Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
On December 2, 2012, I ran the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon in Hollywood, Florida. I had an excellent race, met my goal and set a new PR. The race itself had some issues, but for a small inaugural race, not too bad. I'll break this blog down into a race recap and a lessons learned section.
- Price was excellent. I think I paid $30 in early registration. They offered many half-price deals and $ off coupon codes. But you do get what you pay for.
- Communication was a little sketchy. Ok, a lot sketchy. Both the website and the race facebook page featured lots of info about the big sister race in Hollywood, California. I had trouble finding details on the Florida race. Five days before the race, we finally received our final instructions email with packet pick-up, parking and course details.
- Packet pick-up was small, but they did have a vendor selling clothing and jewelry, but no Bodyglide, gels, etc.
- Race morning parking-- truly a disaster. Parking was advertised at the small park where the start was being held. I knew ahead of time that the park would not hold 1500 cars (the total number of racers), so I planned to park on the street nearby. Parking in the park lot was so backed up they had to delay the race start by about 15 minutes.
- Restrooms were a problem. The park had a restroom and the race provided a few port-a-potties, but lines were looong.
- Course-- the course was really beautiful. We ran the first and final mile and a half (or so) along the beach. For me there were mile markers for each mile except for miles 12 and 13 (although my friend who was about 25 minutes behind me said that the last mile marker she saw on the course was mile 5). There were no time clocks, and the water only stops were set up every 2 miles.
- Finish-- the medal is super cool. But there wasn't a red carpet finish line (not a big deal for me), and the only food at the finish was bananas cut into halves and cups of water.
- Speed work pays off. For each race I've done, I've followed a training plan with speed work included. However, I've always seemed to find excuses to only do fartleks or tempo runs for speed. And I thought I always loved the speed workouts. Sometime in the middle of the summer I decided that if I ever want to progress beyond the middle of the pack, I'm going to have to quit being a baby and put in some real speed work. For this race, I did 2 speed sessions a week. Early in training I did one run with a weighted pack (preparing for GRC) and one interval type run. Later in training I was running one tempo and one track-type workout (mile repeats, intervals, etc). AND I was really pushing myself. Speed workouts are no longer fun. I was able to better last year's half PR by 7 minutes to finish the race in 1:50:54.
- Know your race. As I mentioned, this was an inaugural race, so I set my expectations low. I basically didn't believe anything the race organizers said. I made my own plan for parking, and I carried my own disposable water bottle, just in case there wasn't any on the course. I had my Timex Ironman watch and was timing my own splits. If you are a beginning runner and want a great race experience, spend some money and do a large race. If you are a little reckless and daring, gamble on a 1st year race, but be prepared for worst case scenarios.