“One run can change your day; many runs can change your life”.
The first half marathon of 2023 was a repeat from 2022. The 2023 Vero Beach Half Marathon was a late December addition to my race calendar.
I ran this race for the first time in 2022 and was able to conquer the double bridge crossing and complete one of my fastest half marathons of the racing season. The weather was unseasonably cool in 2022 but it was about 25 degrees warmer this year.
I was still coming off my full marathon high and training program so entered this race with a bit of momentum. My good time from last year and training program factored into my mental approach to the race.
There was not a large EXPO for this event. Packet pickup was conducted outside of a local brewery in Vero Beach. Not much activity at this event so grabbed my bib, t-shirt, and a couple craft beers while I was there. The beer selection was pretty good and happy I made a pit stop at the American Icon Brewery: https://www.americaniconbrewery.com/home/
Left the American Icon Brewery and headed to Olive Garden to carb load to fuel up for the next morning. Got my traditional Chicken parmesan and extra bread sticks to ensure my carb tank was on high. FYI, I started the carb loading process 6 days prior, so this meal was a way to top off the carbs already in my system.
Headed home to get some rest before the big day. Did another check of the weather forecast to determine what was in store for the next morning. It was not projected to be hot at the race start but the temperature was projected to rise quite a bit before the race was complete.
Made the short 30-minute drive back up to Vero Beach on race day. Wanted to get there with plenty of time to park and then stretch/warmup before the race got started. I did not show up with a particular finish time in mind but wanted to match or exceed last year’s 2:11:05 time.
This race did not have pace times listed at the start line so decided to line up in the middle of the starting pack so I could gradually build my pace during the race. Also didn’t want to risk bumping into slower runners/walkers while waiting for the pack to thin out a bit.
Went out with a controlled pace because we enter the first bridge crossing at the 1-mile marker and the steep incline forces runners to adjust the running pace to get up and over. I stayed controlled as I made my way up the bridge and then allowed a faster pace on the down slope. Didn’t want to overextend myself on the up or down slope considering I would have to return and complete this process again within the first 5 miles of the race.
The race and my pace settled quite a bit once we got off the bridge and headed towards the famed Vero Beach waterfront area. This is a smaller race and there are only a handful of people out this time of the day to cheer for runners. Most of the spectators were in this area as they cheered for the runners and enjoyed the early morning walks on the beach. I experienced a bit of discomfort in my right leg at this point but nothing that would keep me from completing the race—this discomfort went away after another mile, and I was able to press forward.
Fast forward and the racecourse goes through multiple Vero Beach neighborhoods so it was great to experience this city as a running tourist.
I started to pick up my pace once we got 10 miles into the race. Wanted to finish strong but realized my pace was off from last year’s race. Decided to finish as strong as possible so I could get snacks and free craft beer at the finish line. This was my best tactical race in 2022 but I could not match the same level in 2023.
I crossed the finish line in 2:15:03 with a smile on my face. The marathon training has made completing half marathons a lot more enjoyable because I don’t get as sore as in the past. Got my medal, commendable beach towel and photos in the finish line area. Made my way to the American Icon Brewery stand for my two free beers and stretch a bit.
Met one of my best friends at Mulligan’s Beach House for breakfast and more beer. We had a great view as we sat on the beach, had great food and conversation on a Sunday morning.
What a great way to start my racing season! 😊
Next stop, the 2023 Town of Celebration Half Marathon—irie!
“Running is the basis of all training that I do…it’s like an escape”.