Monday, October 28, 2013

race recap: southernmost half marathon in key west

well, this is about three weeks overdo. but better late than never. i've been putting off legitimate blog updates because quite frankly i've been mad/upset/angry/frustrated with running/my foot and wanted to cool off before i put my thoughts down on virtual paper. but if i didn't write about my race now, i'd probably just let it "slip" and move onto other things. 

so, a few weeks ago, i ran the southernmost half marathon in key west. as the race name suggests, this is the southern most race in the continental united states because part of the course runs past the southern most part of the united states. pretty clever, eh?

i went into the race with the basic assumption that this would not be a PR race for me. coming off a rather irritating injury and two weeks of running rather lethargically (not to mention the 80+ degree weather that was promised at race time), my expectations were very low. i convinced myself i was going to be happy if i just made it across the finish line.

this was the inaugural race - somehow my second inaugural race in a row - so i really had no idea what to expect race wise. i guess i wasn't expecting much - just hoping for porta potties and a seemingly organized race morning.

the road to key west is gorgeous

we got into key west in the evening on friday and made it in time for packet pick up and the expo. everything was located at pat croce's rum barrel, the title sponsor of the race and packet pick up was right upstairs. the expo was small - about three vendors small - but i did benefit from the discount offered for boat tours that was offered to race runners!

outside the race expo

race morning was pretty uneventful, except for the fact i left my water bottle + gu in the hotel and brandon had to scramble back to get it before race start (oops!). the race was small and the marathon started about 15 minutes before the half. i always have to report about the bathroom situation. the women's bathroom was open at the rum barrel but lordy, the line wrapped around the bar and i wasn't about to try that. i happened to see a weird L Shape of porta potties about a block from the race start and a block from the ocean. have no clue if those were part of the race or not - not everyone seemed to realize they were there. if i had to suggest improvements for next year, it would be more communication about porta potties (or more of them in general).

pre-race, you wouldn't know it though because of how sweaty
my sun screen makes me look!

the race started early - it was still dark out - but it was bloody hot. we started off relatively on time and headed through town, out towards the naval boat (or dock? no idea), through some residential areas, to the southern most point and then it was all coast line.

i was running alright for the first four miles but i felt my decline coming quickly. my foot didn't feel right. it was hot as heebus. and when the 2:00 pace group passed me at 4.5 miles, i knew it was time to rethink what this race was supposed to be for me. i made it to the next water station, threw off my shoe to adjust some bandages on my foot and then set off again.

at this point, i told myself the "race" was over for me. i had an honest conversation with myself as i was struggling along. it wasn't worth it to push too hard when i was running on an injured foot and in the blazing heat that my body wasn't adjusted to. trying to push past my limits could end in disaster. i don't want to say "i gave up" because that would infer "defeat" of some type. but rather, i changed my goal. as i was running along the ocean, the sun coming up, i decided i would focus on enjoying the moment. my new goal was to savor every second of where i was and the fact that i could be there at the time. this race was never supposed to be about getting a certain finish time. i think it was always intended to teach me a lesson or to help me practice living in the now. from that point on, i tackled the race in walk/run intervals. i smiled at runners. i enjoyed the scenery. i enjoyed the fact that running had gotten me to this beautiful place and was allowing me to spend a weekend away with my boyfriend.

heading out, sunrise in front of me

my miles slowed way, way down, but that is okay. and i learned with each minute that passed to accept that.

what i didn't enjoy was that i was under prepared with water and there weren't frequent enough water stops for me on the second half of the course. i was parched. i even considered stopping at a cafe along the course to buy a bottle of water! can't say that has ever happened to me before.

the only extremely annoying part in the last half of the race was two fold. if you weren't part of a large running pack, it was easy to lose the course a bit. and this happened to me in the worst spot on the course; heading towards me and blocking the entire road was a very large group of breast cancer walkers. while i'm all for supporting the cause, i was panicked that i wouldn't be able to find the course and get back to the finish along the actual route. i literally ran towards people, parting a small crowd as i tried to find a way out of the pack of walkers and back on the race route. that was incredibly stressful. 

chugging along at mile 9 ish

finish time wise, this wasn't a great race. but it was an important race in terms of my ability to stop putting so much pressure on myself to pr every race and to stop taking myself (and running) so seriously. if i can't learn to enjoy the race and the moment, then whats the point? at some moment in life, the personal records will stop and then what? stop running? no, you find something else to enjoy. and thats what i started to learn at this race.

probably the best finishing picture of me.... ever

after the race, i chugged more water than i think i ever have, and took off my shoe to reveal an incredibly busted and abused toe. i really had done more damage to myself running this race so i am glad i decided not to push it and to do some run/walking. who knows how worse things could've been!

brandon and i had a great time in key west and although i am beyond disappointed that i didn't get my sub two hour half marathon this year, i feel pretty confident that if i can figure out how to run injury free, i will be flying my way to a PR come glass slipper time in february :)




23 comments:

  1. Congrats on completing another half! I love KW! I went there on my honeymoon and wanted to move there! I think you made the right decision in taking it easy. There's no need to damage an injury even more. That is great that you kept a positive attitude and enjoyed the race! You look strong, happy, and adorable!

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    1. Thanks Amy!! Key West is amazing. I was telling Brandon it would be a great place for our winter home someday ;) Haha And I agree with you - no reason to make things worse. I think I am becoming a smarter runner as I get older! Yay! Haha

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  2. You finished, you had a half 'life lesson', you did it! That's what counts, nice work!

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    1. Right on, Amanda. All in perspective and I'll take all the life lessons I can get :)

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  3. What a beautiful place to run. Hope you heal quickly. I am dealing with an ankle injury right now and it's so frustrating. I think it's just part of long distance running. Not sure if I want to accept it or move on.

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    1. You make a good point about "accepting it" or "moving on." I think I had to do both. Accept the fact that I am not superman, I will get injured, and the move on from letting it get the best of me.

      I hope your ankle heals up soon!

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  4. Congrats on finishing! I'm working on accepting a finish as an accomplishment instead of a time...Sometimes you just have to change your perspective in order to not totally hate yourself and your circumstances. Now rest your foot up!

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    1. Thank you!!

      I have the same struggles of accepting accomplishments outside finish times. It sounds like it would be simple but its not! But I read your race recap and am hoping you will start to feel proud of yourself soon. You deserve it :)

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  5. Way to finish with an injury, it sucks and it is hard! Great Job, the scenery must have been amazing too!

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    1. Thanks Lauren. Beautiful scenery helped A TON. I had something to distract me a bit!

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  7. I'm sorry to hear you missed your PR but I think you ran a smart race. Given the situation with your foot and the terrible heat, I give you a lot of credit for even being able to finish the race!

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    1. Thanks Sun. Sometimes running "smart" is just as good as running fast! :)

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  8. I'm sorry you didn't hit your goal but it sounds like you made the right choice. Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture and that IS the smart move!

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    1. Absolutely agree. Big picture thinking/seeing is hard but I think ultimately helps us get to where we want to be :)

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  9. I'm so sorry that things didn't work out for your PR and with your foot, but you definitely made the right decision. This race sounds beautiful, but also sounds like they need to add more water! You'll get that sub 2!!

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    1. I find it kind of ironic a race on an island surrounded by water needed more of it, ya know? I should've carried a large bottle with me. Poor planning on both parts, maybe :)

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  10. I really think you did the right thing. For my 10K this weekend, I pretty much knew all bets were off due to my IT band, but I ran it (slooooowly) and I finished it, which is what I wanted to do. I felt crappy watching people pass me, but what can do you? Better to run slowly and not kill yourself than to injure yourself even more. Looks like your scenery was beautiful and I'm glad you got to run it!

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    1. Absolutely 100% agree with you. And this is the wiser, smart Alicia speaking here :) I'm glad you were able to do your 10k! A finish is a finish, no matter how you get there! We just have to keep that in mind.

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  11. Seriously awesome finish photo! I agree that if it's not fun, it's not worth it. I know I do a lot of races and don't go for the PR every time, I just like doing them when friends are. Hopefully your injury will heal well, then you can go after that sub-2!

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  12. I have been wondering about this race. Thanks for the honest review. It's hard to not want to PR at every race ( afterall, we are always trying to improve right?) But then reality sets in and we have to just enjoy the run! Glad you had a good time in Key West otherwise!

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Getting comments feels as good as a freezing cold glass of Gatorade on a hot summer day. So don't be shy - share your thoughts & opinions! - Alicia