Saturday, February 4, 2012

Miami Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 7; 1st Edition 
13.1 miles raced in 2012
Race: Miami Half Marathon
Place: Miami, FL
Miles from home:  2532 miles
Weather: 70s; cloudy; humid

This past weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Miami Marathon.  I can’t believe it has only been ten years. I also cannot believe, given how much I have worked with those involved with the race that I haven’t been at every single one.  That is what this race does to you – makes you feel like family.
Life changes things on you.  It doesn’t care much what your plans are when it comes down to brass tacks. My original plan was to run the marathon and set a new personal best in Florida.  Then I decided a new PR in the half-marathon distance itself would be my goal.  Finally, when tons of “Life” got in the way, I decided I would simply turn the half-marathon into one of a long day of running in and around Miami.

A VERY late arriving flight had me on fumes when I hit the expo on Friday morning.  However, as expos always do, I was invigorated by all the action. The people I met with their own goals for 2012 and those who didn’t have any goal other than finishing whatever distance race they were taking on always fill me with such warmth. I gave two talks to runners at the expo and as usual, I meet people who themselves are on their own journey, many doing things that have been deemed impossible.  I have told them when they meet naysayers to simple nod and smile and continue on. The best answer to anyone who says you cannot do something is by simply going out and doing it.

Come race morning, I actually felt the best I had in a week.  As I type this I am still, almost a week later, trying to shake a head cold that simply will not go away.  But as I trotted the four plus miles from my hotel to the start of the race I felt just fine. I saw crews setting up aid stations and my friends at 82go were getting their water bods ready to be given to runners on the course.  Here, some 4 miles from the start of the race, they simply laughed when they saw me running.  I told them I had nearly 30 miles to run today and I had to get it in where I could.

Arriving with plenty of time before the race started I mingled with the crowd.  The energy was palpable. I knew that after the event, I would be assisting Ryan Hall, Andy Baldwin, and Mrs. USA Shannon Ford in helping with the Run For Something Better program. I was probably more excited about working with these kids than I was for my own race. I learned that Ryan hadn't run much of anything since his awesome showing at the Olympic Trials a few weeks prior.  He looked like a man who had really given his all and was basically spent. Andy was joing the 35 yar old club a week later and was running to raise money for charity by doing 35 miles on his birthday.  Shannon and I talked about which cuts of lean beef we liked the best and promised to go grab some steak on my next trip to Miami (with her husband, natch!)
With fireworks shooting off into the still-black morning, we were underway. The only real hill to speak of was over and done with after less than a mile as we headed onto the MacArthur Causeway.  Having done this race on four separate occasions (two half and two marathons), I am quite familiar with the layout. Enjoying the morning was all I had in mind.  However, as the first three miles went by way faster than I planned, and I was using minimum effort to do so, I thought maybe I will just sit here at this speed until the body says “no”.

As three miles turned into 6, and I ran within two blocks of my hotel, Miami Beach was just awakening.  Actually, it was probably just going to sleep.  They say New York never sleeps and that may true but it is not still salsa dancing at 4 AM either. I have no idea how anyone gets anything done on South Beach.

As we runners turned onto the Venetian Causeway, I ran right passed the people I had seen about two hours previously.  “Hey, that’s the guy we saw running earlier!” one shouted.  I had them toss me an 82Go bod and caught it mid-air.  Unfortunately, two people threw me bods and I am not that dexterous. I wish I had caught both as it was a warm day in Miami.  Not blisteringly hot but still far warmer than I would have liked. Fortunately, not only did the cloud cover make sure it was not hotter by keeping the sun off of our backs, the predicted storms stayed off-shore for the entirety of the race. Any semblance of tolerance I built to humidity by living in DC for four years has long since vanished.  I simply wilt in this type of weather.  I remember cresting the initial causeway, one mile into the race, and just being drenched. My hat goes off to anyone who can run well in this type of weather.  My body does not like at all.

As the race began its final miles, I realized this would be the first race ever in which I would not be able to call home and tell my father how I had done. With his passing the week prior, I was now down to one wonderful parent. At the expo the day before I had met many combinations of parent and child running and I wanted to tell them all how lucky they were.  I did so in an understated way, deftly avoiding any talk about my own father.  Last thing I needed to do was cry at an expo. But I think I made the point pretty clear nonetheless.

As I finished the run, in a time that far exceeded my goals for the day (1:30:52 when I thought a 1:35 would be just fine), I was very reserved. I did not burst into tears and I did not really smile.  I was in more of a numb middle-ground.  Happy to be there, happy to be competing, but wishing things could be different. Dedicating this one race to my father seemed a little trite. I decided that I would dedicate the entire year of racing to him. All of the miles I train, race and explore will be in his memory and honor. For the man who had never run for the entirety of my life, not by choice mind you, I would run and run and run.

C.S. Lewis has a wonderful quote.  It goes “If one could run without getting tired I don't think one would often want to do anything else." I have to agree with him.  And while I plan on throwing in some swimming, cycling and other activities in 2012, I am going to do my best to enjoy every bit of all it.

Hope you do too.

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