As I sit here dreading heading out to shovel the walkway and driveway, now seems like a good time to reminisce about last week’s Key West Half-Marathon. Mrs. Running Griffin and I headed down to Key West with a squad from the Thirsty Irish Runners and made a little long weekend for ourselves that included plenty of things contradictory to running a half-marathon like copious amounts of fresh seafood, brewery tours, watching the Patriots win their way to the AFC Championship and a night of karaoke that no one will soon forget!
The day before the race we headed over to the starting line area where race numbers could be picked up. There was a small race expo with a couple of vendors present and the bib pickup was nice and efficient. Everyone had their eyes on the weather as a rather bad storm was set to hit Key West the night before the race into race morning and with a 7AM race start knowing the conditions was critical to planning.
Race morning arrived and upon waking up you could hear the rain absolutely pouring down and the wind was nothing short of fierce. The local news channels had their eye on the storm and a tornado warning was in effect with tornadoes actually touching down in another part of Florida. The race organizers wisely decided to delay the start of the race by one hour. We purchased disposable ponchos the night before the race and after gearing up made our walk about a quarter-mile to the starting line in driving wind but far less rain.
While at the starting line, the rain continued to lighten up but the wind was still quite strong. The race started promptly at 8AM and runners were off into the streets of Key West for the half-marathon. The course took runners first down the iconic Duvall Street and past several of our favorite haunts from the nights leading up to the race. One of the highlights of the run was passing the Southernmost Point marker, which we ran to the day before the run during our shake-out run. Several runners stopped to take a photo here during the race.
The conditions for the race were a challenge to say the least. The course itself was pancake flat but the storm before the race added some interesting complexities into the race. The rain left a whole lot of water on the roads as Key West is not known for its stellar drainage systems. During the first half of the run as runners made their way past the ocean, the road was covered with remnants of the sea swelling over the sea wall so running on top of thick sea weed and dodging jellyfish was a new running challenge I have never experienced before. I’ve run past my fair share of squished squirrels, but jellyfish?
You could tell for the first half of this out-and-back race that the wind was at your back but perhaps it was deceiving how much that may have been true. Once turning around at the half-way cone, it immediately became clear how bad the wind really was. The headwind was a force to be reckoned with and with the wind blowing 50-60 MPH head-on, there were times where you expended a whole lot of energy trying to move forward but the legs just would not move. I tried drafting in the middle of a group of runners, no luck. I found a bigger guy to run behind, no luck. If anyone tells you they met their pace goal on this run, they are probably lying. Mrs. Running Griffin noted that in the second half of her run the wind blew a palm tree branch into a transformer causing it to blow and catch on fire.
Aside from the burning legs challenged by the winds, I felt pretty good while running the Key West Half-Marathon. The conditions made things quite difficult running-wise but the course was a great course and the group of running friends couldn’t have been better. I finished the Key West Half-Marathon with a time of 2:00:39, good for 9:13/miles. Not a bad end time given the adverse conditions caused from both the weather and a night of good karaoke.
The race ended immediately in front of Waterfront Brewery and they were sponsoring runner specials of $3/drafts for any of their brews. If you are traveling to Key West you must check out this great brewery featuring some really good microbrews served fresh overlooking the ocean.