Thursday, February 22, 2007

RR Fort Lauderdale

Race Report
A1A Marathon
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sun, Feb 18/07
3:53:27 – 2 AG

During the last (painful) nine miles of the previous marathon in Miami I thought that there was no way I would be able to run the A1A Marathon scheduled for Fort Lauderdale a few weeks later. But after more tests showed no problems in the circulatory system in my legs and I started to respond to PT (physical therapy) on the left calf and my back and - most importantly the memory of the pain decreased – I started to believe that the best thing to do was to run Fort Lauderdale as a test run/marathon.
My plan was to run the race very slow and walk 60 to 90 secs every five miles to give the legs some time to relax. If I felt OK at 20 miles I could try to race the last 10 Km? My only goal/hope was to run/walk and finish the race (all 26 miles) without suffering any more leg cramps!
Since the Sport Manager’s sister was visiting from Ottawa (TundraLand) I thought it would be a good opportunity to combine the marathon with a trip to S. Florida. She had never visited Key West or the Everglades. Thus we set off on Sat morning to drive to Fort Lauderdale via the south shore of Lake Okeechobee (a huge lake/swamp) in the middle of the state. On the way we drove through Lake Worth, FL so we stopped to visit my friend/mentor Wally Herman and his wife. Wally was planning to run the marathon also (#689?).
The packet pickup/expo was located at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center – not a convenient location because it is next to Port Everglades (where cruise ships depart) and security was tight and a bother! After I got my race bib we checked out the race start and finish. The race starts in downtown Fort Lauderdale and finishes about 3 miles away at South Beach Park. The 1st three miles are along Las Olas Blvd and the rest of the course is entirely on Route A1A along the Atlantic Ocean but you can’t see the ocean for condos!
Sun was M-day! There were 2000 runners lined up for the 6am start (500 in the marathon and 1500 in the Half). Because of the different start/finish I asked the Sports Manager to drive me to the start. It was dark, cloudy and a chilly 52 F at the 6 am start. The temp never rose above 55 F for the race! Not wanting to start out too fast I lined up in the middle of the pack and coasted through mile 2 in 17:50. By the time I reached mile 5 in 43:31 I had settled into a comfortable 8:45 pace and felt fine. However I stuck with the race plan and walked 90 secs. I was sad when I reached the turn-around for the Half near 7 miles because most of the lovely young ladies I had been following left me? I passed mile 10 in 1:26:51 – walked for 60 secs. At mile 12 it started to rain. It rained /poured for almost 45 minutes and the temps dropped below 50 F! It was miserable! I passed the Half in1:54:11. I felt good and I was confident that I could/would finish under 4 hrs! When I reached mile 15 in 2:11:32 I was soaked but I walked for 90 secs again and continued on. I felt good and wanted to push the pace. I had followed the 3:50 pace group from the start of the race and would close within a few hundred yards between my walk intervals. I wanted to catch and pass them but wisely told myself to be patient and wait till 20 miles.
I reached mile 20 in 2:55:25 – walked for 60 secs and did a ‘gut’ check. I felt good – I felt confident – I felt cocky – I was going to ‘race’ the final 10Km and pass the 3:50 pace group! I lowered the pace and was within 100 ft of the pace group as we approached mile 22. No WHAM! But I suddenly felt the right calf starting to cramp and recognized that it was going to lock up quickly so I stopped immediately – stretched and walked – and prevented the calf from locking up. It was tight and sore but I avoided the excruciating pain by walking/jogging the next two miles. I was frustrated and upset but consoled myself with the fact that I had avoided another serious problem/injury. Finally at mile 24 the calf relaxed enough that I could continue running at a 9 – min pace and crossed the finish line in 3:53:27!
Although I had not accomplished my goal (to finish w/o another problem/cramp) I was at least pleased that I had still managed to finish under 4 hrs and qualify for Boston for the 25th consecutive year! I later learned that I had finished 2nd/14 runners in my Age Group!
My support team was waiting at the finish line and after a customary finish line photo we returned to the hotel for a quick shower and continued our tour of S. Florida. We stopped in SoBe for lunch to watch the ‘pretty’ people and headed for the Keys. Unfortunately I had forgotten it was President’s weekend and there were no hotel rooms left for under $350 so we stayed in S. Miami and drove down to Marathon Key on Mon morning. Then we drove home through the Everglades.
I am disappointed that the problem with leg cramps persists and I don’t have a clue what to do about it – and neither do the doctors? I think I will try to train/run through the problem for the next few weeks as I prepare to run the Sarasota marathon – my hometown marathon. Unfortunately it does not look like I will be able to defend my Senior Title (unless a miracle happens)? If I suffer the same problem at that race I will go back to the docs and continue the medical tests!
Stay tuned!

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