Thursday, February 2, 2017

Race Report: Miami Marathon

“Set your goals high and don’t stop till you get there.”
~Bo Jackson

I went to Miami with one goal: to run 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes.  I failed in Houston and I wasn’t going to be satisfied with the marathon distance until I hit that goal I set for myself two years ago.  I trained hard, arrived at the start line injury-free and honestly I didn’t want to have to do it all over again if I came up short.

Meet Maya 😍
I flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday night and was greeted by Kristen at the airport.  Kristen was a Falmouth girl but we didn’t become friends until we both went to Penn State.  She has been living in Miami since undergrad and now married with the cutest little 1 year old Lucy and 5 year old German Shepherd Maya that may actually be weirder than my weirdo.

Kristen and Alex had to work on Friday so I hung out at their house most of the day relaxing and enjoying some of the hot Florida sun.  I took advantage of the day to myself and explored her neighborhood with an easy 3 mile shakeout run.  I waited until 9:30am to see what running in the Miami heat would feel like with the thought that I would be finishing up around that time on Sunday.  Little did I know that we would not see ANY of that heat on race day… 

But anyways—Friday night Kristen, Alex and I went out to dinner in Coconut Grove at a Latin restaurant called Jaguar.  We met up with their friends Rich and Cindy and ordered SO MUCH FOOD.  From ceviche to crab cakes and steak… banana chips and guacamole… we ate and we ate and we ate.

Saturday morning we all slept in.  It was wonderful.  We got our act together and headed to Madruga Bakery for another awesome meal.  This time it was brunch and I ordered an egg sandwich along with a fresh yogurt parfait.  After that it was off to the expo! 

For the first time the Miami Marathon expo was held at Marlins Park.  What sounded like a great idea turned into a nightmare.  It cost $10 to park and took us almost 90 minutes to pick up our numbers.  Poor set up, super long lines everywhere and it might be possible that all 25,000 runners decided to go at noon on Saturday.  

That night Alex made us a delicious pasta dinner and it was off to bed at 8pm!  I slept pretty well and actually rolled over to look at the clock 3 minutes before my 3:30am wake up call.  Temperatures were in the 50s.  The race started at 6am and rain was projected around 7am.  If it could just hold off until after I started running.  I got ready, braided my hair, ate breakfast and then Kristen and I were on our way!

The race started at the American Airlines Arena.  It was open for runners before the race so we went inside and found a spot to sit and stay warm.  Outside it was dark and there was a breeze which felt COLD.  I had been hoping for 50 degree weather but the wind and rain was going to be a wild card. 

Kristen and I split up and went to our corrals where I positioned myself just behind the 3:30 start group (8:00 pace).  I remember feeling so calm just before the start in Houston.  Bright lights and loud music set the scene in Miami but again I was very relaxed and totally ready to go.

Mile 1- 8:25
First Corral A & B went off together.  Five minutes later Corral C and then in another five minutes it was my turn with Corral D!  A sea of runners surrounded me when the gun went off and it took about a full half mile before I was able to run at a pace I wanted to without dodging slower runners.  The 3:30 pace group had gotten pretty far up ahead but they were in sight.

Mile 2- 8:00
Mile 3- 8:01
Mile 4- 7:49
The first 4 miles took us over the MacArthur Causeway.  It was long.  It ran alongside the Port of Miami and was really cool seeing the cruise ships lined up and all lit up.  The sun rose about 7am so we were still running in the dark at this time.  I kept my throwaway sweatshirt on at the start and ended up tossing it around the second mile as I started to warm up.  This early on the temperature was perfect.  There was a slight cross breeze on the bridge but so far no rain.

Mile 5- 8:00
Mile 6- 7:53
Did I say no rain?  Just as I turned the corner onto South Point Drive we experienced the first downpour of the day and winds that brought me to a standstill.  I took another left onto Ocean Drive—still in the dark—and was distracted avoiding puddles while reminiscing about the bright colors, blue skies and hot sun the last time I was at South Beach.

Mile 7- 7:38
I was gaining on the 3:30 pace group and I think I got excited because I picked up my pace.  I was feeling SO GOOD.  The rain turned to a mist and I blew past the group.

Mile 8- 7:38
I met a guy named Ivo and he convinced me to run with him.  We actually talked quite a bit and it was nice to have some company for a few miles.  He even grabbed me a water cup when I wasn’t able to get to and I later noticed he was wearing a Fighter Foundation shirt honoring Michelle DeJong, a Falmouth girl who passed away last year from a brain tumor at the age of 29.

Mile 9- 7:41
Mile 10- 7:42
Mile 11- 7:44
Another causeway!  This time it was the Venetian.  It was also long but very pretty.  I wished the weather were nicer because I bet the sunrise would have been beautiful.  We had more rain.  More wind.  And some slow tiptoeing over parts of the bridge that were super slippery.

Mile 12- 7:37
Mile 13- 7:35
I was still cruising along with Ivo and although I felt awesome, I was getting worried about all the 7:40s we were dropping.  The half marathon/marathon split was just before the 13 mile marker and it was extremely depressing.  Just then reality sank in and a new wave of emotions came over me—doubt, fear, sadness.

Mile 14- 7:34
My split for the half was 1:44:00.  The fear of “we’re only halfway” lead me to let Ivo go.  I needed to slow down.  I was getting too worried I wouldn’t be able to maintain but by myself I ended up running my fastest split of the day.

Mile 15- 7:37
Mile 16- 7:47
Mile 17- 7:35
Mile 18- 7:42
The next few miles were pretty uneventful and lonely.  There were always runners near me but there was definitely a noticeable decline after the split.  I really thought I had slowed down but I was still way below goal pace.  I started trying to do math in my head figuring out how far ahead I was and how much time I had in the bank in case I ran into trouble in the later stages of the race because let’s be honest… the real race hasn’t even started yet.

Mile 19- 7:51
I caught up to a girl and realized that it was the first girl I had seen since the split.  As I passed her I gave a little “good job” and she automatically responded with “thanks you too” before doing a double take and screamed, “OH MY GOD!  Finally another girl!  I thought I entered the men’s race!”  We exchanged some motivational words and I continued on.  Thanks girlfriend, I needed that boost.  I also needed the cheerleading from the hundreds of Miami police officers out on the course.  One in particular cheered, “You go girl! You fast and you fashionable!  Girl power!”  I loved it.

Mile 20- 7:55
I was gaining on Ivo and we ended up running together again for about a mile.  He was struggling and dealing with stomach cramping.  My legs were starting to get heavier and heavier.  Hip flexors especially had seen better days.  I told him I was good with running 8:00 pace until the end with him but he didn’t think he could do it.  I continued on…

Had to sneak in KK's finish line pic 😘
Mile 21- 7:55
I took my last pack of GU chews but the first two barely went down.  My stomach was not feeling it.  I had to spit out the third chew and threw out the forth.  I was worried this could come back to haunt me.

Mile 22- 7:56
Hello cramping!  Every few minutes my right inner thigh would cramp.  It was enough to make me shriek but it would last only for a step and then I’d be fine.  With the cooler weather and rain, I knew this was coming.

Mile 23- 8:10
I started to walk a little longer at every water stop drinking full cups of Gatorade just praying that the cramping wouldn’t get worse.  The goal was survival.  I knew I had some time to spare but I did not stop running. 

Mile 24- 8:21
Mile 25- 8:21
Mile 26- 8:21
I honestly can’t remember anything about the last few miles other than the last turn towards the finish line.  By now my right inner thigh AND right calf was seizing up with every step.  I was ignoring it because I was so close that nothing was going to stop me.  That last straightaway was extremely emotional—relieved, elated, proud, exhausted.

26.2 miles – 3:28:47

Average pace – 7:58

I did it.  I did it!  I DID IT!  Now I can officially retire from marathons.

Kristen also finished her race!  I’m so proud of her.  She is also retiring.  We celebrated with another fabulous meal at Cantina La Veinte, located at the W Hotel in Brickell.  Even though Sunday afternoon wasn’t a beach day like we’d planned, I had an awesome weekend and Kristen and Alex totally spoiled me.  I love Miami!

Congrats to all finishers!  Did you run the Miami Marathon? Head on over to and post your race review! I’ll be working on mine shortly!

Up next:

Newport Rhode Race
Newport, RI
April 15, 2017
Use code BibRave for $10 off registration!

Buffalo Half Marathon
Buffalo, NY
May 28, 2017
Use code 2017-BibRave-JS for $5 off registration!

Until then, I’ll be in rest and recovery mode… 

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