Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Miami Marathon Racetastic Weekend

I'm lucky my in-laws live in Miami. It's a fabulous place to visit in January. And even better when an impending snow/ice storm is threatening to shut down an entire weekend.

Adam and I flew down Friday morning and were picked up by my brother-in-law at the airport. The 3 of us headed straight for the Miami Marathon expo to pick up our packets for the race weekend. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, Adam, and I were all doing the 5K on Saturday and I planned to meet up with JJ to run 26.2 on Sunday.

The expo was pretty standard for a large city race. Plenty of vendors offering their shiny wares and lots of free samples of snacks. I managed to escape without buying anything extra. I did find my name on the giant Miami sign--a cool touch for all the runners participating in the half and full marathons.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening running a few errands and then finally settled down at my in-laws house. Adam and I laid out our flat people and then attempted to get a few hours of sleep.
Morning came and we all begrudgingly headed down to the race start. We got there really early and after a brief walk to the start line for pictures, we went back to the car to stay warm. It was in the 50s, but it was dark and windy so it felt pretty chilly.

When it got closer to the start, we climbed back out of the car and headed toward the back of the pack.

My sister-in-law is training for the Princess Half Marathon in February and she wanted to try to run 13 minute miles so she went out ahead of us. Adam, FIL, BIL, and I all walked together. My BIL walks with my SIL sometimes and has done a few 5Ks and a 10K to support her. My FIL walks (and has recently started adding running intervals) a 1 mile loop every morning at the park before work. I was just happy to spend a gorgeous chilly and sunny morning hanging out with my family sharing a sport I love.

The course was a 1 way and was mostly flat except for a bridge section in the 3rd mile. Adam was feeling pretty good until the last mile and though he was having trouble walking, we still ended up having very consistent splits. I think about all the people that couldn't even walk a 5K and here he is doing it despite dealing with adversity. I couldn't be more proud.

I was pretty happy that the medals were really, really nice for this 5K. My FIL went out with some friends to a concert on Saturday night and I saw him carrying his medal with him. Something about that made me giddy for him.
We went out for breakfast at IHOP and then went home for naps. There were more family members to visit with and then more naps. Finally, I felt like I had rested enough that I could manage going to the hockey game without struggling to wake up on Sunday morning. 8 of us ended up going to the Panthers game and watched an awesome win AND managed to leave by 10pm.
I laid out my flat girl when we got home and then got some sleep.
The gross alarm went off at 4 and I cried a little. I. HATE. MORNINGS. And I didn't want to bother anyone to make coffee for me so I drank a Coke and hoped it would give me a caffeine boost. I ate a bagel. And then my FIL, Adam, and I piled in the car and headed downtown. Traffic was much more yucky than the morning before and so we parked in the first lot we found off the highway. It was a cold, cold, cold, windy, windy, windy walk to the start/finish and I had a Code Abby on deck.


All the lines for the porta-potties were insane and there was only about 20 minutes left before the race start. I went in search of a less busy area, but after walking 7 blocks, I ended up just deciding to grab JJ at gear check and hope the Code Abby would just magically disappear. Yeah. Right....

I gave Adam my jacket and phone, kissed him for good luck, and then JJ and I got in corral E and tucked in behind the 3:55 pace group.

It was miserably cold waiting to run, but I knew it would be perfect once we started running. Finally, our corral started moving forward and we crossed the start line!

JJ and I talked and talked and talked and talked. All the way across the bridges of Biscayne Bay and through the beautiful sunrise on South Beach.
I wasn't looking at the splits and I really didn't care how fast/slow we were going. It felt comfortable and easy. When we started going back across the bridge towards downtown, I really couldn't believe we had already gone nearly 10 miles.

My Code Abby became more urgent and I ducked into the porta-potty right around mile 10. JJ then spent the next couple of minutes running and Facebooking. Ha! Marathon running at its finest.

I started looking for my FIL and Adam as we got back into the downtown area. I was scanning the crowds and I was beginning to become discouraged because I knew we were about to leave the start/finish area and I hadn't seen them.

Fortunately, right before the half and full split, we spotted them! Yay!!

As we cruised into the second half, I still was feeling good and started to look at our pace every once in awhile. We were likely somewhere between 3:45 and 3:55 which was pretty perfect. I was remembering to eat a GU every 5 miles and it was cool enough that a cup of liquid at every aid station was adequate.

In the middle of the double digits, JJ's boyfriend Ricardo spotted us on his bike and we ran next to him for a few miles. He kept trying to get our picture, but he would not bike far enough up ahead and we'd pass him too quickly. It took him about 5 tries before he ultimately was able to snap a few shots of us.
As we headed closer to the upper teens, JJ started to have a few minor issues with cramping in her calf and toes. We stopped and walked a bit and then picked it back up again. I was trying to ride the line between being the annoying happy positive running partner and just letting her work out the frustration. Fortunately, nothing was ever long lasting and we were back running quickly.

The last 10K I started to feel the miles in my legs like a long run, but I was still feeling surprisingly fresh and happy. It was odd. Maybe the product of running 50K and 5 1/2 hours 2 weeks ago made this seem short by comparison?

We grabbed beer from a few spectators offering it around mile 22 and then went out on the last out-and-back along the bridge. It was cool enough that this part was still pretty pleasant. I imagine any other Miami race that this would be the hellish part as it was completely unshaded and the sun was now much higher.

Going back into town was the best part. The streets were lined with spectators and runners that had already finished their race. It was loud and boisterous and I had the biggest, goofiest smile on my face for the last mile. To finish another marathon feeling so dang good? I just cannot believe my own luck.

Coming down the finish chute was amazing. I love big races for the reason that they make you feel special with people lining each side screaming and cheering. Adam and my FIL called out to me and Adam managed to capture a great video of us running towards the finish line.
I had so much fun and running with JJ was a blast. I seriously lost track of miles because we were dancing, chatting with other runners, yakking at each other, and having a stupid fun time running 26.2 miles together. Conversation flowed so easily like we've been best friends forever. I feel so lucky to have found an awesome internet bestie.
The best part is that I get to do it all over again in 3 weeks in LA!!!!!

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