Monday, January 31, 2011

RR - Miami

Race Report
Sun, Jan 30/11
Miami Marathon
Miami, FL
Marathon #341
3:56:14 – 2 AG

Each day this past week seemed to bring improvement in my health after that disastrous race in Ocala the previous weekend. By Thu I was able to run a hard speed workout that included sprints and mile repeats w/o any problems so I figured I should be able to run Miami. I felt confident I could run the distance – but at what pace?

On Sat morning I drove across Alligator Alley to Miami and picked up my race packet at the Miami Beach Convention Center. I like this race but hate the logistics involved. There are more than 20,000 runners; Miami Beach and the Convention Center is a zoo and getting to/from the race and parking is a nightmare! Because I had left the decision to run Miami till the last minute I had no hotel and had to drive to the north end of Miami Beach to find a room.

After a nice pasta dinner I retired early because I had to leave by 4:30 am for the race. I wanted to park near the finish line in downtown Miami so that I could walk back to the car for my camera and get a mandatory finish line photo. I parked the car 3 blocks from the finish line and walked 6 blocks to the start line in front of the AA Center. I joined 21,000 runners – 7,000 in the Marathon and 14,000 in the Half. It was a pleasant 56 F at the 6:15 am start – sunny and 63 F at the finish. I was seeded in the ‘D’ corral which meant I had 2,000 runners in front of me. It took 2 min just to reach the start line after the race started. I was completely boxed in for the first half-mile but then the course opened up. I stayed with the crowd as we passed mile 1 in 9:26. I was not concerned about the slow start. I used the time to check how I felt? Energy level – OK. No ‘sucking for air’. I figured the ‘good’ body had shown up for the race? Ever since I have had to deal with this nasty disease (UC) I have had to learn how to accept and adapt to daily changes in my health/life. On some mornings when I go out for a training run I am totally fatigued and sucking for air within the 1st mile and have to turn around a walk home. Two days later I can run a speed workout w/o problems? I have learned to say that on the ‘bad’ days my ‘bad’ body shows up and on the ‘good’ days my ‘good’ body shows up! Ocala was the first race where the ‘bad’ body showed up. However today – thankfully – the ‘good’ body showed up!

I stayed with the crowd as they pulled me through mile 2 in a 7:58 split! Whoa! Way too fast! I tried to slow down as we passed through SoBe but my pace was up and down until I reached mile 5 in 43:15 and a split of 8:22. Still too fast! When I reached mile 10 in 1:26:40 and a split of 8:37 I had settled into a pace that seemed smooth and comfortable. I continued at that pace until I passed the Half in 1:53:43 and a split of 8:44. I did a gut check. I felt OK but already knew that my legs could not run the 2nd Half that fast. I decided to hold the pace at 8:45s and see how long that would last? Unfortunately not too long! When I reached mile 16 in 2:20:04 and a split of 8:59 I knew I was in trouble. I was beginning to struggle. I decided to hold a 9-min pace until mile 20 and do another gut check. When I reached mile 20 in 2:55:59 and a split of 9:03 I did another gut check. It was not good! I was in BIG trouble! We were leaving the residential streets of Coconut Grove and heading back to downtown Miami. I was running on energy fumes and my legs were hurting. I knew the final 10K was going to be UGLY. The race was now 90% mental and 10% physical. I calculated that if I could hold a sub-10 min pace I would still break 4 hrs. I managed to keep the old legs moving/shuffling to reach mile 22 in 3:15:22 and a split 0f 9:58 – my slowest split of the race! At that point I knew the race was essentially over for me. The gas tank was empty and the legs were finished! And I was facing the worst section of the course. The course makes a 1-mile detour on to Rickenbacker Causeway that is flat and straight and you can see the whole mile in front of you! When you are dying that mile looks really LONNNNGGGGGGGGGG!

My only option (other than walking which was not acceptable) was to hand the race over to Maddog! He immediately started to play mind games with me – “one foot at a time” he shouted! Then he challenged me to pull in a runner a few hundred feet ahead of me. Next he spotted a ‘gray hair’ and challenged me to pass him. I reached mile 23 in 3:24:49 and a split of 9:26 and finally caught ‘gray hair’ just before mile 24 in 3:34:36 and a split of 9:46. Maddog screamed at me that if I could hold that pace I would finish under 4 hrs! I blocked out everything around me and ignored the pain and somehow managed to keep the old legs shuffling to cross the finish line in 3:56:14! There was absolutely nothing left in my legs as I stumbled through the finish chute.

The next challenge was to find a way around the maze of barricades to get back to the car and return to the finish line for a photo. I didn’t even try to find where the results were posted. I had a noon deadline for checkout at the hotel and was getting close. I soon discovered I had made a strategic error in parking near the finish line as I became trapped in downtown traffic as we sat parked on a street for 20 minutes and watched the kids 5K race wind through downtown. Do not park near the finish line when you run Miami! Thankfully the hotel let me take a quick shower and I was soon back on Alligator Alley driving 100 mph to get home! (Toll road – very few cops!) It was a tough drive because my legs were sore and starting to cramp!

I later checked the results on the web and learned my official finish time was 3:56:14 and 2nd AG. The winner had only beat me by 2 minutes! Even if I had known I was that close I don’t believe I could have done anything about it – I had given everything I had on that day!

Now I have to count on Maddog’s strength – his ability to recover quickly – so that I can start training and preparing for the Melbourne Music Marathon next weekend.

Stay tuned!

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