John and I escaped the cold ugliness of Rochester for a few days of relaxation and running in the warm and sunny Florida. The primary purpose of the trip was to run the 2008 Miami Half Marathon with my sister Donna. This was Donna’s first race since recovering from a stress fracture. Although the the race was the driving factor we did so much more and had much more fun than a race alone can offer.
Months ago when John and I decided to go on the trip he planned to run the race with us. His desire to properly recover from a nagging injury kept him from running the race. Although he didn’t run the race he did return to running on our trip! On Friday evening we ran about 4 miles in Celebration. Celebration is a planned community on property that was once owned by Disney. I’m not sure how it happened, given Donna’s simple route of 6 right turns (that included at least 3 left turns) but we managed to get lost. It took some time but Donna eventually found us.
On Saturday we made the drive from Orlando to Miami and attended the expo. The expo was pretty large with many vendors. I don’t really like expos because they seem to lead people to believe that they are offering products at a discount when they really are not. Still, I bought a pair of socks there that were probably at an inflated price.
Race morning came a lot earlier than I had hoped. At about 1:40 AM I awoke to the sounds of a party somewhere above our suite. Shortly after being loud and noisy indoors they moved outdoors to the pool. The pool was just outside our window. They were louder in the pool than in their suite. By 2:30 AM they were kicked out of the hotel and I didn’t hear from them again. I had an alarm set for 3:30 AM and unfortunately I didn’t fall back asleep.
I believe the race started on time which was 6:15 AM. With a “see you in another life, brotha” I left Donna and John and entered my corral. The race started with a tiny little roman candle launching a wee bit of light into the air. Compared to Disney’s starting pyro display this was laughable. Don’t misunderstand, I thought it was cool but knowing what Disney does (multile flames launched high into the air over the start line) put it to shame.
I didn’t feel in top condition when the race started. My legs felt a bit rubbery and I just didn’t feel as good as I usually do at the start of a race. Still, my plan was to try for a PR. The first mile was mostly uphill on a bridge. The enforced corrals helped prevent the mad rush around slower runners that often happens at the beginning of larger races. Some people must have lied about their expected finish times as I passed people that must have been pacing 13-14 minute miles. Generally the race was not crowded and I rarely was frustrated getting around people.
The course is very flat. The only hills are going over the bridges that connect Miami Beach to the “mainland.” The temps were in the mid 60s and everything suggested that I could get a new PR. My first mile was 9:00 minutes — 1 minute off my goal pace but not unexpected as I had stopped to pee and I had to (a little bit) battle the crowds. I made up some time in the second mile but somehow lost time in the third and fourth miles. Maybe it was the insanely gorgeous woman walking on the sidewalk of Miami Beach? I literally have never seen a woman so attractive in life nor in print in my entire life. It was surreal.
For the rest of the race I battled the heat. Hah! The heat, it wasn’t even 70 and the sun wasn’t out yet it felt hot to me! I poured water on my head which always helps but only temporarily. At some point in the race I was more than 2 minutes off of my goal pace and I knew there was almost no chance that I could get a PR. I didn’t slow down though. In fact I just grew angry with myself for caring about my time as much as I did. I enjoy races more when I don’t care what my time is.
At mile 10.5 I saw John at the cheering section! I was pretty tired by that point. Seeing him and having him jump into the race and run with me for a while was a huge mental boost. I ran the last couple miles much faster than I thought I could. I know part of that was from John and part of it was from me giving into the fact that a PR wasn’t going to happen. I run faster when I’m having fun!
When I saw the finish line I broke into a sprint. John captured an awesome picture of this. I finished in just under 1:46 (about an 8:05 average pace). I was nearly two minutes off of the PR I set in Philly.
In the finish chute I accidentally dumped water on the cookies! Sorry! I wasn’t thinking and I turned my wrist to grab a cookie and the water poured out! After getting a dry cookie John and I waited to Donna to make her way to the finish. Amazingly it didn’t take long. I say “amazingly” because Donna was running with what I now know to be the flu. On Donna’s “return to running” race she ran a 2:04 with the flu. I’m only now recovering from this strain of the flu which I’ve named Donna’s Death. I can tell you that there’s no way I could have done that well running the way she felt.
…And that was the race. Races are always fun but the time spent around the race was more fun and exciting than the race (the race was over so quickly!). Spending the weekend with John and my sister was an absolute blast. Escaping to the warm sunniness of Florida did wonders for my mental state as well as my solar powered watch! Maybe we should do this again next year?
Since I’m too lazy to properly put pics in my blog I’ll just link to John’s photos from the trip.