Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Big Beach Half Marathon

January 31, 2016

I saw the Inaugural Big Beach Marathon advertised on Facebook this past fall and I knew immediately that I wanted to run it. I love vacationing and running in Gulf Shores. After missing my goal of a 4:40 full marathon at St.Jude, I began debating whether to sign up for the full marathon at this race. I knew it would be a flat, fast course. I was worried that it wasn't enough recovery time and I knew I couldn't fit in any more solid training in just over a month. I also worried about running the full at an inaugural race. All things considered, I decided to run the half and I am so glad I did.

This race offered packet pick up on Saturday and Sunday before the start of the race. I picked up my packet late Saturday afternoon. Packet pick up was very quick and easy. They had a small expo with running clothes and accessories.

It was in the mid 60's with 100% humidity on race morning. I opted to wear running capris and a t-shirt, which I immediately regretted. I really wish I had worn shorts.  The race started and ended at the Hangout. The half marathon started at 8:00 and the full marathon at 8:05.




 
I ran into my friend Dee at the start of the race. She was running the half marathon as well. This was half marathon #40 something for her. She's well on her way to her goal of 100 half marathons. She is also attempting to run a half in all 50 states as part of the Fifty States Club. Currently she's ran in 19 states. I'm so glad I met Dee at a local half almost a year ago. Her journey is incredible and inspiring to me.
 

 
Dee and I lined up at the start together. We chatted until the gun fired. Then we wished each other a great race and we took off.

My focus of this past month was mainly on recovering from my marathon. I'm slowing building my mileage back to 20-25 miles per week. I only managed three long runs of 6,8, and 10 miles prior to this race. I didn't have high expectations for a PR with so little training, but I hoped to maintain a sub 10:00 pace and finish in 2:10 or faster.

The first two miles ran through side streets leading to Fort Morgan Road and the paved trails of the State Park. I was maintaining a steady pace and the 2:00 pacer was in sight.  I focused on trying to catch up to them.

Mile 1- 9:09
Mile 2- 9:08
 
Miles 3 through 10 ran through the paved, tree lined trails. The trails were windy and rolling. There were water stations approximately every two miles. They were well stocked with water and Gatorade. There weren't many spectators along the trails. It was a quiet, but very scenic run.
 
My pace was slowing and I began taking frequent walk breaks. By Mile 6 the 2:00 pacer was out of sight. I walked a lot during the sixth mile to eat my Honey Stinger waffle. My goal of 2:10 was still possible and I wasn't giving up yet.
 
Mile 3- 9:29
Mile 4- 9:14
Mile 5- 9:49
  Mile 6- 10:16
 
The full marathoners split off around Mile 8 and all I could think was, "Not today." The humidity was really starting to get to me. I was so glad I was over half way to the finish. I caught glimpses of the Shelby Lakes in the final miles before exiting the trails onto Perdido Beach Blvd around mile 10.
 
Mile 7- 9:52
  Mile 8- 10:34
Mile 9- 9:53
 
The final three miles ran along Perdido Beach Blvd back towards the Hangout. This road runs along the beach, but there wasn't much view of the water for the dunes. There was a nice breeze, which helped somewhat with the humidity.
 
Mile 10- 10:33
Mile 11- 10:34
Mile 12- 10:20
 
I hit every mile marker right on the dot according to my Garmin, so I wasn't expecting the course to run long. After I passed the Mile 12 marker, I picked up speed to try to reach the finish in my 2:10 time goal. My Garmin read 13 miles long before I reached the mile marker.
 
Mile 13-9:40
 
13.1, 13.2, 13.3, where is the finish line?!?! My goal of 2:10 wasn't going to happen. I crossed the finish with an official time of 2:12:24.
 


 
 
 
I typically don't argue that the course was long because I have some understanding about tangents. I know I'm no expert at running tangents, so if my Garmin read long I assume I didn't run the course as it was measured. However, this half marathon course was actually long (13.47 miles). It says so on their official site. They certified the full marathon so it could be an official Boston qualifier, but they didn't certify the half marathon course. This is my only complaint about this race.
 
 
I didn't stick around long after the race because we had to make the 3 1/2 hour drive home. I took a boxed lunch with me. It had a deli sandwich, chips, a fruit cup, and a cookie. It was light, but very filling. They also had beer and post race entertainment.
 

 



I was very impressed with this inaugural race. It was well organized from start to finish. There were plenty of volunteers on the course at aid stations and directing the route. The police directed traffic at the major intersections at the beginning of the race and on Perdido Beach Blvd. From the short time I stuck around, I thought the post race food and entertainment was top notch. You can't beat the race venue at the Hangout. I love the t-shirt and medal. I would definitely run it again!
 


 
 
Have you ever ran an inaugural race? Did it go smoothly?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap to bring you this race recap.
 

 
 
 

 
 


24 comments:

  1. That race looks like so much fun! Great job on your time, especially with not much training! I ran an inaugural race for my first half marathon and it was awesome! There was a huge turnout and a lot of spectator support! I also ran shall marathon that felt like it wasn't going to end! By the time I finished, my watch said 14.4 miles!!

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    1. Oh wow and I thought 13.47 was long! That would definitely weigh on you mentally towards the end of the race.

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  2. 13.47? If they're going to certify the full, certify the half. Once I hit 13 miles and see the sign, the finish line should be that far away. I'm already in a Twilight Zone mode, so a long course would mess with me.

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    1. I checked the course map before the race, but I guess I didn't catch the 13.47 at the time. Every other mile marker was on the dot, so I definitely wasn't expecting it to be long. That's my only complaint about the race. Maybe they will make adjustments and certify the half next year.

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  3. Great recap Debra. I saw where Sam ran this and was talking about the long course. I would love to check this out for next year but I do hope they will make it the normal 13.1. You so would have reached your goal had it not been for the length! I've camped at Gulf State Park so I would love to do this one. It sure made for some great after pictures too on the beach and with the huge hand and chair backdrop! Great job on your finish!

    I have trouble deciding what to wear in temps like this too. I often forget how fast I warm up and usually like this past weekend regret what I wore. Thanks so much for linking this up with us! It's a great recap and I'm headed over to share it!

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    1. It was a great experience minus the course being too long. I would definitely run it again! I do love the scenic route on the trails through the state park and the pre/post race venue. I'm actually doing the Sea Turtle half in three weeks which also starts and finishes at the Hangout, but the route will be completely different. I always seem to overdress. I saw temps in the 60's, but didn't factor in the humidity. My capris were soaked and sticking to me by the end of the race.

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  4. I think you did great, especially considering the temps! Geez, I haven't run in temps that high since I don't know when (Um, Christmas eve? But that was a fluke!).

    Ugh! I hate courses that truly run long/short. :(

    I have done a few inaugural races: my first Vegas, Montreal -- there were a lot of problems at Vegas, but they didn't really effect me. Montreal went pretty smoothly. It's always dicey though!

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    1. Thank you! Inaugural races make me a little nervous because they always have kinks to work out. This one was impressive though minus the course being long. I would definitely run it again!

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  5. It seems like so many courses are marked long. You still had an excellent finish time in spite of the warmth and humidity. You never know what you will get with a coastal race. I have run an inaugural half but it was done by the REVEL series that already put on races in other locations. It ended up being my favorite to date! That is a nice shirt and medal. Thanks for linking with us Debra.

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    1. Thank you, Holly! Coastal races are pretty unpredictable with the weather. Humidity can be a factor at any time. This race was organized by Junction 311 which hosts other races in the area. I was very impressed minus the long course. I would definitely run it again!

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  6. Humidity is the worst and that is super frustrating that the course was long. But you did an amazing job. Way to push through! I love all of your fun pictures and that medal is fabulous! I have had both good and bad experiences with inaugural races. The biggest lesson I have learned is that it is hard to PR on an inaugural course when all the organizational kinks are still being worked out! Inaugural races are best served just to have fun, in my opinion. :-)

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    1. Thank you! Inaugural races can be iffy cause they all seem to have kinks to work out. Great advice to just run for fun at these races!

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  7. Ugh! I would not be happy if the course was long and I didn't know it! The part after the 13-mile marker would have been torture for me! But other than that and the humidity, it sounds nice with the tree-lined trails and breeze off the ocean. And I love the medal and shirt. Congrats!

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    1. Thank you! That was frustrating! I would have met my 2:10 goal for the day had it not been for the long course. Other than that though I was very impressed with this race. I would definitely run it again!

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  8. Looks like a nice run. It's always nice running near the coast. Makes better race picture too. I like the shirt and medal you guys got too! Good job you got a great time!

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    1. Thank you, Diane! I love running at the beach. Nice scenery and it's mostly flat.

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  9. Girl if the course hadn't been long I'm sure you would have met your 2:10 goal! I'm sure they will fix that next year! Congrats on your race!

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    1. Thank you, Mindy! I hit the 13.1 point in 2:10. My overall pace on my Garmin was 9:53. Other than that it was a great race. I would definitely do it again!

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  10. A long course is the last thing you want when it's humid and you have a goal in mind! Did you end up getting 2:10 at the actual 13.1 mark? I feel like you would with your splits. Humidity kills me, so I'm really impressed with your speed in those conditions! Nice race! My most humid 13.1 led to a 2:33 finish because I pouted and walked during mile 8. ;)

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! That's the bad thing about living in Bama. Humidity is always a factor no matter what time of the year. I don't know that I'll ever get used to it. Some days are more tolerable than others. I did reach 13.1 in 2:10. My average pace on my Garmin was 9:53

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  11. Wow, so annoying about the course being long. Seems to me that you met your time goal. The first (and only) HM I ever did with my son, who was 11 at the time, was North Face DC. It was a trail marathon and they had to re-route part of the course. So it was long. Like - 14.6 miles long. My 11 year old ran a 14.6 mile half marathon. We were both really exhausted at the end. North Face took a lot of crap so they made up bumper stickers commemorating the event with the number 14.6 and "Ultra Half Marathon" which was somewhat clever and my son proudly displays it on his bulletin board.

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    1. Wow, that was long! I bet that messed up a lot of people. That was a clever idea with the bumper stickers. I would display it proudly too.

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  12. The course is really long! You made your goal :) I would be upset it was so humid, it is too early in the year for that, you have six seven months of it to face. You can't control the weather though, it is a good thing you went for the half.
    Great recap :) I have done an inaugural race and my experience was really positive.

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    1. That was my only complaint about the race. It was near perfect otherwise. Humidity is something we deal with year round in Alabama unfortunately. It's always a risk you take when you sign up for a race at the beach. I'm glad I didn't do the full though. It wouldn't have been a good day for a PR. Good to hear your experience with an inaugural race was positive. I'm not so worried about signing up for another one now.

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