I’d never been to the Florida Keys and always wanted to go, so when I saw this new half marathon I jumped at the chance. It fit in perfectly with my plan (since abandoned) to run at least one race in Florida every winter. The race was fine overall, but for me personally it was a bit of a disaster. I started out fine, but just a couple miles into the race a nagging pain began in my left Achilles. It got progressively worse throughout the remainder of the race and I struggled just to finish the race, ending up with my slowest half marathon since my very first one back in 2008 (except for one where I was pacing someone else).
This was a first-year race and there were some things that could definitely be improved on in the future. The biggest drawback I can think of is the lack of photos. It’s a beautiful setting but there were no race pics available for sale or otherwise. Also, there were awards for the top 2 (two) finishers in each age group. The “awards” were more like items like socks, water bottles, etc., sitting on a table that you could choose from if you were an age group winner. I knew in advance there wouldn’t be an awards ceremony because I had read this on their website:
“Please note we will NOT have an award ceremony. We feel those are boring and hurt the post race party atmosphere. After all, you’re in the Florida Keys and will have just completed an awesome event. We feel it would be wrong of us to pause the celebration.”
That’s a little odd, and a decision they should reconsider in the future. It’s not so much the award itself that runners want, but the moment when they’re recognized as being at the top of their age group. A lot of competitive runners like that sort of thing.
Another issue is that as I write this, 10 days after the race, the official website still doesn’t have a link to the results. I was able to find them through the Facebook page, but not everybody knows to look there.
It was hard to enjoy the beauty of the Florida Keys with my aches and pains, and after the race I limped back over the bridge where I parked, at least a half mile back to my car. I don’t mind so much that it wasn’t a great race experience — that’s not uncommon when you race a lot — but I’m a little scared that at my age I might have an injury that I can’t overcome. As I write this it’s been about 10 days since the race. I limped around for a week, then over the past three days I’ve been able to slowly jog a total of 3 miles without a lot of pain, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to where I was previously over the next couple months.
Except for the injury, the trip to Florida was great. Linda and I drove down to Key West and spent one day and we stayed at a great place in Florida City, which is just Southwest of Miami and at the entrance to the Keys. We wanted to take one day just to explore the Everglades but we waited too late and on our last day there it was raining, so we spent a couple hours there under an umbrella as we explored one of the boardwalks that ran through the edge of the park.
I love the warm Florida weather and Linda agreed that we could go back every winter for a race, but as I get older all of the traveling isn’t as much fun, so for now just staying home and running local races (if I’m able to) sounds more satisfying and it’s also cheaper, so I’m looking forward to being able to run again with my local running friends.
I’ve still got quite a few races scheduled but I think the 16 half marathons I ran in 2015 were probably way too many, so I’ll definitely be cutting most of them out for 2016. Right now I’m hoping to just be able to run a 5k before too long, and that will depend on how much the Achilles improves.
Race Number: 319
Race Name: Islamorada Half Marathon & 10k
Location: Islamorada, Florida
Date: December 13, 2015
Race Rating: 81
Course: Out-and-back on the Overseas Highway (US Hwy 1), partly on the road itself and partly on the walking/biking path on the side of the road. Miles 11 and 12 were on the old highway that is now a side road. The course was flat except going up the bridges, and the wind on the way back when on the bridges was probably 20-30 mph.
- Elevation Gain: 14 feet
- Elevation Loss: 14 feet
- Minimum Elevation: 0 feet
- Maximum Elevation: 10 feet
Weather at Start: 75 degrees; 89% humidity; 9 mph E wind gusting to maybe 20-30 mph on bridges.
- Time: 1:51:59
- Pace: 8:32
- Age Group: 1 of 3
- Overall: 24 of 297
- Average Heart Rate: 168
- Maximum Heart Race: 176
- Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:29:02 (65.58%)
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
8 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes
0 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
4 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
4 – Design: (1-5)
2 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes
0 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)