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.
7: 9:58Miles 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.
Total Time: 2:11:19Post 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.