2012 Beach Running Championships

A small field of 165 participants lined up under the floodlights by the Pier in Cocoa Beach on Sunday morning ready to race across the sand.  It was a pretty amazing sight, and worth getting up at 4:24 am to drive an hour over to the coast to run with them.

I like small running fields like this because you get the chance to talk to other runners and spy a familiar face or two in the crowd.  The RD had set up coffee, donuts, bagels, bananas, water and Gatorade for the pre-race get together and advised that water and sports drink would be availabe every other mile.

The sand was packed tight due to low tide, the beach wasn’t practically deserted as the count down started.  3…2..1 and we were off.  The runners quickly seperated into little clumps by pace.  For me, this was 1/2 marathon number 5 for the year.  With 7 more to go over the next nine weeks, I had to pace myself and couldn’t push… well, not too hard.

The sun started to inch up over the Atlantic turning the water purple and the sand gray.  Simply amazing.  The wind was at our backs and the race was incredible.  I was out and back in an hour and fifty minutes.  One of the women runners, a 20-something up from Ft. Lauderdale run barefoot in 1:23.  Watching her muscled form shift under her suit was reason enough for anyone to start running.  This woman was in shape, and looked amazing.  The men runner’s were no slouches either, these guys were serious about three things.  Being fit, having fun, and enjoying the company of like minded individuals.

They’ll have this run again next year, and I’ll try to be a little faster.  The awards were conch shells, and I wanted one!

Next up, I’m trying to decide if I want to do a 1/2 for Halloween down in Miami.  The medal is two zombies, and I kind of want it.  Do I drive 3 hours to run two then drive back?  Maybe I do.  Then run another 1/2 on Sunday for the Florida Halloween Half a thon.  Man, lined up like that, this runner sounds like he’s nucking futs.  Promise not to stop when I say when.

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The Night before…

Top of the World

I’m always just a little anxious the night before a race. I know I’m supposed to take it easy and rest, I should carb up and get everything ready. But I can never go to bed when I’m supposed to. Even though I know I need to be up at 5AM for an hour drive over to the coast, I still can’t go to sleep before 11PM.
I think about the run, the traffic, what I’m doing after, if I’ll know anyone there. My mind revolves around a million little things, as the mind is supposed to do, I suppose. I think about how I spent the day, taking my young daughter to a corn maize and watching her play in the kid area. She didn’t care much for the maize maze, we spent perhaps twenty minutes roaming around. But the farm had a bounce pillow, a giant sixty foot vinyl balloon set in the ground that she wanted to conquer for an hour. I highly recommend any race director who wants to increase the kid count at a race after party to toss one down. This thing was packed, and if it had been adult sized, I would have hopped for an hour too.
Kid’s are pretty amazing. Tristan told me she wanted to run a race with me today, as only an earnest seven year old can. She outlined how we would train, and where, at a run path around a lake not too far from our home, and suspiciously near an ice cream store we frequent. Hmmm.
I’m going to sign us up for a 5K in December, and we’ll run it together, as slow as she likes. Maybe she’ll come to love running the way I do, though for different reasons.
When we’re kids, we exercise as play. I watched her and a dozen others race around a tire field, swing across monkey bars, jump, run and bounce and realized that the obstacle course running craze sweeping the nation right now is exactly what they were doing. Just for fun.
Maybe as we grow up, we kind of forget how much fun playing can be. Maybe it’s not the adult thing to do, playing. But running at any age can kind of be like playing. That old competitive spirit popping up, smiling, laughing and just running along without a care in the world. Trying to be first, to be king of the hill, to finish.
I’ll sleep on that tonight. My running plan tomorrow is to smile. It’s going to hurt, and I like it, and when you like something you should smile. Now that’s a thought to drift off too…

A lopsided love affair

Brittney Spears may have said it best.  Oops, I did it again.  I signed up for another race.  This is by no means nothing new.  I’ve been racing for just over 2 years now, and have quite a collection of medals lined up on the towel rack in my guest bath.

Note to self: get some shadow boxes and put them up on the wall with bibs- sweat stained and creased.  Show off some of your accomplishments!

In my race to reach my 2012 goals of 12/12/12 (12 marathons, 12 Half’s and 12 5K’s) I had to enlist the help of virtual racing.  Have you heard of this?  It’s great if you can’t attend an event, or just don’t have the time to travel, or if you’re an expert procrastinator like me, wait until Oct to knock out 9 marathons of 26.2 miles each just because they don’t have any after April in Florida.  Too hot and wet.

I signed up to run for a charity around Halloween, and added another Run around Thanksgiving to do the same.  Here’s the thing: you register for this run, they send you a tee shirt, and a medal after you post your run results.

The thing I can’t find is a calendar that lists all the virtual runs across the country.  I’ve found a couple of links to some (San Francisco Women’s 1/2 Marathon, the Peachtree Run in Georgia) so I think I’m going to add a giant searchable internet calendar to my to do list.  If you know of a link, post it in your comments, or share this page on Facebook and tell your running buddies to send me links to so I can add them to the database.  I’ll let you know when it goes live.

My personal running calendar for the rest of the year:

10/21     Beach Running Championships 1/2 Marathon  – Cocoa Beach, FL

10/25     Harvest Hustle 5K (should I wear a costume?)

10/29     Halloween Half Marathon (virtual run) http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

10/30     Halloween 5K (virtual run)  http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/4       Wildhorse 1/2 Marathon – Tampa FL

11/10     Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon – Orlando FL

11/11     Baldwin Park 1/2 Marathon – Orlando FL

11/18     St Augustine 1/2 Marathon   –  St Augustine FL

11/19     Turkey Gobbler 5K  (virtual run) http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/20     Turkey Gobbler 1/2 Marathon (virtual run)   http://www.fortheloveofthekids.com/

11/28     Space Coast Marathon  –  Cocoa Beach FL

I’ll probably post about each of these runs and the 9 other marathon’s I’ll end up adding.  As I looked up the Peachtree run, I saw a link to the Atlanta Marathon on Oct. 28.  Maybe I could sleep in my SUV and call it camping…

Signed up for another half and full of expectation…

I signed up for the Xterra Wildhorse half marathon over in Tampa today.  This will be one of my first official trail races.  You know what they say, once you go single track, you never go back.