Thursday, 15 October 2015

Southernmost Half Marathon, Key West FL

I ran a race on honeymoon. Thats ok, right? Not too crazy? I thought it was ok to do because there was no fuss. I walked to the start and was finished running by 9am. Then we planned a day at the pool afterwards. From mornings (heat and humidity) in Key West I knew I'd be incredibly slow so I wouldn't be sore afterwards. It didn't impact the holiday aspect of our trip at all.

What does sound a little crazy is the reasons I decided to run. If I don't run another marathon, Florida would end up being the only state in my little 50 states adventure that I have only ran a full marathon in (NC and SC- I've done both a marathon and half). My OCD would make me want to go back and do one later. Besides that how often would you get to run around the southernmost point of the USA? Now I just need to find a race at the northernmost point. This is the sort of thinking that gets me in trouble, ha ha!! Besides all of that craziness, Key West is pretty much paradise and this race was a great opportunity to get out and see a whole load of the island on foot.

I got up at 5am on race morning and chugged down some coffee. I didn't eat anything because my stomach gets sick in the heat. Less energy to burn versus sick is a winner in my books. I walked down to the race start, which was about 2 miles away from our condo. On the way I could see the poor marathoners who already started their race. The race was starting at the Rum Barrel Bar. This was nice because they opened up and I got to take advantage of some real bathrooms and AC. This was important because it was over 80F outside and 80+% humidity. I didn't want to be outside sweating before the race even began.

The half marathon began at 6.15 and for the first 4 miles it was almost completely pitch black. The course navigated the whole outer road of the island, except for two little dips we were on the same path the most of the time. The first of these dips was right around mile 2 (beside my condo) when we ran an out and back into Fort Zachary-Taylor State park. Around now the turtles are nesting so our lighting (so not to disturb the nesting) consisted of lovely volunteers standing at strategic points with torches. We didn't see really anything in the park but it was a wonderful night to see the moon and stars...really beautiful. At this stage, I was already drenched in sweat and taking it easy.

We then started to make our way to the Atlantic side of Key West. The timing for hitting the coast line could not have been better. As I started to see glimpses of the Atlantic the sky was lighting up in pinks and purples. I could not stop taking pictures! Right as I was hitting the mile 6 water station, I got to watch the run rise out of the ocean as a perfect globe.

 I walked a good bit here to watch the sun rise and flying (or long jumping) fish, I was flagging. All of this running (besides the park) was done on really wide sidewalks and the field was well spread so I didn't have to worry about cars or blocking people.
Sweaty Betty
By the time we got to the next out and back (around mile 7.5) I was ready to be finished. I was starting to overheat and although I knew I shouldn't I was knocking back a ton of water at every stop. I was also getting electrolyte drinks every so often but not enough to counteract my sweating and water guzzling and I forgot my salt tabs. I knew I'd feel like that though so I just told myself to take it easy, no rush, and take in the scenery. Gatorade, which I normally don't like, at mile 9 tasted like sugary heaven. I could probably have knocked back a few gallons lol.
I kept moving but kept slowing down. I felt a bit dizzy at one point and running even 1/4 mile intervals was too much for my poor heart rate so at that stage I was just thought screw this and walked most of the last 3 miles....better to finish slow than pass out. The scenery was still gorgeous ocean views so I took that in and wondered if anyone would notice if I took a little swim. You know turn it into a duathlon.
Sounds awful right, it wasn't! I expected this and yes I wanted to be finished with a cool beer in hand but I was still having a blast. This probably one of the prettiest races I've ever run and it was completely flat. Nothing hurt during the race I was just too hot.

I had great fun listening to a local radio station as I ran. There were a lot (like loads) of songs about weed mixed in with holiday rock, reggae and general quirkiness. Apparently if you "add tequila to bud lite you'll be alright" ha ha.

Eventually I made my way to the finish, woohoo, and crossed the line in 2.41. I'm not too proud to take that. I'm not checking :p but its probably my slowest time  (solo). I think most people (at least vacationers) were caught by surprise by the conditions because a ton of full marathoners dropped back to the half before the race started and the first full finisher was somewhere around the 3.30 mark.
After I finished I got my pretty medal and water. We went right to breakfast a stones throw from the finish line. Mimosas all around. Then I spent my morning at the pool in beautiful cold water. What I'm really taking away from this race is an amazing experience.
My reward!!


  1. What a beautiful course! And it's smart they start it in the dark so at least you aren't dealing with the sun at first :) Totally worth running!!!!! I am surprised so many fulls dropped to the half - that wasn't unusually warm for there, this time of year, was it?

    1. Yes it was 100% worth it. I doubt it was unusually warm.
      I don't know how the other out of towners felt but to me the daytime highs weren't bad at all but at night it didn't get much lower. I was expecting the night/morning to be cooler!