Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon 2017

Going into the Fort Lauderdale A1A half marathon, I had two goals. Have fun and get it done!

I can say, without a doubt, mission accomplished.

But of course, there’s a story that goes along with every race and this one is no exception.

This race was a last minute add in my established race schedule. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to take a last minute trip to Florida in celebration of my 12 year old’s birthday. He had big fishing plans. I had big relaxing on the beach and by the pool plans.

However… my parents live in Pompano Beach and they have been pushing this race since they watched the marathoners run past their house in years past.

Mer's mom was out cheering for the runners doing the #a1amarathon this morning! Way to go runners!

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And just like that, I was signed up for the A1A half! Now, I haven’t been actively training for the half marathon distance but I knew that I could go into it with the expectation of just enjoying the run and soaking it all in.

My mom was my personal chauffeur for the weekend and she made sure I got to and from both the expo and race without having to think about logistics. Isn’t that half the battle when it comes to planning for race day? I’m so grateful for her!

We visited the expo on Friday afternoon, right as it opened. My expo experience was quick and easy. It had great embellishments like a wrapped Lexus with all of the runner’s names, as well as a wall from Dick’s Sporting Goods that had the names of the runners.

We were asked to write on the wall why we run.

The bib pickup was at the back of the hall and was arranged by last name. A photo ID was required for pick up and there was a bit of a line but it moved along. The t-shirts were at the next table over – separated by men and women cuts.

I’ll be honest, the shirt sizing feels off, which is a nothing new to me. I was going to inquire about switching up a size but there was a sign that said that shirts could only be switched on race day. I didn’t plan on carrying a shirt with me to the race so, oh well. Sticking with it! Along with the shirts we also got a goody bag filled with lots of things from the race sponsors and coupons.

There was a heat advisory for the day of the race. Race organizers did a great job of keeping everyone informed through email and posts to Facebook. I was surprised that they don’t have more of a presence on Twitter, since that’s something I’m used to with big races. Given that it was going to be so warm, I made sure to hydrate the day before the race and planned to stop at every water station.

The race was schedule to begin at 6am, which meant that I set my alarm for 4am. Super mom was able to drop me about a block from the start line (because she’s awesome). I assumed that she would drive home and then come get me later, after the race. Instead she parked her car nearby and stayed for the entire race. (Again, because she’s awesome!)

At local races I’m usually able to walk around and stumble upon people I know but in Florida I was in a sea of unfamiliar faces. I knew a few of the BibRave Pros were going to be at the race so I shone the bat signal into the sky (aka – I sent a message out on social media) and soon Samantha found me! I can’t even tell you how great it was to see a smiling face in the crowd of people.

@nacole99 and @scootadoot selfie time!

After the Star Spangled Banner was performed on saxophone (that was something different from the norm!), it was time to join the self-seeded corral.

I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be setting any records, so originally I placed myself near the 2:45 half pacer and figured I would see if I could hang with him for awhile (thanks for being so welcoming, Gary!). We started to run, people waiting to start the Susan G. Komen run were cheering along the chute, and I had a smile on my face.

And then, 2/10 of a mile in, this happened…

What the what?! Dumbfounded. I think that’s the right word to describe exactly how I felt as I just watched more and more and more of the train slowly make its way down the tracks. Should I pause my watch? Keep it going? Is this train ever going to end? 

You could feel the tension in the crowd as we watched the train crawl by.

Unimpressed faces, all around.

Thankfully the race organizers decided to bring everyone that was stopped by the train back to the start and we were able to begin the race again. There was an audible collective sigh of relief when they walked through the crowd to reel us back in.

Walking the wrong way across the start line…

As we started again, they played Quad City Dj’s “C’Mon ‘N Ride It (The Train)” and I couldn’t help but laugh. I already had it in my mind that I was just going to have to roll with whatever this race threw at me and this just confirmed it. 13.1 (13.3?) we’re coming for you!

The first couple of miles were along Las Olas Blvd., a cute little shopping district. Since we wound up starting a half hour later than planned the sun was coming up and it was warming considerably.

The first water stop was short on volunteers I wonder if they thought that the runners had all passed through with the first wave of people that made it before the train. The volunteers that were there hustled to make sure that everyone got cups of water. I was very grateful for them!

Just before mile 3, my mom was waiting by a drawbridge and I was so happy to see her along the course! I got a little teary-eyed as I continued along on my way but then reminded myself that I needed to stop so I didn’t dehydrate myself, especially as we turned onto A1A, right along the beach.

The sun was strong and I was looking for some sort of respite. Thankfully, right past mile 4, we turned into Hugh Taylor Birch Street Park and its beautiful canopy of trees. Whew!

2 miles in the shade – YES PLEASE!

We looped through the park and eventually came out around the area we entered.

I was very impressed with throughout the entire race was the flow of things. Even though the runners were on the road, they had some lanes open to cars. There were police and other volunteers stationed at each intersection and I felt safe the entire race.

Around mile 7 I was getting a bit more sluggish and decided to switch from 2:1 intervals to 1:1 intervals. That was a good decision on my part and pushed me through the second half of the race. On the way to the turnaround I saw both Christine and Samantha in their BibRave shirts. Always great to see familiar faces!

I bopped to my music, thanked every volunteer I saw, pressed on multiple signs for a power boost, pet dogs, and oh, stopped at the unofficial beer station!

Sure, I’ll drink your beer random strangers! Please and thank you!

I believe that the beer station was around mile 11 and by this time, I was ready to be done. It was humid and hot and my glasses were fogging.

I knew my mom was ahead and that thought kept me running with my 1:1 intervals. Also, this view!

Annoyingly, even though I used Glide, I knew I was chafing in multiple locations. You know, naturally in all the places that I forgot to apply the Glide.

Around mile 12, I spotted my mom once again and I was so very happy to see her! I handed off my iPod and focused on finishing the last mile.

There were a multitude of photographers on the course and they snagged nearly 20 pictures of me through the race! Even though it wasn’t a fast race for me, I actually purchased the pictures because I look like I’m having a blast in nearly every single one of them. And I was! The double thumbs up was strong this race.

The finish line was a little confusing because there was a Publix inflatable we ran under and then a bit further up the actual finish line. I just kept running until I saw the timing mats and medal racks!

I see the finish line! I think! Maybe?

The medals for this race are completely different each year and I love the beautiful stingray design of this one!

Plus, it opens like a locket to reveal more beauty.

The finish line party was impressive! Tons of vendors giving away lots of drinks and food. I was all about the hydration so after grabbing water, I also chugged a chocolate milk, and then beer with my momma (although even I couldn’t drink it all)!

I’m so grateful I had the chance to run this race! Even though it was hot and I thought I was melting, it reminded me how much fun I can have while running. It was a bucket filler race and I’m so glad that I did it!

Next on my race agenda is the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k back here in good ol’ New Jersey. What is on tap for you?

Guest Post: My First Marathon – Space Coast Marathon

About this time last year I got a text from my friend and running buddy that said “I think I’m going run a marathon”. My response was probably something like “Nah” to which she graciously told me I didn’t have to run it, but it was something that she wanted to do. I was fully prepared to cheer her on and be a supportive friend. I’m good at that.

In all honesty, thinking about running a marathon is pretty exciting and scary. I did think a lot about it before it was time for sign ups. Then, in February of this year, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. He was the type of man who was always supportive of me, no matter what I did: running, school, career-wise…everything. So, I wanted to do a thing that he would be proud of.

We both signed up, had our initial adrenaline rushes and, well…then we forgot about it, to be honest. Being teachers, we do end up with some free time over the summer to plan and train. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, does it? We would exchange texts telling each other to get into gear but it didn’t always work out. Once school started in August training became a distant thought.

Then it was October.

At first we debated whether we should even go or not. We thought about taking “The Wormhole” out and completing the half marathon instead. A couple of times we ran together after school and tried to stay accountable with our own long runs over the weekend. Eventually we just kind of decided we were going for it, training or not.

A few days before the race I was talking to my co-worker, Ali, who ran Space Coast and she mentioned that the volunteers dressed up as space-inspired groups, so I hopped on Amazon and bought a Star Trek pin, searched the stores for a yellow shirt, and put together a simple-but-nerdy outfit.

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We left for Cocoa Beach Saturday morning to make it to the expo and packet pickup. Most of our conversations were jokes about dying and hoping we didn’t injure ourselves because, you know, our training was limited.

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The expo was crazy busy, so we only really stayed long enough to pick up our packets and a couple of little things. (Snacks and headbands, of course.) After a dinner of beer and pizza (yes, really) we tucked ourselves in at 7PM.

By 3:30AM I was wide awake and kind of ready to get the show on the road. We got up, got ready, and with the help of Michelle’s husband and son made it to the start point… after a quick stop for coffee. We spent about forty-five minutes before the race started getting things prepped. I finished my bagel and peanut butter, tried to drink some coffee to wake me up, and took a couple of trips to the bathroom.

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By 6:20AM we were lined up at the starting point, listening for announcements and trying not to freak out. Michelle and I have run a lot of races together. All of our “first” races have been together, so this one was pretty big for us. Three years ago this time we were running our first 5K together. We’ve come a long way.

After the pledge and a short countdown video we were off! Since we hadn’t properly trained Michelle and I decided to focus on 2:1 intervals. There were a few Galloway pace groups in the race but we didn’t want to commit to a group that we might not have been able to keep up with. The intervals started out fairly well and we were both feeling pretty good at the start of the race. It helped that the Space Coast Marathon’s course is absolutely beautiful!

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Beautiful scenery!

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At mile six!

As we came into mile thirteen Michelle’s husband and son met us at the halfway point. They complimented us and said we were looking strong, then gave us snacks. They’re okay in my book! Truthfully, by the halfway point I was starving! I had a salted caramel GU at about mile eight, but was super glad I picked up some Stinger waffles at the expo. They really helped!

We passed “The Wormhole” as we came around mile thirteen and joked about taking, but we knew we were in it for the long haul. The course continued to stay beautiful and we got to see some of the half marathoners coming in on their way to the finish. Okay, there were also some marathoners getting ready to finish also. Michelle and I thoroughly believe in “slow and steady”.

At each mile marker after thirteen I said something like “this is the longest we’ve been” because it was true and it felt great! My body was protesting a little, but my mind was fully in the game. I was counting the miles and calculating the time as we ran on, but I didn’t get discouraged about anything. I was feeling good, not too sore, and was staying hydrated with the help of some great volunteers.

By mile twenty I was kind of starting to feel it, however. We had kept up our intervals and were doing great. Neither one of us had a real issue with taking a few extra minutes of walking every mile or so, just to take a breather. I could tell that we were both feeling it as we rounded to come back after mile twenty. Usually we can keep a conversation going, but it was getting tough!

As we headed toward the homestretch the wind picked up and kept us cool for the last six miles. The volunteers were still out, cheering us on and giving us snacks (M&Ms!) and water. Since the course was through a neighborhood a few of the residents were out in their yards also. Some had posted signs and left them there but a few were actually giving out candy, snacks, and, in one instance, shots and beer. It was tempting, but I don’t think drinking at mile twenty-two would have been in my best interest.

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I did find the greatest sign for my Captain Kirk inspired shirt at about mile twenty-four and we stopped moving long enough to snap a picture of it:

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Run long and prosper.

As we came into our last mile Michelle’s family joined us again and stayed with us until the end. Around us there were other people coming to walk or run in the last little bit with their friends or family. It was all very moving and a great reminder of how awesome the running community is. I know that it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had Mer cheering me on and other friends sending me their well-wishes.

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Rounding the last quarter mile was such a great feeling! Knowing that you’d made it nearly 26.2 miles is kind of mind blowing. When I started running three and a half years ago I never envisioned myself running a marathon. As we ran by people and heard them say “Way to go, marathoners!”, it just kind of hits you in the feels.

Crossing the finish line I felt equal parts of relief and exhilaration. I was hungry and tired, but also kind of hyped up because, you know, I just ran a marathon. After we grabbed out bags, changed our shoes, and loaded up with pancakes and eggs, I sat down and replied to a bunch of texts. To my best friends “Are you alive?” and my mother’s “Are you done yet?”. There were all kinds of notifications from friends online and the outpouring of support from everyone was amazing.

It was just as tough as we knew it was going to be, but still so very rewarding. It’s more than a medal and shirt, though those things are nice. It’s the fact that your body can do amazing things. That you can do amazing things! And that there are always people who you can inspire and who can inspire you.

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Now, I don’t know if another marathon is in my future…but I’m not counting it out just yet.

Happy running!

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with @thisgirlash_ if you like to talk about books, cats, and running (sometimes). I also blog at Ash Does Stuff.

Time to Break Away From This Day to Day

People, I’m going insane over here. We just wrapped up an entire week of Little being sick.

Pooks was sick with the same thing at the beginning of the month but at age nine, he’s a much easier sick.When Pooks is sick, he stays in his room, relaxes, plays on his 3DS, and watches Netflix (you know, in between the vomiting and whatnot).

When five year old Little is sick, he’s on the couch with me. He wants to watch the same show twenty times in a row. He wants a drink. But not medicine. Never medicine. He wants to cuddle. He’s hot. He’s cold and wants a blanket. Gemma is allowed to lie with him, but only on his feet.

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With all this time around the house, I’ve been getting a lot done… so there’s a positive, I suppose. I’m at the point where ALL the laundry is clean. That will last two seconds but I’m going to enjoy this moment. All the dishes are also clean and in their spots. Straightening and chucking things that have been sitting around for far too long has also occurred.

What’s not getting done? Food shopping. Meal planning. Running. Playing. Breathing fresh air.

Although, being at home with kiddo hasn’t been all bad. I’m reading my third book of the week. I finally wrote an overdue letter to Victoria. And I’m planning trips for the summer! Getting in the summer mindset isn’t really too difficult because Little is constantly asking, “Is it summer yet? NOW is it summer?” Kids are always ready for the next big thing before this one is even over.

As of two weeks ago, my only solid plans were heading to California at the end of August to visit bestie Kelly -and her adorable family- and then meet up with my Chicks, Jess and Cam, for the Disneyland half weekend and shenanigans.

Now, more solid plans have fallen into place.

  1. We’ve joined a local swim club.
  2. Little is signed up for five weeks of camp for the mornings.
  3. Pooks is heading to Florida with Grandpa on the auto train. (shhhh, it’s a surprise!)
  4. We’re going to Florida too! We’ll be meeting them down there for a week of Beach, Pool, Ice Cream. I think that’s basically my version of GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry for those who have never seen Jersey Shore). Oh, and FAMILY. We’ve got a slew of family down in Florida and I want to see them all.
  5. California!

Throw in a couple of races, the ever-constant training – running and weights, our Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a Sweet 16, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and a wedding and we’ve got quite a full schedule!

With all the plans, there are still a couple of things that I’d like to focus on.

1.  Focus on swimming. Since we’ve joined the swim club, I would like my five year old to learn how to swim. Additionally, I’d like to get back into the pool and add that into my workout routine. I was on the swim team for years as a child but haven’t used it as exercise since my young teen years.

2.  Cook dinners, order out less, and focus on healthier food decisions. Why is this so challenging? Seriously. I feel like it shouldn’t be and yet, the planning of meals is something that has never come easy for me. Sometimes I’m REALLY on with things. And then there are times like this week/month/few months. Maybe I’ll see if What’s For Dinner? errrr, I mean BEC can come up with a meal plan for us.

3.  Be present in the moment. So much of my time seems to be spread out between things I want to do and things I feel obligated to do. However, with all of the moments, I would like to try to be more present. It might mean leaving my phone at home more but do I really need to be in constant contact with everyone all the time? No. I do not.

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Although look at the gorgeous pic I took just a few blocks down from my house while taking the pooch for a walk!

What do you have planned for the summer months? Do you leave your cell phone at home to disconnect for awhile? Any recipes or meal plans you can recommend?

 

 

runDisney’s 2012 Princess half weekend – Tangled 5k race recap

Note – I wrote this recap last year after the Princess half weekend.  Since we’re getting Scoot A Doot up and running, I thought it would be fun to revisit recaps (and this one in particular, since the runDisney Princess Half 2013 weekend is coming up!). –

Victoria and I arrived on Thursday night and Brooke took us to her lovely abode.  We were both pretty exhausted so rather than drinking their extensive collection of wine (it was tempting!) we opted for bed.  Especially because we had a full day/weekend planned.

The Princess Expo at the Wide World of Sports was the next morning.  You want to see us there, don’t you?  Well, okay!  Here’s Shaina (wearing her daughter, S!), me and Brooke.

Princess half expo - Shaina, S-baby, Me and Brooke

After we bought some shirts and attire, we made our way through the expo and checked out some of the booths.  Like this one, for example.  WANT WANT WANT.

Bought some adorable compression socks from the ladies at Runningskirts, which we wore the next morning at the 5k (you’ll see those in a bit).  Bopped over to the next building and picked up our bibs for the races and then back to get our shirts.

Disney’s like a well-oiled machine and we really didn’t have any troubles during all of this.  There was one line for the half that was just SLAMMED; all the people seemed to show up all at the same time.  But all things considered, it was great!

I had gotten our park tickets through runDisney and since we were staying at Port Orleans, we had to go over to the resort to get our tickets.  They seemed a bit confused as to where I could pick them up – I was told the Guest Relations booth would be able to give them to us but they weren’t able to dole them out since it was part of a pre-paid package.  Thankfully it wasn’t too much trouble to go to the resort.

We spent the rest of the day at the Magic Kingdom, wrapping it up early since we had the 5k the next day.

Or should I say morning.  As in, before the sunrise.

Brooke, Me, Shaina and Victoria

Brooke, me, Shaina, and Victoria sporting our awesome socks!  They are still my favorites.

Brooke, her husband (Josh) and Vic went off ahead, placing themselves further ahead in the open corrals, because they are speedy speedsters while Shaina and I hung back.  It was Shaina’s first 5k and I wanted to take it easy since the next day was my first half.

While we were waiting to start, I got the nervous pee feeling.  You know the one, where you’re like… Oh!  I’m nervous and naturally that means I feel like I have to pee.

Except that we started the race and at the same time Shaina and I realized that it wasn’t going away and we actually HAD to pee.  Awesome.

Our view of the start from where we were in the corral.  We should have moved up, for the record.

So we stopped at the first row of port-a-potties and took care of that.  😉

Lots of people walk the 5k, which is awesome – but they also placed themselves at the 11 minute mile corral.  There was a lot of bobbing and weaving but we just stuck together, tried not to run into/trip anyone and had a great time.

I’ve always had this vision of running around the Epcot World Showcase – it stemmed from a conversation that I had with my dad one summer while we were there on vacation.  So when we entered the loop at Mexico I was super excited and kept exclaiming to Shaina, “Isn’t this FUN?!?”  I’m not sure she thought it was as fun as I did but she said she did.  😉

Headed into Germany

It was just fantastic – I loved everything about this run!  Sure, it was crowded but I went into it thinking that it would be so I wasn’t expecting anything else.

The last mile

After we crossed the finish line we got our Tangled medallions and met up with the rest of our group.  Josh just finished the C25K program and was able to finish under 30, which was his goal.  HOORAY!

Vic and I after the race

Good times!