PALM BEACH HALF MARATHON, DECEMBER 6, 2009

It is great to be running at sea level again! Running the Palm Beach Half Marathon was nostalgic, running along part of the same course that started it all. I met some wonderful people and we all enjoyed the absolutely perfect running weather. Overcast and a little cool. Well, cool by South Florida standards.

Thanks to some new motivation, I shaved a couple minutes off my fastest half marathon time - a new PR at 2:23:41. Don't laugh - that's good, for me.

One final note. I used my cell phone for pics during this run, so picture quality is even worse than normal. I've sent Santa my digital wish list, so hopefully pictures of the Miami Half Marathon next month will be better.

A special thanks to Raj and Dar for helping to pull me across the finish line. You guys are great!


The Meyer Ampitheater lit the start area, music blaring and excitement building.

Temps at the start were perfect. Not too hot, not too cool.

I arrived at the marathon start around 6:15 a.m., and made my way to the back of the crowd. The race was relatively small, so placement in the pack was not as important as with larger races.

I was training at 11 minute miles, so I gave myself some wiggle room lining up at the 12 minute mile post.

Karen is ready for her first half marathon after training with Coach Bob at Palm Beach Marathon Training. The guy on the left stuck his big mug into the shot (joking!) which led to a fantastic conversation about rumballs. I'll have to try that chocolate wafer recipe. Thanks.

Back to Karen. We ran together for a bit, but were both anxious to get to our music, so we lost track of each other pretty quickly - until about mile 9 or 10 when Karen breezed past me, looking really strong. Congratulations on a great run!

6:30 a.m. and the race is off! Approaching the Start.

Running along Flagler Drive approaching mile 3. The clouds over the ocean (on the left) meant that the sun was obscured for longer than usual - thank goodness!



I had to take a picture of this clapping family. The one disappointment with this race is that the few people who show up along the route have a tendency to stand silently, rather than cheering and clapping. Of course, there's always the exception, but all-in-all the crowd support is extremely minimal. Ipods become very important.

Mile 4 and the sun finally makes an appearance.



The owners of this house were great. Between mile 4 and 5 when the running is just starting to get automatic, these guys were out on their balcony overlooking the Intracoastal with The Boss blaring "Born to Run" at full volume! Yes! What a rush.

Meet Dawn, Kimmie, and Shawn, three of the most consistent runners I've ever seen. They had the 10 minute mile down to an artform, and rarely were more than a step or two away from each other. I ran near them for the first 7 or 8 miles, and it really helped me stay in stride.

One funny note, when I was telling them the name of my website so they could find their pic, i said, "It's buyrumballs.com, b-u-y rumballs," and one of them, and I won't say which one, asked, "How do you spell 'rum?'" We all started laughing. Seriously, it's hard to think logically at mile 5! Thanks you guys, it was great meeting you.

About a mile away from the turn-around, we started seeing the front runners.

Did I mention my Christmas wish list?

The Palm Beach Marathon has "wacky water stations," with organizations and neighborhood groups manning the water stations in costume. I took a picture of the man dressed like a banana at the jungle water station, but guess I didn't press "save" before closing my phone. I lost a lot of pictures that way. Please Santa, come through for me!

The half marathon turn around. Not sure what mile we're at here because the course map didn't show this turn-around point.

This picture is really bad, but I had to include it. This truck nearly killed alot of us as it drove the course behind the winner of the full marathon, Ronnie Holassie, who was passing all of us half marathoners at this point. It was an exciting moment for a couple reasons: we actually got to run with the marathon winner, which was cool; and we almost lost our lives, which was a little less cool. Hope the race director rethinks the course route before next year, or at least makes accomodations for vehicles on the course. The guy hanging out the back window of the truck yelling "Move over," just didn't cut it.

A blurry Iron Man tat. Wish I had those calves.

Meet Dar. What an extraordinary woman, running her own race and interacting with people on the sidelines. Dar was training for the full marathon when her Mother became ill and Dar had to put her training on hold and travel North to nurse her Mom. She did that so her sister could keep training for the full marathon. Dar ran the half marathon and was thinking of her Mom the whole way. Dar, you are a remarkable woman. Thank you for letting me run with you.

The South End Neighborhood Association (SENA) goes all out with their wacky water station. Burma Shave-style signs line the street for what seems like a mile leading up to the water stop.

Once runners get closer, they start to hear the excellent live music and an enthusiastic announcer cheering everyone on.

The SENA water stop's piece de resistance - coconut-bra sporting men. These guys know how to party at 8:00 a.m. Thanks for the motivation and great fun!

This may look like a boring, crooked picture of the street, but there's a back story. The man and children on the left of the photo had just finished hugging the woman in the pink running shorts, who swooped up her children when she saw them on the sideline and gave them big hugs. It is always great to see young children being exposed to healthy activities.

Hey Preston, great running with you. Can you believe we graduated law school 19 years ago? I think we're both healthier now. Stay in touch!

One mile to go. I met Raj shortly after the 12 mile mark. We were both struggling a little, so we decided to join forces and push each other to the finish. No walking! It was such fun meeting you, Raj. There's nothing like sharing one's life story to keep your mind off the little aches and pains that get worse around the 12.5 mile mark.

For some reason Brightroom, the race photographer, didn't catch my finish. I'm in here somewhere. Thanks Manuel.

Alan Rickman was waiting for me at the finish.

The marathon winner - Ronnie Holassie. Great running with you (for 1/10 of a second).

Like many of the Palm Beach Marathon runners, this man left the cold and snow of New York to enjoy a few days of sunshine in South Florida. Note the pink medal ribbons. I felt sorry for all the macho guys walking around the finish festival wearing pink ribbons. Interesting color choice.

What a beautiful family. Raj, his wife, daughter, and cutest (first) grandbaby. It was a pleasure meeting all of you. Thanks again, Raj!

The finish festival fills the Meyer Ampitheater stadium. VIPs and other organizations host breakfast.



The Palm Beach Half Marathon over, I drive home along Ocean Boulevard behind a pack of bicyclists.

On any weekend morning, these riders take over Ocean Boulevard. They're fun to watch.

The end(s). Next stop, Miami Half Marathon. See you there.

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