It’s been two months since I ran the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon, and I thought it was about time for a recap. With the holidays having past and resolutions being made, I liked the idea of putting this recap at the start of the year. It’s a great motivator and will, hopefully, encourage me, and perhaps a few others, to keep going.
As I mentioned last week, I’m not great with new year resolutions, so I was thrilled when 1) Elf4Health challenged its participants to set a new fitness goal, and 2) one of my closest friends asked if our other friend and I would set fitness goals together. Accountability goes a loooong way! So after thinking long and hard, here’s what I came up with:
Fitness Goal – 1 pull-up and at least 3 local races.
I’ve never done either, so this recap is my reminder that I can accomplish great things and that hard work and determination will get me there. For those looking for a quick summary, scroll down to the Q&A section for a brief rundown, but for those wanting the full story…read on!
Every year for the past seven years two of my closest friends, Krista and Kathleen, and I have taken a girls trip. Two kids, one wedding, a few pets, and three moves later, we’re still holding true to our commitment to spend time together. We live in three different countries, so this is a very special time of year for us. It’s true girl time, it’s me time (I get to ride on an airplane by myself – hello, glass of wine and People magazine!), and it’s silly, get a little crazy time. We’ve been to New York, Miami (now twice), Las Vegas, Austin, and even the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Every trip has been an incredibly rewarding experience and each one has changed my life for the better.
This year we decided to be a bit more productive and actually accomplish something besides our usual shenanigans. We decided on the Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon because not only did we get to dress up in fun costumes, but it was on a Saturday, leaving us two full nights of girl time and, well, let’s face it, debauchery;) We could possibly be the most fun girls in the world – LOL!
When we first arrived on Friday, we rushed over to FootWorks Miami to pick up our race day packets and were pleasantly surprised to find paleo sandwiches for sampling. A great start to the racing experience! I bought a foam roller (remember how I love my gadgets?) and off we went to Lincoln Road to browse and find something to eat. I couldn’t believe how much Lincoln had changed since we were last there. There was now a Shake Shack, Rosa Mexicana, Dylan’s Candy, and Seredipity 3 (all NYC staples); I swear I was in New York, except there were palm trees! We sat down to eat at Nexxt Cafe – probably the biggest menu ever, about as big as the Cheesecake Factory – and opted for sautéed chicken with mushrooms, asparagus, rice, and water, lots of water. Unfortunately, no drinking yet!
Afterward, we went searching for a cape to go with Kathleen’s costume, stopped for a sampling of Tasti D-Lite (just couldn’t resist), and headed back to the hotel. We opened our race day packets, organized our costumes for the next day, and got ready for bed. We were all dressed for bed when suddenly we realized we didn’t have any safety pins for our bibs. There weren’t any in the packet!!! Bugger! Since there was no chance in hell any of us were heading out to buy any, we called the front desk and, luckily, they had a few to spare! Unlike any of our other girl’s trips, we were in bed by 10:30pm. It was weird, it was so weird to go to bed early!
The race started at 6:30am so we were up by 5am. I braided my hair, sprayed it pink, and threw on my costume. By 5:45 we were all ready to go. We took a few pictures with the front desk staff (right after they gave us the safety pins), grabbed a cab which oddly became the same cab we took to dinner that night, and off we went to Jungle Island where the race began.
The costumes were fabulous, the bathroom line was long and kind of smelly (if you’re a runner you know exactly what this means), and before we had a chance to really let any nerves set in we ran off to catch the tail end of the starting line.
And then we were off! We started with a slow, but steady pace. About a half mile into the race, as I looked out to the sea of people in front of me, a rush of emotion came over me and I began to cry. It only lasted a minute, and the same exact thing happened during the NYC marathon. I was overjoyed to be a part of something so spectacular and honored to be running with so many people who worked so hard to be there that day. Sometimes I get emotional…I have no doubt I will cry at every race from here on out. And, in fact, I’ll know I’ve been doing this too long when the tears are no longer there. Sniff, sniff. Okay, back to my story…
The first few miles were very fun, we pretty much chatted the whole way! At mile 4, we hit the beach. “Whoa, beach running?! Might as well tie weights to my feet!” Okay, it wasn’t exactly that bad, but it was totally unexpected. So we stopped to take a picture, hey, we were on the beach, it was a must, and shortly thereafter we found a great rhythm.
At mile 6 we noticed the 2:00 hour mile runner running toward us (he’d already reached the turn around point), so we decided to pick up the pace. I think the longest bit was miles 7, 8, and 9 which were in and around Lincoln Drive. It was, however, fun to run by the people waiting in line at the Apple store. We were running a half, and they were in line for the new Apple iPad Mini. Nothing like a crowd of people watching you to give you a little push. By mile 10 the realization that there were only three miles left gave me a boost to push even further, so again we picked up the pace. Mile 11 we were back on the beach. This time around it was a bit more challenging to get my footing, but once that was over it was down hill from there (not literally, although that would have been fun!).
And with a time of 2:19:21, it was over. Was it a personal best? No. But, did we care? No. We talked, we laughed (I cried), we sweated, and we achieved! I was, however, thrilled that my last three miles were under 10mi/hr, with mile 12 being at 9:20. It felt great to have a strong finish. This was also my very first race running in minimalist shoes (Vibram FiveFingers), which I was nervous about, but turned out to be incredible. Of course, the minute we crossed the finish line we began planning our next adventure. I think there may be a mud run in our near future;)
To celebrate, we had a fabulous breakfast at the News Cafe, a poolside lounge and cocktail at our hotel, and then a spectacular steak dinner at Prime 112 that night. And did we indulge in the bacon on the bar? Oh, yes, we did!
The rest of the weekend is, well, between us. What happens on girl’s weekend, stays on girl’s weekend – LOL! I will say, though, that we had another weekend of unforgettable memories.
Half Marathon at a Glance
1. What was unexpected?
You might think it was the old, but incredibly fit couple running in their underwear, but no. It was the mile long beach running that was most unexpected. At mile 4 it wasn’t too bad, but I was nervous of getting sand in my shoes so I was definitely running very oddly. At mile 11 (when we returned) I was no longer worried about the sand, but I could definitely feel the added leg workout the beach gave. It was my first time running on a beach, so getting a good rhythm (I find it hard for my feet to get a good grip in sand) was a bit challenging.
2. What was the weirdest thing you saw/that happened?
Okay, now insert the old, but incredibly fit couple running in their underwear. Just kidding! Actually, it was the pictures we were asked to take with random strangers as we walked along Ocean Avenue on our way to breakfast. We were stopped two (maybe three) times and asked to have our pictures taken with people we didn’t know. Hmmm…kinda weird. I wonder where our photo ended up=\
3. What was my time?
2:19:21 net time.
4. What was the best part?
Most definitely, it was running with my friends. I love running with people, and having two very dear friends there was such a remarkable experience. Being able to achieve something with the people you love is truly amazing. I felt the same way when my husband and I completed the NYC marathon. Unforgettable.
5. What would I change?
Next time, I’d bring safety pins. This was only my second race, so I guess I was spoiled in my first race that included safety pins in the race day packet. I mean really!!! We were all surprised. Luckily, the hotel has some to spare, so crisis averted!
6. What did the organizers do really well?
I thought the finish line was very well organized with all the essentials you’d expect – tons of volunteers, snacks, beverages, and it was even positioned near a park giving runners the perfect area to stretch, take pictures, or pass out!
7. What needed some work?
Besides including safety pins with the bib? LOL, okay, no more safety pin talk. The only thing I’d say could be improved upon was having more mile markers toward the end. I’m happy I had my watch with me, but we all kept looking for them. When you want to push yourself, it’s helpful for those without watches to know how far they’ve come. Everything else though was fantastic.
8. What training program did I use?
9. What do I need to improve?
Well, I’d say I would really like to improve three things:
- More aggressive start – I always start off slow to ensure I don’t over do it too quickly, then once I’m warmed up and start to feel pretty good I pick up the pace. I’d like to try warming up before a race first and starting with a more confident approach. Any suggestions or tips?
- Follow a specific pace plan – with both the marathon and this half, I simply ran and let the training guide me. I think I’d like to try running a race and pushing the pace a bit more by following a specific plan. After both races I felt I had more to give. Have you used the pace bands? Those look pretty cool and I think could possibly be one of my new gadgets for 2014!!!
- Finish line photo – Okay, both races were brutal. I seriously need some help in this area. Every time I forget the photographer is there and have the worst finish line photo!!! UGH!
10. Would I run this race again?
Absolutely!!!! I highly recommend it for all runners. The costumes are cool, the runners are fantastic, and Miami is just crazy fun!