Thursday, February 02, 2017


My Miami journey this year. I went ahead and shaded periods of walking in red. As you can see, it was at least 80% jogging.
Well, against all odds, there I was again, toeing the start line in Miami. Despite not running more than four miles since May (eight months), I was about to embark on a thirteen mile adventure. And you know what? I was kind of excited! I was able to fight through whatever knee stuff was going on and get a minimum baseline of fitness back, enough that I hoped would bring me through the finish. I had a total green light to walk if I had to and absolutely no time goal. Just finishing would be a huge accomplishment.

I flew into Miami on Thursday, as usual, but didn't get in until almost midnight as my second flight was delayed. I went to bed shortly after because we were going to wake up at 6am to drive up to the Kennedy Space Center. I ended up getting only about four hours of sleep (after four hours the night before the flight) but surprisingly I wasn't too exhausted. We had an awesome time at the KSC and it was very cool for a space enthusiast like me! The Saturn V was unbelievable!

The Space Shuttle Atlantis!
Saturday was lower key. I was able to sleep in and get my eight hours before we headed off to the race expo at Marlins Park. This was really cool. Instead of the typical convention center, it was held in the new baseball stadium, which was REALLY nice. The expo itself was all around the concourse, so by the time you had walked through it all you had lapped the field. Very cool. Too bad nobody goes to Marlins games. Anyways, other than that novelty, you've been to one expo, you've been to them all.

After the expo we went to Kurios, a Cirque Du Soleil show. That was very cool. I was disappointed in the last Cirque Du Soleil show I went to, the Michael Jackson one, but this one was really neat. A steampunk theme and, as usual, a lot of amazing stunts. We had really good seats too. The only thing I didn't like was spending $5 on a cardboard box of water. Their concession prices were ridiculous. The show is going to be in Portland later this year and I would highly recommend it!

Once the show was over we headed back to my friend's house and stayed low key until we went to bed. I got about four hours of sleep, like last year. With the good rest the night before it was enough though. We left his place about 4:30am and were near the start line by 5:10. Instead of taking a shuttle, this year we parked in a lot right by the start line. It was actually much slicker than the shuttle and cheaper too. So maybe we'll shoot for that again next year.

OVER THE CAUSEWAY (11:19, 11:13, 11:41, 11:01)

MacArthur Causeway
Like other years, I was placed in the "C" corral. Since there was no way I was running anything close to justifying being in that corral, I hung with my friends in the "I" corral. In fact, I decided to run the entire thing with my friend who was going to shoot for 2:30-2:45ish. That would be about 12:00/mile and perfect for the fitness I was in. I have to admit, it was kind of annoying waiting for corral after corral to go. It was almost 40 minutes by the time we started off. Normally I'm out of the gate within minutes of the first gun!

Anyways, this first part is always easy. The adrenaline of the race and the atmosphere of the start line really gets you pumped up. We made a plan to run to the bottom of the hill of the causeway and then walk up the incline. That's exactly what we did and when we were walking, it was a power walk to be sure. The walking parts toward the beginning averaged about 14:00/mile, while the running parts were more to the tune of 10:30/mile. We wouldn't be able to maintain those paces by the end of the race.

For the first five miles or so my friend was trying to stay ahead of the 2:30 pacer. We did a good job for a while, at one point probably opening up a 100 yard lead, but it just wasn't sustainable. It was good motivation for a while though. Also, I should mention the weather. About 56 and pouring rain. Felt like home to be honest. It was actually near perfect race weather, it just sucked when waiting to start and once we were done running!

TCB IN MIAMI BEACH (11:23, 12:13, 11:59, 11:59)

We took our first "defeatist" walking break at the mile five sign. Until then it was just strategic power walking up inclines and through water stations, but by mile five we decided we needed a short break. I certainly could have gone farther, but when my friend suggested it, I was more than happy to go along. Remember, I hadn't ran more than four miles since last May, so every step was already more than I had done in a long time.

Somewhere in South Beach (the 10k mat).
At this point in the race I was still feeling pretty good. Tired, but the energy of the race was still good and I wasn't having any major problems. I was happy with the way my body was performing in terms of energy and pain level. My legs felt pretty good and my cardio was holding up due to the slightly slower pace. All told, the pace I was going was just about perfect... maybe if I really wanted to kill myself I could have done a sub 11:30 pace, but it would have been tough. For this race, I just wanted to cross the finish line, and at this point I was pretty sure I could do it without issue.

This part of the course is always a little boring. Sure, you get to run on Sunset Drive, but it is 7am in the morning and the whole place is kind of dead. You can't see the beach or anything so really you might as well be running down just about any street. There was a slight course change this year that introduced a short out and back section... I actually enjoyed this. Something about out and backs is just so much fun... seeing all the people ahead of you, and then getting to see everyone behind you. Just something to mix it up.

REVENGE OF THE VENETIANS (12:19, 12:42, 12:52)

Unconvincing thumbs up.
The Venetian Island section is three miles long and boy did it feel like it! About mile eight the energy in my body seemed to just leave and all of a sudden an overall fatigue racked my body. It felt a lot like the "20s" of a marathon. At one point there was also a pretty strong headwind. By now, my gaze was strictly focused on the ten feet in front of me.

The last mile of continuous running also took place on this stretch. At mile 8.5 my friend remarks "let's run and not stop until 9.5!" to which some other guy says "why not 10.5!" To which we reply, "I like your style! 10.5 it is!" Well, let's just say, it took everything we had to make 9.5. Without that exchange we would have been walking earlier for sure. My watch hit 9.5 and I mentioned that we could walk, but no, my friend's watch wasn't there yet. So an agonizing .05 miles later we finally got our break.

Overall the two of us took turns getting exhausted and trying to encourage one another. There are times where I felt decent and there are times when I wanted to quit. Again, a lot like the 20s of marathons I actually trained for. At one point I ate about 15 Honey Stinger gummies in about thirty seconds. No joke. I was eating them two at a time prior but I was so exhausted I got desperate tanked every last one I had. I did feel a lot better, but it didn't last. By the time I hit the end of the islands I was back to being exhausted.

DOWNTOWN DOS (12:39, 12:28)

These final two miles downtown always seem like forever. This year was no different. At least this year I was able to eat the pineapple they pass out. I never have wanted to eat it flying by at 7:45ish a mile and near the finish. This year however, this year it was a treat for the senses! And gave a nice little energy boost that lasted two blocks.

Because the finish line is so close, these last two miles are manageable. You know you are almost done. I was doing some quick math on my watch to see if we could get in under 2:40. My calculations told me that, yes, yes we could. As long as we kept up our mid 12 pace, we should be golden.

By the time the split came with about a half mile to go I was so ready to be done. My body was starting to falter at this point and my jog had become more of a animated limp. Once the finish line was in sight though... I forgot all about this. I let my friend finish a few seconds ahead and then crossed the line myself. It was over!


Overall, running a half marathon is no joke. This was probably the hardest half marathon I have ever done and it's pretty easy to figure out why. I wasn't trained at all. I'm glad I had the baseline fitness I did though. However, every other half I've run I've actually been trained for that distance. Not here though. It made for an interesting run.

In the end, it felt a lot like a marathon. The lack of energy toward the end of the race. The limping in the finish chute. The inability to go up stairs or lift yourself off the toilet. Mad respect for people who finish these things without training. Running thirteen miles is no joke. 90 minutes, 150 minutes, 210 minutes... whatever... it's an accomplishment. What a world removed from when I was from running 1:37 and winning that half though!

OFFICIAL RESULTS: 2:39:19, 12:10/mile. 10,193/14,133 overall, 5695/6982 male, 798/936 M30-34.

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