Tuesday, January 26, 2016


2016 is certainly off to a "running" start...see what I just did there?

Having just completed four consecutive training runs without any knee pain, I was pretty stoked to take on Miami.  However, this year would be different.  This would be the first time I would be running the race “lone wolf.”  None of my friends from Ocala were participating (despite free room and board), so I would have to don the headphones and go it alone. On a positive note, the weather was going to be in the mid 40s to low 50s, which is always an unexpected pleasure in South Florida.

I decided to go to the expo on Friday, since I was already in North Miami for work.  Due to the construction on the Venetian Causeway, the expo was moved from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Mana Wynwood.  This is not the best part of town, and it rained all day.  Once I figured out where to park, I went inside and picked up my race packet.  This was a smaller venue, but they had the same amount of vendors.  The drive home was adventurous to say the least, as my fellow South Florida drivers were all in over-cautious mode.

Since my OCD in life is finding a parking spot, I always get to this race ├╝ber early.  This race starts at 6am, as opposed to the traditional 7am start.  Needless to say, I probably woke up when most night-owls are first going to bed.  It was lights out around 9pm, with an early 2am wakeup call.  I was out the door at 3am, and in my parking spot around 4am.  One of the advantages of leaving before the crack of dawn is that you get to experience I-95 in Miami with little or no traffic.  I also get to park right at the American Airlines Arena, which is where the race starts.  As I got out of my car, the guy parked next to me started up a conversation.  He actually had a longer distance to travel than I did (Wellington), and gave me a play-by-play of his hike down south.  He also told me that he has participated in over 100 half marathons (mostly out of state), but only three full marathons.  I enjoyed the early morning banter, but he was a little too intense for me.  We parted ways around 4:30am, and I made my way to my corral.  Only a spattering of runners had arrived at this point, so it was easy to walk around. It was now 46 degrees, but the wind was blowing at around 20 miles per hour.  Oh my goodness…it was cold!  I had to stand in front of the porta-potties just to block the wind.  I wore a long sleeve ColdGear shirt and a snazzy racing jacket I picked up at the expo, but I really could have used a throwaway sweatshirt.  I knew I forgot something when I left the house!

As race time approached, I just wanted to start moving already.  I could tell the 17,529 participants (14,484 for the half and 3,045 for the full) echoed the same sentiments.  Once the gun sounded, it took about 17 minutes for me to officially start the race.  At that point, the wind was a total nonfactor, and I was very comfy.  About one mile into the run, I stopped to take a photo of one of the cruise lines.  This reminded me just how much I love this race, and that the early wakeup time and the drive were totally worth it.

As the sun came up, there was not a cloud in the sky...absolutely perfect running conditions.  The course was modified this year to accommodate the construction on the Venetian Causeway.  We still got to run through South Beach, but we did have to run out and back on the MacArthur Causeway.

I had to suffer looking at all the sailboats on the way back, but I was a real trooper.

Being Jewish, I could not help but notice just how many Orthodox Jews participate in this race every year.  They seemed to be broken up into two teams, decked out with their  Yamakas and Tzitzit.

The knee felt good, and to tell you the truth, I did not psych myself out over the potential pain.  At mile marker ten, I remember thinking that I was sorry the race would soon be over.  Crossing the finish line reminded me just how much I love running.  If that weren't enough, I only had to stop and pee two times!  Winning!

As I drove home, I called my friends Lenny, Mary and Robyne.  The excitement in my voice probably sounded as if I completed my first race.