For me, to say that this was the most highly anticipated race of the year would be a major understatement. Not because it was part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, or that it was taking place on Miami Beach. Not even because Pitbull would be putting on a concert after the race. This event would signify the first time that my running buddies from Ocala would be making their way to South Florida to run in my backyard (figuratively speaking).
Jen, Elaine and Tasha (Jen’s friend) had signed up for the Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon with me, and would be staying at Stately Wayne Manor for the weekend. It seemed like ages that we entered this run, but after the debacle last week (better known as the Palm Beach Marathon), the weekend had finally arrived. The ladies drove down on Friday afternoon, and arrived at my house around 4:30. Glenda and Rachel had gone to Orlando for a band trip, but would be back Saturday night. I gave them the guided tour of the Sawgrass Mills Mall, and later dined at P.F. Chang’s.
We woke up Saturday morning and made our way down to South Beach. The expo was held at Lummus Park, which is located off Ocean Drive between 5th and 10th Street. It was cute how Elaine, Jen and Tasha were acting like they had left Mayberry for the first time on a road trip to Raleigh. It took a while to park, but it was good that we scouted out the parking situation the day before the race. The expo took place right on the beach! How cool is that? The race shirt was amazingly nice (not cotton) and the merchandise store had some great gear. The ladies bought me a shirt in appreciation of my southern hospitality for the weekend. Vendors were out in full force, with plenty of protein bars, coconut water and gels for the taking. After lunch, dinner, and yes…even more shopping, Jen and Tasha stayed up late catching up with Glenda and Rachel.
My alarm ran at 3:15, and it was finally race day. We left the house at 4:30 and got to the parking garage around 5:30. There were 3,680 participants entered in this race, and it was exciting to see just how many of them were there as early as we were. We took our obligatory pictures before the race, and made our way to the starting corral. The gun sounded exactly at 7, and it was interesting how they controlled the flow of the race. You are put into a corral based on the time you expect to finish. Corral 1 went first, and they waited a few minutes before they let the second corral start. We were in the fourth corral, so we didn’t really wait that long to get going.
The course took us down Ocean Drive and Alton Road. We eventually made our way to 1-95 (Julia Tuttle Causeway), which goes over Biscayne Bay. Elaine stopped several times to take pictures, and I had a camera in my running belt as well. After we got off the Julia Tuttle Causeway, we ran a bit through some unsavory neighborhoods, but plenty of water, gels and fan support. We came full circle, as we made our way back by running on 3-95 (MacArthur Causeway) to the finish line at Lummus Park. What is cool about running on the MacArthur Causeway is that you can see all of the cruise ships in the Port of Miami, as well as the Miami skyline.
Elaine and I finished a few minutes ahead of Jen and Tasha. This was Tasha’s first half marathon, and she was pretty sore when it was over. Elaine and I ran a strong race, but Jen was a little bothered by the heat. I was pleased with my time, and felt great after it was over. They gave the runners towels soaked in ice water as they crossed the finish line, and even had ice baths for those in dire need. The medals were really nice, and they even had enough for all of the finishers (imagine that). All the vendors from the expo were there again on race day, and we grabbed even more SWAG.
It was now time to be entertained by the musical styling of Pitbull. Even if you are not a fan, you have to be impressed that such a high profile musical artist was signed to give a concert on the beach for a crowd of around 2,000 runners, family and friends. Pitbull performed for about 45 minutes, and we made our way back home after that. Elaine saw the boutique “Dash,” and made me turn the car around so she could get out and take a picture. Such a tourist!
When we got home, the ladies showered and made the drive back to Ocala. The race itself was first class, but the memories from the weekend were priceless!
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON