Cameron and I had decided in November that we were going to sign up for the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon that would be happening on Feb 15, 2015. We had known about this race for a while mostly due to the popularity of their awesome medal design for the past few years, but we didn’t actually sign up until we saw the medal design. It was amazing and it called for a long weekend trip to Ft. Lauderdale, and it didn’t hurt that it was over Valentine’s Day weekend either.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday evening and checked into our hotel for the night. On Saturday we went to the expo which we were very pleasantly surprised with, and would compare it to the Disney expo we attended in November. The expo was held in the Convention Center and was very nice with a lot of vendors and food samples as well, and we all know you can’t go wrong when food samples are involved.
We proceeded to pick up our bibs and t-shirts and browse around for a little bit before heading to lunch and to do a little shopping and exploring the area. That night we had an early dinner and relaxed before dozing off to sleep for the early 4am wakeup call.
Sunday morning we woke up around 4 and surprisingly we both slept pretty well that night. We had planned out our running outfits the day before so we quickly got dressed and were out the door to head to the bus pickup. Since we were staying at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 we decided to just do warm up jog to where the busses would be located at the finish line to pick us up and take us to the start. By the time we arrived to the busses it was around 4:50 AM and there was a line but we only ended up waiting 5-10 minutes before getting on a bus and heading to the start. Traffic on the way was a little heavy and I heard plenty of complaints with the parking near the start so I was glad we chose to take the bus.
Since we arrived rather early to the start line we walked around a little bit trying to stay warm before we found a make shift heat source from one of the lights. There were already a handful of other runners gathered around but we decided it wouldn’t hurt to stand around and keep warm for a little bit. We finally made our way to the start line and settled in between the 2:45 and 3:00 group. We knew coming into this race that our time wouldn’t be anything special considering we had a minimum of 1-2 short runs of training before heading down for the race, but we decided to just see what we could do and take it easy.
The first mile was down Las Olas Blvd. which was is home to several cute shops and restaurants. Cameron and I were both feeling pretty good and hadn’t needed to use our interval timer yet so we decided not to use it unless we really needed it. The second mile Cameron’s knee decided it was going to act up so we slowed our pace down some and decided to have a few walk breaks. Which was fine with me since I knew I would be needing this stored energy later in the race.
At this point it was still dark out but the sun was starting to rise in the distance just around the time we hit the drawbridge before reaching the A1A. We turned left onto the A1A a little before reaching mile 3 and just in time to grab a few pretty pictures of the sun rising along the ocean.
Mile 3 was spent running up the A1A which is a gorgeous run, hotels on one side and beautiful beach on the other, what more could you ask for. By the time we hit mile 4 I was really starting to re think this running without training ordeal we keep doing and I was almost certain I wasn’t going to be able to finish. At mile 4 we turned left to head up towards the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park which was a pretty change of scenery to run through, however it was very narrow in some spots.
We spent miles 5 & 6 running through the State Park which was ok and a break from the rising sun but I wish it were a little wider. Around mile 6 1/2 we exited the park and headed back up the A1A where we stayed until mile 8 1/2 when we split from the marathoners. We turned around at the Galt Ocean Mile and continued back the way we came on the A1A. The area of the A1A past the park was a little narrow due to construction however it was manageable since the crowd had thinned out a little.
Miles 10-13 were a bit of a blur. By this point I was doing everything I could just to keep going and surprisingly I wasn’t doing as bad as I thought after looking at my split times. Once we turned the corner to the South Beach Park I knew we were almost there and I couldn’t wait to be done. Cameron and I had run the area the day before so we had planned out exactly where we were going to start kicking it to get to the finish line. I’m not sure where the extra energy came from but the last .1 we ran at a 9:40 pace and we finished in 2:50:38. Not our best but somehow not our worst either so I’ll take it, especially for not training.
We received our awesome medals and made our way to the refreshments; chocolate milk and water. And yes we were both skeptical of chocolate milk after running 13 miles but it was amazing and I hope all races start offering it. After gaining back some energy we made our way to the giant sand sculpture shaped like the medal for our finisher’s picture, and on our way to the beach, we ran into my coworker and decided to take a quick photo.
We passed tons of food along the way but we just wanted to sit down and catch our breath for a few. We decided we would bypass the food and beer and just headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and go get some real food at Primanti Brothers which we passed during the run and were excited to see.
We spent the rest of our trip relaxing and being typical tourists as neither one of us had been there before. And now that we are home and look back on the race we aren’t sure if we will come back and do the race again or not. We loved the race and the bling itself, however it is very expensive to spend the long weekend in Fort Lauderdale and we would definitely need to do a little more planning ahead of time if we decide to go back.
Have you run the A1A half marathon in the past? If so what did you love about it? Would you do it again? Or are you someone who is thinking about doing the run but aren’t sure yet. What is holding you back?