Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 22nd Annual Key West Half Marathon and 5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Wow, where do I begin?! It has been a whirlwind of an adventure over the last week. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of Hubs, the Angry First Grader (AFG), and my in-laws. We had a few bumps in the road, but we made it and had an unforgettable time as a family.
We left our house around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 18, 2020 to drive to Hub’s parents’ house so that we could park our car there (thank you!) and they could bring us to the Philadelphia International Airport for a 9:31 a.m. flight to Orlando. The AFG is such an amazing traveler by now that she didn’t complain whatsoever on the way there.
Near our gate we found this Short Story Dispenser, which was wicked neat! You could pick between a 1-, 3-, or 5-minute story. While we were waiting for our flight, after I read my short story, I ran a mile near our boarding gate to continue my run streak.
We boarded our flight on time, Hubs endured my death grip on his hand, and I listened to my Marathon playlist the entire way via my awesome AfterShokz Aeropex to try and distract myself. The AFG had a blast taking pictures with her digital camera that she got for Christmas/this trip.
We landed around noon, and as quickly as we could, we lugged our belongings to the rental car area. As much as I want to complain about the Philly airport, the Orlando airport is now the bane of my existence for several that I’ll get into later. We had a little trouble with our rental car, but we finally secured a ride and started off on the 6+ hour journey down to Key West.
It was an uneventful, long ride, Hubs did the majority of the driving, the AFG did everything in her power to stay awake until the last possible second when she crashed hard, and we made it to the Fairfield Inn & Suites Key West around 10 p.m. We had been traveling for approximately 12 hours. Phew!
Thank goodness fellow BibRave Pro Didi had picked up my race bib and shirt on Friday, because we didn’t make it to Key West in time for packet pick up on Saturday, and I get nervous about race-day packet pick up. I would have of course done that if I had to, but thanks to Didi, I didn’t! Didi also secured us a taxi on race morning to take us to the start, and we planned to meet in the hotel lobby around 5:30 a.m. You’re the best, Didi! In our bags we received our bib with tags for a raffle, bag-check option, and 2-for-1 drinks at Turtle Kraals after the race. We also received a very nice short-sleeve, zip-up women’s fit shirt.
I laid out my Flat Becky* for the evening, set my alarm for 5:15 a.m., and quickly went to bed. I woke up a few times throughout the night, like I’m wont to do when I’m nervous that my alarm won’t go off for some reason. But overall I slept fairly well.
*I had my new BibRave tank top, BibRave buff, AfterShokz Aeropex, Garmin watch, and my Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro, to name a few items. I also had a Toasted Marshmallow Gu, a Sea Salt Chocolate Gu, and a Tutti Fruitti Gu.
I somehow amazingly got up, dressed, and out the door without waking up Hubs or the AFG! That has been my plan on other race trips, but I’ve never done it successfully before. I met Didi in the lobby, where she said our taxi was ready. I love meeting fellow runners, and Didi was so sweet! We chatted on the way to the race start, and our ride was less than 4 miles there. We used the bathroom at Turtle Kraals, walked around the expo area to kill time, Didi grabbed a coffee from the Cuban Coffee Queen, and we found a cute selfie sign. I would have loved to try the coffee there too, but I was nervous about having to use the bathroom before/during the race.
The expo itself, which consisted of a few pop-up tents, had the usual offerings of shirts, stickers, and the like. They had a DJ, porta-potties, and it looked like race-day packet pick up started around 6:30 a.m. instead of an hour earlier like it was supposed to. I’m sure everyone got their bibs successfully though and all was well.
We texted BibRave Pro Ashley to see where she was as we walked to the race start. We thought we were at the start near the Cuban Coffee Queen, but we weren’t. We walked about a block with everyone else to the start. She somehow found us in the sea of people, so we took a quick picture and talked about race goals. I knew my average is somewhere around 02:30, but with the heat, the hallux rigidus in my right big toe, and the gorgeous scenery, I didn’t have an actual race goal in mind. We started right around 7 a.m., and as I separated from Didi and Ashley, I wished them happy racing!
This course was flat (except going toward the first turnaround, but even then the elevation is nothing compared to other parts of the country), fast, and loops out and back twice. You mostly ran on road surfaces, but you also ran on a couple small bridges too. The first turn around was after Mile 6, and the second was at Mile 10 out and back on a pier. The volunteers helped steered the 5K runners in the correct direction, and the 5K started a bit later than the half (7:15 a.m.), which was nice.
I felt like the water stops and porta-potty locations were ample, and the volunteers were all very friendly and helpful! The spectators were spaced out well and gave me the extra oomph I needed in certain sections as the temperature rose. I consistently tried to thank volunteers and police officers on course.
I was surprised to see Mile Marker 0 (“90 Miles to Cuba”) so early in the race (just after Mile 1), but I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a quick selfie. We ran along the water for the majority of the race, which was beautiful. The course takes you past Higgs Beach and Smathers Beach in particular; we have a painting of Smathers Beach in our upstairs bathroom from when Hubs and I came to Key West for our honeymoon, so that part of the course was extra special to me.
In terms of aid stations, each offered water, orange Gatorade, and Honey Stinger gels. Since I knew it would be so hot out, I filled my hydration pack with Tropical nuun and ended up having to refill the bladder once with water at an aid station.
I took walk breaks when needed, enjoyed the scenery, cheered on other runners, and chatted with folks here and there. My finishing time was 02:36:10 with an average pace of 11:55 per minute. I finished 1,085 out of 1,878 runners.
Just before hitting the finish line, I looked at the woman next to me and asked if she wanted to race it in. She said yes, and we charged for the finish. I came in just before her, and we both congratulated each other. If I’m reading the race results page correctly, it looks like she lives in Wilmington, DE, which is wicked cool!
As I walked through the finishing area, I saw a spread of food that included the usual bananas, bagels, and so on, but I also saw corn bread, granola bars, and muffins. I actually didn’t grab anything, because I knew we needed to hit the road from Key West to Orlando right away. I did snag two cups of Ultima orange drink, which tasted great.
The race medal is stunning, communication via email and the Facebook page is superb, and I had a blast starting off our family vacation in Florida with the Key West Half Marathon!
If you’re in the area or want to get away from the cold temps in January, I highly recommend this race. We drove back up to Orlando, where we stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for five nights. While there, we were able to meet up quickly with fellow BibRave Pro Meredith and one of her sons. It was so awesome to finally meet her in person. She’s just as kind face to face as she is online. I just love my BRP family!
We had a fun-filled time in the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. I kept my run streak alive with a mile a day, I finally conquered my fear of Everest in Animal Kingdom, got to see the Festival of the Lion King show, and rode on the new Skyliner and the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride. We had a character lunch at the Crystal Palace and a character breakfast at the Tusker House, which was to die for! We also had lunch at Be Our Guest, which was awesome. The AFG got to go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Magic Kingdom as well, which was so cool. We were able to do many things during this trip that we haven’t in the past. The only downfall was the weather, which was much colder and rainier than expected. But we were troopers and had a total blast!
We hit another snag or two on the way home, as we couldn’t bring the AFG’s fake, plastic sword through security. She cried, I nearly cried, and then we were over it. Hubs promised that we would get her another one ASAP. Anyone going to WDW soon?!
Our flight in Orlando was also delayed, and we changed gates twice. The second time we changed gates, we had to make a mad dash to another part of the airport, which wasn’t fun. But I did continue my run streak by running a mile around the terminal. Some dude even gave me a high five as a I ran by him! We finally got home around 2 a.m. on Saturday, January 25, 2020. I was so happy to sleep in my own bed. I think I woke up to one of our kittens, Dipper, literally hugging my head once or twice. Oh, to be home after a fun-filled vacation!
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