Key West Half Marathon - January 2016
Last weekend, we ventured to South Florida for the 18th annual Key West Half Marathon. I also completed the Key West Half last year. It’s really the perfect time to escape the arctic tundra of the northeast for a few days in the middle of January. I recently read that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year, could there be a more perfect time to be in ‘Paradise’?!
We were booked to fly to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday morning. I walked the terminal at the airport like a crazy person, determined to get my 10,000 steps in even though we were spending a majority of the day on a place or in the car. Our plane was delayed because Fort Lauderdale was not letting any incoming planes take off because the visibility there was 4 feet due to fog. All of the sudden, they got word the visibility had increased from 4 feet to 4 miles and we all had to rush to jump on the plane and get out of Baltimore. Once we landed and circled the airport on the ground for 20 minutes and then sat on the tarmac for another 20 minutes, a gate became available. We had the 3 ½ hour drive to Key West ahead of us and the packet pickup lasted until 7. We had plenty of time but traffic in and out of the keys can be brutal, especially on a Saturday. Once we deplaned, Dan went to get the rental car and I went to pick up our luggage.
Thankfully, those processes were pretty quick and painless and we were in the car headed for the keys pretty quickly. With a quick stop for lunch we got to Key West without any major traffic and it ended up being a lovely drive, complete with sunglasses and open windows. Once we got into town, we headed straight for packet pickup. The packet pickup is fairly small in Key West and we got there about an hour before it ended, so most vendors had either left or were in process of leaving. I was a little bummed because I do enjoy checking out the vendors and there were a few there I was really interested in but at least we were in plenty of time for my packet.
I checked the weather leading up the weekend and it looked like thunderstorms race morning were pretty certain. Before we left, I went to Sports Authority to buy a rain jacket. I figured even if I didn’t need it, a good rain jacket was a good thing to own and I’d rather be safe than sorry.
The race was set to start at 7am. I woke up at 5 with a plan to be out of the hotel by 6. I got ready and checked the event Facebook page. I’m always curious to see what people are saying. I noticed someone had posted a screenshot of a tornado warning and gale force winds. Ugh, seriously?! I had walked out on the balcony earlier and the conditions were windy and rainy but still warm. I was really glad when I got the email that the race was delayed by an hour. I hoped that would be enough. We decided to stay at the hotel a little longer. I started hearing that the Naples Half Marathon, on the Gulf Coast of Florida was cancelled. I was afraid we were headed for a cancellation. The weather was supposed to improve throughout the day but that doesn’t mean the city would allow the race to delay even further and close roads later into the day. I decided, even of the race was completely cancelled, I was determined to run 13.1 miles no matter what. Mid-afternoon looked like decent weather and I started planning that I would start posting on Facebook and try to gather as many people as I could to run even if it wasn’t an official event and roads were open and traffic was not diverted. I knew there would be lots of runners out there determined to run anyway and I figured we could all join forces. Once we got to the race, we sat in the car for about 45 minutes because the rain was heavy. It looked like I was going to get wet running but I didn’t want to start wet. Since we were in the car, I didn’t get to quite do my normal warm up. Power was going out and it looked a little like there was no way we were going to run anytime soon. We got out of the car just in time to go to the bathroom and get to the start. Luckily power was back.
Almost as if the sky knew it was race time, things started to clear up just in time. The race started with a sprinkle or two but quickly became sunny. The wind was another story. The first half, the wind was not so bad but the second half, we ran against some of the strongest wind I’ve ever experienced. I finished and had a lot of fun. Even though it was windy, I loved a warm and humid run especially in the middle of January. Monday and Tuesday, the weather was still windy and much cooler, only in the 60s. I was glad to at least have the warm temperatures for the race.
I’ve known for a while that the more races I registered for, the more chance of coming up to bad weather. I could only play the odds so many times. Luckily, even though conditions might not have been completely ideal, the race still happened and it was successful.
I went into Key West not sure if I would register for 2017. It’s a really great race but I wasn’t sure what my goals next year will look like. I can’t stay away from the nice weather and the third weekend in January is the perfect time.
What crazy race weather have you experienced?