Thursday, February 10, 2011

Miami Marathon - race #1 of the Marathon Vacation

Kim and I left the (very) cold comfort of the Canadian winter and headed down to Florida on our belated honeymoon / vacation / running adventure. We caught a morning flight on Saturday January 29th for Miami and as it turns out we managed to get out of town at the right time as storms pounded Ontario and the Northeastern US. Cya later suckers! Sorry about that but I could not resist. BTW we are home now and I have been running in -20 degree weather so add me to the suckers list.

In a strange but true coincidence my friend and ultra buddy JD was flying out to Arizona the same morning so we actually met up on the other side of security for a drink before grabbing our flights.

The flight went well and was not only on time but got into Miami early. I had never been to Florida before but coming in for a landing everything seemed bright, sunny and kind of shiny. Also as the plane banked towards the airport we got a really good view of South Beach which was amazing. From the air its just a strip of sandy beach, blue green water and huge hotels ... amazing.

We got to our hotel which was right on beach and then walked 10 minutes over to the convention centre to pick up our race kits. The room was just okay but the location was great, right on the the Lincoln mall / walk and 2 minutes from the beach. We decided we would take the race provide morning shuttle and then stopped on our way back to the hotel for the biggest piece of pizza I have ever seen.

The next morning it was up at 3:30 (urrrggg) and off to the shuttle to the start line. The start was at the America Airline Centre and it was open for runners to hang out in. Weather for the day looked great, sunny with a high of 73.

Before long we were in our corals and ready to go. I got to say this was a huge event, very well run and planned with more then 20,000 in the half and at least 7000 in the full marathon. Then before you knew it we were off.

The Race / Run

It was still dark for the first 4 or 5k of the race as we followed the course from miami onto the causeway and into South Beach. I found myself going slow as there was a little bit of a bottleneck early on but after 15 minutes or so you were able to get some running room. Now this is my only bitch about the entire event and its not aimed at race organizers but at you my fellow marathon runners. Okay only some of you so please pay attention. I am begging you, seriously begging you. Please line up in the proper coral for your $#($# pace!!!! Sorry but its got to be said. Why oh why do people running 2:30 HM and 5 hour marathons or are walkers constantly feel the need to line up in the sub 4 hour corals. Can anyone explain this to me? Anyone? This event had well marked corals and they were checking bibs so why the heck am I passing walkers and people running 7 minute kms 1o minutes into the race. No big deal for me as I not racing for time but for someone that was this costs them time and energy.

Okay back to the good stuff. The course takes you across the causeway past 6 or 7 huge cruise ships at the docks and then into South Beach. I got to say I have never actually seen these floating hotels in real life. The closest I have gotten is reruns of the LoveBoat (Picard has got nothing on Capt. Stubing). At the same time we were running into the morning sunrise which made everything somewhat surreal.

A quick 4 miles through South beach including running right up ocean drive and then we were headed back over to Miami. I was running well at this point. It was warm but not too hot and I was sticking to my pacing plan. I keep my pace right at the top range of my easy run pace and had to constantly keep it in check as my legs tried to trick me into picking it up to race pace.

As we came back into Miami at mile 11 they had a huge cheering section set up which was really great as huge crowds were right on top of the runners. This really helped to reinvigorate me. I had begun to think how nice it would be if I was running the HM. At around mile 12 the course loops back towards the finish line which was very near the start and the Half Marathoners split off their day all but done.

I was still running well but it was getting hot. I had been occasionally gelling, was hydrated and had dropped a few salt tabs but the change in temperature from frosty Toronto was beginning to show. I could see salt crystallizing on my arms which is never a good sign and the miles seemed to be come longer and longer. At the 30k point my pace slowed a little but not to much, my quads were tiring but not really that badly. I reminded myself as I have often done in previous marathons a little piece of wisdom that fellow Longboater Rob Campbell once gave me. He said the slower you go the longer you end up being out on the course and the longer you prolong the pain. At the same time I also started my own little motivational mental chat. No its not one of those running world I am strong Blah Blah Blah chants. Mine actually goes along something like this .... 9k to finishing beer, 8.5k to finishing beer, 8k to finishing beer.

The last 6k of this race were tough as you looped out onto a road that extended out into the harbour and then back again. It was hot and there was no shade just baking asphalt and exhausted runners passing you headed back the other way. Then it was 3 more k in the downtown area before hitting a nice 800 meter hill just before the finish. Hey race director thanks for putting the only hill on the course 400 meters from the end. I expect they had a good laugh during the course planning meetings.

I hit the finish line in 3:52:27 which was not bad for a long run.

Post race
They had limitless free beer, rice and beans at the finish line. Hey aren't you glad you didnt have to share a room with me after that. I am gaseous at the best of times. I was able to find Kim at the finish no problem. She ran her HM well ... read about it here.

After getting some beer calories into me we caught the race shuttle back to the hotel and then hit the beach for a few hours. By mid afternoon my legs were feeling decent so we walked around for a while and then headed to Joes for Stone Crabs. They were expensive but really good and worth the 2 hour wait for a table (more beer here). Then it was back to the hotel as we were going to be up early to drive to Orlando and then eventually Melbourne for next weeks race.

If you get the chance run this race. I honestly cant think of a single thing that they didnt / dont do right at this race. Two giant thumbs up.

Next up Melbourne race report

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