Sunday, November 25, 2012

Race recap-2012 ING Miami Half Marathon 1/29/2012

Yes, I know this is very late--hey, I'm almost caught up though!

I was really lucky with the registration for this one.  They were running a promotion for the first however-many to sign up once registration opened that registration would only be $25 (I think it was the first 50 people).  Registration opened February 1, 2011 at 6am...I was registered by was $33.50 with Active fees (lordy how I hate those Active fees!).  Couldn’t pass that up for a race as big as this one, especially since the 2012 race was the 10th anniversary promising special bling!  The race would be held January 29, 2012

I already knew I’d be running an event during Marathon Weekend at Disney earlier that month...I didn’t realize at the time that I would actually be running both the half and the marathon relay--3 weeks before ING.  Ah, would be an experiment to see just how far I could push myself, right?  Sure.

The expo was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center and SIL and I went down to it together.  We met up with our friend Tracy and a couple more ROTErs we ran into there (hi Paul and Bill and Todd!) and got a free pic together at one of the booths.  After, some of us wandered down to Lincoln Road for some lunch before we headed home to rest up for the race.

The morning of the race my SIL and I drove down and got caught in a bit of a traffic crush trying to get to the parking garage by Bayside across the street from the American Airlines Arena (in front of which the start line was located).  Thankfully we made it with plenty of time.  We met up with some ROTErs who were in town for the race and hung out until it was time to get to our corrals.  It was great to see people down here that I normally have to travel up to Disney World to see.

The only problem?  I had this nagging feeling that I really didn’t want to do the race.  I mean, I had no issue with doing the miles (that never bothers me)...I just didn’t want to RACE.  I don’t know if my body was just telling me it was tired out after my back-to-backs during Marathon Weekend, or if it was a mental thing or what.  I just did NOT want to be there racing.

Unfortunately, we were both in the very last corral so it was quite a long wait until it was our turn to cross that start line.  One of the neat things about our corral though was that we were actually on a side street right next to the start line (we’d feed into the main road to cross the start), so we were able to see everyone start before us really close up.  And finally it was our turn and we were off.  

Now, normally when I start a race I’ll run for the first 30 seconds to one minute-excitement of the start and all that-and then settle into a walk for a bit to ease up on my shins before starting my intervals.  And that’s what I did for this race...though I probably ran a bit longer than I should have as my shins felt like what they feel like when I need a new pair of running shoes (and no, I did not have old shoes on).  This usually would be no big deal-I would just walk slower for longer before starting my intervals.  Except this course threw in a bit of a curveball.

After a small straight start, we turned right headed toward Watson Island...and the first bridge, only a quarter mile into the race.  Now, the bridge would normally be no problem-if it wasn’t so soon in the course.  My shins hadn’t had a chance to break themselves in and already I had to go up...up..up.  Those of you from other places in the world probably think I’m one heck of a softie, I mean it’s just a bridge right?  But I’m the very definition of a flatlander (South Florida native, and while I did live up in the NC mountains for five years, I was not active while there)-and I so very, very rarely ever have any kind of inclines in the races I do that I haven’t bothered with hill training so far.  Hitting that bridge right after the start and with my shins not really worked out yet HURT.  And so I slowed down...a lot.  Like almost 18 minute miles.  At least I had the cruise ships to look at along the MacArthur Causeway as I went along.  There was a second bridge along the causeway, but thankfully my shins had loosened up by then.  Too bad I was never able to get my speed back to normal.  Here's some pics from the first part of the race:
or this...
I'd rather be on this...

Approaching the 2nd bridge

 I do have to say, I’ve done a few races down in Miami Beach and I do like going along the Causeway.  Too bad most of the rest of the course did absolutely nothing for me.  We had maybe a little more than a mile (I’d guess around mile 4.5 through about 5.75) that was along Ocean Drive and the beach...other than that it was just going through the city streets, then along the Venetian Causeway-which had a whole bunch of construction along it.  It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but at the pace I was at, somewhere between mile 9 and mile 10 I (and everyone else still out on the course-which was a pretty good number of people) had to move up to the sidewalk as they were trying to open the roads back up.  Again, usually not a big deal when that happens, and I know that’s something I might encounter during a race if my pace is or falls below race pace (I’m just glad when they still let you finish and just move you to the sidewalks).  However, the sidewalks along the Venetian Causeway were mostly pretty narrow so there were many of us single-file and it was very difficult to pass anyone (which I was still able to do at some points, yay for me!).  

I tried to stay positive though-at least the skies were overcast so the sun wasn’t beating down.  We had only had a few sprinkles (for me back around mile 5 or so and only for a couple minutes) so it was not hot at all. Here’s my “keep your chin up” pic:

Once back on the mainland, it was a couple more miles through the city streets of Miami...but most in areas that didn’t look so hot (I wouldn’t walk there by myself if I wasn’t on a race course, especially around mile 12).  Our spectators for that part were mostly several homeless men sitting with their bags of stuff along the sidewalks.  By miles 11 and 12 I was dipping back into the 18 minute mile range.  Then finally during mile 13 I just totally eased off, knowing I was going to finish and not really caring at that point how long it took.  Remember that feeling I had like I really didn’t want to be there?  Miles 11-13 that feeling was roaring back full force.  I made the final hairpin curve to the can see how totally blah I was by then:

And then I was done.  Final chip time-3:55:37.  While I was not last-there were over 140 more people who came in after me-and not the slowest I’ve ever done 13.1 miles-I’ve never felt more tired, sore and just so totally wretched after a race as I did after this one.    I made my way through the finishers area (here, I smiled with my medal, I dug deep for that one)...

...and through the post-race food tents where there was plenty to eat since those people running the full marathon still had a couple more hours to go.  I was starving.  I looked around trying to find SIL (I knew she had finished almost an hour before me) and made my way over to some benches in a little mini-amphitheater area where a lot of runners had decided to crash.  I did not want to get up.  I would have been happy just laying down on the bench and staying there for the rest of the day.  But she found me and after we both just sat for a bit, we finally, very slowly, made our way back to her car for the ride back home.  Where I crashed on the couch with food and a blanket (after a shower of course) for the rest of the day.

Personally, I don’t know that I’d ever do this race again.  Not because my experience just sucked from a physical/mental standpoint, but because I really didn’t care for the course.  The other two half marathons I’ve done in the Miami Beach area were much more scenic and just felt more comfortable to me.  I’m not really a metro-urban city kind of girl and would rather be where there’s a lot more trees, water and so on than city streets with businesses and such.  I’m glad I did it, especially since it was the 10-year anniversary (yay for spinning bling!) and I got in for such a cheap entry fee...but for me it’s certainly not a priority for a future race.  I’ll gladly ride down to cheer for friends though come next year!

Sorry for such a long report and a mostly down-in-the-dumps one at that...but it does accurately capture my whole mood that day.  No really great pics with the exception of our group pics.  

Have you ever had one of those “I just don’t feel like doing this today” feelings before a race?  

Have you ever done the ING Miami Half Marathon?  What did you think of the course?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Disney Marathon Weekend 2012 Part 3-the Marathon Relay

When I signed up for Marathon Weekend 2012, I was initially only going to run the Marathon Relay (Chip & Dale) on Sunday, but wound up also signing up for the Half Marathon for Saturday.  I rationalized that a couple of ways-it was my SIL’s first Half Marathon, so I would run was a progression towards eventually going Goofy (2010 Half, 2011 Full, 2012 Half/Half, 2013 Half/Full) was an opportunity to do back-to-back half marathons on consecutive days which I’d never done before.  Whatever my reasoning at the time, this would be a very new experience for me since the closest I’d ever had two half marathons together was 2 weeks back in 2010.

After a take-it-easy first half on Saturday, I was up again in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday to make my way to the start area for the Marathon Relay AKA Chip & Dale.  I had partnered up with a fantastic ROTEr named Carol from Georgia after we found each other on the Running of the Ears forums looking for relay partners.  Since I was running the half on Saturday and the first part of the full marathon course for Sunday was pretty much the same course as the half, plus I had never run back-to-backs before and didn’t know what kind of shape my body would be in, I wanted to do the 2nd leg of the relay so I could see the 2nd half of the course; I was also concerned about being too slow if I was runner #1 due to the prior day’s race that I might get swept (I learned later that even I that were to happen, the runner #2’s would still get to start).  Thankfully Carol was just fine with being runner #1.

It was pretty chilly at 4am, all the way down to 44 degrees at the lowest!  I hadn’t worn my throwaway pants as my legs aren’t normally chilly-I had a throwaway fleece blanket instead ($2.50 at Walgreens, great deal!).  I did have on a long-sleeved t-shirt over my short-sleeved tech top so even with my fleece blanket I was still chilly.  After meeting up with the other ROTErs in the start area, those of us who were relayers running leg #2 went to the shuttles as a group to be transported to the exchange area over at the Magic Kingdom parking lot.  Once there, not much was going on.  There was a DJ and a big-screen that they showed clips of the race start, then later as the first of the runner #1’s started arriving, they would put them up on the screen.  Until then, though, there was not much to do except sit around and chat and try to keep warm.  Since it was so cold, the volunteers were actually handing out the mylar blankets to us to keep warm with the caveat that we give them to our partners as they came in.

Those mylars really helped!  We waited and watched as the sun came up-it was a beautiful morning with clear skies.  I had signed up to get text messages from the runner tracking so I knew where Carol was and when to expect her at the exchange area.  She was unbelievably consistent so once I went over to the chute where we’d exchange, I only waited a couple of minutes since I knew when she’d be there.  She was originally slated to start in corral F (out of H), but I believe was moved up to D based on proof of time from another race.  Between that and her AMAZING 2:43:43 time (you ROCK Carol!), she made it to the exchange around 8:30 am-ish where I got to take over.  I was glad I had done a Disney relay before (Wine & Dine 2011) so I knew what to expect in the exchange area.

It was a pretty interesting time for me to start.  Considering I’m usually in either the last or next to last corral where you have a lot of walkers and walk/runners, starting while there are tons of people just running (and running at a nice pace too!) was really weird...but cool at the same time since I’m never around people going that fast!  I made sure to get all the way over to the right as quick as I could.  I was a bit stiff at first but as I kept on everything started loosening up.  I didn’t need to wear my long-sleeved t-shirt for too long and tossed my throwaway gloves (those 50-cent kid ones you can get at Target) a little before arriving at Animal Kingdom.  The gloves I didn’t mind tossing but the top I kinda liked, it was really comfy so I tied it around my waist instead.  

One of the great things about being able to start the 2nd half of the full marathon course so much earlier than when I had reached that point the year before when I ran the full was how much more I was able to see since I wasn’t anywhere near in any danger of being swept.  Heck, I could have taken an hour longer than I did and not been swept (*bowing down to Carol for both her speed and agreeing to be my partner*).  As I entered the back of Animal Kingdom, they had actual animals out that you could pet and take pictures of:

And of course, the characters (yay for getting Minnie!):

As I passed by Expedition Everest, I was really tempted to take a ride since the line was super short (plus from what I heard, if you were a runner the cast members were letting you go to the front of the line), but I felt like that would be taking extra advantage of my huge head start from my partner so I kept on going.  From Animal Kingdom it was back to Hollywood Studios.  As we came across one of the overpasses, I snapped this shot of the backup of traffic due to the road closures from the race (you think the drivers were mad?):

But one of the killer spots of the full is this hill heading toward the Studios:

My legs, after doing the half the day before, were screaming at me saying “What the &%$#! do you think you’re doing?!?!?!”  Yeah, I walked up that you can probably tell, most people were walking.  I give a standing ovation to those that were running (or attempting to run) up that.  Remember, I’m a SoFla Flatlander to the max.  Our idea of a hill is a bridge over a highway.  And I personally live out near the Everglades in some of the flattest land down here, so just looking up that incline made my legs want to go run and hide LOL.

One of the best parts of reaching Hollywood Studios when I did the full last year was the candy stop--yummy chocolate!  Um, yeah-at 20+ miles that tastes heavenly.  At around 9 or 10-not so much...I thought I was going to gag and had to wash it away at the next water stop.  But that’s okay-I was in the Studios and could actually watch everything around me!  

Once I got out of the front of the Studios and started heading down the walkway toward the Boardwalk resort, I knew I was home free.  Not that I was anywhere near being herded on to a bus.  Just passing by the buses that were already there for those coming later knowing I didn’t have to worry about that was such a relief!  And once across to the Boardwalk side, past all the resorts there came my favorite part-entering Epcot for the final lap around the World Showcase before heading to the finish line!  Here’s some tiny pics from that:

I wound up finishing my half in 4:01:04, much slower than any other half I’ve done but I was thrilled to still be in the upright position after completing the half the day before.  Yes, I was sore.  Yes, I was tired.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat!  I thoroughly enjoyed the relay-it was wonderful being able to actually take in my surroundings during the 2nd half of the full marathon course instead of worrying that I would be taken away for not making the pace.  Our combined time was 6:59:45.  Yes, I made us a slower team, but still within the 7 hour pace time...not that we were anywhere near being swept away ;-).

The relay is not being held for 2013, but I’m hoping that’s just because of the 20th anniversary year for the full marathon with the course change and other “surprises” they have planned.  I would love to do the relay again, especially as runner #2.  Here’s some parting pics:

Have you ever done half marathons (or longer) on back-to-back days?  Would you do it again?  I sure would, especially Disney!