I only entered the Miami marathon on an impulse, after seeing their stall at the Chicago marathon expo last October. Having sat on the entry for a couple of months – with no flights or accommodation booked until Christmas – I ended up turning it into a pretty solid 10-day holiday in the sun. Florida in January? Absolutely brilliant.
The marathon started in the dark at 6:20am. Dawn came only after about 3 or 4 miles of running. The rest of the race was actually quite similar to my experience in Chicago. I felt great until about 17 or 18 miles with a half-marathon split of just outside 7:00 pace, or a target finish time of around the 3:06 mark. Then things started to get tough in the leafy southern suburbs – but I kept going and maintained a steady pace. A PB was still a faint hope after 20 miles but with the legs caving in and another 6 miles to go (including an out-and-back section, one mile each way, along a shade-less causeway to make up miles 23 and 24) there was only one way my race was going.
Splits and comments…
- 6:22 – downhill and general start-of-race exuberance… and also, a quite speedy, pretty-in-a-pink-top, young lady runner padded along beside me for a few moments, and I inadvertently got pulled along following her for half a mile. :-)
- 6:43 – no particular reason for the speediness here, just running with the crowd.
- 7:24 – had to consciously back off a bit from the sub-7 pace.
- 7:12 – three super miles, bang on the money for target pacing.
- 6:59 – this one included the course “cheering station” and I think the 10 seconds gained in this mile is directly attributable to this spectator-lined stretch. It’s hard not to run a little faster hearing all those crazy Americans cheering wildly!
- 7:07 – broke from the half-marathon runners having felt really solid all the way to here.
- (0:45 – half: 1:32:53)
- 7:10 – still going strong, stomach cramping a bit though, definitely had too much pasta the night before, directly before going to bed.
- 7:48 – wee break, but still going okay.
- 7:09 – encouraging resumption, but my legs were getting a bit creaky…
- 7:14 – the last good mile, starting to feel that wall looming ahead of me.
- 7:20 – 20m, time still okay, but I knew the PB chance was fading. Started walking through each water station, taking 10 seconds to get fluids.
- 7:50 – knew it for sure after this split, began to really feel the legs.
- 7:29 – out the causeway, still hanging on.
- 8:20 – back in the causeway, began to feel like slowing to a walk but just about kept jogging the whole time – felt like I was going much slower than this.
- 8:50 – suffering and just wanted to finish.
- 8:03 – had a great moment at the mile 25 marker where I said to myself: “f**k sake come on, get it done” etc. And then I actually started to run a bit more freely for the last mile, instead of slowing further. Made me wonder how bad I really was, or whether my mind had given up sooner than my body.
Finish: 3:12:26 (chipped at 3:12:25)
25th in 25-29 age category
The only person with country = IRL in the race results!
On reflection, I can’t take too much from the race: no PB, no even pacing, no negative split or strong finish. But I am glad that I was able to regain some mental strength at the mile 25 marker. I had begun to give up during the 25th mile, knowing that the time was lost, but I really dug in for the last one and ran through the stiffening legs.
Pleasant course. Very flat. Most of the first half was around Miami beach and was quite scenic when crossing the link causeways back to Miami itself. Second half was quiet, the half-marathon runners were gone and the spectators dwindled to almost nothing. Overall spectator numbers were about the same as in Dublin, actually probably less, so it was a far cry from the roaring din of support in Chicago. There were a few miles through some leafy suburbs which were pleasant (but where I started to feel pain too). There was also a section where half of mile 22 and half of mile 16 ran parallel to each other, in opposite directions, on the same stretch of road. I saw the 2ndplaced runner heading for home when I was on mile 16, and then saw the 4+ hour masses on my way back.
Did I mention that Florida in January is a ridiculously good place to be? After the marathon I chilled out in the state park in Key Biscayne, an island just off the coast of south Miami. For the rest of the holiday, I headed off down to the Florida keys, all the way to Key West. This is the southernmost point in the USA and seems to be a party town all year round. Monday night at the start of February? Full venues everywhere. After that it was back up through the Everglades, up through Fort Myers and Tampa and finishing off in Disney World near Orlando. Also took a trip out to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral at the start of the trip, a couple of days before the marathon.
Miami marathon – sweet excuse to chill out in Florida, and not a bad race to boot.