Event Report: Key Largo Bridge Run Half Marathon Lianne Martin December 5, 2013 2029 Run Half Marathon Welcome to a new series: Event Reports! FN is partnering with local athletes to bring our readers accurate and honest reports of races and events that may be of interest to you, our fitness enthusiasts. Name of Event/Location/Date: Key Largo Bridge Run Half Marathon / Key Largo, Florida / 11-9-13 Athlete: Lianne Martin Pre-Race After work Friday, we hit the road and headed east. The real reason we were headed to the Keys was a close friend’s wedding, but hey, there was a race! Run half marathon is a challenge, but why not? We made it to the packet pickup late, but there were still people trickling in to get numbers. Packet pickup was in a small room at the Holiday Inn. It was quick and easy, plus there was information on other races… We continued south to Islamorada, where we were staying and grabbed a quick bite at the Shula’s. I generally love a veggie burger pre-race, but my options were fish. I ordered the fish sandwich, but ended up getting just a piece of fish. Oh well, good thing everyone else had fries to share. Instead of heading to bed, we went to the wedding cocktail party. It started with one tiny, innocent vodka and soda and ended with dancing at Holiday Isle. I wasn’t about to miss hanging or dancing with some good friends. (We will just consider the dancing a warm up, ok?) Event Breakdown We woke up at 5:15 AM Saturday morning. I scarfed down a bran muffin, drank a little Gatorade, and headed out. The drive north was quick. We parked at one of the Key Largo schools and took a bus to the start. The busses were efficient and there was plenty of room for everyone. We arrived at the start and checked out the bathroom scene. Eeek. Long lines, really long lines. Luckily, someone told us there were unused port-o-potties across the road – success! This was the 5th year of the race and they were filming a documentary on one of the runners, so there were a bunch of cameras. (Sadly, I do not make a cameo in the film) The race started promptly at 6:45. The temperature at the start was a balmy 76 degrees – maybe not the best temperature to run half marathon in. The first mile was pretty much straight up the biggest bridge on the course. At the time, I thought about how fun that last mile would be. It did not turn out that way. For running up a decent sized bridge, my first couple miles were in good time. Maybe a little too good. The farthest I had run since the Chicago marathon was 6 miles. The views were pretty but after the 5K and 10Kers turned around the course got sparse. I put my music on around mile 4 and just kept my head down. I was drinking at every water stop and taking salt packets. As the sun rose, it got hotter and more humid. The course was a straight out-and-back on one road. I noticed that the water stations were a little far apart for how hot and humid the race was. I was happy to see my time at the halfway mark, but was feeling overheated and tired. After mile 8, I started taking short walk breaks. I ran out of salt packets at mile 10. My time was suffering, but I was feeling loopy and dehydrated. None of the medics had any salt or salt tabs, so I took in as much Gatorade as I could stomach. Miles 11/12 were uphill. Getting to the top of the bridge was such a relief. Until I felt the wind. Going downhill was such a disappointment, because the wind out of the south had kicked up. It was faster than the previous few miles, but not great. Nothing on earth could have made me happier than seeing that finish line. I immediately chugged a bottle of water and headed to the gas station to grab some salt and vinegar chips. After an amazing experience at the Chicago Marathon, I knew I needed some recovery time and set the bar pretty low for this race. Regardless, this was a tough race. The volunteers were great, but there were almost no spectators, and the course could have used some more support. It was an inexpensive, small local race in the Keys, which was great, but bring along your water and salt/electrolyte replacement. The scenery was beautiful, and not much beats running through the Keys at sunrise.