Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marco Island Half Marathon

Last week I mentioned that I was running the Marco Island Half just for fun with Kristin. Well, "fun" is a subjective word, it turns out.

This was honestly one of the hardest races I've ever run! It was really humbling...but not necessarily in a bad way. This was my 10th half, and I was beginning to feel a little cocky about it. Boy, did Marco put me in my place!

I only signed up because Kristin really loves this race and was getting cold feet after Disney. Side note: anyone else develop a short-lived fear of distance races after their first full?

Anyway, Kristin loves this race because it's challenging and so totally different than any other Florida race. Guys, there are hills. Like, legit hills. The course takes you through a hilly neighborhood in the first mile, up a super steep bridge around mile 3, and then immediately back up the bridge again!
Ow!
From miles 7-11 there are constant rolling hills through a very pretty Marco Island neighborhood. And then, at mile 12 you come back to the first neighborhood and its hills. And then, finally, you finish. Your legs feel like water and your heart rate is going crazy from all the ups-and-downs, and the finish line is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.

This is not my kind of race, but I was more than happy to experience it with Kristin. And it was kind of cool to face the fact that being good at my usual half marathons doesn't mean I'm good at all of them. There's always room for improvement!
Pre-race! We wore matching tops :)
Anyway, race time. We got to Marco just after 6, so we had plenty of time to get our bibs and use the bathroom a million times. It was sprinkling, and we were hoping the rain would continue. We thought it started at 7, but it actually began at 7:30. By that time, the rain had stopped and the steam and humidity of the morning was coming off the street in almost tangible waves.

The late start sucked for a few reasons. For one, I was hungry again by the time we started running. For another, it meant the sun had a chance to get directly overhead before we finished.

Anyway, my calves were sore almost immediately, but I knew they'd warm up. The sun came out around mile 3, just as we were on the bridge, and that was tough. In fact, the sun and lack of wind coupled with the post-rain humidity is really what made this race so hard. The hills were hard but doable; a March date for this race is ludicrous.
Somewhere around mile 10 I think.
There was some shade throughout the neighborhoods on the latter end of the course, and the support and water stops were great. And honestly, the views were gorgeous but hard to focus on because I was on the struggle-bus the entire race!

Around mile 10 we asked volunteers to pour ice in our bras; around mile 11, a breeze picked up and we finally got some real cloud-cover as the rain we'd been looking for finally seemed to be rolling in. (It never did rain, though.)
The course was really tough and I struggled, but it was nice to be there with a friend and my legs are pleasantly sore from the hills, so I'm chalking this one up as a new, challenging long run with a medal at the end!

In fact, maybe I could say this will be a favorite memory for me, if only because I've never run a race like it before and because I got to conquer it side-by-side with Kristin.
...That doesn't mean you'll catch me doing it again, though!

ABK

26 comments:

  1. Congrats on finishing a tough one! We were on Marco over the Christmas holidays and will be there again next winter. Yes, there are plenty of hills there. I pretty much limited my runs from the end of the island to the Starbucks every morning. That and beach running.

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    1. It really is a beautiful island. We used to vacation there when I was a kid, but I never noticed how hilly it was!

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  2. Good job on pushing through a tough course with heat and humidity. I hate when I am hungry right when I start a run! That is never good. Is Marco Island pretty??

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    1. It's REALLY pretty. Even the neighborhoods off the water are gorgeous. We used to vacation there when I was a kid, and it was my first impression of Florida!

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  3. Great job on finishing a hard course!! Days that the weather makes things even worse are the pits. I love that you were able to get ice on the course. Up here you very rarely get that.

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    1. Well, we kind of had the volunteers "steal" the ice out of the Gatorade buckets hahaha. We were desperate!

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  4. Humidity is the WORST. I killed me last year at ZOOMA Annapolis (which sadly had very little shade, and many, many hills + bridge).

    At least I live in a hilly area so I'm used to hills . . . but not the humidity, certainly not by May usually!

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    1. Ugh, yes. I'd take dry heat over humidity any day!

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  5. That sounds like a tough one! The weather and humidity reminds me of what we experienced running in VA beach! If that is the bridge you ran over, wowzaah!!!! That is something. Congrats!

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    1. I promised myself I wouldn't run anymore half marathons in March in Florida because of the humidity...I guess I forgot!

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  6. Hills, sun, and humidity would not work for me either! Congrats on making it through a tough race!

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    1. Thanks...it was definitely a challenge.

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  7. Love the recap. My fear of distance races after my 1st full took 5 years for me to get over LOL. Hope your legs are feeling better. That sounds like a hard mix for the race (the weather). Great job though!

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    1. Oh WOW! I guess it's normal to get cold feet after a marathon. We just kept finding ourselves remembering how we felt around mile 20, but we had to remember that a half doesn't get you quite that far.

      Although this one was so tough, it may as well have been a marathon haha.

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  8. Awesome job! It sounds like you really kicked butt, despite the tough course. Hills are tough and definitely can make a race so much tougher.

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    1. So, so much harder! My body was NOT ready for that haha!

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  9. Hills in Florida?? LOL. Way to tough it out!!

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    1. I was shocked, too! But they really exist and they were rough!

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  10. Awesome job Ali....you're such a trooper for pushing through those hard conditions!!!

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    1. I couldn't back out on my buddy :)

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  11. Nice job! I haven't run many races together with friends (at the same pace I mean), but I really enjoy it when I do.

    I've run quite a few 1/2s and every now and again one of them just totally hands me a slice of humble pie. It's a good experience though and I always learn something about my training.

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    1. Yes, it's really kind of nice when a half is HARD and you remember "oh right, I need to train for these things."

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  12. Now you see why I enjoy ice baths at OCR's on a hot day! Lol.

    But seriously, I love your perspective on difficult races. Since I started reading your blog (like a year ago, really has it been that long??) I've seen you post about a few challenging races, but you always manage to put a positive spin on things, even if it wasn't a good event for you. It's pretty inspiring! And that bridge looks crazy. After Iron Girl I'm done with halfs with bridges.

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    1. Thanks, Montana. I made a concentrated effort a couple years ago to always be positive in my running because it's something I enjoy and do for fun, so being negative is counterproductive. I've found that being positive really helps me get out there and keep moving!

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