Race Report: Daytona Beach Half Marathon 2017

I ran the 8th annual Daytona Beach Half Marathon on February 5th. It was my first time running this race, which takes participants from the famous International Speedway to the beach and back through the streets of Daytona Beach.

The race was available as a two-person relay this year and there was a new challenge as well for those who ran both the half marathon and the 5K that followed. The Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet was the beneficiary of the event.

Training & Goals
So far this year I've just been trying to keep up my modest running base for a bunch of upcoming half marathons and 5K races. My main focus remains on weight loss at least through this race season. I do have hopes to run a sub 2:30 half marathon this year.

Race Day: February 5, 2017
I left home early and arrived at the Speedway shortly after 6AM, when packet pickup opened. Signs directed drivers into the speedway where we parked in the middle of the venue on a grass field. I got my t-shirt and bib and then went back to the car to stay warm before race time.

Since the race start and finish was at a major sports venue, there were plenty of public restrooms about for runners to use. I stopped by the WVR tent for a moment and asked a friend to snap my photo before looking around the Speedway a bit. Since I don't have any interest in car racing I would never find myself at this famous place if not for the half marathon. The race track is huge and the venue recently underwent huge refurbishments and I tried to take it all in.

When it was time to get ready to run I found a spot behind the 2:30 pacer. A race car roared past us on the track and then it was finally our turn to run!

It was 55°F at the start with 100% humidity and light winds. It was overcast and remained cloudy for the duration of the race.

Mile 1, 2, 3: 10:49, 10:53, 10:42 | 5K split: 34:11
I wanted to try running about 11 minute miles at least for the first part of the race. I kept checking my watch and slowing myself down. I have a lot of trouble with pacing at this distace -- I guess I need more experience! I did run | walk intervals of 4:30 | :30 from the start. At about mile 1.5 I caught up with the 2:30 pacer and played leapfrog with the group for a while.

These first three miles were almost entirely on the speedway -- it's so big! It was very cool to be running on the race track. There was a water stop at about Mile 1.6 but it was only on one side of the track and I missed it because I didn't see it in time to move all the way over.

Mile 4, 5, 6: 10:48, 10:52, 11:09 | 10K split: 1:08:44
After leaving the speedway we headed out onto the streets of Daytona Beach. Somewhere around here I passed the 2:30 pace group and stayed in front of them for (spoiler) quite a while. Mile 4 was mostly on International Speedway Boulevard before we turned into a neighborhood to continue the route to the beach mostly on Orange Avenue. My Garmin was in perfect synch with the mile markers until we hit M4, when it suddenly showed a surplus of about .2 miles. This threw off my planning a little bit. It was strange.

The water stop after the M4 marker was manned by the Marine Science Center and they even had a character photo op! This stop was also only on one side of the course but the crowd had thinned by this point so I saw it in time (after missing the first one I was a bit concerned about the rest of the race -- no worries). I snapped a quick shot of CC before running on.

Mile 7, 8, 9: 11:42, 11:05, 12:08 | 15K split: 1:46:14
Ugh, Broadway Bridge. These miles took us over the Halifax River for a quick run on the beach and then back over the bridge to head back to the speedway along International Speedway Boulevard. The beach run was comically short. I stopped to snap a few photos and appreciate the turnaround marshal shouting out crazy words of encouragement to everyone running by.

The 2:30 pace group caught up with me on the power walk back up the bridge and I lost them a couple of miles later.

Mile 10, 11, 12: 11:48, 11:43, 12:03
I couldn't get my mo back after the bridge and struggled through this part of the race. I was worried about repeating the disastrous finish I had at Lighthouse Loop but kept pressing on with my intervals, determined to walk only when my watch "told" me to. Someone stuck in traffic around Nova Road (towards the end of M10) was blasting "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones and that gave me a little boost. :) Maybe I should consider listening to music for longer races.

Mile 13+: 12:27, 3:31*
The Speedway was visible for an excruciatingly long time. We entered the venue again with just about .2 left to run before reaching the finish line. I could hear the announcer calling out the names of some finishers ahead of me and then as I passed the first timing mat I heard my name, too! Woo hoo!

I picked up my finisher medal and beach towel (neat!) and sat down with a bottle of water to watch others finish for a while before checking out the breakfast buffet.

I think I may have missed some of the after party spread because I heard there were pancakes but I only found breakfast potatoes (too cheesy and kind of icky), scrambled eggs (tasteless with a strange consistency) and sausages. I loved so much about this race so my disappointment in the food on offer was a bummer. I also couldn't have a beer or five since I was there alone. Sad.

After poking my potatoes and tossing the eggs I checked out the preliminary results board where I was chuffed to see I got a new PR by 40 seconds with a time of 2:31:32. I think sub 2:30 is within reach!

Anyway I was pleased to be feeling fine after the race and headed off to the beach to do a bit of birding before heading home for the rest of the day.

I would definitely run this race again and will consider signing up for the challenge in 2018.

Chip time: 2:31:32 (:40 PR)
Placement details: 58th out of 103 in age group; 773 out of 1205 total finishers
Race Amenities: Tech t-shirt, beach towel, finisher medal, custom race bib with name.
Cost: $75.20 (Black Friday deal)

*I often forget to turn off my Garmin after a race, so the final time is skewed.

Report written February 16, 2017

Professional race photos (c) BB Action Photo

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