Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Last Minute Naples Half Marathon

I recently had a last minute trip to visit my parents down in Naples, FL.  A couple days before the trip my mom sent me an email with a half marathon starting at 7am the day I'm heading back to Baltimore.  Figured this was a good idea as any and signed up.

Since this was a rather early race and parking was a premium we decided to leave the house at 5:30 to make it to the lot.  After a quick piece of toast, banana and some coffee we were out the door right on time.

Parking wasn't too bad getting there and since there was slight chill in the air to start I opted for a long sleeve t shirt over my running shirt-with a plan on dropping that with my mom right before the start.  The forecast was:

Brrrrr for FL
So I opted to start with my sunglasses on my head and prepped for a FL-chilly start to a rather easy half marathon.
Me at the start...moved LS shirt underneath for some reason
My race plan really didn't consist of much.  I wanted to make this just a long support run and enjoy the experience rather than push for a PR (mine is just a few seconds under 2:00 - hey I never said I was fast).  There was the hint of a PR ahead of time with an email coming out a few days beforehand saying there was a 2:00 pacer that would carry a flag the whole time.  I figured if I came across him I'd rehash this race plan.  Either way I threw 2 Gu's in my shorts and aimed at taking in some fluids at each stop making sure to take the Gu in ever 45 or 5 miles to be safe.

The race course was fairly straightforward.  A looooooong stretch down and then a loop around a neighborhood before a somewhat less long shot back to the finish.  See the map below.
The field was just over 2000 so I postured myself somewhere behind the 2:00 pacer (as far as I thought) and went out a brisk 10 min/mile pace until the field thinned out.  A mile or so in my HR started settling and the sun started rising so the glasses came on and my pace felt stronger.  I was hitting the lap button on my Garmin 910XT at each of the mile markers (excellently marked by the way).  Even though I was doing this as an easy effort I LOVE to build my long runs as the race progresses so I was content with that slow start.  I was also a little concerned with the crowd size and the ability to get fluids at those first aid stations with the crowds and over-zealous-but-actually-slow runners that tend to block those stations.

I managed to push through the first one but grabbed a water at the next and kept to my race plan.  The views on this one were excellent and almost calming for a race.  Even if you're in town a different weekend I'd highly recommend doing this run, there can't be that many cars on a regular day...especially if you get on the course early.
Me at a loop back
The loop back into the neighborhood gives you a great opportunity to catch the leaders on their way back (maybe one day!) which always gives me added motivation to push harder.  The halfway point I was right on my goal pace and only slightly in pain with a little bit of rubbing going on in my shoes (knew I should have bought new ones) and a little soreness lingering from some long prep runs I did earlier in the week.
Running through rich people's houses
Action shot...look at that face!

The remaining parts of the run were just spent enjoying the sights while keeping track of pace/nutrition and making sure I thanked the volunteers for helping us out as I finally caught sight of the finish line.  My mom managed to enjoy cheering me on at a few point in the race (hence the photos)...always good to have a cheering squad on your side.
Eventually I will beat that older guy
All in all not too bad a race.  The swag was a technical tshirt (nothing too fancy).  I managed to hit a 2:04 - Just 5 minutes off my PR time!  So I was pretty happy.  You can see my overall results below (I cut out my results off the website.  Click the image for the official results.  Additionally you can check out my Garmin results as well.
Official results: 66 in AG

Garmin results
One thing of notes is that I swapped the long sleeve shirt to underneath my moisture wicking top.  Having a cotton base layer isn't really a good idea without some Body Glide...
Always wear Body Glide
Now its back to Baltimore for some cold weather and back to the daily grind.  I think my next event will probably be an indoor tri in the Baltimore area at a local gym...never done one of those but figure my swimming background should really help me on that.  Happy training!

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