We ran the Big Beach Marathon & Half Marathon in Gulf Shores, AL this morning, and so I’ll be coming at you with a race recap today. This inaugural race started and finished at The Hangout, which made for a really awesome pre and post-race atmosphere. The course itself ran through the paved trails of Gulf State Park and finished on Beach Blvd with some amazing views of the gulf.
If you notice the distance on the race map above, you will see that the actual race was close to 13.5 miles, so … not a half marathon. I’m still a little bit baffled at how something like this happens. The half marathon distance isn’t an estimate, it’s an exact distance. 13.1 miles. This was the race map from the event website, by the way. The marathon was certified, but they didn’t certify the half. In my opinion, that is really just not acceptable. That is my only complaint though. I know this was a first-year race, so I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but … if you want runners at your race, you really need to certify the course.
It was a really warm day here on the gulf coast, which made for interesting race conditions. It was mid-sixties and 95% humidity at the start (read: not ideal for long distance running). Now that I have adequately set the stage, let’s talk about the race itself. I’m sure if you are reading between the lines at all here, you know that it didn’t go exactly as planned.
Going into the race, my A goal was to PR (1:24:41). With that being said, this wasn’t specifically an “A goal” sort of race. I wanted to run it because it was a first-year race and it was here locally, but otherwise it wasn’t specifically a race that I was targeting. I kind of feel like my A goal at pretty much every race is to run my personal best, so that’s why I am saying that my A goal was a PR. I think that I am in shape to run a PR, but today wasn’t my day.
I started the race off with 3 pretty strong miles (6:28, 6:22, 6:29). At this point, I was pretty much on target with the pace I wanted, but by mile 4, I was already starting to struggle and I knew that I needed to readjust my goals. That’s when it hit me … I didn’t really have any other goals. Oops. I just made a conscious effort to reign the pace in a little, as I knew there was no way that I could hold 6:30 the rest of the way.
Miles 4 through 8 were 6:45, 6:56, 6:49, 6:49, 6:56. We ran on the paved trails in Gulf State Park from mile 2 through basically mile 10. The trails were pretty winding and they were actually slick because of the crazy humidity. There were also a few rolling hills along the way, which I wasn’t really expecting. I ran the first 4 miles completely by myself, which was pretty tough mentally. Around mile 5, a guy came up beside me and we ran together for several miles. We chatted for a little bit and that helped to pass the time.
Miles 9 and 10 were both 6:57. Once we came to mile 10, we (finally) exited out of the park and headed back towards the finish along the main beach road. Around mile 10, Daniel and his buddy, Kenny passed me. I was excited to see them, but they didn’t exactly hang around to run with me … they pretty much left me in their dust. I was totally fine with that though. I was just really happy that Daniel was having a good race. He has still been battling the piriformis issue, so he wasn’t really sure what to expect. They were approaching the race as a workout, instead of an all-out effort, and man did they have one heck of a workout! They started out conservatively and picked it up at the end, which was pretty much the exact opposite of what I did. Their way is definitely recommended, by the way.
Miles 11 through 13 were 6:55, 6:50, 6:53. At this point I was just chasing Daniel. I kept my eyes on him and followed him to the finish. For whatever it is worth, my last .1 was 0:47. I lapped my Garmin at this point, so that I would know what my actual half marathon time was. It was 1:28:53. The “extra” distance that we ran added another 1:41 to my time, so my “official” race time is 1:30:34. I was 5th overall and 1st female, so I am very pleased with that. Daniel got third overall, which was awesome!
We hung out (at the hang out) for a while after the race. We had several friends running the full and we wanted to see them finish!
A special shout-out to my friend Jill, who ran a 1:33 for her very first half marathon ever. What?! Who does that? This girl. She’s amazing! She has so much potential. I can’t wait to see what she is capable of.
Also a special shout-out to Rebecca, Lizzie and Jessica, who ran the full marathon in crazy hot, humid conditions.
In conclusion, today was a really fun, really hot race. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but really, when does anything ever really go exactly as we plan it to? All we can do is do the best with the circumstances and situations that we are faced with day in and day out.
What was the highlight of your weekend?