Monday, February 03, 2003

RR Miami

Miami Tropical Marathon

What a fun weekend! The weather was great, the marathon was fun and South Beach is a blast!Only a 4-hour drive from Sarasota to Miami but very boring since we used I 75 all the way. Spotted lots of alligators along 'Alligator Alley'. Then we were in Miami and as we made our way through the city to South Beach we both looked at each other and said "No way would I want to live here!" Too big and too busy for us poor old country folk!South Beach (or SoBe) is very charming with it's art deco district and there is lots of activity along Ocean Drive and the Beach. Biggest problem is parking! Very few hotels provide parking and street parking is impossible to find on a weekend so we had to scout around for a public or private parking garage that charge up to $20 flat rate per day with no 'in and out' priveleges. The best bet is to park your car, leave it and walk or taxi everywhere.However after we checked into our funky hotel in the art deco district only a block from the beach we had to head to downtown Miami to the host hotel to pick up my race package.I was somewhat surprised at the size of the race and the expo for an inaugural race - 2,000 runners in the marathon and another 3,000 in the Half. I was also slightly annoyed at some of the organization logistics. Every runner had to attend a 15-minute video presentation on the race before they could pick up their race package. What a joke. Nobody paid attention to the information about the race course, start and staging areas! (as proven the next morning) Then I had to search for the T-shirt and race package area after I got my number and chip?That job done we hunted down our running friend, Edson from NYC and drove back to SoBe for a nice pasta dinner at one of the many restaurants along Ocean Drive.Sunday was M-day. I had to get up at 4:30am to leave for downtown by 5am. Many party animals were still bar-hopping and staggering around SoBe as I made my way to the parking garage at 5am. Needless to say, my sports manager/birthday girl was not going to get up that early? She indicated that she might get up and watch us run past our hotel which was located at the 5-mile mark of the course. I arrived at the start about 5:30 am (for a 6am start) and immediately looked for the port-o-johns for my last minute duties. Another big logistics problem - they didn't have enough of them and the lines were a mile long. And there are no bushes in downtown Miami to hide behindSo I had to get in line and I was concerned that I would still be in line or in the toilet when the race started? Fortunately I got in (and out) about two minutes before the start of the race but then had to scramble to the staging area and jump in about two or three hundred feet from the start. I knew I was in trouble already when I found myself lined up behind 'runners' with backpacks? But I didn't have time to make my way closer to the start line before the race started. The staging area had the 2,000 marathoners on the east side of Biscayne Dr (in front of the AA Arena) and the 3,000 Half runners on the west side. But we all merged within the first 1/2 mile. Yes, you guessed it! It was a zoo! I was completely boxed in with walkers, idiots with packpacks and I couldn' t run faster than a 9 to 10 minute pace! This box or congestion lasted all the way across the Macarthur Causeway to SoBe.There was nothing I could do about it except console myself with the fact that it was probably better for my legs to start out slow and easy? Finally we reached Ocean Dr on SoBe around 3 miles and the course started to open up and I managed to pick up my pace. At mile 5 - No Sports Manager? Heck it's only 6:45am - I wasn't surprised!Around mile 8 I caught up with Edson. He had managed to get right on the start line so had beat all the crazies (who didn't obviously pay attention to that video presentation) and was running a smooth and easy 8:30 pace. So I slowed down and ran with him until we reached the half in1:51:07. All the Half runners had dropped off and the marathoners were now well spread out. So I did a body check - the legs/hams were tight and slightly sore but I had not experienced any sharp or shooting pains that had been plaguing me the past three weeks. And my energy level felt good since we had been running easy. So I decided to lower the pace and run a negative split for the 2nd half and ensure that I defended my'Three Amigos' championship.I immediately dropped the pace to sub 8s and held that pace until 20 miles. At that point I did my normal gut check and determined that nothing had changed since mile 13 so I might as well drop the pace to 7:45s until mile 23 and recheck. As I approached mile 23 I caught up to two young lads/runners from Rhode Island. I overheard that they were trying to pull each other to a sub-3:35 finish so I decided to stick with them for the last 5K. I drafted off them for the next mile and then I took the lead for the next 1 1/2 miles. They both praised and cursed me as I dropped the pace to 7:25! With only a 1/2 mile to go one young buck made his move and surged by me. Now it was my turn to bitch and moan as I tried to hang on to him as he pulled me across the finish line in 3:33:16!I was quite pleased with my performance and time. I had run 1:42:09 for the 2nd Half - a negative split by 9 minutes. But I don't know if it counts when you deliberately run the 1st Half slower than you are capable of? But more importantly I had not experienced any shooting pains or injuries in my hams. Maybe I am finally on the road to recovery?After I finished I did wait for Edson to cross the finish line in 3:48 to confirm that I had successfully defended the 'Three Amigos' Award. Then it was back to SoBe so that my Sports Manager - who was finally up - could explore SoBe and watch all the pretty people along the Beach. I decided to 'fall off the wagon' for the day and we checked out a few bars along the beach while searching for a good restaurant to celebrate the race and the sport manager's birthday. The weather was great. The temperature had been 51 F at race start but with a brisk wind blowing off the Atlantic had felt cool for the first Half. It had warmed up the the low 60s by the time I finished and then reached the high 70s in the afternoon as we strolles along the beach.We enjoyed a great birthday dinner at a restaurant on Ocean Dr with live guitar music as we watched the 'pretty people' stroll by. SoBe is a zoo on the weekends - wall-to-wall people and traffic from noon til ??? - even on Sunday night.Now we are back and it is time to get back to a normal routine. Legs are still tight and sore but I believe I am staring to heal and maybe can start some speedwork again? Next marathon in two weeks - glad I am slowing down.

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