Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I spent a decent amount of time on this so admire it dammit. Blue=this year, Red=previous years.
Another year, another Miami Half Marathon in the books. This was the slowest of the three, but it went much better than I could have imagined. The weather during my trip wasn't the greatest, it was "cold" (for them) during much of my time there and windy to boot. So while I didn't get any beach time, I still enjoyed the time off from work and the appearance of the sun. One night there was a beautiful full moon that was reflecting off the water and it was simply stunning. Cameras can't really do something like that justice.

Before the race. Don't I totally look warm and excited?
Anyways, I lied in my preview due to laziness. I just assumed the course was the same because why would they change it? I remember checking a few months ago and it was the same so I didn't follow up after that. Well, it turns out there was some major construction taking place on the Venetian Islands so they had to re-route the course back over the MacArthur Causeway, turning the course into what I'm going to call a "dumbbell" (a take on the "lollipop" route). This means that while the course was pretty close to the same, it was hillier due to the return trip on the causeway.

We went to the expo on Friday to grab our bibs. The expo changed locations as well and it was in an interesting part of town. We'll call it "up and coming." Quite the change from the glitzy Miami Beach Convention Center of previous years, but also fun to see a new part of the city. We actually spent a good hour in the expo, my friend only goes to the one every year so he was interested in walking around and checking things out. I picked up some Shot Bloks that I didn't use but otherwise just tried to get as much free stuff with as little talking to people as I could get away with. You know, the usual running expo mode of operation.


I was actually able to get FOUR hours of sleep this year. I'm pretty proud of myself. My times may be slipping, but my sleep before this race is getting better. From 90 minutes to 3 hours to 4 hours. Long story short, sleep wasn't an issue at all this time around. With those four hours I actually felt pretty alert and awake when I woke up and it never really became a factor.

What was a factor was the cold. It was 46(!) degrees and windy before the race. I was freezing my little Oregonian ass off. The wind was coming right off the water and it was cold. When I packed for the race I saw the prediction of low to mid 50s, so I packed a long sleeved tee shirt to wear. What I was not expecting was the bitter cold wind. A beanie and gloves would have been nice but only before the race. As soon as we started running I warmed up pretty quick. While waiting to start I just huddled against the masses in the chute and they provided pretty decent protection against the cold. I did check a pair of jeans and sweatshirt for after the race.

Early on, before the sun rose.
MILES 1-4: UP AND OVER THE CAUSEWAY (8:33, 7:54, 8:35, 7:48)

My mindset going into this race was very relaxed. It was probably the most relaxed I have been for a half marathon other than the Crawfish Crawl, which I was treating as a training run. Basically, I made the decision to just run by feel and not obsess over my time. That first mile included a decent amount of weaving or slowing down due to the amount of people and also contained the first hill of the race as we went up the causeway. I wasn't alarmed as I saw the mile time on my watch. It was a little slower than I would have liked, but I wasn't going to worry about it. I knew I had some downhill coming up and the field was beginning to thin.

The second mile went really well. I was feeling pretty good, my legs were responding to the pace and my breathing wasn't too labored. I settled into a comfortable but hard pace and just enjoyed the scenery. I was pleased to see my second mile clocked in under eight minutes. I wasn't necessarily planning to run that quick, so it was nice to see that without really focusing on it. I would glance at my watch from time to time but I didn't look at it as much as I normally would. I really just wanted to go by feel so I just listened to my body.

Speaking of my body, it was telling me I had to pee. Now if I were gunning for a PR I probably would have tried to hold it, although I'm not sure I could have finished the race without taking a pit-stop. Being that I was taking this event a little less seriously, I skipped the first set of port-a-potties, knowing they are always crazy, but stopped at the second set. I was able to get in there without waiting and took about 30 seconds to pee. This was right before the mile three marker, and that's why I have another 8:35 mile in there. I was running right on an 8:00 pace before that. I was able to make up a little as I sprinted for a bit after exiting but then quickly settled back into the same pace.

MILES 5-10: SETTLED IN SOUTH BEACH (8:08, 8:10, 8:02, 8:10, 8:16, 8:18)

Locked into a groove in South Beach.
After my stop and go spastic start I settled into a nice pace and was able to maintain it for a long time. As you can see, my splits were pretty even and I wasn't really even looking at my watch much at all. There were miles where I didn't even look at it at all until it beeped to signify another mile. I wasn't pushing myself to the limit, if I really wanted my "best" time I could have probably done about an 8:00/mile pace and suffered the last few miles. I think if I gave it my "all" I could have got a high 1:45 time. Instead, I was happy at my sub 1:50 pace and actually enjoying the race more than I have in previous years.

The only issue I was really having was burping up my Mexican meal from the night before. Apparently the food didn't digest in the 12 hours I allowed and there were some pretty intense bouts of indigestion. A couple times a tiny amount of "chunkage" also came up. I'd grimace for a block, hold it down, and then the feeling would pass for another half mile or so. Overall, it really didn't affect my time. I was able to run like I would normally, it was just annoying to have to survive the waves of food wanting to come up every five minutes. By mile ten or so it died down.

Anyways, this is where the course change was apparent. I missed the neighborhoods and Venetian Islands of the previous years, but this year's course wasn't bad either. Just doubled back in South Beach and then headed back up and over the causeway. I was able to maintain pace without too much of an issue, even with the "hills" the road caused. To be fair, it does end up being a decent climb, probably 150 feet, and some of the locals were definitely struggling. To me, it wasn't that big of a deal at all. It was pretty much the same climb as Davies and I do that all the time. My body still felt pretty good despite the miles adding up and I was feeling confident in my ability to finish strong.

MILES 11-13.1: DOWNTOWN DETOURS (8:24, 8:12, 8:23, 7:19/mi final .11)

This wasn't the finish but rather mid-race.
Mile 11 came in at 8:24 and that included the final hill of the MacArthur Causeway. From a cardiovascular point of view it wasn't an issue at all, but this part was definitely the steepest "hill" and I could feel my calves pulling at the effort. I think if I were in true half shape this wouldn't have been an issue, but it was certainly something I felt. I was able to slog up it and then try to make up the time when rewarded with the downhill into downtown.

The route was tweaked a little bit here as well, as we took a little detour north to add some mileage. Just a few blocks, but certainly something new. It was around here the cheering section appeared, and as always, it was fun. Brings a lot of energy right when you need it. After that though the usual downtown streets remained, devoid of people and the miles starting to add up. They were very comfortable this year, the sun was up but wasn't zapping me of energy at all. What has been a struggle in the past was a very comfortable 8:12 mile. For a second to last mile, that was pretty good!

I didn't realize it at the time, but there was also a detour at the end. I remember thinking that final portion seemed longer, and sure as shit, we had to run a couple extra blocks before turning to the finish line. I'm not quite sure on why this mile was 8:23... no hills to speak of and I never really broke down like at the end of some half marathons, so I kind of wish this mile was a little quicker. I did some quick math in my head and pretty much figured out I had a 1:48 in the bag unless I ran a sub 8:00 mile in, so that might have been part of it. I did sprint a bit to the finish as the energy toward the finish line was great, as always.


Done! Successful race!
After coming to a halt in the chute my legs felt pretty good. I remember being in more pain after the Hot Buttered Run, so I was happy with the way my body responded to the effort. To run a 1:48 after taking a month off and only having 7 runs before this one... I'll take it. I was pretty pleased with my effort and happily bounced along the chute to collect my medal and food. Once I exited there I found a bench and sat down to eat and recuperate.

My legs were sore and definitely were feeling the effort but they weren't completely blown. It was really a perfect race in my mind, I didn't want to completely kill myself  but I still wanted to run a hard effort. My overall pace ended up being 8:12/mile (8:15 officially due to me not running a perfect course). That was about as good as I could expect. I think in a couple months I should be able to go under 8:00/mile with the same effort, but it was a good starting point. As I'm still kind of cautiously coming back from my "overdoing it" symptoms this was exactly the race I wanted.  A good test of my fitness but not hard enough to fuck things up.

Anyways, I was stalking my friend on Endomondo and went to the finish line as he got near. It was fun to see him finish strong and he finished just five minutes slower than last year after not training at all. He's keeping in shape by wakeboarding, but he seriously hasn't ran in seven months, and ended up running a good 80% of the race. Amazing. Can you imagine not running at all and then just going out and doing 13 miles? One of these years he'll train. Anyways, needless to say, he was a little more sore than I afterward.

Unfortunately the weather never really improved, so we just headed back and crashed at his place the rest of the day. We had some beers and ate pizza while watching the NFL Championship games. We were both content to go to bed early that night and then I flew out the next day. Not exactly the tropical, warm vacation I had in mind, but fun none the less. I'm happy with my time and I really enjoyed the race. I highly recommend it if you ever feel like going to Miami.

Official time: 1:48:12, 8:15/mile. 1496/14484 overall, 1186/7011 male, 148/663 M25-29.


  1. Weather always plays a factor and a cold windy day doesn't make for a PR kind of race. Enjoying yourself is all that matters (#) Glad you had a good trip.

  2. Katie1:07 PM

    I think the story you told us at the game was probably the funniest, and most disgusting, part.