Game On Half Marathon (Fort Pierce)

Game On

“There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon.  There will be a lifetime of knowing you have”.

(Unknown)

My Walk into the Future continues to move forward towards the Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon in December.

The 18-week training plan I’m using allows me some flexibility, but the one constant is a progressive long run on the weekends.  I am leveraging local races to energize my long runs and tackled the Game On Half Marathon in Fort Pierce in October.  This seemed like a nice local race, and I signed up for this half prior to committing to run a marathon.  Luckily, this race and distance fit right into what I needed to keep moving towards the marathon start line.

The Game On Half Marathon is fairly new on the circuit—last year’s race was the first running.  I did not know about this race prior to this year but may keep it on my regular rotation since there are not travel costs associated with a race in the town I live.

This was a smaller race with the projected number of runners less than 300.  I normally avoid smaller races since they do not have the crowd support like the Rock N Roll running series.  It may seem simple but having a crowd of stranger cheering for you helps when the miles start to get tough.  Also, the larger races have a ton of volunteers to man the water/Gatorade stations.  I was pleasantly surprised this race had fuel stops at 1.5-mile intervals and this really helps with the process of completing a half marathon.

Again, smaller race so there was not an EXPO experience.  Race bib pickup was scheduled the day before the race at Causeway Cove Marina.  The process was simple, give them your name and they hand you a bib, t-shirt and four safety pins to attach the bib.  That’s it—no vendors to visit or anything to buy.  I got a quick picture in front of the Game On promotional truck with my bib and went about the rest of my day. 

I started my carb loading process earlier in the week and went to get some more pasta to continue to ingest carbs.  Also wanted to get off my feet to ensure I was ready to toe the line in the morning—I find it harder to just kick back when I’m competing in a hometown race.  Feels like I should do normal, daily activities but this can lead to tired legs on race day.

Made a point to get to bed early so I could get up and make it to the start line with plenty of time to warmup.  This race started at 6:15 am to get and stay ahead of the South Florida heat—yes, it’s still hot and humid down here in October.

Got to Causeway Cove Marina in plenty time to park, stretch and warmup prior to the race start.  Made my way through the darkness towards the start line and got in the corral with the other half marathon runners.  The race organizers did not have runners line up based on projected pace time—no big deal for this race since it was only about 150 runners for the half marathon.  There was also a 10k being run with those runners starting 10 minutes after the half marathoners got started.

I did not have a projected pace or finish time in mind since this was part of my long run.  I just wanted/needed to get miles in and the pace for this day was not as important as it normally is when I run a half marathon.  My goal was to start, finish and enjoy the race as much as possible.

This was an out and back race so wanted to enjoy the course and have fun.  We started in complete darkness so decided to leverage other runners as pacers and to ensure we did not go off course.  The half marathon organizers mapped out the course to be completed on Seaway and Ocean Drives on Hutchinson Island, which is completely flat, no bridges to cross which was a welcomed addition.

I started with a comfortable pace and did not push myself hard in the beginning.  Paced with a couple runners for the first three miles and then decided to pick up the pace a bit.  We turned onto Ocean Drive and headed south towards Jensen Beach.  Interesting thing happened at the 4-mile marker.  Another runner pulled up next to me and began a full conversation on life, hobbies, and the type of work we both do.  I have talked with other runners during races, but it is normally just small talk before we get down to the real racing.  Found out this was her 5th half marathon and she had friends running but she wanted to go faster so decided to tag along with me.

We had a nice conversation going for the next 4 miles before she decided to pull back since my pace was pretty good at this point.  The great thing about running and talking with her is it created a nice distraction from the race.  I focused more on the conversation than my pace so can’t tell you how fast I was running at this point, I was just putting one foot in front of the other.

Leveraged Miles 8 – 13.1 to test my endurance levels to determine adjustments I need to make to my training and nutrition program.  I felt good physically but need to ensure my carb loading process is improved.  I also need to map out my fueling process (time, distance) to keep moving forward with pace during races.  My lactic acid threshold is getting better but need to work on my glycogen levels consistently. 

Finished in 2:23:41 (10:58 per minute pace) which is not fast for me, but I still took third place in my age group.  I’ll take it considering this was part of my weekend training run.  Got an additional 5 miles in after the half marathon for a total of 18 for the day.

Still have work to do as I prep for December but happy with my progress so far.

What challenges are you facing right now?

Irie!

“A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you have done it, you feel that you can do anything”.

(Unknown)

Run to Stop Hunger 5k

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy”.

(Mark Will-Weber)

My Walk into the Future allows me to mix and match my adventures depending on what I am trying to get accomplished.

I always love the running tourist part of my journey since I get to explore and stay in shape by training.  My big running goal for 2022 is to run and complete my first full marathon in December.  My training program is going well as I am averaging 30+ weekly miles to prepare for the task of running 26.2 miles in Palm Beach.  The 18-week training program allows me some flexibility but a standard in the program is the long run concept each weekend.  The miles increase incrementally each week and I have been dedicated to ensuring I get up on Saturdays to do my part to ensure I am ready for the full marathon.

Decided to sign-up for local 5ks to improve my speed and warm up prior to going out for my long runs.  The 5k (3.1 miles) distance provides a great opportunity to get out and test my fitness levels, gauge my speed, and have fun. 

Signed up for the Run to Stop Hunger 5k in Fort Pierce in September.  This was a hometown race, so the running tourist did not get a chance to explore new locales, but I did get to see Fort Pierce in a different context. 

The race start and finish line was located within Causeway Cove which sits directly on the Indian River in Fort Pierce.  I run by this location weekly but never ventured onto the site to explore everything that is located there.  I see the signs for jet ski rentals when running and always think about going in to rent a jet ski but have not made that happen to date.  Interesting spot with a lot of different activities hosted there:  RV park, drive-in movies on Saturday nights, concerts, food festivals, etc.

Needed to complete 14 total miles so decided to park closer to downtown Fort Pierce and run across the Seaway Drive bridge as a warmup before the 5k.  My goal was to get a 1-mile prerace run in to loosen my legs and give me a springboard to get up to speed during the 5k.  Made my way across the Seaway Drive bridge at a comfortable pace and arrived in Causeway Cove warmed up and ready to go.

I did not set a time goal for this 5k but wanted to go out faster than I did for the Celebration of Running 5k back in August.  We did not have as many runners for this race so there was not as much traffic to navigate on the course.  The course was completely flat, and we did not have to cross traffic at all.

It was an out and back race format with the turnaround at the 1.5-mile marker.  It was cool getting a chance to see the leaders heading back towards the finish line—got a chance to gauge how close or far I was from the race leader. 😊

My first mile was run in 8:40 and I felt comfortable with this pace.  Smiled when I looked at my watch and saw my first mile was well under a 9-minute pace.  The Florida humidity was thick as always, but this did not keep me from maintaining this pace throughout the race—my goal was to get some speed work in so no need to back off at this point.

I locked in on a couple runners to help pace me the rest of the way after crossing the race midpoint.  I felt the humidity a bit more in the second part of the race but had my music cranking (TI’s Motivation, again) and kept running hard.

Crossed the finish line at 26:43 for a pace of 8:35. This was my fastest 5k since March 2020 so extremely happy with the results.  This time allowed me to finish second in my age group and collect a medal and age group award.  Got a chance to talk with some local runners while waiting for the awards ceremony—we are a friendly bunch of people.

Still needed to get in additional miles so left Causeway Cove and ran back over the Seaway Drive bridge to my vehicle.  Got my additional 9 miles completed on Ocean Drive for a total of 14 for the day. 

Happy with my results and how my legs feel during this preparation phase of training.  Will leverage speed work more as I get closer to my marathon date.

Happy running folks!

Irie!

“As we run, we become”.

(Amby Burfoot)

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