I slept soundly but woke up at 140. From then on I dozed off and on until 350 before finally getting up. I had breakfast and drove downtown, arriving plenty early. I walked to the start area and Naomi found me near the corrals. We chatted, took pictures and waited for anybody else. Rachel showed up just before the start so we took a picture of the three of us still looking fresh.
The Start and Miami Beach
At the gun we stayed together for the first mile (10:39) up the McArthur Causeway bridge. Brent was there to take our picture. Soon Rachel was listening to her playlist and pushing on ahead. Naomi stuck with me through mile 2 (9:40) then I moved on. Mile 3 (10:23) came at the second causeway incline and there was a buzz as the dawn was coming over South Beach straight ahead of us. Mile 4 was on Alton Road before Joe’s Stone Crab (9:56). I was obviously not pushing very hard with an average of well over 10 minutes. Mile 5 (9:48) was very nice as we cruised up Ocean Drive on South Beach with the sun brightening the cloudy skies. A large time-and-temperature sign reported it was 7:00 and 70 degrees. It was already the hottest of the four Miami Marathons.
A fair number of fans were out on the sidewalks cheering on runners especially at 14th Street as we headed over to Washington Avenue. At the end of mile 6 (10:02), I had a Gu and resolved to pick it up. Mile 7 (9:29) was still on Miami Beach and I realized I was about two minutes off my realistic goal of running a 4:15 marathon. My mind set was to catch up to that pace and see what I could do to close in on a 4-hour run from there. Mile 8 (9:36) was the lip on the Venetian Causeway and the trip across was very scenic. It was on one bridge that I caught up to Rachel at Mile 9 (9:19) and took her picture with some large waterfront estates in the background. Mile 10 was almost to the mainland and I put in my only sub-9:00 time (8:53).
As we came off the bridge we were greeted by narrow chutes of fans cheering like crazy. By the time we reached Mile 11 (10:01) they were gone. I cannot explain why that stretch was so slow except for the congestion. Mile 12 was all downtown Miami and not so pretty (9:29). We turned towards Biscayne Blvd. and the start/finish area where the half runners veered left to collect their medals and we went straight. The loss of 2/3 the runners, the quiet and the prospect of having to do another half marathon preyed on my mind for a spell as we went over the Miami River bridge to reach Mile 13 (10:19). I took another Gu but had to wait a little too long for water to wash it down and my stomach was roiling for a short spell.
The Second Half
Under a Metro Rail station we all beeped as our half times were recorded. SW 1st Avenue was a straight stretch where I began to concentrate on my form again and monitor my efforts to catch the 4:15 pace. At mile 14 (9:10) I was grooving. I notice a fellow running next to me as we approached a water stop. As we went through it he glanced sideways at me and nodded. He was telling me we would run together. Diego was a nice friendly non-talking guy. We got along. Occasionally spectators would call one of our names and we would thank them together. We became pals and pushed each other well as we ran down S. Miami Ave. Mile 15 (9:40) went by and we waited for each other in the aid stations as we had Gatorade or water. Mile 16 was in some suburban neighborhoods (9:34) and we were passing people regularly. I saw Brent in his Team Rachel.com t-shirt waiting to jump in and finish with Rachel. He said Diego and I were looking very strong. On Tigertail Ave. we hit Mile 17 (9:32) and I was within 20 seconds of the 4:15 marathon pace. I was psyched.
Then wheels started wobbling. During the next stretch I could sense a little pain in my left hip and feeling tired. I started to think about keeping up with Diego or not. We reached Mile 18 in Coconut Grove and found we had slowed quite a bit (10:00). It was time for more Gu. We each had our meal. At the next water stop I insisted on walking a little to stretch and rub my hip. Diego said he felt like he should continue on without me.
Note to Self Next Time: Don't Stop
In the quaint back roads of the Grove I came upon a homeowner in his driveway offering iced orange quarters. It sounded so good I stopped to eat two. When I tried to restart my run my left hip locked up and my left knee spazzed. I couldn’t get into my running gait without crippling pain. Mile 19 (11:45) was ugly. Not nearly as much as Mile 20 (13:01) as I tried to pick it up but each time my knee said no. I realized I had six miles left. It was a nice day for a walk. I had lost the 4:15 pace goal and there was nothing left to do but finish and, in the process, walk fast and see what I could do to repair my left side. Mile 21 (20:16), Mile 22 (18:30) and Mile 23 (18:28) were along the sunny and scenic S. Bayshore Drive and I was happy to just mosey along playing tag with a few other cripples who kept stopping or starting then walking.
Beer Is Beautiful
Then a miracle happened. Towards the end of Mile 23 there was the one and only beer stop on the route right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, “Walking. Sunny day. Why not a beer?” So I had one and it was delicious. Soon thereafter I tried to make the hip and knee work. It was working. Ah, the remedial benefits of beer. I was going okay but the hip was nagging me to do something about my car remote in my shorts pocket. It seemed to be an aggravation on the spot that hurt so I took it out and put it in my shoe pocket. Wow. That felt much better as I ran. I ran the entire 24th mile (12:34) without walking and believed I could run it in for the last three miles. Almost. I calculated that I might make it in just at 5 hours. Mile 25 (15:00) got me within eyeshot of the downtown high rises. Mile 26 (13:34) went back over the Miami River bridge which was slightly brutal.
For the final .2 Finish (2:05) the crowd was buzzing and Dave and Jason from Orlando saw me go by and yelled to me. I crossed at 5:00.40.
Naomi saw me in the finish area and called to me. I got my medal, had my banana, water and bagel and we all congregated on the grass embankment. I took pictures of everybody for RBF postings, we all told our stories and planned our next races.
In the garage I called Mrs. T who was relieved I survived, congratulated me and inquired if this was the end of my marathon career. I know she thinks I am taxing myself beyond what she thinks I can handle. We’ll see. I doubt I’ll stop. I have to go for a new PR J. Then I called Susie to give my account of whatever I told her for a blog posting.
I drove back over to Miami Beach, had a hot shower, fixed a sandwich, a beer and an Aleve pain killer. Then I walked a mile to the beach.
It was a memorable race day. The course was gorgeous, the stops and organization top notch. It was a little hot but that's why it's the tropics. I would recommend it to anyone with the interest in getting out of the January snow and cold to enjoy Miami.