Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Race Recap: USA Beach Running Championships

This past weekend was Mother's Day, and I had the pleasure of kicking off the special day with a great event in Cocoa Beach, then coming home to spend the day with the special little people who made me a mom.  I wanted to take a moment to recap this event and share my own experience from the race.
USA Beach Running Championships
I first heard about this event through my Mom's Run This Town chapter.  One of our moms posted a picture of the medal several months ago asking if any of us would be interested in participating with her.  After seeing the beautiful sand dollar medal, I immediately jumped online to sign up.  They offered two distances, a half marathon (13.1 miles) and a 10k (6.2 miles).  Now, typically I am a huge fan of half marathons and figured I would sign up for that distance.  However, despite running several off road events, I wasn't quite sure if I would be up for the whole 13.1 on the beach.  I knew the terrain would be a bit of a challenge but honestly, my biggest concern with the half marathon was my attention span, or lack thereof, hehe.  I feared that I the out and back shore line course would quickly become daunting, and so I went ahead and signed up for the 10k.  I am grateful I made that decision for multiple reasons I will get to soon.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I suffered from some serious allergies and a sinus infection.  I thought I finally kicked the sinus issues until about 3 days before the race when I began to feel bad again.  The night before the race I felt horrible and even considered not running.  But I figured I could still go and just do the best I can.  Cocoa Beach is about an hour and twenty minutes from Altamonte Springs, so I had to wake up around 4:30am and hit to hit the road by 5am.  Other than several dollars in tolls, the ride was relatively easy and quick and I arrived with enough time to pick up my packet, use the ladies room and even see the sunrise!  Fortunately, a member of MRTT had picked up my packet for me the Friday before, but from the looks of it, packet pick up seemed to be quick and easy.  There were quite a few port-a-potties as well as indoor restroom facilities, so the typical insanely long pre-race bathroom lines were actually not too bad!

Pre-Race Sunrise on Cocoa Beach
The half marathoners were the first to go out around 6:40am.  The sun was well on it's way up so the air was really starting to warm up by the time us 10k'ers make our way to the start line.  I headed up to the front as I usually do, even though I figured this one would be a rough one for me because of my sinus/allergy issues, I still hoped to hang with the front of the pack.  Upbeat music played over the speakers while we waiting for them to set the clock.  It took several minutes for them to get it going but we were soon heading out.  As I expected, the course was flat straight ahead but we were at a bit of a slant on the shoreline.  Runners were asked to stay to the right and for the most part, everyone did so.  The first water stop was shortly after the first mile mark.  They had asked us not to litter on the beach, but with only one trash bag right next to the stop, that seemed to be difficult for many of the runners who wanted to quickly drink and keep running.  Maybe placing a bag or two a several yards down would help eliminate that issues.  The second water stop was at the 5k turn around.

On the run back, the sun was fully up and the temperature had significantly increased.  The ocean breeze helped a little but the sun was really hot on our shoulders.  Since the beach cannot be closed off, having to dodge a few beach combers and fishing polls was slightly annoying but not too terrible.  The course was well marked, so even though it was difficult to see the finish line down the beach, the markers helped keep us aware how much distance we had left.

The finish line was lined with large, beautiful conch shells.  Several spectators lined the finish line and were cheering very excitedly for us runners.  As soon as I crossed the finish line at a little over 47 minutes (unfortunately not a PR but I didn't expect one that day) I received not only my big sand dollar medal but also a lay!  There was, however, not water at the finish line which was a little disappointing.  I had to walk about 20 yards up sugar soft sand to get a small cup of water.  But where the water was located was also donuts, coffee, OJ and even mimosas.

My girl Meagan and I right after the race
Many of my friends from MRTT were crossing the finish line at this time so I went back down there to cheer them on and meet up with them to recap the race.  They all enjoyed the race too but agreed the sand and sun made it a difficult one for them.  Like me, they all were grateful to have only done the 10k.  We took a few pictures there at the water and then we headed up to the post race festivities.  We enjoyed the mimosas and brunch they had available for the runners and the live Calypso music continued to offer a great beach vibe.
Some of my MRTT ladies and I enjoying the post-race mimosas
They got to the awards pretty quickly after races were complete.  Despite my sinus/allergy issues, I still managed to be the 3rd female to finish and place first in my division.  They only awarded the top male and female finisher but did go 3 deep in each division.  I received a large, beautiful clear plaque as my award for placing first in female 30-34, so I was pretty excited about that.  One of our MRTT mama's sons actually placed in his division so of course we had to get a picture together!
I placed 1st in my division
John, my MRTT mama's son, and I posing with our awards
So, To Sum It All Up...

Running on the beach was harder as well as easier than I had anticipated.  I wasn't sure how much if any of the course would be on the soft sand so I was preparing myself for some ultra challenging terrain.  Fortunately, no part of the course went on that part of the beach.  Though the area where we ran was hard packed sand, it was wet from the tide making it sponge-y and sunction-y.  I'm aware neither of those two descriptions are actual words but that is the best way I can describe it and I did feel like it had a part in my slower pace.  Also, even though it was straight and flat, the beach does decline towards the water so we were running on a bit of a slat on the way out.  Luckily it was much flatter on the way back since we were much closer to the water.  Since you're on the beach, there is absolutely NO shade whatsoever, so it did get hot quick, but like I said, the breeze did help some.

Pros: It's a well organized and put on event.  The medals and awards are super.  Beautiful scenery, who doesn't love the beach!?!  Awesome post race party.  Quick turn around from race to awards.  Great event for Mother's Day!

Cons: Beach running is tough, lol.  No shade made it a scorcher.  Starts early, so it's a loooong day for those of us with a drive.  Ugly race shirt (it's like mint chocolate or nursing home green).  Needs to have water at finish line.  No race photographer.  As event grows, consider giving overall awards three deep as opposed to just first place.

All in all it was a great event and myself and several of my buddies want to do it again.  Next year, I think I would prefer making a little vacay out of the event, staying at least the night before if not two nights, so I do not have to do the hour plus drive there and back that day.  If anything though, I would definitely like to have my family there next year, I know my husband and kids would have enjoyed watching me cross the finish line for this one.  And it would have been great to have my very own cheering section during awards, especially since it was Mother's Day!

Mother's Day fun!
Oh, and in case if anyone was wondering about the rest of my Mother's Day, it was great spending a relaxing afternoon at the pool with my husband and two precious boys.  And as far as my sinus/allergies go, I finally went to the doctor the day after the race and was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, sinus infection and allergies.  I was given 3 medications and as of today (Wednesday) I'm finally starting to feel a little better!

Let's hope this medicine and rest helps, I'm so over being sick because it's interfering my running!!!

For more information on the USA Beach Running Championships, visit their website at  I highly recommend checking this event out next year, you won't regret it!!!

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