare. You do such a great job staying in shape and having a balance in life!

D10 said...

The race doesn't seem too runner friendly. I thought all races had bananas!

Great job on the run and way to finish your 4th HM this year.

Laurel said...

Kind of sounds like a crappy race. Not very well thought out. At least you got one in though and a pretty good time too!

Some of my best runs have been after drinking a few beers the night before. As long as I don't get drunk, I am usually ok.

runner26 said...

that's too bad about the course. I agree with everything you said about it! But you still had a great race!

Nicole said...

Too bad about the course and no goodies.
Congrats on the good time though.

Jess said...

sorry the course was sucky! at least it was good weather and a solid run!

Firefly's Running said...

Sounded like a crappy race especially the finish. No bananas?! But a great finish time!

Steve Stenzel said...

You didn't PR, but you were only like 2 minutes back, so still - WAY TO GO!

Yeah, that sucks looping close to the finish with MILES left. Why do they do that? I LOVE regular out-and-back courses.

NICE RUN!! Congrats on some nice, consistent splits!

Cara said...

wow sounds like a crappy course, but you still did amazing!!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Sounds like a crazy course layout! Ick!!!

But good job - you still did great. :-)

Marcy said...

GREAT job Jess!! ITA with you on having to pass the finish while in route. The last HM I did they had the finisher's pavilion on the side of the road with 3 miles left til finish. It's SOOO disheartening to see other peeps with their medals chillaxing with their drinks, donuts, and laughing while I'm wanting to die and no end in site LOL

Marcy said...

excuse me I meant "sight" WTF do I think I'm camping or something :P

Mary Gee said...

Nice job - sounds like it was a bit of a challenge with bad organization.

robtherunner said...

Sorry to hear the race didn't quite tickle your fancy. I have run a marathon before that runs by the finishes and then continues on a few more mile before returning to the finish and I didn't like it much. Of course last week I ran 16 loops so essentially ran by the finish 16 times, but it's a different mentality I think. Congrats on the finish!

Mrs. K said...

that blows- my friend ran that nike thing here in boca and someone got hit by a car!

Mrs. K said...

ps- next time you can let me know! :) I'll go have pancakes with you anytime!

Marci said...

Congrats on a good run in less than great conditions!

Running Jen said...

Wow, that does sound like a strange course. Love your finishing time, I finished my half (last year) in 2:11 too!! Great job!

Neese said...

i agree, immediate pancakes is not at all tempting!

Marlene said...

Yikes, definitely sounds poorly organized.

Congrats on a great time anyway!

Brooke said...

bummer about the race! I also detest running loops and/or past the finnish! Of course I would have been more annoyed at having Ice Ice Baby in my head the whole time..." yo so I continue to AIA Beachfront Avenue!" Were the girls hot and wearing less than bikinis? ;)

X-Country2 said...

Ug, I hate poorly planned races like that. Good for you for getting out and completing your 4th HM this year.

Wes said...

Back to back HM weekends? You go girl!!

Viv said...

Shit Jess totally forgot you this was numbero uno of your back to back HM's. i wanted to swing by and wish you luck like my luck would have just propelled you..LOL!
Great time, and nice consistent splits even with roller bladers? WTF?! I understood all your frustrations prolly one I would skip next time around. Next weekend should be an awesome one, and here is my luck now for your PR next weekend :)

*aron* said...

great job for running a great race on a crappy course... good luck next weekend too!

Ted said...

Congrats for getting the job done. Next time, I will have five beers before the Philadelphia Marathon. It should work out GREAT for me.

Sounds like poor planning with this race you ran in!

chia said...

That sounds like a cluster munk! Still, brilliant showing Miss2:11Pants! Welcome to race season ;-). I'll be up here sippin cocoa!

P.O.M. said...

Hmmmm, sounds like they have some issues to work out, for sure (hello no DRINKS at end or potties??).

But great job on your part~!

Kevin said...

That is one stinky race course. Definitely wouldnt be doing that again. Congrats on a great race anyways

sRod said...

Ugh, I hate looping courses. It's really annoying to pass the finish line when you're only half way through. It messes you up.

The only good way I've seen this done is if the finish line isn't set up when you pass through the first time. That way you can trick yourself.

Congrats on the race!!!

The Running Knitter said...

I'm a little late on commenting, but you did awesome even with a bad course!

J~Mom said...

Great race!! Sounds like a bad course though!