Tuesday, January 27, 2015


As I ran down the streets of downtown Miami, right before hitting mile marker 13, I did something I had not done since 2007.  Instead of making that familiar right turn to take on the next 13.1 miles, I went straight ahead towards the finish line.  For those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning, you know that the 2007 Miami Half Marathon was my first half marathon.  Since then, I have always participated in the full 26.2 event.  With 16 marathons under my belt (and one ultra marathon), my desire to compete in any race longer than a half marathon is just not there right now.  Most of my “running” friends have turned their attention towards CrossFit, and have no real desire to run anymore.  Getting them to run a full marathon with me would be futile at this point, as I’m thankful they are running at all.  With all the recent physical issues I’ve experienced, now is probably not the best time to press my luck.  If I were to run more marathons, I would like to try something new.  This could obviously change, but this is my mindset right at the moment.  With that being said, I was looking forward to crossing the finish line and actually seeing people (and food) still around.

Jen, Mary and Pam came down on Friday afternoon.  Jen had decided earlier in the week that she would not be participating in the race, but wanted to see her South Florida family.  We met Glenda for lunch, and headed down to the Miami Beach Convention Center for the expo.  The great thing about going to this race expo on Friday (as opposed to Saturday) is the smaller crowd.  The race shirts were very nice, and we all walked out having made a purchase or two (or three).

 It was back down to Miami on Saturday, as we paid a visit to Zoo Miami.  I think the last time I went to this zoo was back in 1992, right before Hurricane Andrew decimated it.  The weather was totally overcast, and the temperature was around 72 degrees. Perfect conditions for checking out the animals and taking photos.

The weather forecast for the race was 53 degrees at race start, with a high of 62 degrees at the finish.  This was an unbelievable surprise, as the temperature for this race has historically been much higher.  For some reason, it took us no time at all to get down to Miami.  In fact, we were in our parking space at the American Airlines Arena before 4am; that was the good news.  The bad news was they had not unlocked the port-a-potties yet.  There is always one restroom open in Bayside, but it was nasty from the night before (beggars can’t be choosers).  We sat in the car for a bit, and made our way to the starting line around 5:15.  It was very windy, which made it seem colder than it really was.  In total there were 15,905 participants (significantly less than the record crowd of 21,854 from last year).  2,748 runners would participate in the full, and 13,157 runners would take on the half.  For some reason, the start of the race was delayed 15 minutes, and our corral did not cross the starting line until 7am.

This was Mary’s first time running this race.  She is a bit slower than Pam and me, but we all stuck together to help her PR this bad boy.  The cool weather made for absolute perfect running conditions.  In fact, I can’t remember ever running a race were the weather was this ideal.  I wore a short sleeve shirt with compression sleeves, and never had to take the sleeves off.  This course showcases some of the most picturesque areas of Miami Beach, including South Beach.  Mary ran a very strong race, but her toes started cramping around the eight-mile mark.  After a quick massage by “Dr. Jay,” we were back on track.  The wind had totally died down, and the sun was out full force.  All of this was a constant reminder of why I never get tired of this course.

As we approached the finish line, I actually felt as if I could have done the full marathon.  Pam and I did our best to encourage Mary to keep up the pace, but you could tell that she was totally spent.  She missed a PR by 40 seconds, but we were really proud of her.  The finisher’s medals were very nice (as usual), and we actually made it back to my house before noon.

I’ve already signed up for next year, but I don’t think any of my friends will be running with me.  I did get my friend April to sign up, so I’m hoping we can run together (this will be her first half marathon).  Either way, the countdown begins.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The Clearwater Halfathon is quickly becoming one of my favorite races, if not my favorite.  In fact, Jen and I even contemplated doing the full marathon this year.  Taking into consideration my recent injury (and Jen having the flu), it would have proved to be a mistake of epic proportions.  Well, maybe not epic, but you get the idea.

I drove up to Jen on Saturday morning, and we spent the day in Gainesville. We went to visit Angel later in the afternoon, and then an early dinner at Gator’s Dockside in the Villages.  I was pretty beat after that, and went to bed around 9:30 pm, knowing that we would be out the door by 4:00 am on Sunday.

Clearwater is about two hours from Jen’s house; needless to say, there was not much traffic on the road.  It was pretty cold last year when we did the race, but the weather would be almost perfect for this year’s event (56 degrees when the race started).  We picked up our race packet, and were immediately disappointed with the shirt.  It was long sleeve cotton, and the design was nothing special.  In my opinion, you should expect nothing less than a tech shirt when you run a marathon or a half marathon.  Apparently, I was not the only one who felt that way.

As we waited for the race to start, there were 362 runners for the full marathon, 781 runners participating in the half, 439 runners doing the 5K, and 135 runners brave enough to take on the 50K Ultra.  My right knee had been bothering me recently, and it turned out to be a condition known as Patellar Tracking Disorder.  This means that the kneecap (patella) shifts out of place as the leg bends or straightens. In most cases, the kneecap shifts too far toward the outside of the leg. My brother diagnosed it for me a couple of weeks ago, and gave me some exercises to correct the condition.  Thankfully, it was nothing that would prevent me from running in the future.

It was more overcast than last year, which made the running conditions ideal.  As we made our way over the bridge, we saw a runner throw her shirt away.  That’s not really unusual, as many runners buy cheap shirts and sweatpants to toss when they start to warm up.  What was unusual was the force in which she ejected her shirt.  In fact, it made it clear over the bridge.  I told Jen that maybe she was giving it to a homeless person, or she just didn’t know her own strength.  I felt great, but Jen was struggling a bit, due to her recent illness.  I had no pain in my knee, and all was going well.  My only criticism was there were not enough water stations, especially in the beginning.  That being said, the volunteers were very supportive and enthusiastic.

Jen and I separated around six miles into the race.  At that point, I caught up to the woman who tossed her shirt over the bridge.  She told me that it was the race shirt that she jettisoned.  She didn’t really care for it, so she wanted to “donate” it to some homeless people living under the bridge.  The expression “beggars can’t be choosers” came to mind at that point.

I ran really strong the last few miles of the race, and never felt better as I crossed the finish line.  As I waited for Jen, I took time to take a photo with my fellow superheroes.  The finisher’s medals were outstanding, which almost made up for the race shirts.

I HIGHLY recommend this race for the scenery, the course, and the professionalism in which the event was organized.  The beer and the chocolate milk was an added bonus as well.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

THE 12 MILES OF CHRISTMAS - 12/24/2014

Fresh off my triumphant return to the racing circuit, next up would normally be the 12 Miles of Christmas training run, sponsored by Runner’s Depot.

The 12 Miles of Christmas originated four years ago, in an effort to give back to the community.  It’s a great way to get in a long run the day before Christmas, and to burn off all of those calories you are about to eat.  All the runners are asked to bring in a toy, which is donated to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.  In exchange for the toy, the participants receive a technical shirt, courtesy of Brooks.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this run the three years prior, and was looking forward to this year’s event.

Founding Owner Reneé Grant, Co-Owner Chuck Kirsch and General Manager Mike Giacobbe approached me a few months ago to shoot both video and photos for the event.  I have offered my services to Reneé in the past, as I have known her long before she opened the store.  I quickly volunteered Alfred, which thrilled him to no end (especially since he lives close to Homestead).  I decided not to participate in the run, and turn my attention to my craft.  It was probably a good decision, as I was still pretty sore from Mount Dora.

We met up with Reneé, Mike and Chuck around 6am.  The run kicked off around 30 minutes later, and Mike drove both Alfred and me to strategic locations along the course to take photos and video.  I posted 240 photos to my Flickr account, and edited the following video to chronicle the event:

It also occurred to me that this would be a great in-class assignment for my Multimedia Production class, so we shot the following video as well:

Reneé, Mike and Chuck were very pleased and appreciative of the time and effort we put into this project, but the pleasure was all ours…especially around the holidays.