Tuesday, January 31, 2017


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, ReneĆ© 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.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017


 This race was over before it even began.  Literally!

Just before Lindsey and I left the house to make the four-hour drive to Clearwater on Saturday morning, we did a last-minute check on the weather.  We had received notices from the race that thunderstorms were in the forecast, and that they would be monitoring the situation.  As we made our last check on our Weather Channel app, it didn’t appear as if the “heavy stuff” would be coming down until our race was over.  Driving to Clearwater, the conditions were absolutely perfect.  About three hours into the drive, Jen sent me a text letting me know the race had be cancelled.  This did not make any sense to me, as the forecast had not changed at all.  In a post on Facebook, the Clearwater Race Director said:


The Clearwater Distance Classic has been cancelled by a consensus of several public safety officials due to a weather forecast of SEVERE Thunderstorm arriving on Sunday morning!

 All pre-registered athletes will be converted to virtual entries. Please pick up your bib, shirt, and finisher’s medal, if possible, from 1-5 pm today at Coachman Park and complete your mileage on your own, at your convenience.

Additional pick-up times will be announced.

We are truly sorry about this turn of events, but it is completely out of our control.

Please keep an eye out for emails Facebook Posts and visit our website for additional updates, announcements and information.

Please share with your friends.

Chris Lauber, Race Director

We had reserved a hotel room for the night, and immediately called to see if we could cancel.  We were prepared to stay if necessary, but did not want to take the chance of driving home in poor weather conditions on Sunday.  We arrived at Coachman Park around 2pm, and picked up our race packets.  The medals were outstanding, and the shirts were nice as well (I didn’t notice until I got home that the volunteer handed me a woman’s extra-large).  We met up with Jen, Marlo, Mary, Amy, and the rest of the Turtles.  Everyone was stunned with the early cancellation, but something didn’t seem right.  I had put on a 5K many years ago, and know just how much work is involved.  I just couldn’t understand why they would jump the gun so quickly.  Why not have all the participants who signed up for the 50K and the full marathon just jump into the half marathon?  At the very least, wait until midnight to make a final decision.

We decided to visit Hogan’s Beach Shop, owned by the immortal Hulk Hogan.  I have been a huge wrestling fan since the age of 14, and the Hulkster is on my personal Mount Rushmore.  The place was smaller than I would have thought, but it didn’t stop Lindsey and me from finding a shirt to buy.  The Hulkster wasn’t around, but I did get to meet former manager Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart, which totally made my day.  We drove home after that, and pulled into Coral Springs around 10:30.  I checked the weather in Clearwater, but still no changes.

Lindsey and I went out around 6am on Sunday morning to do our virtual run.  Lindsey had only signed up to do the five-mile race in Clearwater, but this would be her final dress rehearsal for Miami.  Her LCL started hurting around 11 miles in, so she walked the final two miles.  Jen and most of the other Turtles stayed the night in Clearwater (only a two-hour drive home for them), and did their virtual runs as well.  Jen said the weather was still very nice, but very windy.  It didn’t start to rain until later that night, adding more mystery to the early cancellation.  Finally, the truth came out:


Rya and I are completely devastated, disappointed, and frustrated by the hasty decision made by public safety officials to completely cancel our 18th Annual Clearwater Distance Classic 20 hours before this race was scheduled to start.

While we understand these officials had the best of intentions in their concern for the safety of our athletes, volunteers, and other supporters, this decision was made prematurely, as evidenced by today's weather.

As you can see from this screenshot, this dangerous weather system finally hit Clearwater 12 hours after our race was scheduled to start at 7:05am.

To be 100% clear:
1) This was NOT our decision - it was made by public safety officials, despite our input throughout the week to delay a final decision until it was absolutely necessary.

2) When informed of the complete cancellation on Saturday at 11:15 am, I appealed this decision, pointing out that the National Weather Service forecast was significantly different than our local news stations. I stated that it still remained possible for us to safely stage our races, and that this cancellation was being made too quickly.

3) Just as our registered athletes had prepared for this race for a long period of time, we have been working diligently since last year to stage a great race that all would come to enjoy.

This unprecedented and unexpected turn of events has created a number of issues which we must sort out in the coming days.

We will keep you apprised as we move forward.

Thank you for your patience!

There were more posts from Chris, but it’s obvious the decision was out of their hands.  I still maintain that this is one of the most scenic races I’ve ever done, and I will definitely register for next year.  As they say” “Don’t hate the player…hate the game.”

Now on to Miami.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017


As I teased in my last post, there was a milestone coming up in Clearwater.  The milestone still occurred, but it took a detour to the east.

I last time I ran a race in Ocala was 2013.  When a Facebook notification informed me that this year’s event was scheduled one week before Clearwater, I registered at the last minute.  I really like running in Ocala, even though I would be taking it on “lone wolf.”  This was the 20th anniversary of the event, and I was hoping they would be doing something special to commemorate this crowning achievement.

I drove up Saturday morning, and picked up Jen.  The expo was outside the Paddock Mall in Ocala, and the plan was to go to Gainesville after that.  I was disappointed that the race shirts were not as nice as I would have hoped.  After all, it was the 20th anniversary; why not do it up?  They were white polyester, with nothing on the back.  As we made our way to Gainesville, Swampcon was taking place in the Reitz.  This was the second-time Jen and I stumbled into this, which was way cool (Jen’s opinion may differ).  After checking out the renovations to the O’Dome, we met up with Mary, Pam and Joe for an early dinner.  I was a little tired from a full day of driving and sightseeing, and hit the sack pretty early.

The race did not start until 7:15, so I did not have to get up at the crack of dawn.  It is about a 15-minute drive from Jen’s house, and I arrived around 6:30.  With 189 runners entered in the half, and 75 runners taking on the full, this may have been the smallest race I’ve ever participated in (262 and 111 respectively when I last did this race in 2013).  It was a very comfortable 56° when the gun sounded, which was 15 minutes after the start of the full.  Many of the Turtles have told me they do not participate in this event, because the course takes place on roads they regularly run on during the week.  To me, the course is very scenic, with lots of farms, cows and horses to look at.  I decided not to do intervals, but I did walk up most of the hills.

From a physical standpoint, I was feeling great.  I saw Angela at the beginning and Haidee towards the end. They were both gracious enough to volunteer their time at the water stations.  I also saw Angel after I crossed the finish line, and she placed first in her age group.  That’s quite an accomplishment.  Teri ran the full, but I did not see her at all.

Now about the milestone…I started running in 1996, but did not compete in my first half marathon until 2007.  Fast-forward ten years later to 2017; Ocala officially became half marathon number 40.  Along with 16 full marathons and one ultra-marathon, there’s still plenty of gas left in the tank.