Bibrave Race Review: Ft. Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

In typical runner fashion, I made this weekend a double race weekend. On Saturday, I ran the A1A Fort Lauderdale 5K. Miss that review? Head over here and read it after you’re done! Sunday, I tortured myself some more with the half marathon.

I arrived Thursday and stayed at one of the host hotels by the start. Not so hot on the area, but that’s besides the point. Friday afternoon, I headed to the expo. The expo this year was held at the Broward County Convention Center from 3-8  pm on Friday and 9-6 on Saturday. I wish there would have been earlier hours on Friday, because there was a lot of waiting around. Since I went when it opened, there was a mass of people getting in. Bibs for the half and full marathons were sorted by last name and you had no idea what your number was until you picked it up. What ended up happening was a whole lot of congestion because of the name situation. The space was small enough where that didn’t help either. Shirt pick up was next to the bibs and easy enough to pick up, but the shirts looked cheap and small. My women’s medium half marathon shirt was smaller than my women’s small 5K shirt. What the what?? I explored the expo, picked up some freebies and made it back to the hotel to unload my stuff.

It's a 2 race sort of weekend! #a1amarathon #bibchat #runchat #5k #halfmarathon

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I ran the 5K on Saturday morning and could tell Sunday would be warm. The 5K was 730 AM and already warm and humid by that point. I took some time to explore, grab some food and head to church before calling it a night

Race Day for the Half/Full Marathon:

The race itself is a point to point race, with the start being in the River Park area. I walked to the start, while others parked at the finish and took the shuttles to the start. It was already hot at 545 AM on race morning. Plenty of port o potties, though lines were long. Bag check was available, though at the back of the start corrals and then they were bussed to the finish along the beach

Start: the half and full start together bright and early at 6 AM. When you’re still half on PST, trying to get any sort of food in to your system when your body thinks it’s 2-3AM is fun and entertaining.

The course:

The first few miles head along Las Olas Ave. 1/4 mile in, there’s a set of train tracks that most of us got over, however, a train came rolling through that had the 2:30 half marathons and a bunch of full marathoners delayed 20-30 minutes. Read long enough to where they were taken back to the start and restarted. How does that even happen?! Apparently, the race had permits for no trains before 7 AM that somehow were ignored. Whoops.

Anyways, After we got to the beach, we turned on A1A along the beach and took it out a few miles before turning onto some neighborhood streets. We were led through some sort of park for at least a mile or two and then back out to the roads. Right before mile 9, the half and full split. The full marathon looked lonely as we split. We were also dealing with sharing the road with traffic at that point. By mile 10, we were on the beach the rest of the way. Right before I hit mile 11, I saw a fellow Bibrave Pro, Meredith on the out portion of the course. She ended up getting delayed because of the train.

Weather: we got the excitement of dealing with 70s-80s and humidity that could be cut with a knife. That made things difficult as the course had little to no shade.

Aid Stations: every mile or so with water, electrolytes and the occasional gels. I only saw one legit medical tent, which I didn’t think was enough given the heat and humidity. I saw at least 4 people down being carted off.

Post Race: After finishing and regrouping (read, finding some chocolate milk and getting some sort of food into my system), I picked up my checked bag (again, at the back of the finish area. WHY?!?). Plenty of places to get food (greek yogurt popsicles, ices, bananas, etc), massages, etc. I hung around and ran into fellow Bibrave Pro Samantha.

It’s never a trip to Florida or the coast without enjoying some post race Beach either!

Post race sand shot! #bibchat #a1amarathon

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Overall, I’m on the fence about this one. The aid stations were a bit of a mess. It didn’t seem like anything was prepared ahead of time in terms of fluids being poured, so the volunteers were forced to react, even though there were plenty of aid stations on course. Given the amount of heat and humidity, we really could have used some cold sponges, sprinklers, something to cool us down. I was feeling off by the end of it. I feel like there needed to be better corral separation. I was trying to weave in and out of people who shouldn’t have been in earlier timed slots, but moved up. The finish area was also congested and difficult to get through. People weren’t moving through and it was really hard to navigate at times, just to get out. I’ll probably simmer on this one a bit more to be honest

Race this weekend? Don’t forget to go over to Bibrave and search/review/add and review your race!

Cincinnati Half Marathon- A Rare Saturday Half

Once in a blue moon, I run half marathon on a Saturday.  A long way back, I signed up for the Cincinnati Half and for some reason, I thought it was on a Sunday (as are most of the half marathons I run), but I realized after the fact it wasn’t.  Whoops.  I got off work on Friday around 5:45, ran back to my apartment and ‘packed’, meaning I grabbed my dirty laundry basket and a small bag with some running necessities and headed out.  It took a little over 4 hours, but I managed to get in around 10:30.  I also managed to leave my spare phone charger in my white coat pocket. Did I mention that I thought I had my spare phone charger and didn’t think to grab my one from my apartment? This led to me hanging in my car for awhile to recharge my phone.

This morning, I woke up bright and early with serial alarms and rolled out of bed about 6.  My stuff was already set out so I changed and started heading to the start over by Reds Stadium.  Luckily, there was race day pick up.  Unfortunately, I underestimated how far from the start I was and there was a good line by the time I got there at 630. I have Cincy PD to thank though because they thought the race started at 730, so they were late getting to the start, so the slow moving line made no difference and I had time to use the bathroom.

We hung around the start and finally were off at 720.  It was already hot, humid and overcast out and that would make for a long race.  Tired legs (despite taking yesterday off) didn’t help.  The first mile or 2 weren’t bad at all, no hills (a rarity for Cincy), but the first water stop wasn’t until 2.2 miles in.  Come mile 3, we hit our first hill and I was completely drenched in sweat with 10 miles to go.  I was already slowing down and not really caring about time (coupled with flash backs of the 2010 Chicago Marathon).  Mile 4 covered ground I felt like we had already covered and hit our second water stop at 4.2 ish miles.  He then took some turns and ended up along the Ohio River for a majority of the last half of the race.  It felt like it was getting hotter and more humid and my legs didn’t like it at all.  We kept chugging along and people were doing the run walk thing.  After mile 8, we turned and started heading back towards where we started.  The water stops kept being inconsistent (which was obnoxious).  By the time we started covering the back portion of the out and back half of the course, my motivation approached nothing.

After we passed mile 12 (probably close to 1/2 mile left), I got a text from work.  Gotta love other residents wondering which attending is on for Cardiology during a race.  I finally finished with my second crappy run in a row.  One more and I should be golden for the year right?

I appreciate that there was race day pick up (not a guaranteed thing at other races). I felt like they needed to have more volunteers on this side of things given how long the line was.  They had pick up a few days prior to the race for the locals.  I overheard that the race organization may be on the newer side, but how does PD not get the right time?  I also think that there needed to be more water on course and water stops that were more evenly spaced, every 1-1.5 miles.  It was hot, humid and not the best weather wise and people were struggling.  Kind of indifferent on this race…

Rock N Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon

Now that half marathon #16 is in the books and I’ve flown back to Philly, I’ve had time (and sleep) to think about my weekend in Chicago.  I haven’t been to my second home since last year at some point and boy, I’ve missed it!!!  I flew in Friday morning and our flight was delayed over an hour.  It was a combination of rain, our flight starting off at the wrong gate and it taking 20 minutes to get off the run way.  I got into Chicago around 10 AM Chicago time and headed over to the expo to pick up my race gear.  The expo wasn’t all that special- I’ve seen most of the vendors before.  Since I was meeting up with a friend, I was in and out in 10 minutes and headed to my hotel.  Note, I booked my hotel Tuesday and that was after we got a good deal from another runner friend coming in for the race.  After checking in, I met up with a friend for the afternoon and we headed out for a short run while his girlfriend was on a conference call for work.  After we got back and showered, we did some grilling and headed to my alma mater to take a look at all the work they’d done (holy construction Loyola!).  From there, I headed to Evanston and met up with another friend for dinner.  After catching up, I headed back downtown (thank goodness for 3 day groupon CTA passes on sale!).

Saturday morning, 3 friends made their way to Chicago.  I met up with 2 of them at the expo, where, while waiting, I met my alter ego Christine Amy Martinez made an appearance.  A friend had signed up for the race, but ended not making the trip from LA.  The Rock N Roll series, for whatever reason, no longer allows people to pick up bibs for others, even with a note and permission from the person.  This is a huge issue because I knew a few people who were coming back from vacation and couldn’t make the expo.  The race made it seem like they were doing people a huge favor by allowing my friends to pick up bibs race day. Why not just let them have someone pick up their bib??  Anyways, I was determined to get my friend’s bib and my alter ego came out.  Yeah, we’re just going to leave it at that.   Let’s just say a bib went good use.  Another issue I have is with the prices.  $150 to sign up for a half at the expo?  Are you kidding me?  Even after a certain date it was $100 and that wasn’t even close to the race date. Why jack up prices?  I’ve gotten the same amount of ‘stuff’, including end of race food, etc for less than what Rock n Roll charges.

After the expo, I met up with some friends at The Melting Pot to catch up and then headed out to church (smart phones are a good thing).  Afterwards, I met back up with my fellow runners and we headed to Quartino’s for dinner.  Holy loudness!!  After some good pasta and conversation, we headed to the hotel and called it a night.  We laid out all of our stuff so we were all ready to go in the morning

Our wake up call was 5 AM. YAWN.  The 4 of us met in the lobby around 530 and headed to The Congress Plaza Hotel to meet up with some runners we know and have run with before.  We also made sure my alter ego’s bib was used well.  We started in corral 8 with the goal of just to get out of the start and on the course.  It was definitely hot and humid the entire race.  I haven’t done a run over 7-8 miles in over a month just because of time so I knew I wasn’t going to PR by any means and the heat didn’t help at all.  There was water and gatorade on course, but I felt like it was erratic in placement.  I appreciate the marks at 5k/10k/15k/20k, but I wish they would have done split times there as well.  I was dripping sweat at least 5 miles in!  The last 3 miles were rough.  My stomach wasn’t liking me (and I did eat before the race!) and I was sure I would be sick by the end of the race.  After hitting mile 11 we ran under McCormick Place.  I’m not a fan of that part of the race just because you can’t see well and if someone gets hurt, it’s hard to get too.  After passing mile 12, around the 20K, there was a runner down who did not look good at all.  some of her friends and medical were there working with her (which is why I didn’t stop- help was already there).  I was hoping she was alright!  one of my running friends saw her as well and asked about her when I finished since we were a few minutes apart finishing.  The last part of the race was a straight shot to the finish, but the finish seemed so far off! You came around the corner and were running Columbus Blvd, and it just felt like it kept going and didn’t end.  After getting through the finish, I picked up my medal, wet (cold) wash clothe, 2 chocolate milks, water and banana.  As people started finishing, we made our way back to Congress Plaza to meet up with our group.  We then headed back to our hotel and got some much needed showers. Let’s face it, that’s always the best part of the race!

After we freshened up, we headed to lunch over at the Emerald Loop Bar and Grill and had a free appetizer to boot.  After walking around State street, depositing a check and picking up some Garrett’s pop corn, we relaxed in the hotel until 6 or so.  I headed off to Midway to fly back home while 2 of my running buds headed to dinner to meet up with our running friends from this morning.  It was a good weekend overall with good company.  Here’s to hoping to another meet up for the marathon in October!

Cap City Half Marathon

Holy Humidity!!!  You can tell summer is already here with the mugginess that’s decided to take over the state of Ohio.  Today was the Cap City Half Marathon that took over downtown Columbus (if you’re into politics, it was also the day that President Obama decided like a week ago that he’d pay a visit to Columbus).

The past two weeks, I’ve been rotating in Cuyahoga Falls, OH (right next door to Akron), so my parents have seen me a few times more than usual in the typical year.  To boot, I’ve been on anesthesia, which means of there’s no cases, I don’t have to be at work so I’ve been getting done at like 2 every day at the latest.  Thursday, I was out by like 11 (my attending said I’d have to pace myself), so after a run, I headed down to Columbus.  I figured I’d pick up my stuff at the expo and a bunch of my mom’s internet running friends were coming in for the race, so I figured perfect opportunity for Greek food at Gresso’s on High Street.  After another drive up and back to work Thursday night and Friday afternoon after work, I met up with my mom at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Columbus.  Since we live about 45-60 minutes from Columbus, we figured we’d stay by the start/finish with people who came in just  to get more sleep.  On Friday, a group of 20 of us headed to Due Amici’s to do some Carb loading.  We had bags for all of our out of towners that included home made buckeyes, real buckeyes, water, Cheryl’s Cookies and an OSU bag (which isn’t so exciting if you’re a UMiami fan and still upset about the 2002 National Championship Game).  After some pasta, we headed back to the hotel and had clothes laid out, bibs pinned on shirts and relaxation before hitting the sack.

At 6:15, my alarm went off and I wanted to throw my phone against the wall.  Since everyone else wanted a team picture, that means I had to get up too and be there even though the race didn’t start until 8 AM.  Around 6:45, we met in the lobby for the Mom’s on the Run (MOTR) Runvention photo. Disclaimer, I’m highly single and by no means a mother.  I’m in the group by default since I technically started the Run with Joyce (RWJ) club back during by Freshman year of high school.  Anyways, the start was close to the hotel, but first we tried to get an official Cap City Half picture.  I snuck out early since I was the official bag checker (read, we were using my bib number to check a bag for anyone who wanted anything checked since I’d be one of the first done) and I wanted to make sure I had time to get to the start and all that fun stuff.  It was humid and muggy, yet cloudy once we got outside, making me think it was going to be rough.  After all the pre race bathroom routines and following the crowds of people to the start, I squeezed through an opening in a fence to the B corral.  The National Anthem was played and the A Corral was off at 8 AM.  At 8:07, I was off with the front of the B corral.  Don’t know how I was in front, but it definitely left me discombobulated because I was trying to keep pace groups in front of me.  Around mile 1, I stopped for a pit stop (my only bathroom break during the run).  After I passed the mile marker, I was messing with my head trying to figure out my pace.  The first 5K wasn’t bad, but the humidity started affecting me around mile 4 or so.  You can deal with so much mugginess in the air before it starts to mess with you.  There were parts of the race where I was straight up cold despite sweating buckets.  I hit the 6 mile mark in 57:33 (not bad) and continued chugging on while people were reaching over and around me at water stops.  The second half of the race, you could see the humidity getting to people.  People were on the side of the course stretching out cramps or passed out to the point of needing medical attention (my mom saw someone at mile 12 with an IV in crying and looking at her Garmin).  Every once in awhile, we’d get a gust of wind which felt good. Come mile 10, I was with the 2:05 pace group and hung with them for a bit (not really a fan of using the pace groups, but that’s just me).  By the time mile 12 came along, I just wanted to be done.  We hit the last aid station and I started looking for the finish, which of course, was on a hill.  Once I was close, I started my usual picking people off and then was out of any sort of energy.  I could hear the announcer saying something about someone military coming through and I slowed down to try and let them pass me but it didn’t work.  Once I finished, I felt like I wanted to get sick.  Nausea and cold don’t go well together and they had no post race wraps 😦

As I walked out, I grabbed some water and bagels before heading to pick up my bag and to meet up with the rest of the group.  I was one of the first 3 to finish so I had to wait awhile for everyone to finish.  My mom PR’ed by 7 minutes (woot!) and my dad ran on an hour of sleep (what’s with those babies??).  The last MOTR member finished in under 2:55 .  We took an ‘after’ group shot, one of which included the Clipper’s mascot Lu Seal and saw Stinger from the CBJ skating around.  After some champagne, we headed for showers at the hotel (I was squeezing my shorts out that’s how sweaty and soaked they were).  I finished in 2:07:59, 21 seconds slower than the St. Luke’s Half on Sunday.  At least I’m accurate right?  We went after cleaning up to The North Market (if only there were hamburgers) and enjoyed some pretty good food. Now, if I can sleep well tonight, that’ll be icing on the cake

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