The Daytona Beach Half Marathon and 3.1 Mile Lap the Track came across my radar a few years ago, when I saw the event being promoted at a booth at an expo. I thought it sounded really fun and unique (that whole running on a NASCAR racetrack thing), the bling was pretty awesome, and the theming was cool.
For a host of reasons, scheduling never really worked out, until this year. Mr PugRunner wanted to do a 5K as a family, heralding his return to running (yay!), but the one he chose was the same day as little man’s Pinewood Derby.
I was more than happy to save the day by announcing that the 3.1 Mile Lap the Track event was the day after Pinewood Derby, only an hour away, and not super early… wouldn’t it be perfect????
And so we registered.
Since we didn’t want to make two trips to Daytona, we elected to pick up our packets on race morning. Even though the 5K didn’t start until 10:30 AM (there was a half marathon that started at 7:30, with the 5K immediately following for those who wanted to run both the races for a Speedway Challenge), we agreed to arrive around 9:15, in case of traffic and parking. I was also hoping to meet up with Jaime to run some miles with her as she completed her half that morning.
We hit no traffic and were directed to a spot in the infield. Packet pickup was easy as pie (the only “problem” was that they were out of shirts for little man and gave him a choice of a larger size of the cotton shirt, or the correct size of the tech challenge shirt).
We pinned on our bibs and I set out to try to find the end of the half marathon route while the boys hung out at the finish line to cheer.
I ran about two miles through the infield of the Daytona Speedway, before realizing there was pretty much no way out for me. I texted Jaime to let her know that I was stuck, before rejoining the guys.
We wandered around a little to shake out our legs, even climbing to the top of the racetrack. I had no clue how steep it was!
And then it was time to go.
Little man kept saying he wanted to run ahead, so I told Mr PugRunner that I would stay with him. I wanted him to focus on his own race without worrying about his knee.
And then we were off.
It was REALLY cool to lap that track. Most of the 5K took place right there on the Speedway, with maybe 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile as an out-and-back loop outside the track. It wasn’t necessarily interesting, but it was unique and fun.
But back to little man. Traditionally, he starts his runs very strong with great enthusiasm, and then fizzles out quickly. There are a few 5Ks he’s asked to do, only to have us get to the day of the race and insist he really didn’t want to do it, which doesn’t make for a fun time for anyone. I don’t ever want to push him, but it’s a fine line between providing encouragement, honoring commitments and keeping patience.
He sprinted out hard, and I kept him in sight. In his runs with us and at school’s run club, he knows run/walk intervals, and we had talked about running until the crowd thinned out a bit. I just followed his lead until he slowed, and then I suggested we run a little, then walk a little. We fell pretty quickly into a groove, and we went about two miles enjoying the event, which was unprecedented for him.
In the last mile, he started a bit of complaining. He had a side stitch, and those can be completely uncomfortable. That being said, we didn’t break our intervals, and kept pushing forward. Usually, when he’s had enough, he slows down to a crawl, but this time, he kept going. I confided to him that my foot was hurting me, but I wasn’t complaining. He asked me why I was still running and I explained because I wanted to, because I wanted to finish this race for myself and for him, and because I can run when so many people can’t. That running can and does hurt sometimes, but it makes us strong, too. That we had a choice to let the discomfort drag us down or we could choose to dig deep and finish this thing.
I don’t know if he was entirely convinced, but he did stop the negativity and we reentered the track for the finish. At that point, things got fun. I kept him running to the pre-finish photographers, and then I leaned super close to him and said “let’s beat all these people to the finish.”
He couldn’t resist taking off.
This kid? He PR’d by five whole minutes!!!!
And Mr PugRunner finished strong, too!
We collected our bling and found Jaime. I was so happy to give her a huge hug. And then we started making plans for next year’s race.
Post-race offered free beer for runners and there were concessions and food trucks available as well. We opted to take the short drive to Red Robin for burgers, instead.
I loved this race. It was well-organized and well-executed. Volunteers and staff played into the theme wearing pit crew jumpsuits and everyone was very friendly and helpful. Everything from the bibs to the shirts and medals was excellent quality, and I loved that half marathoners also got a beach towel, and challenge finishers got an extra medal and a jacket.
I am fairly sure that next year, Jaime and I are going to take on the Relay Challenge. Neither one of us is up for a February half, but it would be fun to get some more of the Daytona sights on our run.
This was the perfect family race!
Have you ever run on a Speedway?
What’s the most unique venue you’ve ever raced?