The trip itself went really well and despite not seeing me at Mile 5.5 (I misjudged the clock time of my arrival) the girls had a blast. Skipper went with me to the Expo and the guy at the shirt stand gave her a women’s XS event shirt/goody bag. She was thrilled, to say the least, and wore it most of the trip. I was able to get a shuttle ticket for there and back, and only had a 10-minute walk from my hotel to the convention center pick up. The only real down side of the whole event (other than getting up at 4:15AM which is, secretly just runner sado-machoism) was the bus ride back back from the race. It was due to start at 8AM, but when I got there at 8:25 none had arrived/departed. We didn’t get a ride until after 9. By then, I was a bit stiff and the 10-minute walk back felt rather long. Otherwise, really well done event and a bigger deal than I expected.
The run went really well. I was comfortable in the 8:20-8:40 range the whole time. I stopped at the 2:30 mark to pee with a dozen others, then clipped into a steady pace as we left the start area and headed East. The two “big hills” were on this first causeway that got us out of downtown, and went along the port where the cruise ships dock, then over to South Beach. The hills were nearly noticeable, and didn’t change much other than to provide a nicer view of the bay area in the dark. We reached South Pointe Park then turned North along Ocean Drive and the main parts of SoBe. The timing was nice as we caught the sun up over the Atlantic.
It was about here a guy in a Front Runner’s singlet got a “Hey New York!” call from a spectator so he, I and three others all ‘met’ as New Yorkers. We then, scampered along our way, off to run our own race. About then, the 3:30 group came by – I could feel and hear them coming – and there was a discussion about pace and a runner said, with a hint of panic, “We’re 25 seconds off pace.” The guy with the sign calmly replied, “We have 22 miles to make that up. We’re fine.” I appreciated that and with the uplift of spectators and the sunrise, realized I should slow a little.
We found and wound our way through Miami and headed back West across a few ‘bridges’ and back into downtown. The course was flat and smooth but the heat was coming on about Mile 9, and I was happy to tell myself I wasn’t doing a full. Up until now, I was really just trying to have fun, run easy and didn’t care nor look at my watch that much. I kept telling myself “time” didn’t really matter, but we all have a mental clock and goal. I told the Pacing Guy at the Expo I was looking for the 1:50 group (Luis), but they were no where to be found at the start. Granted, it was 5:30 in the morning, dark and 22,000 entrants were wondering around in the fit and faze of the pre-race jitters.
So, I kept to myself and trudged along, taking in water and gatorade very often. I ate a gel about M9 and was cruising to the finish, thinking that I could push, but it’s so nice right here. Why suffer? Then, at the 12M sign, Luis and his 1:50 group passed me. With 1.1 to go, I decided to step on the gas and join them to the end. It was an obvious move for my body and soul as suddenly I was running! He must have been behind schedule as we were moving along, quick. I latched onto the group, and suddenly eight or ten of us were speed demons snaking our way through a slowing crowd. Then I made a mistake. At the “Half/Full” split, I thought the finish had to be really close, so I made a move to see if I could match the 1:50 time as I knew i was slightly off, by my watch. I went too soon. We still had to go Left, Right then Right again into the Official Finish Chute and across the line. Maybe a half mile in total, but I didn’t know the course and likely should have stayed with him to get to the end. I had left he and some of them behind, but we got to the line the group was all together, again. At that point, the race felt 1200 meters too long and I was wiped out, but really happy at the end. Officially, 1:52:48 and a it ragged at the line. A good run.
All in all, the Miami trip and run made me realize that I really like the half distance, that going to an out of town event is a nice new way to do events, and that I need a buddy to race/pace/commiserate/celebrate alongside.