Wet…cold…windy…but always exciting.
For some reason, this is the only race that comes with an internal countdown clock built into my brain. Maybe it’s because it’s the biggest race I compete in. Maybe it’s because I usually have friends who travel far and wide to stay with me. Either way, the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon is a very high profile race. This year, I was super excited for two reasons: First, my friend Elaine was coming down from North Carolina to run with me. Second, this would be Lindsey’s first half marathon. Most runners want their “first” to be something special, and Miami certainly qualifies. I was actually thinking of “supersizing” to the full as a surprise to Elaine, but Lindsey entering the race changed those plans. Part of me wants to get back into full marathons; part of me does not want to go through all of that training. Miami was my first half marathon back in 2007, so I guess we were keeping it in the family. As if that weren’t enough to make your toes tingle, Pam was coming down as well. Pam had not run a half marathon in close to two years, but I knew it would be no problem for her.
I picked Elaine up from the airport on Friday morning, and we went right over to Runner’s Depot. In what can only be considered a strategically great decision, they set up their own “South Florida Running Show” at the Davie store instead of purchasing a booth at the expo. All the reps from the major shoe manufacturers were there, and everything in the store was 20% off. I purchased three pairs of running shorts, since Glenda said all of mine were too baggy. In a very ingenious move, Reneé arranged for round-trip bus service to the expo at a cost of only $10 per person. What a deal, and what better way to get folks to come to her expo? Pam had to work that day, and arrived at our house around 11pm.
We woke up early on Saturday and made our way to Runner’s Deport. I had scheduled the four of us to take the 10am bus to the expo, which would put us back at the store around 1pm. My only concern was there would not be enough time to totally peruse all of the merchandise, but past experience told me it should be fine. Boy…was I wrong. In previous years, the expo had been held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It was a fine venue, with a good amount of parking. Last year, the Convention Center underwent renovation, and the expo was moved to Mana Wynwood. Apparently, this was not received well at all, and the expo was moved this year to Marlins Park. What a disaster! We waited on line at least 15 minutes just to get in. The packet pickup was on a different floor than the race shirts. We were shuffled along like the lines in Disney. All the vendors were on the concourse area, and not of the field. This made for very tight quarters. Once we picked up our stuff, there was only 45 minutes left to get back on the bus. I scored a really nice jacket, and Lindsey purchased a shirt. We did not have time for much else, and hit the road after that. A delicious lunch at Bento, an early dinner, and I was in bed at 8pm.
As I have mentioned in many previous blog posts, I like to get to this race super early. This way, I avoid all of the traffic, and get a primetime parking space inside the American Airlines Arena. I woke up at 2am, and we were out the door by 3am. The forecast called for rain all day, and the hour-by-hour projection did not look favorable. On the good side, the temperatures would be in the fifties, with no mention of cancelling the race. We arrived in Miami around 4am, and the parking garage was empty. We sat in the car for about an hour before we made our way to the corral. Since this was Lindsey’s first half marathon, they put her in the last corral (K). Pam and I moved back to her corral, but we told Elaine to move ahead, since she was running the full marathon. We stayed in a strategic corner in the American Airlines Arena to avoid the cold draft that was coming off the water. Since it was chilly, I knew I would have to pee more than usual, so I tried to “empty out” as much as I could before the start of the race. Once we positioned ourselves inside the corral, it started to rain. Lucky for us, Pam had brought us all ponchos, but we were now shivering. It didn’t rain hard, and it only lasted ten minutes, but the damage had been done. 17,093 runners participated in the race (14,136 did the half; 2,957 did the full). Since 24,000 people registered for the event, I’m guessing around 6,900 runners decided to stay home and keep dry. We did not get to the starting line until 7am, which was one full hour after the official race start. It was windy, overcast, 54°, but the rain had totally stopped. We decided to do 3 x 1 intervals, in an effort to protect Lindsey’s LCL as much as possible. The intervals also allowed me to take strategic pee breaks during the walk times.
Everything was going smoothly. Lindsey felt good, and was really enjoying the sightseeing during the race. It’s a totally different perspective when you are running the streets, as opposed to being in the car. We stopped a few times to take photos, and really appreciated the cooler weather. Glenda sent her a few motivational texts along the way, and Elaine kept us updated on her progress.
We ditched the ponchos with about two miles to go, but of course that would come back and bite us in the ass. Lindsey had a finishing goal in mind, and it was going to be close either way. We decided to sprint the last mile, and forgo the walk break. Of course it started to rain, but we would have not taken the time to put the ponchos on even if we still had them. I was running so strong, I definitely felt as if I could have completed the full marathon. In the end, Lindsey missed her goal by about 22 seconds, but you could see the tears of joy rolling down her cheeks as she crossed the finish line. It was quite an accomplishment, and I was proud and happy that I had a part in making it come true. Especially since she suffered her injury early in her training.
We went back to the car to change into dry clothes, and told Elaine to meet us there when she finished. Originally, we had planned to watch her cross the finish line, but the rain and the cold made us rethink that idea. Since she had started in a few corrals ahead of us, the wait was not that long. Her finishing time was excellent, but she missed her goal by about three minutes. Pam drove back to Ocala once we got to my house, and I took Elaine to the airport on Monday morning.
The race was very nostalgic for the three of us, with an injection of new blood. Elaine wants to do the race again next year, and I hope that Pam and Lindsey will follow suit.
KEEP TRACK OF MY RUNNING ON