Name of the race: Miami Marathon and Half
Where: Miami, FL
Date: Jan 25, 2015
Time: 6:15 am
Distance: 13.1 miles
Terrain: Mostly flat, a couple inclines and declines when going over bridges
Entry fee: $30 blitz entry
Swag: Short-sleeve tech shirt and a cool spinning finisher medal
Post-race Food: Bagels with cream cheese, bananas, rice and beans, cookies, fruit cups, and beer (Michelob Ultra)
Performance:Overall 5030/13153; Gender 1673/6760; Age (35-39) 350/1240
Weather: 54 degrees, 82% humidity
The weather gods were with us in granting us one of the coolest temperatures that the Miami Marathon and Half has ever had. Unfortunately it didn’t do me a bit of good. To tell the full story of this race, I have to back up a year. Ben has been going to the Miami Half for the last three years. I went with him once as a spectator a couple years ago. We stayed at the Hilton Bentley, where they upgraded us to a suite because Ben was a regular. We had a gorgeous view of the ocean from the private terrace and a terrific view of the race because the hotel was right along the race route. So that year in 2013, while Ben ran, I sat out on the terrace and watched the race. I found the whole experience fun and wanted to join in with Ben. I couldn’t do the race last year because of work, but I made time this year.
Every year Miami Marathon and Half does a blitz entry two days after the race, where the first couple hundred people can register for the half for only $30. Of course, registration is a mad dash in the seconds right after they open registration. Ben and I were eagerly on the site ready to register and frantically answering the millions of demographic questions that they gave you when you tried to register. I understand that race directors like to know who their racers are because it’s important information for sponsors, but asking several (like 20) questions one at a time, which made the registration process even longer because every page had to refresh was an aggravating process. With so many people trying to register and the poor site design caused the page to crash and all sorts of different kinds of error messages, including people who thought they got the $30 price, but got charged the full race entry fee. We got frustrated because we thought we didn’t get the $30 fare, and then later Ben took advantage of a flaw on their site to get us entered. Miami ended up doing good and giving everyone who tried the blitz, the blitz rate. In the confusion of sorting everything out, Miami gave Ben a marathon entry.
Ben doesn’t like marathons. It’s been more than a year since Ben last trained for a marathon and that particular race resulted in a DNF because of a foot injury. For a year I had to endure Ben begging me to run a 1:50 half with him so he could get a fairly decent marathon time without training. I had no promises for him. For one thing, even in winter Miami can be hot and humid and I knew I wouldn’t be in racing shape in January.
I was looking forward to Miami. My friend H. (the same one who saved me when Ben ditched me) was also running the Miami Half. We joined her and her friend the night before to do some major carb-loading. We had fun with them, especially when we listed all the worst things that spectators can say to runners (“You’re almost there” when there’s still a few miles left, “You’re doing great” when you know you look and feel like sh!t, “It’s all downhill from here” – meanwhile there’s still another hill left).
We had some interesting hotel changes. Ben’s MO with hotels is to book at the last possible moment because he knows how to get great prices through Hotwire and Priceline. Originally we were going to stay at an airport hotel, but we ended up canceling it and staying at EPIC Hotel, a Kimpton boutique hotel. We both highly recommend staying at EPIC Hotel if you’re going to do the Miami Marathon and Half. EPIC is only a few blocks away from the start/finish area. The morning of the race starting at 4 am they put out a runners’ table with Gatorade, coffee, tea, and bananas. The hotel is on the race course (just before Mile 26), so it’s easy to spectate, especially when you have a water view room because it’ll look right out to the course. Plus it has all the other Kimpton features – free wine and appetizers in the afternoon, and coffee and tea available all day. It’s also well worth paying the $75 for the Club Access because it gives you open bar, meals throughout the day, morning and evening housekeeping service and complimentary newspapers (the good ones, such as New York Times). It more than pays for itself if you’re a heavy drinker. The only parking available in the area is Kimpton’s $37 valet parking service.
We woke up early the morning of. I was supposed to eat cookies as pre-race fuel because I like to have simple carbs, but we forgot the cookies in the car. I decided to try eating half a banana because I needed to eat something before a long run. If it had been a shorter race, I wouldn’t have had a problem running on an empty stomach because I usually run in a fasted state. But for a half, I need a little something. We leisurely walked to the start line. It was so nice not having to worry about parking a car.
The weather was in Ben’s favor, but I was in no shape to run. I’m really sensitive to humidity. Dry heat I can tolerate pretty well, but humidity is the death of me. Despite the cool temperatures, I was immediately dragged down by the humidity and the general overall fatigue that had be lingering over me the past week. For Ben’s sake I tried to run quickly, but it became clear that I was going to run nowhere near the 8:20’ish pace that Ben wanted me to do. I thought I could hold onto a 8:45 pace, but after a few miles of heavy labored breathing I gasped, “I can’t do this. I need to slow down.” Ben asked me to hold on til Mile 4 when we could see the Bentley and then he would leave me. I agreed to lumber on.
I thought Mile 4 would never come. Finally we saw the Bentley. Ben reluctantly ran off to do the rest of the marathon on his own. I happily slowed down to a crawl. My legs felt so heavy and tired. It was all I could do to run. I did my best to enjoy myself. Whenever I tried to speed up (sub 9:00) I could feel heart burn starting up. I don’t think bananas agree with me as pre-race fuel. So I just ran at whatever pace I could. I enjoyed the view. I took a few photos, which I rarely do in a race because usually I’m too focused on racing to do anything else. It was fun using the Miami Half as a long training on.
My favorite race sign was from this little girl. I stopped to take a photo. Her mother was slightly horrified and told her daughter, “You’re allowed to smile.” I think it’s funnier with her being so solemn. There were other funny signs, like the usual ones about bodily functions.
The first six miles have good crowd support and music, so it goes by pretty fast. Miles 7-10 were pretty boring and long. I was feeling tired and ready for the race to be over. Mile 11 picks up with having a huge crowd of people and more music, but it gets quiet again until the last half mile before the end of the race. I was exhausted. I thought about trying to pick up the pace so I could finish faster, but I couldn’t muster the effort and energy. I plodded along. The last couple of miles the bottom of my right foot began to hurt and I worried about getting plantar fasciitis. Finally it was the end.
A thick crowd lined both sides of the race course. There were cow bells and encouraging yells. I finally crossed the finish line. I tired and hungry and relieved that it was all over. I had a very slow time, but I’m fine with it. It wasn’t my day and this happens. The post-race feeling was a different from my usual feeling in that the fatigue wasn’t the all-out energy drained from my body type of fatigue. It was simply a I’m worn out feeling. I found H’s boyfriend who was volunteering by handing out medals. He gave me my medal. I chatted with him for a few minutes and then went off to get food and warm clothing. I ate my fill, got my checked bag, and had just enough time to go back to the hotel to pull on a pair of jeans (I was so cold after the race) before waiting for Ben at the Mile 26 marker. Ben told me to expect him to finish between 3:30 and 3:50. I entertained myself by cheering for other marathoners.
Usually when a race has a full and a half option, I feel that people are really there for the full and the half marathon is a side show. This is completely the opposite of Miami. There, people are there to do the half and very few do the full. Several minutes would pass with no one going by. The 3:15 pace leaders ran with no one with them. Because of the scarce number of marathoners, I was able to give a number of them personalized cheers. Ben came by about 15 minutes later and yelled to meet him at the beer tent. After he went by, I ran to the finish area where I ran into H. We exchanged our race experiences for a few minutes before I met up with Ben.
With no training, Ben ran a marathon in 3:46:19. When I say no training, I mean no training. For various reasons, Ben hasn’t been running much for the last few months. The last few weeks before the marathon, Ben’s runs have only been with me when I went out to do my tempo runs. His longest run was 8.5 miles in Kauai. Needless to say I’m rather impressed with how well he did, despite his lack of preparation. Afterward Ben was somewhat sore, but he said that the level of pain post-marathon is less than the total of pain he would have experienced if he had bothered to train properly.
I hope this is the last marathon that Ben will do. I only say this because he hates marathons and he whined and complained about the marathon for weeks and days before the race. He refused to go down to a half because Ben has a thing for “value.” Since he got the marathon for the price of the half, it was a better “value.” I think it’s a value when you actually enjoy the event, but since he doesn’t like marathons, I didn’t see it as a value and more as some sort of self-punishment.
I recommend the Miami Half for anyone looking for a winter race in Florida. The course for the half is beautiful and there’s a great post-race atmosphere. A cover band plays music, free beer is flowing, and there’s quite a bit of post-race food for the runners. Miami also has one of the coolest medals because their medals are spinners. Part of the medal can rotate and spin, so you can customize its look. Another fun thing about Miami is knowing that all your friends in New York are freezing while you’re enjoying the warmth. Schadenfreude – it’s a good thing..