IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Miami Half Marathon 2007

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale early Saturday afternoon. The airport had banners plastered everywhere advertising the Super Bowl. Made me proud to say that "my" Chicago Bears would be playing next weekend! It was about a half hour drive to Miami. We checked into the hotel, (more banners for the Super Bowl) which was within 10 minutes walking distance from the start/finish of the race. However, we needed to take a shuttle to the expo for packet pickup. This was a bit confusing and just a little stressful as the afternoon was slipping away and the expo was shutting down soon. I must admit, I've been a bit spoiled with the extravagant expos that are held at our major Chicago races. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this expo. It was a good size, not too big, not too small. However, I was more than disappointed when the only size they had left in the race t-shirts was Large. The shirts are pretty sweet and who couldn't use another dri-fit shirt to add to their collection??

It was great to be in the nice weather, but it wasn't quite as warm as I had expected. It was mostly sunny on Saturday afternoon, but by early evening, it was a bit chilly and I didn't dare change into shorts. We had a nice pasta dinner outside, overlooking the water, at a restaurant at Bayside Market (you got it, lots of Super Bowl banners...merchants selling jerseys, t-shirts and everything you could think of with the Super Bowl XLI logo on it) just outside the Port of Miami. The food was excellent, however, there wasn't very much of it!! On the walk back to the hotel, I insisted we stop at the Walgreens to pick up a little pre-race breakfast, but also a little more food for that night...I was still pretty hungry!

I woke around 4:50am on Sunday morning. The race started at 6:10, so I wanted to make sure we were lined up by 5:40. As soon as I got up, I walked over to the balcony of our room and threw open the door, expecting to be greeted by cool air. However, it was quite warm. So warm, in fact, I decided I wouldn't even need to wear my "throw away" shirt I planned to wear until I warmed up. It had to be upper 60s already, though I couldn't be quite sure. We met some non-running friends in the lobby to walk over to the race start. Immediately when we walked out of the hotel, little sprinkles of rain began to fall. The rain was a little cool, which gave me goosebumps and made the hair stand up on my arms. Damn, wish I had brought along that throw away after all! One of my friends asked if the rain bothered me when I ran. "Not really, " I replied. "Only when it's POURING and it soaks my shoes does rain really become an issue." How ironic that statement would be....

I think that the rain began to fall steadily harder with each minute it took for us to walk to the start of the race. I was very thankful that I had decided to wear the race hat they gave us because it kept the rain from pelting me in the face. This was no longer a sprinkle, this was a solid rain now. As we lined up in the corral for the half marathon (the full marathon runners lined up in the corral to the right), the rain started coming down in full force. My clothes were already soaked through, but now I started to feel my feet getting wet through both my shoes and socks. The only dry area of my entire body was now a small part of my face that was protected by the visor of the race-provided hat. I crossed my arms in front of me and held them close to my body in effort to keep warm. I was thankful it wasn't very windy, but the rain was coming down in sheets. Some runners were yelling and cheering, getting louder when the big rain drops seemed to come down harder. Sort of like they were taunting the rain, letting it know that the rain couldn't ruin this run for them. Other runners were groaning each time the rain came down harder. These were the biggest raindrops I had ever felt! The rain was dripping off my hat, arms, shirt and shorts, running down my legs soaking my socks AND shoes! This was definitely NOT the picture I had in mind when I signed up for this race! Later, I learned our spectator friends immediately went back to the hotel when they left us. The rain bummed them out so much, they didn't even stick around for the start of the race.

For a split second, I thought about just bagging it and going back to the hotel. I was just doing this race for fun, anyway. I had no time goal in mind. I was just out there to have fun and get in a fully-supported 13.1 mile training run. However, I already got up early, was dressed and waiting to go, so I might as well just run now. I hoped that my sopping wet feet would warm up, as would my hands, already pruny from being soaking wet, once we got started.

The national anthem, the gun, and yet another race had started. The race was a nice size. Not the gigantic event the Chicago Marathon is, but not the tiny little race that the Tucson Marathon is. Kinda like the Flying Pig, this seemed to be a good, sizable crowd. The first mile did seem a bit crowded. I forgot what it's like to start running with all these last few running races were quite small. And in triathlon, everyone starts out running at different times. So it was fun to run with a bunch of people again, however, it made me realize maybe we lined up too far back. I felt like we did a lot of zig zagging to get around people.

About a mile into the race, the rain subsided. Go figure. We're already soaking wet, it might as well keep raining now!! Now I just waited for the sun to come out so I could warm up a little. Before we hit mile 2, we went over the first of 3 bridges. It was still dark when we were at this point, but later, I would see this bridge we ran over and it must've looked really cool to see a bunch of runners crossing it. We ran past all the cruise ships in port and that took my mind off the run for a bit.

With the strong rain that came down in such a short period of time, there were LOTS, and I do mean LOTS of places along the course with standing water. It was deep enough to get your shoes wet, even if you didn't splash, so I had do pull off some quick maneuvers to try and get around those places without stepping in the water. But I also had to be aware of the runners who didn't care and just ran through the deep puddles, because if your feet landed near them at just the right time, the water they were displacing would cover your feet worse than if you ran through the puddle yourself! Why did I care, my feet were already soaked!! I don't know, I guess I didn't want to be any more wet than I had to be at this point. My hands were so uncomfortable and there was no way to dry them off. My clothes were soaked through. My shirt stuck to my body which made it pretty uncomfortable until I focused on thinking of other things. My shorts, loaded with Clif Shots and Aquaphor and soaked with rain, kept falling down! WTF?!!?!? This was going to be a long 13 miles....

By mile 4, I started to warm up. The sun was trying to break its way through the clouds. I tried chatting with a few other runners here and there, but it was a pretty quiet crowd. I tried to focus on keeping my turnover high, since I wasn't really worried about pace. The course was on a few busy streets, a cozy little residential section and closer to three-quarters of the way through the race, we went through the town of Miami Beach. It was the only section where there were actual spectators gathered (well, aside from the finish). I'm guessing the rain scared off many people, but by this point, the rain was gone, the sun was out and the temperature was quite comfortable. True, it was more humidity than I was used to, but back home, I would be freezing, so I wasn't complaining!

Somewhere along the line, I felt a blister developing on the arch of my right foot. Oh well, that was to be expected with the amount of water I was carrying in my sock and shoe. It was going to take days for these shoes to dry out! I tried to run on the outside of my right foot so as to not make the blister any worse, but that wasn't very comfortable, so I just returned to my normal gait and hoped for the best. I think it was around mile 12.5 where the marathon course went straight and the half marathoners turned to the left. You could hear the music and the crowd at this point and I couldn't believe it was almost over already.

I crossed the finish line and made my way through the runners to collect my medal. My clothes were still entirely soaked through, in fact, I literally wrang out my shirt. They gave us "spinner" medals, which were pretty cool. Big medal for a half marathon! I snagged a banana and half a bagel from the food line, went to have my chip snipped off and immediately wished I had gear checked a dry shirt. Within minutes, I was chilled with no way to warm up.

I found several friends from Chicago at the finish line. We shared a few race stories and everyone was smiles at the end. Though it wasn't the picture-perfect Miami weather we mid-westerners were hoping for, it was not so bad. The race was well-organized, the course was flat, however, the aid stations needed a few more volunteers. I saw several stations that had no full cups as we ran by. The volunteers were frantically trying to keep up, but their efforts were futile. The runners drank more quickly than the volunteers could pour.

It was nice to get away and run in a t-shirt and shorts in January. Might just have to make a "weekend getaway race" an annual event...

1 comment:

Griz said...

Awesome job, I would like to do a half marathon in LA.