2009 Miami Half Marathon

What a weekend! This is the second year that John and I have joined Donna to escape the chilly Rochester weather and attend the Miami Half Marathon.

The race was excellent. I prepared for the race like I typically do eating a bagel 2 hours prior to the start. Since the start was 6:15 I was up pretty early! This time I decided to eat a banana along with the bagel. I usually eat a banana about 10 minutes prior to race start. I’m glad I ate it earlier as I didn’t burp much this time.

John and I managed to be in corral “C.” Corral “A” was for wheelchairs and elite runners. Corral “B” was for “seeded” placement which I recall was for males running a 3:10 or better marathon. I’m not sure what the criteria for corral “C” was but I felt special to be so close to the start.

As usual John and I split at the start of the race with our send off — “See you in anotha life brotha”, “Strength and Honor.” The start of the race was a dark journey to Miami Beach. The sun doesn’t rise until 30-40 minutes into the race. Across the bridge we ran looking at the numerous cruise ships.

At the first mile marker I recorded a lap in my watch. “Crap, a 7:47, I want to be at 7:30!” My body automatically adjusted and I ran faster. Unfortunately at the second mile I clocked a 7:00. I was running faster but too fast. My race plan was to run at about a 7:30 pace until nearly half way. A 7:00 was too fast that early so I forced myself to slow down. This race I did something new. I focused on my mile times and not the overall race time. In other races I would have seen a time of 14:47 at mile two and would have been happy that I was back on track. This time I saw a mile split of 7:00 and knew I was going too fast. The unfortunate reality is that you can not make up time early in a race. You can make up some time late in a race but never in the early miles.

My playlist was the mark of perfection. I trimmed out songs and left only those that I really loved. I put the slower, groovier, songs at the beginning with faster songs that get me going more later in my playlist. I put a slightly slower songs immediately following my most powerful songs as a little bit of recovery.

By mile 4 I finally felt warmed up. My playlist was starting to pick up and I was excited at every song change to see what was coming next. Mile 4 and 5 are along Miami Beach. The sun was starting to rise, it was 60 degrees out, I was on the beach, I was running, and I felt great. I thought to myself “there is nothing I’d rather be doing.” That was the truth. I was as happy as I could possibly be. I was literally running with a smile and my pace was getting faster! I smiled at the cameras and enjoyed every minute of it.

My 10k time was just about where I wanted it to be, right around 45 minutes. That’s a little faster than my 7:30 goal pace but I knew that it was OK because I felt incredible. I knew I could keep my pace up or even increase it. I was right to think that. At the 15k mark I glanced at my watch 1:07:xx (I have no idea what the seconds were). My 15k PR I knew was 1:08 something! I couldn’t believe I was running so fast and feeling so good!

The only thing that didn’t go my way during the race was my handling of my gel. I initially planned to take the gel at the halfway point but it felt too early so I skipped it. I put it off until mile 7 but that felt too early too. I finally decided to take the gel at mile 8. Unfortunately I timed taking the gel poorly and didn’t get to a water stop until nearly a mile later. It’s best to take gels with water. Oh well, I should have known better to know where the water stops were (they were mostly every mile but not for all miles).

Around mile 10 or so we crossed a series of bridges heading back to downtown Miami, away from the beach area. For the very first time in my life I was close to a hovering helicopter. The helicopter had a camera mounted on a swivel and it was filming us as we crossed the bridge. The chopper was so close that the water was blowing all over. It was also around this point that I became convinced that I was going to PR.

Mile 11 brought some outstanding music in my playlist as well as the official cheering section. It was awesome! The streets were packed with people and the excitement of it all really got me moving. I clocked a 6:50 mile for mile 11!

As I rounded the corner nearing the finish line my only thought was when to start my “kick.” When I started my kick I gave it my all and finished with the crowd roaring (it was awesome). I glanced at my watch and saw 1:33:xx! Unfortunately I didn’t stop my watch — I tried but somehow screwed it up. When I realized my mistake my watch said 1:34:xx. My previous half marathon PR was 1:35:40 (ish) so I knew I had PRed but I wasn’t sure by how much.

Later meeting up with Donna I learned that she achieved a PR too! That’s incredible considering how long she’s been running. She gives me hope that I can continue to improve my times well into the future. John didn’t have a very good race but he enjoyed it (amazingly) anyhow!

Once again the excitement and fun of the race was just a small part of an excellent weekend. Donna, John, Aisling and I shared many laughs and had a blast the entire time. Even the trip home was great! John and I got bumped from our flight earning us free round trip tickets as well as free business class. It was well worth it for a mere 5 hour delay in an airport that has free wireless internet!

This year I conquered the Miami course. In 2008 Miami was the very first race I had ever run that was NOT a PR. This year I crushed my 2008 time by 12 minutes! We’ve already registered for the race in 2010. Maybe I’ll PR, maybe I won’t, but I’m certain I’ll have a blast again.

Some pictures of me during the race.

My race stats:
Chip Time 1:33:49
Overall Place 229 / 9665 (2.37%)
Gender Place 202 / 4420 (4.57%)
Division Place 40 / 719 (5.56%)
Age Grade 63.1%
10K 45:37
Pace 7:10

Approximate Mile Splits:
1: 7:47
2: 7:00
3: 7:25
4: 7:30
5: 7:15
10k? (5.0-6.2): 8:05 (approximately 45:00 for the first 10k)
7 (6.2-7.0): 5:29
8: 7:02
9: 6:58
10: 7:07
11: 6:49
12: 7:00
13.1: 7:50

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