Last year, the boys and I tried something new: the Lap the Track 5K at the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. We had such a great time that I got it in my head to go back for the half marathon.
When my friend J registered, I told Mr PugRunner how much I wanted to join her and he registered me as one of my Christmas gifts. Yay!
Daytona is just under an hour from the house, so it wasn’t an awful drive, although I did have to get up super early to be able to get my packet and check things into into gear check before the 7:30 AM start time.
I was just so happy to be out there with J: my only goal was to tag along and have fun. She is coming back into running, so it was all about the experience and a strong finish.
Arriving at 6:40ish, I got a great parking spot, and was able to easily get my packet, women’s technical shirt and a gear check bag. I was done with the details in minutes and was able to hit the restroom.
The biggest obstacle to the day was the weather: I had been training in 40s and 50s, but race day promised to get up into the high 70s with loads of humidity and sun (which was fine because earlier forecasts called for thunderstorms and rain). Good times. I was thrilled that J and I could wear our matching outfits without extra layers, but it was going to be tough on the body.
We lined up and listened to the final announcements and instructions. The race was supposed to do a small stretch on Daytona Beach, but because the tide was high, we would have to follow an alternate route, for safety. While I had wanted to see the ocean, I appreciated not having to run on soft sand.
After the National Anthem, a NASCAR pace car took its lap and then we were off. The first few miles were run around the actual Daytona International Speedway. It’s a really cool feeling to be out there on the track.
Right off the bat, the air quality was horrendous. It was tough, but I didn’t mind because I was so busy taking in the sights of a new-to-me course, and enjoying time catching up with J. Due to our hectic schedules, we don’t get to see much of each other.
We left the track and headed out on to the main road. This is technically an open course, but there were police officers at every intersection, holding and turning drivers. Not one got remotely close to any of the runners, which was nice and greatly appreciated.
After another few miles, we turned into some back neighborhoods. The benefit here was some tree cover from the sun, which was starting to pound pretty relentlessly. On a positive note, there was water and Gatorade every 1.5 miles or so, and each station was fully stocked and manned along the way. I loved how the later runners received just as much consideration as the earlier ones and we never worried about not being able to get proper hydration on course.
I got a little turned around in my head, but before long we passed the relay hand off, and then we found ourselves at the foot of the intercoastal bridge. It was a big one, but over we went, for a stretch alongside the beach, and then it was time to really start heading back.
The second time over the bridge was tough. It was steep and the wind was really blowing hard. We had to exert a lot of energy to get over the peak, and even the downhill portion was tough with the headwind. The view was stunning, though.
Once we conquered the bridge, it was time to finish up this race. Whoo hoo!
It was a straight shot back to the racetrack. By this point, the 5K was underway, so we had to merge in with those runners to get back to the track for our grand finale!
Mr PugRunner and little man had arrived and were waiting for us! It was so nice to see them. I was hoping to have them sign up for the 5K, but with the predicted thunderstorms (that never materialized), we agreed to have them pass. They said that next time, they were totally in, rain or shine.
With huge smiles on our faces, we crossed the finish line!
We collected our swag (huge medals and beautiful beach towels), and grabbed water and ice cold towels.
Between its amazing volunteers and attention to detail, this race really was top notch.
Of course, the photos at the track are the most fun. Runners are free to wander around and take full advantage of all the speedway’s cool photos opps.
By this point of the day, I was starving. There was free beer for runners, but the line was long, so we said our goodbyes to J, grabbed my bag from gear check and headed to one of the nearby restaurants for lunch.
It was a good day. I loved the event, and was even more thrilled to learn that BB Action Photo was providing free race photos to participants. Score! The whole family will be back for more next year!
What’s your favorite swag to receive when you finish a race?
Are free photos common where you live?