Spring Has Sprung…in Florida

Some runners who miss the sunshine in Ohio midwinter go out and find it!  Thank you, Scott Koba-Nelson for sharing your half marathon experience with us!

“Being a NASCAR fan, the advertisement in Runner’s World caught my eye.  A half marathon, from the track, to the beach, and back.  February 17th, hmmm, my 4th grade son’s long weekend from school.  Looking further onto the track’s (Daytona Int’l Speedway) website solved the lodging questions.  A cub scout camp-out in the infield for Friday and Saturday nights was scheduled.  I signed up for the race and made the travel arrangements.  My first out-of-town race here I come.

Right away I noticed the weekly emails from the race organizers.  These were a nice balance of new information concerning the race and fun updates such as which NASCAR drivers had committed to running the race and the organizers were arranging for historic Daytona race cars to be stationed at points along the course.  Upon signing up the packet pick-up location(s) hadn’t been announced yet.  This did concern me some for I wasn’t going to have a lot of flexibility in the weekend’s tight schedule (with the scout event).  I became relieved when one of the weekly emails listed two pick-up locations.  Dick’s Sporting Goods in Orlando on Friday or the DSG across from Daytona Int’l Speedway on Saturday. Perfect.  I would be able to run over (literally) and get it without even using the car.

Despite the weather I was able to fit in some pretty decent (for me) training runs.  Most notably a couple of 8 milers and the Indoor 10K (great event! my first time doing it).  But leading up to the race date I still didn’t feel nearly as ready as I did for my first half marathon this past November.  Saturday before race day I got in a short run along Lake Lloyd and out to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick-up the race packet.  Pick-up went very smooth.  Plenty of volunteers and store personnel to help.  No surprises in the goody bag.  The t-shirt, bib number (with the outline of Florida behind your number-cool!), course map, a information sheet and the two tickets to Sunday’s Daytona 500 Qualifying were included.  Free samples of GU were laid out for you to help yourself.  I’ve never tried it so I grabbed a few as it is something I want to try before my first marathon (Akron, this year).

Race morning was brutal.  Never in my life have I not wanted to get out of bed (or in this case, a sleeping bag) more so than this day.  With the high winds whipping the tent all night and the low in the low 30’s the tent did not maintain any heat.  Knowing that I had to get up and put shorts and t-shirt on was not comforting.  I washed up and made my way back to the tent to wake my son and dad to drag them to the start on pit road.  I made up my bagel with peanut butter the day before.  The peanut butter in the cold weather just about fused the two bagel halves together.  My son wasn’t cooperating which was making us later than I wanted.  We finally headed over arriving at the NASCAR Fanzone area and pit road at about 6:25 (the start was posted 6:30).  We heard announcements that there was quite a traffic jam outside the speedway and they were pushing the start back to 6:45.  Good.  Now I could finish my cranberry juice and have my chocolate pudding.  I shivered so heavily that I had a hard time getting the spoon in the cup.  Soon I had my son take a picture with the start line and grandstands in the background then I went to find my place in the corral.  No assigned spots, but they did have signs posted suggesting pace/mile.  I found a spot in the 8:00 section and waited.  Shortly we got our speech from the race director and some thank you’s and shout out’s to the NASCAR drivers in attendance.  I didn’t really pay attention if we were off with a gun, whistle, horn, etc.  Soon fireworks went off, we surged forward, and I thought “wow, pretty cool.”

The first 2 miles was basically a lap around the speedway.  It was a sight to run next to the high-banked corners of the track.  It kind of felt like running next to a wall of asphalt, four stories tall, with a chain-link fence at the top leaning out towards you.  On the backstretch at just past the mile mark I passed NASCAR driver and funnyman Michael Waltrip.  As I ran by below the white line he “scolded” me for passing below the line.  NASCAR humor.

Mile marker 3 came up pretty quick outside the track.  With the first 2+ miles in the excitement of the speedway I was loving this course.  At this point we were on Int’l Speedway Blvd heading straight for the famed beach.  A few antique race cars and NASCAR/Daytona trivia on placards were scattered throughout the course.  A high school band was outside their school (the NBA’s Vince Carter’s alma mater) and a DJ was playing tunes and pumping up the runners just before (and just after) the bridge over the intercoastal waterway.  This was the course’s only real hill.  I never found out the elevation for my Garmin came up dead upon arriving at home.  With us camping in the cold weather and no place to charge it for the weekend it didn’t have enough juice to make it.  Darn!

After the bridge it was just a short block or two until we reached the beach.  Emails leading up to the event indicated we would run on a mat on the beach (for about a block) so as not to get sand in our shoes and help with firmer footing.  There wasn’t any mat but the beach was part of the stretch where you can drive on.  Some of my potholed and patched roads in my neighborhood are less firm than this sand they had us on.  Here is where they had a Fabulous Hudson Hornet car from NASCAR’s early days parked on display.  Upon coming home and reading my emails, the day before the race email stated weather conditions had cooperated and the mat on the beach wasn’t going to be necessary.

On the way back to the speedway the course shared the bridge but winded through the neighborhood a bit before popping back onto Int’l Speedway Blvd just a mile or so from our entrance back into the track.  We entered the facilty and then had to turn right to run maybe the last tenth of a mile to the finish on the track’s start/finish line.  You were handed your medal on one side and water on the other.  Then directed shortly after for the photo opportunity in front of the finisher banner.  My eyes were closed in both shots they took-bummer.

The course had eight water and PowerAde stops, of course utilizing some twice with the general out and back nature of the layout.  Four of them had restrooms and medical personnel as well.  I didn’t pay attention if they were port-o-potties or regular facilities (they could’ve been for we were in a commercial area for the most part).  They did a great job in blocking the side roads and gave us at least two lanes to run on .  This had to be a logistical challenge with the other NASCAR events that weekend (and that very afternoon) taking place.  The traffic near the speedway wasn’t too bad.  I did notice some motorists near the beach and the intersection of US 1 getting mouthy with officers though.  Uh oh.  I did thank officers that I passed within speaking (gasping) distance.

After exiting the chute heading back to pit road and the Fanzone area I came up to a EZ-Up tent with a small crowd.  Results were updating live and streaming/scrolling on a huge computer monitor.  I walked up and focused just as my age group was next.  1:46:44 gun, 1:46:35 chip.  Not too bad, I was pleased.  Inside the Fanzone they were very organized.  The directors and sponsors had done a great job.  Most of the food sponsors had EZ-Up tents with their logos on them so they were easily spotted.  Krispy Kreme (donuts), Pizza Hut (pizza), Hooters (boneless wings and grilled chicken sandwiches), Coca-Cola and water, bananas, oranges, bagels and three kinds of club sandwiches were all to be found.  Massages were available and tempting.  With the cold (for Florida) morning and the brisk wind the hot food (pizza, wings) wasn’t staying warm barely and the glaze on the Krispy Kremes was so cold they weren’t messy at all.  It was funny watching people grimace as they had the bottled water (and Coke) stored in large bucket coolers of ice water.  Throughout the morning, even for those finishers who weren’t the most fleet of foot we noticed they had plenty of food.  Nothing seemed to have run out except maybe regular Coke.  We hung around for the start of the awards in Gatorade Victory Lane.  With Victory Lane being fully in the shade and the wind whipping through the area we didn’t stay long.  We saw the overall women and men top 3, the first age group or two then gave up.  A shower, jeans, sweatshirt and a winter coat were calling.

Looking back I really enjoyed my first out-of-town race.  Although I do not think I would choose this far “out-of-town” again, at least on such a short turn around.  The only full day we were there was Saturday with driving there or back on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday.  I’m getting a little old for that.  (I’m already eyeing a lot closer half for next year, May in Indy, the course runs around the track there too).  Through the race website I’ve noticed other runners have blogged or posted fun pictures taken along the course.  For example climbing the high banks at the speedway, with the antique cars along the course or antics on the beach portion.  I think if I ever decide to run a Disney race I will have to change my mindset at least for the event.  I am a little jealous of their fun pictures, for it’s not like I set a PR or was even close to placing in my age group.”

-Thank you for reading,

Scott Koba-Nelson

Daytona Half 3

daytona half 5

daytona half 6

Daytona Half 4

FERC Updates:

  • If you are interested in submitting an article for the FERC blog.  Please email your article to Jamie Gilbert at jmglbrt@gmail.com.  You can also subscribe to get automatic updates.
  • Don’t forget to send in your race results!  Email them to jmglbrt@gmail.com to be published on our FERC blog.
  • Our next meeting is on March 20th.  Meet at 6:00pm in front of Birchard Public Library in Fremont, Ohio for a group run and at 6:45 pm in the conference room at the library for the meeting.  Pizza and drinks are provided.  We will run toward Park Ave. to get on the bike trail toward Clyde.
  • It isn’t too late to submit a FERC membership form/waiver.  Please join the active member list by filling out the form to mail or bring to our March meeting.  This covers our club members under the RRCA insurance if injured at a club sponsored event.  http://fremonteliterunnersclub.com/Forms/FERC_Membership.pdf
  • Upcoming races include: MELT THE ICE 5K on March 23rd, 2013 (Fremont, Ohio) http://fremonteliterunnersclub.com/Races/Melt_The_Ice_5k.pdf, April 13th, 2013 is the “Race for Grace”, April 20th, 2013 is the 5K Challenge Course at Walsh Park in Fremont.
  • Good luck to all those participating in upcoming half marathon and marathon events: Martian Marathon, Boston Marathon, Glass City Marathon, Cleveland Marathon, and Capital City Half Marathon.

Motivation Tips for March:

  • As you know there are many reasons why I run, but perhaps one of the finest is the community that running manifests. Celebrate your community, any chance you get. —Kristin Armstrong, South Meets West, Mile Markers blog, Runner’s World.com
  • With the spring road racing season starting, get out and enjoy the running community.  What is your favorite race to kick off spring?

Nutrition Tips for March:

  • Hydration should be a runner’s #1 nutrition concern!  Most people are chronically dehydrated, which leaves us feeling fatigued, inflamed, and sick.  Good, old-fashioned H2O helps a person feel energized, keeps the cells healthy, moves the gunk out of the body, and keeps the muscles stretchy.
  • Not only does the body need plenty of fresh water, but electrolytes as well.  Lately I have been using Nuun tablets to help keep my electrolytes balanced.  Here’s a great article about Kara Goucher’s hydration recommendations http://innovationforendurance.msn.com/articles/detail/running/256393659
  • Vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier is my favorite nutrition guru.  Check out this link for his science based hydration advice http://myvega.com/blog/2012/hydration-101

One response to “Spring Has Sprung…in Florida

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