|Happy to have my bib|
I was looking forward to the Expo because I have read about them on many blogs and just wanted the experience one at a major event. I had been to a couple of smaller mini expos that were nothing to really write home about, and mainly just made me want to see an expo at a major event even more.
The Expo: The excitement of the crowd and buzz in the air from a room full of fellow Runnerds just can't be beat. I love just being around so many people, who share the same sort of passion and obsession with running. And, I have never been in a room before with so many taped up knees and achillies tendons in my life! I fit right in here! Hiroko and I walked from our hotel to the expo shuttle bus with a couple from Austin, TX. We talked about running, races, and injuries all the way to the pick up spot and most of the bus ride. If I had any complaints about the expo, it would be the location and the buses. The start and finish of the race were in downtown along with most of the hotels where runner's were staying. However, the expo was in Miami Beach, which meant you either had to drive or take the shuttle buses. I don't know if the the separate locations was a way to spread out the economic impact of the race or if it was just do to scheduling, but it caused a lot of confusion. Also the shuttles just sucked. They were school buses that were uncomfortable and didn't maneuver well through Miami traffic. The trip across town, which seemed to take close to an hour left me drained.
|Ryan Hall speaking to the expo.|
After cruising the room a few times, buying some gel, and picking up all the free swag I could get my grubby little hands on, Hiroko and I went for lunch then returned for another hell ride on the shuttle. The ride back was worse than the ride to the expo. Everyone seemed to agree that riding the bus was just awful.
Race Morning -- Hiroko and I got up and made our way to the Finish line with no problem. We spent a few minutes scouting out the area and decided where she would be at the end of the race so we could see each other as I made my way to the finish. Afterward, we went to the starting area and scouted out a place for her to stand at the start she could cheer me on as I began the race.
|View from the starting line|
|A great Picture of the stating area that Hiro took.|
Miles 2, 3, and 4: False Hope -- These mile were on the MacArthur Causeway, which was a great place to run in the morning. The cruise ships along the causeway provided a spectacular sight. I was running well and enjoying the chatter from the other runners around me. I picked up my pace by skipping the first water stop. I ran to the outside as most of the runners moved over to get water and hit the port-a-johns. Mile 2 went by right at my goal pace of 9:11.
Mile three went well and was fairly uneventful other than I notice two disturbing trends. The first thing was that I was sweating profusely and I was drinking more water than I had on any run since late summer. The temperature wasn't too extreme, but the air was thick with humidity. The other disturbing thing was that volunteers at the aid stations had begun to throw water bags to runners rather than passing then to runner', which turned the aid stations in mini water balloon fights. I made it through the third aid station without issue and did mile 3 in 9:22
Mile four saw things begin to get dicey. As we entered Miami beach we were greeted by what some locals said were a pimp and two prostitutes who were doing their best to support the runners. Honestly, the ladies were clapping and cheering just like any other people along the road, but their attire was slightly different, and since they were speaking Spanish, I have no idea what they were saying, but people seemed to find them amusing. I still felt like I was running well as I approached the aid station at mile four, but I looked away for a second and didn't notice the guy beside ask for a volunteer to throw him a bag of water, which he tossed short. I unknowingly turned into it and got hit right in the face. The bag didn't bust but caused me to drop my own water bottle which I had to stop and pick up. I was a little pissed but decided that I was going to do my best to just shake it off and enjoy the race. What sucked most was that I could hear other runner's laughing about it. Despite the water bag to the face I did mile 4 in 9:44 From this point on all of the aid stations became stressful messes. Also, all of the wet plastic bags on the ground made them slippery and dangerous. If I were the race director, I would do away with the water bags next year.
Miles 5, 6,and 7: trying to put up the good fight -- Frankly, I could feel the race slipping away from with each successive mile from this point on. I tried to tell myself that everything was alright during this period of the race, but I just couldn't find the right gear. I was feeling slow and fighting harder than I am use to on such a flat course. Mile 5 was 9:42, and led me to think that maybe my pace was evening out, but Mile 6 slipped to 9:52. I hoped that I could muster a second wind, but Mile 7 slipped to 9:59. Sweat was just pouring out and with it my ability to keep up the fight. I kept pushing and hoping that things would just suddenly click, but as we headed down Dade Blvd., the knowledge that we still needed to run the length of the Venetian Causeway began to wear heavily in my mind.
Miles 8,9,10: fighting the bonk -- The feeling that every runner dread was beginning to solidify in my hear. I knew that picking up the pace was no longer an option at this point. The Causeway was kicking the heck out of me. I just wanted the pain to stop. Pride was pushing me forward. I wasn't enjoying the crowd, the other racers, or myself at this point. I wished that that I had brought my I-pod just so a could center my thoughts on something outside of myself. Mile 8 was 10:22 and I knew that the race had gotten away from me. Mile 9 I took my second gel, which had turned to liquid rather than remain gel. It was disgusting and nearly caused me to vomit, but I fought it off. I finished the mile in 10:30. Mile 10 was my last ditch attempt to dig deep and push through the race, but it was to no avail. I pushed a little, but the race pushed back. I did the mile in 10:26.
Mile 11, 12, 13: THE BONK-- All of my attempts to avoid this failed. I didn't want to stop running, and I knew that if I did the rest of the race would be a mental hell. But, I just couldn't get my legs to keep moving. And the bonk was on. I staggered through the next the miles trying to will myself to run. Sometimes I would push myself or someone int the crowd would cheer me on and pride would push me a few blocks on, but my will to run would falter, and I would find myself walking once again. Then another runner or a policeman directing traffic would read the name on my bib and yell some support that would fuel me for a few more blocks. I remember one police officer and old runner, whose encouragement momentarily steeled my resolve and pushed me forward. I felt so much gratitude to them that I wanted to keep going more for them than for myself. Still my legs were just spent, and I just couldn't keep them churning. Still, I was moved by the support that was offer to me. People could tell that I had mentally checked out, but were doing their best to help me find the will to push on. I was moved by the sentiment and is something that I'll always remember fondly. I did mile 11 in 11:07 and mile 12 in a horrifying 13:00. Mile 13 was a little better than the last and the prospect of see Hiroko aided me. I was able to push a bit and did the mile in a sluggish 11:45. The last .1 was just me deliriously scan the crowd for Hiroko, when I saw her, I forgot about the pain, my time or the last few miles ran right up to her, kissed her, told her I love you and headed to a painful 2:17:31 finish.
Post Race: Immediately I decided that I was fine with the results of this race and wouldn't spend a minute beating myself up about anything, and I've managed to keep this promise to myself so far. The experience was amazing and something that I'll never forget. The race wasn't what I wanted, but as soon as that finishers medal was around my neck, everything felt just fine. I was sweaty mess, and my legs hated me, but after some of the mental fog of the last few miles faded away, and I stretched out my legs I could stop smiling. After returning to the hotel, I had the most wonderful ice bath and a fabulous nap.
|Male Elite Half Marathon Finishers|
|Michele Suszek former winner of the Miami Marathon and 3rd place finisher in this years Half.|
|Miami is an amazingly multicultural race.|
|Not posed in any way. Just crushed.|
|Beginning to return to human form|
|Sweaty as hell, but starting to enjoy life again|
|Ok, I am a happy man.|