January 27, 2013 6:15 AM
Written by Owen:
This trip couldn't have been timed any better. Charlotte (and most of the rest of the country) was under a terrible cold spell with freak winter storms and just miserable weather. I landed in Miami on Saturday afternoon and was greeted by 85° sunny weather. I only wished my family could be there to enjoy it with me. This trip was a treat I asked for as a birthday gift.
After landing, I got my rental car and got checked into the hotel. I was staying at a Holiday Inn Express by the airport. I wanted to stay on the beach, but Miami Beach hotels were crazy expensive. I was by myself, so there aren't a lot of photos from this trip, I am horrible at remembering to take pictures.
After checking into the hotel, unpacking, and relaxing for a bit, I drove to Miami Beach for the expo. It was a really big expo, and very well organized.
|Malissa and I are both huge Kara Goucher fans.|
After the expo, I went back to the hotel to relax for a bit. This was my only down time of the trip since I was scheduled to fly home immediately after the marathon the next day. Most people would have gone to the beach, but it just wasn't appealing to me to do that by myself. So I decided to go play some Blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino in Fort Lauderdale. I got to the point where I was quite a bit ahead, and thought about leaving with my winnings, but hadn't played very long so I kept going. I lost it, and ended up leaving down $25, but had a lot of fun.
Eating out at a nice restaurant by myself didn't sound fun either, so I bought a really yummy (huge) sandwich at Publix, and chugged a bunch of Orange Juice. I wasn't feeling 100%, I had been fighting off some kind of head/throat cold that only partially slowed me down. That plus all the smoke from the casino, and I was not feeling good.
I usually stay within walking distance of the start/finish line at marathons, because I hate driving to them. Driving to them forces you to get there earlier to avoid traffic, find a parking spot, etc. This time that wasn't an option so I drove at 4:00 AM to get there before the traffic was bad. I found a parking spot right by the start line (duh, should have parked by the finish line, which was 0.7 miles away). That doesn't sound like a lot, but that's quite a walk after a tough 26.2 mile run.
|Waiting for the race to start. It started about 30 minutes before sunrise at 6:15 AM.|
The course was beautiful, second only to Big Sur. The first two or three miles was unbelievably crowded. It was pretty frustrating spending that much energy trying to pass the people that lined up to close to the start. There was absolutely no corral placement enforcement.
At mile 10 I was still feeling great, one thing I failed to do was look at the map to determine when the half-marathoners split off. I like knowing that so I know when I'll get relief from the congestion. Turns out they didn't split until a block before their finish near mile 13.
The weather continued to get warmer and warmer. By mile 17 or so, they had switched the flags to yellow indicating to take it easy due to the heat. I was really starting to slow down. My goal pace had been around 8:30 per mile, but was hovering around the 9 minute mark on miles 16-20.
By mile 20 I was really starting to hurt. I decided I'd walk .05 miles at each half-mile. That worked for the miles 20-22, but on the 23rd mile I needed to walk a little longer. I called Malissa and told her this would be my first marathon where I don't come in sub 4 hours. She gave me some encouragement, so I started to run again. Immediately both calf muscles seized, nearly bringing me to my knees. So I walked some more and tried again, same thing. No matter what I did, I couldn't run without my calves getting tied in knots. I called her again to tell her I was going to walk the rest of the way.
At about mile 24, someone asked if they could walk and talk with me. He introduced himself as Ethan. I very rarely talk to people during marathons, but we were both struggling and I very much welcomed the company. Turns out he is a Marathon Maniac also. We chatted about our racing history and challenged each other to run to specific landmarks a block, two blocks, etc ahead. He REALLY helped me. My calves had loosened up a bit and I felt really good.
I finished the last 1.5 miles at a pretty good pace (considering) and finshed feeling good right along side Ethan. I finished at 4:11:59. My slowest time by over 20 minutes, but still very much enjoyed it. Thank you Ethan!
|Ethan and I cross the finish line.|