The Lighthouse Loop is a half marathon and 5k ran in Port Orange, FL just south of Daytona. Proceeds benefit athletic programs in local high schools.
I had spent the prior week on vacation in St Lucia and the week before that in Jamaica, so needless to say, there wasn't a ton of training going on in the weeks leading to the race. One of the last days of my trip, I fell down a few wet cement steps. It was probably the worst fall of my life (it sounds silly saying that, as it seems like a small ordeal), but it was so hard, I just sat there for a bit speechless. When I finally was able to stand, I could not speak as people were asking me if I was ok. And then the tears came, and the dizziness. To wrap it all up, I ended up bruising my coccyx. Lets just say, after a week when the pain was still there, I was scared. Was this going to take weeks off of my marathon training?? Was I going to be able to race the Lighthouse Loop? The pain was slow to go, but it was very minimal by race day. So much so, I couldn't tell if it was the bruise on my bum that I felt when I ran or the coccyx itself. I decided the worst comes to worse, I would just walk the half.
PACKET PICK UP
You had the option of packet pick up the days leading to the race, or on race morning. I decided to save the money and drive in race morning. I woke about 3a and drove the 2 hours from Jacksonville, arriving at 530. I was feeling pretty good (bum wise). We were warned there was lots of scattered parking, but limited early bird spots and it would take you 30 minutes (1 mile) to walk to the start (over the bridge). I saw very few people as I got out of my car to try to find the Starting area. There were cars but only 1 other person walking, someone else that was crazy enough to drive in from a couple hours away!
Finally finding the bright lights/Starting area, I was so happy to see coffee. Unfortunately I was quickly told it was for a running group only. :(
The packet pick up included a drawstring bag, bib, shirt, a really disgusting protein energy shots, and a handful of advertisements. Luckily they had a gear truck (suv) to get what you needed out of the bag (bib) and then throw it in the truck so you didn't have to walk all the way to your vehicle. Unfortunately, the line was ridiculously long as there was only 1 person handling all the name writing on tape to put on each bag.
The starting area was outside a local restaurant DJs Deck. I always find these situations funny, as the race directors always brag about so and so restaurant helping out. It seems though, if a restaurant wanted to help out a race, they would have it opened or have some employees there serving up some hot coffee, or chocolate, or breakfast of sorts. Just my humble opinion.
Porta potty lines were short. There were no refreshments nor munchies as we waited at the start, but luckily I found some water.
There was a slight delay to the start because of the gear truck. However, the Start line was fun. There was a dj and good music and some party lights. They had pacers for this race and I lined myself up with the 2:30 finish. They had a recorded national anthem right at sunrise and then we were off.
This is a Point to Point race, but the Start and Finish are in a walkable distance and you can walk back to your car (within a mile or so). The Start is on one side of the Dunlawton Bridge and the Finish is on the other side of the bridge. The course takes you straight to the beach community. You get small glimpses of sand and water in between the houses. The course then enters a park and you run around (well, half way around) the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and back into neighborhoods, then over the bridge to finish. It is a pretty course and flat. And with the perfect FL winter running weather, it could easily be a PR race.
High school volunteers manned the stations and they did well. Gu was even provided at one point.
I felt good in the first few miles. I felt real good. There was no pain and I was happy. That meant this could mean PR with the perfect racing weather in the 50s and sunny, so I left the 2:30 Pacer and caught up, and even passed the next pacer. I however, had to make a quick stop as we entered the Ponce Inlet sign around M3 (of course). Unfortunately my camera was acting up and it took much longer than I would have liked.
I started worrying again about what this meant to my future marathon training. A coccyx injury is not something to laugh at. There is absolutely nothing you can do, except minimal movement. And that is nothing a runner wants to hear. Did I really screw up by racing today? As the tears were coming, I pushed myself to accept 'just do what you can do to cross the finish line, even if that means walk.' However, when I hit the bridge, I realized the 2:30 pacer had not yet passed me. (2:30 is my absolute worst I wanted to accept). And then there he was. So I ran, or hobbled. I put the pain aside and dug deep. I would deal with the recovery later. I ran with probably the ugliest face, but I ran across the finish. I finished at 2:28 with 3 stops, which was amazing to me. But I would have had a PR. That race was supposed to be mine. I don't know if I was crying more because of the frustration of the injury, or because it is race #8 of the year and I STILL have not had a PR this year at all! And this one was supposed to be it!
The finish line at Aunt Catfish's on the River restaurant, was 2 sharp turns at the end of the bridge, which made it a little awkward. There was a dj and music and massages, and beer, and a Real Breakfast! ...it was on the inexpensive, not something I would usually eat type of fake eggs breakfast, but it was a full meal, it was hot, and it hit the spot after running....and with a beer of course!
The shirts were gender specific, but ran a tad small on the womens side. They did allow a shirt swap weeks later if you need to change or buy another shirt
This is a little local race that helps out the community. They manage to keep their registration cost down, but still provide everything that every other race provides, if not more! And that's what I love. This race falls in a perfect time of a year in FL for PRs. With the flat and scenic course, it is one to be loved. As long as you are mentally prepared to handle the 'warm up' bridge walk to start, then you will enjoy this race. This is also a great location for an extended weekend vacation! There was a shuttle of sorts to get to the Start for some of the hotels. And that shuttle then looped around to pick up last minute stragglers walking as well.
I am on a mission to run a half marathon in all 50 states. On my journey, I race a half marathon a month and a full marathon in February at 26.2 with Donna which is the only national marathon where 100% proceeds goes to breast cancer research and care (Mayo Clinic and Donna Foundation). Please consider making a donation to show your support www.donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2015-marathon/melissajohnson