“Please ignore the faces I make while running”.
Diabolical: Outrageously wicked (Dictionary.com).
Never thought I would describe a race as diabolical but that’s what I am going to do. I know there are other meanings for diabolical, but I will stick with outrageously wicked.
The Florida Marathon/Half Marathon is a fine race that is put on by a fantastic run organization. My use of the word diabolical is more to describe the course and how the runners must finish both races.
Yes, this was a half marathon, so I was ready to put in my 13.1 miles of work in for the day. I was happy with my 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon results in January and wanted to translate that effort into the 2022 Florida Half Marathon in Melbourne.
Let’s jump ahead a bit—there was no translation from the Vero Beach race to the Melbourne race. Happy with my effort but did not get close to matching or exceeding my January race time during this race. More on that later. 😊
Signed up for this race to ensure I run monthly half marathons January through May. Wanted to test myself by adding more races to my schedule in 2022 and building a run base that will allow me to get faster with each race—in theory.
Melbourne is one of my favorite places to visit because of the great beaches and laid-back vibe of the people. This race provides the best of my worlds—beaches and running. This was my first race in Melbourne, so I was excited to run the city as a running tourist.
Drove up on Saturday morning since this race had a Sunday morning start. I wanted to get in town early enough to pick up my race packet and continue to carb load throughout the day. My ultimate motive was to get into town early enough so I could go sit on the beach at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a bit. I always maximize beach time when I can. 😊
The EXPO was held in the Front Street Park Civic Center. This sounds like a huge place, but it is the size of a regular house, and it is right on the river side in downtown Melbourne. Parking was quick and easy, so made my way into the Civic Center to get my race packet and see what the vendors had to offer.
There were only a handful of runners in the Civic Center when I arrived so went right to the front of the line to get my race bib (#715) and packet. Grabbed a fellow runner to take my picture in front of the step and repeat race display which is a tradition for me. Walked around a bit to see the vendors but did not buy anything while at the EXPO.
Went outside and took a few pictures along the river and got a great shot of one of the bridges we would have to cross during the race. The bridge incline should have been a precursor of what was to come.
Left the Civic Center and checked into my hotel. Wanted to drop off my bags and get a good feel for how close the hotel was to the race start line. Made my way to the Crowne Plaza to get lunch and continue my carb loading process. The weather was great on Saturday and provided a perfect backdrop to relax on the beach and listen to the band playing on the deck. Enjoyed a turkey club sandwich, fries, and Bud Light at the Crowne Plaza. They have an extensive menu, but I stay conservative the day before a race to eliminate potential stomach issues during the race—lesson learned from a past race. Sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the views before heading out.
Left the Crowne Plaza and made my way to Patrick Space Force Base (PSFB) for a quick shopping trip. Wanted to see if they had the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s to replace my GTS 21s. They had the 22s but not in my size so walked around and looked at stuff I didn’t need—never a wasted trip since I get to spend time around military people again—love being back on-base.
Made my way to the Olive Garden to finish my carb loading for the day and get to bed early. The restaurant was crowded so made my way to the bar and found a seat there. I am basic when carb loading so went with the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, lots of bread sticks and Bud Light. Relaxed back at the hotel before an early bedtime so I could get my rest and get up early to tackle the half marathon.
Remember the term diabolical from earlier? Well, let jump into that a bit more now. 😊
Woke up at 4:45 am to prepare my mind and body for the 13.1 miles I needed to cover at 6:30 am. I do some stretching and mental preparation during this timeframe before putting on my equipment (KT tape, Salonpas patches and BioFreeze) and getting dressed. My run outfit was conservative for me so got dressed after putting on my layers of equipment.
Luckily, I grabbed one of my running jackets before leaving the hotel because it was already raining. The weather forecast ‘mentioned’ rain the day before, but this was just a steady flow, and it was not cold. I thought the rain would be around for a little bit but was wrong on my forecasting skills.
Made my way downtown towards the race starting point and arrive about 10 minutes after leaving the hotel. Researched places to park the night before and found a spot about 100 yards from the race start line. There was still a light rain coming down at this point, but it got heavier the closer we got to race time. The race announcer came on the loudspeaker and let us know the race was delayed due to weather—the on-course police support was still getting setup because of the rain. I sat in my vehicle to avoid standing around in the rain without knowing the exact time we would start the race. The delay lasted for only 15 minutes, but most runners did not get a chance for a normal warmup.
The marathon runners were allowed to start 10 minutes before the half marathoners. I did not leave my vehicle until the announcer gave us a 5-minute warning for our race to start. Made my way to the bathroom and then got a quick stretch in before heading to the start line.
Yes, it was still raining, and the streets were wet! We finally got started at 6:50 am
I decided to go out very controlled since the streets were wet and did not want to injure myself or anyone else. I did not have a specific finish time in mind with the wet conditions—wanted to enjoy the course (LOL) and the experience.
Miles 1 – 3 were crowded as runners were very cautious trying to avoid slipping and bringing others down with them. My first mile was a comfortable 9:19 which was probably too fast for the conditions and what was to come. Miles 2 and 3 were like my Mile 1 pace but still felt comfortable. A cool experience during this portion of the race was we got a chance to see dolphins swimming in the river. Yes, runners enjoy the scenery during races. 😊
Slowed my pace a bit during Miles 4 and 5 because I knew the course got a bit tougher at the 6-mile point. The FIRST bridge crossing starts at Mile 6 and goes up until you hit the Mile 7 marker. Bridge running is tough in normal conditions but gets a lot tougher in the rain. I did not want to lose too much time so gritted out the incline and then made-up time on the bridge decline. Felt great through Mile 8 but hit a wall right at the Mile 9 marker. This may have happened because my warmup routine was impacted due to rain or I went too fast on the bridge. Either way, my legs were on fire and yes, it was still raining on us.
Decided at this point to just finish the race. No need to try to set a Personal Record (PR) since my legs were not moving that fast anyway.
Miles 9 through 11 were consistently slow for me but I keep moving forward. Started feeling good about myself again at this point but then the second bridge crossing was looming. So, my question is: who puts another bridge crossing at the 11-mile point of a half marathon? A diabolical person, that’s who.
Yep, had to dig down to get up and over another bridge to finish this @#$% race! I made it slowly up to the 12-mile marker and then found some level of courage to go faster on the decline. I did not want to limp across the finish line but that is how I felt. I put on my best I’m not in pain face and found a kick to get me across the finish line. My official time was: 2:17:52 which was 6 minutes slower than Vero Beach. I’ll take it with the conditions and bridge placement.
Got my medal, a couple beers and donuts and found a place to sit down to enjoy my prizes. It was still raining so got my rain jacket out of my vehicle so I could sit and get some ice on my quads. Talked with my fellow runners and we all experienced the course in a similar way. Happy to finish but beat up by the conditions and the course. Would love to meet the person who thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge after Mile 11. 😊
As much as I’m complaining, I will probably run this race again next year. Hopefully, we will have better weather and I know the course now and can pace myself for a better finish. We will see!
“I run because punching people is frown upon”.