A1A HALF MARATHON, FEBRUARY 21, 2010

Who needs to train? I missed the Miami half, but decided to run A1A despite a lack of miles under my belt. Surprisingly, the race went pretty well, thanks in large part to a great training run the weekend before the race, (Thanks, Bob!), and some great company during the run (Thanks, Tom!).

As usual, A1A left a little to be desired as far as the whole half-marathon experience (ran out of shirts, long waits for buses, etc.), but once you know to expect difficulties, the run itself is fun. There was more crowd support this year than previous years, which was a welcome change, and the 5th anniversary medals were cool - a silver shell that opens to reveal the race details. The weather was great, overcast to start and not too hot at the finish.

Overall, the A1A Half was worth the price of admission once again. Thanks to all who helped to make race day fun!


Brand spanking new Asics 2150s. I love these shoes! Just when you think this model can't get any better, it does.

Meet Bob, my personal trainer (don't I wish). Bob was visiting South Florida the week before the race, and graciously agreed to risk cramping up by running at my snail's pace to help me get a long(er) run in before race day. Thank you, Bob. I'm sure that run made a huge difference on race day! Sorry I was such a crab (putting it nicely).

Bob and I ran on the sidewalk along the ocean in Juno Beach.

The park is considered a dog park because of all the furry visitors.

I tested out the new camera on the run, and was a little frightened at seeing some noise on the shots taken while running. Oh well, guess I'll have to stop when I want to take pictures (thank goodness!).

I convinced Bob to get off the sidewalk and run through an exercise trail. . .

but I left the heavy duty triple lunges to him!

The weather was perfect for running - cool and clear, and we saw plenty of people enjoying the day.

Even the bikers didn't mind us running in their lane. Thanks!

Cute Lab puppies getting acquainted with the Juno Dog park.

The A1A Marathon Expo is held in the Aventura Mall in Fort Lauderdale. I picked-up my race bib after buying a couple new suits. A perfect afternoon.

Friendly A1A volunteers. Thanks!

My name and address are on that piece of paper being held by more friendly A1A volunteers. By Saturday afternoon, they had already run out of race shirts. Reminded me of my first A1A Marathon when they ran out of medals. Inspiration to run faster tomorrow.

Race Morning! For some reason, I was a little late getting to Lauderdale on race morning (I know, go figure), so I had the distinct pleasure of listening to the start-line announcer say: "And our last runner has cleared the start line." A bit reminiscent of Prague, but fortunately unlike Prague, there were plenty of people walking the Half Marathon, so I was not the last "runner" for long.

It was fun trying to catch-up to Tom, who I had planned to meet at the start. Tom and I met at the end of the inaugural A1A Marthon five years earlier, and we planned to run the half together.

There were plenty of fun people to photograph during this race...

like the Scottish runners.

I was giving the Scottish runners my web address so they could find their picture, and as I did, I heard a woman say, "Helene? What are you doing here?" Barb! It was great running with you! Barb and I trained together for our first marathon, and it was really a treat to fall back into our running banter so easily. Thank you, Barb! Looking forward to running together again soon!

I caught up with Tom soon after the start, and was happy to be running with another friend. Running East along 17th Street. The orange glow in the distance is the sun rising over the ocean.

Running across the Causeway.

Crossing the Intracoastal for the first and only time in this race.

The A1A Half Marathon boasts one of the most beautiful sunrise views. Just gorgeous.

The 2+ miles through Hugh Taylor Birch State Park have been moved to the start of the race - thank goodness, because this stretch is sooooo boring!

As Tom and I entered the park, we were greeted by gazelles leaving the park. For some this is discouraging. I look at it as a goal.

Even the signs in the park are uninviting.

One of the pretty stretches in the park.

Tom and I started to notice we were running about the same pace as the man in long black pants, so we introduced ourselves to John. John was running his first half marathon, and had not run more than six miles, though he works out and was ready for the challenge. Tom and I shared a few of our running experiences with John, hoping they might help him during the final miles.

John reaches six miles, his farthest training run distance, with no sign of slowing down!

My running partners, John & Tom.

Here's where my A1A Half was about to take a terrible turn. I just had to get a picture of the Park Attendants who came out to cheer us on. See those orange cones running in a line past the Park Attendants? Well, after I took this picture, I turned really quickly and started running, but I was on top of one of those cones. Literally. Time switched to slo mo, as I juggled my camera and made a conscious attempt to fall softly. Didn't work, but John gave me 9 points for style, and Tom gave me an extra point for the visual of my new camera sliding on the pavement in front of me for about 15 feet. Thanks for helping me laugh about it, guys! btw, the Pentax Optio W80 is truly indestructible!

Out of the park and running back along the ocean, as the morning begins to heat up.

These guys were great. I passed them shortly after Tom and I decided to run our own races. The man on the left was the 5:30 marathon pacer. The man on the right was the only one running with him. "Cool," I said to the runner, "you have your own, personal pacer." He responded, "Or he has his own, personal runner. Depends on how you look at it." We laughed!

The turn-around near the Galt Ocean Mile.

5 miles left, and I had some catching-up to do.

These women had an interesting story. The woman on the right was telling everyone that it was the other woman's birthday, and we should all wish her a happy birthday. When I ran along the woman on the left, I asked: "Is she your obnoxious friend?" "No," she said, "she's my mom." How COOL! I love the people and the stories you encounter running. Happy Birthday!

The water stations for this race were super well-stocked and super well-manned with great volunteers. . .

including this guy who said he wanted to be in the webstory. Couldn't turn him down.

The Scottish runners caught up to me.

One of the enthusiastic Team In Training Cheering Squad members who kept up the hootin' and hollerin' along the final miles.

Another runner who needed to walk, and her partner who would not let her walk alone. Cool!

If I never see an orange cone again, it will be too soon! The red cup on top is from the beer station just after mile 8.

What? I ran one mile in minus 10 minutes? This was my first clue the clocks along the final miles were messed-up. Did I mention the A1A has a few kinks?

This is where the A1A turns hot, the final miles along the ocean. Fortunately the weather was cooler than normal, so it wasn't totally unbearable.

Ok, this confirms the clocks are really messed-up. I knew it did not take me an hour to run 2 miles.

There were some happy volunteers along the final couple miles, including these groovy guys. Thanks for the encouragement!

These guys were extremely encouraging, bowing as we ran past and saying: "We are not worthy." Funny!

Here is one marvelous woman, running for Team In Training and encouraged by those she is sponsoring who will not give up. She told me she was over sixty years old, and I could not believe it. She just started running, and the way she figures it, if she runs for thirty years, she'll be finished running about the time she's finished living. What a fun human being!

Sven?!?

The final stretch. The finish line is the banner just beyond the bridge.

The race over, I glance back at the finish line. Looks like I finished near 2:35. Cool.

The new timing chip system worked well . . .

and since they had to be turned in, I was glad to have the help of a friendly volunteer to remove the twist ties. Bending over is neither easy nor pleasant after running 13 miles.

There were plenty of food tents at the finish.

For some reason, dieting is never on my mind after running 13 miles. Delicious Cuban fare.

This was so cute. See the little boy approaching the finish line on the right? He ran across the finish with his Mom. As I waited for Tom, I noticed a bunch of little kids waiting near the finish to join their parents and run across the finish line. What an awesome lesson those kids were learning!

Tom finishes under 3! Congratulations!

We met up with John after the run. It was great to get his post-script. He felt great except for some painful feet. So glad you had a wonderful first half marathon, John. Hope to see you out there again soon. Thanks for sharing your experience.

How many races have pictures like this at the finish? Paradise perfect!

Julia was run/walking her first half marathon with her husband Chris, who ran the full marathon in just a few minutes more than it took Tom and I to run the 1/2. Go Chris! Congratulations, you guys. Great to meet you.

Not so perfect. We waited for a shuttle back to the start for what seemed like forever, but was probably just over one-half hour. Ouch. After 5 years, the A1A still has some kinks to work out, but it was a fun run, nonetheless.

Next race . . . ? I'm in the lottery drawing for the New York City Marathon, but so are about 100,000 other people. Fingers crossed!


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