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Southernmost Half Marathon in Key West

Posted Oct 15 2013 6:30pm
The inaugural Southernmost Marathon and Half Marathon took close to 600 runners along a sunny and Southern course in Key West, Florida on October 12, 2013.
I ran the half marathon as part of my sister-in-law, Kelsey's bachelorette party.  Who runs as part of a bachelorette?  These girls!  Although I will say that not everyone was thrilled about the 5am wake up call!
The night before the race I took a walk to The Rum Barrel on Front St. in Key West to pick up my race packet.  Since this was a smaller race it was a very fast packet pickup and I was in and out and ready to go.
I liked the the race gave us a cute shirt and hat as part of our swag.  That shirts, however ran very small and mine is a mid-drift.
The night before the race I opted to avoid all the indulgences of Key West and had a simple chicken, spinach, and potato dinner at Only Wood on Duval St.
The SoMo marathon had both a half and full marathon.  The full started at 6:30 and the half started at 6:45.  We jogged the 0.8 mile from our hotel to the start and by the time I reached the port-o-potties I was drenched in sweat.  Apparently the cool fall mornings that just appeared in Orlando, didn't make it down to the Keys yet.  I made the decision to run in my sports bra, stop at every water stop, and right then I knew it was going to be hot.
The race started right on time and we headed through Old Town Key West and through Taylor park and the Truman Annex.  Since  I am technically in the midst of marathon training, I didn't have a firm goal going into this race.  Prior to my foot injury I felt like a big PR was possible with how my training was going.  I knew I wanted to go sub-2, but I also would have liked to finish with a sub-9 pace and in a dream world around 1:55.  Since I know I do best with negative splits I decided to keep my first 4 miles between 9:05- 9:15 and drop down from there.
Mile 1- 9:07
Mile 2- 9:04
Mile 3- 9:20
Mile 4 - 9:00

Around mile 3 we came upon the Southernmost Point in the US marker.  I wanted to stop for a photo, but Kelsey told me to keep running.  Why was the speedy Kelsey behind me?  She is recovering from a bad hamstring injury and decided not to race.  After the monument, the route curved along the ocean and we headed out to our turnaround at mile 7.5.  The sun was in front of us and starting to rise up. It made for some beautiful views.
Mile 5- 9:10
Mile 6 - 8:53
Mile 7 - 9:05

At this point I tried to pick up my pace to a sub-9.  It felt like it was taking more energy than it usually does, but I kept moving optimistically. At mile 7.5 we turned around and had a long 3 mile trek back across the sunny beach road.  I mean sunny. No shade or breeze to be had.  I kept looking at my watch and noticing that I was now running around 9:30 with the same amount of effort that I had just used to run 8:50.  I stopped at every water stop, but each one only had water.  I was dying for Gatorade.  There was none to be found.  I had my final Clif gel at mile 8 and hoped for the best.
Mile 8 - 8:54
Mile 9 - 9:15

By the time the mile 10 marker came into sight I knew I was facing a tough battle.  I had the tell-tale goosebumps of heat and dehydration appearing on my arms and I knew that negative splits weren't going to happen.  I pushed to the Mile 10 marker and decided that I would do a run-walk strategy to the end and enjoy myself.  Dehydration does not make a good bachelorette party guest.  For mile 10 did a 4 minute run, 30 second walk strategy.

Mile 10 - 9:42

When I got to the second to last water stop and there were no sports drink options I knew I was toast. It was hot and I was tired.  I moved to a 2 minute run and 30 second walk strategy.  Looking back it's interesting to note that I maintained about a 9:30 pace here (minus water stop) even with the walk breaks.  I may have to keep that in mind for my marathon.

Mile 11 - 9:50

Miles 12-13 were not my friend.  It was hot, I knew I wasn't going to have a great time, and that I was most likely going to run over 2 hours.  I was still deep inside happy to have the ability to run in such a beautiful place, but I wasn't pleased with how the race was finishing.  I stopped to take a pic on the way back at the Southernmost marker and lost about a minute of time there.
Mile 12 - 10:11
Mile 13 - 9:42

The final mile brought us back into Old Key West to end on Front St.  I'm sad to say that there was NO crowd support.  I was looking forward to that crowd push on my final half mile and it just wasn't there.  It was a smaller race, so I ran most of it alone. I needed some crowd love.  There were roosters on out on the course, but none of them brought cow bells.
I had some fun coming into the finish and attempted the "airplane" finish.  I look like a dweeb and I will stick to my usual "stare at Garmin" finish.
Half Marathon #11 - Southernmost Half Marathon - 2:03:07 - 9:25 pace
I love the design and the medal and ribbon.  They got the sun part right! :)
Congrats to bridesmaid Emily who finished 4th overall and 2nd in her age group.
If you are looking for a beautiful, scenic, flat course that makes for a perfect destination race then I recommend SoMo .  Be aware that's it's Florida, in October, and it's hot.  I don't know how those full marathoners did it.  This was the first year of the race, so I'm sure all the little issues we had will be resolved and the race will be bigger and better.


Final thoughts, it was a beautiful but hot as heck course.  I didn't think the payoff of dehydration was worth pushing to the finish and I feel bummed about my time.  I'm also doubting my marathon training...yup...the running demons have me.  I LOVE to run.  I LOVE to train, but I don't love to race.  I'm still not down with the pain.  Any suggestions?

Thank you so much to Liz and Bill with Somo for bringing us down to Key West and letting us run this race!

What's the most scenic race you have completed?
What's your bucketlist race?

Love and UV rays,
Carissa & Kyle
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