As friends call me the crazy runner, I figured my first overseas ultra should be a test and so the high humidity and Florida sun are going to be my challenge today. My race starts in Marathon Key at mile marker 50, then follows the highway all the way through the keys, finishing in Key West at the end of the road at mile marker 0.
10:33 10:05 9:21 9:07 10:20 10:38 10:04 9:46 10:19 23:50
9:19 10:06 13:05 11:44 14:17 11:15 20:03 8:31 20:22 8:29
15:32 16:58 9:02 9:19 13:40 9:05 10:15 10:01 25:26 12:56
I spot what looks like a large lizard jetting across the path, then shortly after another. These lizards are not small, at least a foot in length. Black markings along the body and tail. I wish I could have got a closer look.
|Sunday cooling me down with more ice!|
9:28 11:09 8:09 12:14
The route is a smooth paved cycle track away from the hard shoulder. This continues with no sign of the end in the distance.
Sunday and Sam run across the road two miles up with water and ice. They hold up a union jack throw for me to run to and jump up and down shouting 'Come on Lukey!' Already my spirits have lifted and my pace improves. The late afternoon sun is cooling the temperature and I feel confident I can do this. Time went out the window at the first check point, and my goal is to finish safely.
Relay sprinters meet then overtake along the path. The lady runner with her pacer is having more walking breaks along this section.
After another bridge crossing and onto Stock Island I reach the 45 mile check point with just the one lady volunteer, Anne. She has the warmest, helpful nature any tired runner could ask for at this stage in the race.
|At Amazing Ann's aid station - 5 miles to go|
|Cooling ice cubes for hot feet|
8:37 14:21 8:37 10:54 8:06 9:05
On the approach into Key West the road leads onto Roosevelt Blvd and heads around the perimeter of the island. The sun is lower now and a sea breeze is blowing from the bay, refreshing and cooling to run against. By the waterside at sea level the view is beautiful. The pavement is wide and many tourists and locals stand to cheer the relay runners on the last leg.
This long pathway feels like an eternity and I just have to keep looking across to the amazing view along this beautiful Key West coastline as a distraction. Once around a large bend, passing big hotels on the front, a runner comes up beside me. It takes me a moment to register, but it is Sunday joining me for the last 1.5 mile. Sam is parking up so will be at the finish with my cousins, patiently waiting.
|Sunday paces me for the last 1.5 miles|
It is a wonderful moment but a very painful one to endure. I remind myself it is only temporary and to keep talking as a distraction. I keep asking where is the finish as I cannot see a beach. This is why Sunday joined me for the last 1.5 miles - after Sam drove the last stretch they decided I may be unsure of the route.
Eventually I can hear crowds cheering and see a blue finish inflatable archway on the sand. Sunday pulls back to let me finish, I pick up some speed to make it to the beach. Running on the sand is such a great feeling and it is my first race finish on a beach. I see my family clapping and shouting 'Go Luke, you're awesome!' I pass under the finish with my hand on my heart, with a sigh of joy and relief....It is 19:18 in the evening.
|Soothing my feet|