“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”.
I ran the 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon for the first time and happy to report this was my best tactical race ever.
I completed the race in 2:11:05 (two hours, eleven minutes, and 5 seconds) which is 7 minutes faster than my 2021 OUC Half Marathon time in December. It is not my fastest time, but I am extremely happy with my ability to run faster and maintain a consistent pace during this race.
My prerace goal was to run faster than I did in Orlando and I felt good throughout the race. I consider this my best tactical race because I hit every marker I set out for during each phase of the race.
I am not familiar with Vero Beach so had no idea what type of course I would experience. I looked at the course map online, but this provided no intel on elevation or type of environment I would have to run through.
The one aspect I came into the race dreading was the fact all runners would have to tackle an over and back bridge crossing within the first 5 miles of the race. My experience with bridges during a race have never been that great so I viewed the second crossing of the bridge as something that would be unpleasant. This was my mental picture even before I toed the line to start the race, luckily, I did not let my preconceived ideas get in the way of an opportunity to run this race and overcome my fear of bridge running.
The day started with temperatures in the low 50s which is deathly cold for most Floridians. 😊
I left the house dressed in layers to keep me warm prior to race time. This was not a repeat of my time in Savannah since there was no sign of rain or bad weather, just cold temperatures which I viewed as a positive since I did not have to fight the Florida humidity. Excited with the possibility of being able to breath throughout the race.
I arrived at River Side Park in Vero Beach at 6 am for the 6:45 am start time. Again, I was not familiar with this area so made sure I got there early enough to warm up, stretch and get acclimated to the weather. Most of the runners were dressed in hoodies and long pants but I decided to run in my normal gear: running tank top, shorts, and compression sleeves. Figured I would warm up once I got into full race pace and I did.
I was assigned to Corral C for the race start and I made my way into the correct spot to mentally prepare for the 13.1 miles that were in my immediate future.
The race started without much of a hassle as there were 400+ runners which is pretty small compared to the Rock N Roll races I normally run. Decided to not go out too fast and ease my way into a comfortable pace. There were a few fast runners who decided to set a faster pace and it was great watching them head out towards the first bridge crossing.
I settled into a pace that would keep me competitive but not too fast. The first bridge crossing started at the .50 (half mile) point and the course was up a steep bridge for the next half mile. I was surprised to see so many folks pushing the pace at this point considering we still needed to make it to the top. I was comfortable with my pace and did not worry about the other runners. I picked up my pace once I made it to the top of the bridge and started to lock into my race.
My Mile 1 was run at a 9:20 pace and this was with the bridge incline. I maintained a 9:20 pace throughout the first 4 miles of the race and slowed to a 10:18 pace for Mile 5 which included my second crossing of the same bridge. I am proud of myself for this portion of the race because I contemplated walking the second bridge ascent. Decided to take a measured pace to get back over the bridge and then run faster on the descent.
Miles 6 – 10 were run at a 9:35 pace and I was able to manage my lactic acid threshold by shortening my strides to eliminate overextending myself. This was a new approach for me since I normally try to power through but discovered a new way to manage my race form and control the pain in my legs.
Miles 11 – 13.1 were run at a 9:52 pace which is good for me closing out a race. My 9:47 pace for Mile 13 was my celebration as I decided to make a huge kick to finish the race strong. I wanted to come across the finish line fast and with a smile on my face. Mission accomplished.
The secret weapon during this race was the song Motivation by T.I. I put this song on repeat at the 11-mile marker and it got me across the finish line with a big smile on my face. This song normally provides a boost for me while training, so I leveraged this same boost during the half marathon.
There were only 4 water stops on this course so had to ensure I got Gatorade and water at each one of them. I doubled up a few times to help keep me fueled and moving forward.
The only aspect of this race I did not enjoy was traffic was not eliminated from the course. We had volunteers and police available on the course, but cars were allowed to turn in front of runners which normally does not happen with larger races. I will have to assess this fact when it comes time to register for the 2023 Vero Beach Half Marathon.
Made my way over to Mulligan’s on the beach for a very large breakfast and then a Bud Light to celebrate my race. Yes, I had a Bud Light at 9:30 am—it was fantastic! 😊
Great way to start a day and continue to run into the future!
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.