Monday, January 28, 2013

ING Miami Half Marathon Race Report

I am humbled and honored to have raced the ING Miami Half Marathon. I could probably write a novel on the experience. But I'll break it down the best I can with humility and humor for your reading pleasure.

*A half marathon PR 1:27:20
*26,000 runners. 15,000 in the half. 10th female. 1st age group. 68th overall.
*72 degree start
*A 6 mile headwind over an ocean bridge (historically my weakness)
*Sub Elite status
*VIP everything
*Many new friends from around the world.
*And yes, I'm a dork, I warmed up with the Ethiopians....

So, a few weeks ago I had a few long good tempo runs. I felt I needed to jump on a half. I train my ass off up to twice a day and never race. And racing is a skill so, it was time. So I sent out a few emails. One to Miami. I said:

     Hi Miami! I'm a runner in NC with some good speed right now. I have a 3:02 marathon pr 
     and some guts.I'd love to be considered for your Sub-elite Program. Thank you for your       

The next day I received an email from the elite coordinator. He said, ya know what? I like you. Your honest, not demanding. Welcome to Miami's Sub elite program.

I have never been so honored and subsequently so stressed out. Yet so honored and so stressed out! This was a huge race.  A race of 26,000 runners. The largest race of my life. And I was hoping for the time of my life. I almost immediately accepted the invitation. Clearly, there was pressure. I told absolutely no one but my training partner and coach. I couldn't even think about the ramifications of tanking this race. I had my best friends and family in the Miami area...still not a word. Sister, one. I needed to focus and get in race mode. 

So I left Raleigh in an ice storm. Delays put me into MIA at nearly 2am Friday night. Someone from the race was scheduled to pick me up. I didn't see anyone. MIA was empty. It was late. I had been in the airports for 7 hours. I hopped in a cab. I needed sleep.

The next day I had a few meetings to attend and a shake out run. I ran first then went to Elite headquarters to check in and put some Mio in my water bottles that were to be placed at miles 3, 6, and 9. From that point on I was catered to from the most hospitable race staff I've ever met. I didn't even have to squirt my own Mio. lol. They also immediately apologized for leaving me at the airport. They went and I wasn't there and left. No biggie.

I came back to my room and rested. I had had only 3 hours of sleep the night before. I was in downtown Miami so everything took forever. Finding my anal retentive food items, my coffee etc. Before I knew it, it was time for the mandatory elite meeting to go over race protocol.

The room was filled with many uh, fast people. The first thing the Race Director said was, “how many of you just arrived from Ethiopia via London?” Hands of athletes and agents flew up. I squirmed in my seat. Which was probably documented because the meeting had a photographer. I may not be the fastest today but shit, I can give you a photo. Lol. I hope I can find those. So we went over every detail from pothole locations to staying with your handler.

After that we ate the best dinner ever. I met the coolest coaches, agents, authors, race officials. The people I google were right there with me. Some good chit-chat and new friends.
So now it was late. I took my distended tummy to bed and set the alarm for 2:45. I slept maybe 4.5 hours. The mornings agenda was:

4:30 headquarters to walk the elites to the stadium.
5-5:45 stretching and warm up.
5:45 we left as a group to the starting area.
6:15 gun time

I was semi jacked. I had a good warm up, stretched and was ready. The following is a classic case of ignorance is bliss. I thought there was ONE gun for the half, full and elites. Well, thank god I didn't know this at the time but there was an elite gun. I knew I wasn't going to be chasing down anyone. There were the top American women and men, East Africa, Columbia, Guatemala, Netherlands. The front row looked like a Running Times cover. I was going to run a smart race and prayed I could draft off the some of the 27,000 people behind me as we headed over a 3 mile bridge into the strongest head winds ever. NOPE.

I was with a few elite female marathoners and we cursed the winds and tried to work together. At about mile 5 we turned onto Ocean drive on South Beach. I used to work here in college. I busted my ass till 3am on weekends to put myself through college. Now I was running down this street at 7am reminiscing and forcing myself to focus. I was thinking, I'm glad I'm not picking plastic cups out of the gutter anymore..zoom zoom. Later!

For a few miles it was hit or miss wind. My goal was 6:34 pace avg. The entire race I kept that. I knew that meant a 1:25:5X. I stayed focused. I never got loopy. I begged myself to not blow up. I felt like I could drop the pace but we had more bridges coming and I didn't feel it was a good move.

At mile 9 I had the best shout out ever: A female spectator yelled out: I love your abs! I was like YES! The crunches are working!! Then a male runner pulled up to me and said, I'm running with you because you get the crowd going. I was like fine, but I'm drafting off you bud. Lol

My goal was to keep the 6:34's going until mile 11 and then hammer. I was thinking to myself, holy shit:
a. I'm gonna pr
b. I'm not dying
c. I'm in control and having fun and I have a sub 1:26 in the bank.

PS. having someone yell: Elite 105 at a water stop and handing you your special drink is freaking cool. Especially to someone like me who can't drink from a dixie cup to save her life. I also took water for my head and to drink at all 9 water stops. It was hot!

So I keep going. The scream tunnels were the coolest. Think Ryan Hall Boston 2011. I was definitely using them to push. I should have been near the finish but my watch was pushing 13.3 and the road kept curving. I was like WTF, mats please! I finally hit the mats with some good kick and saw 1:27:1x. Before I could say WTF the elite coordinator had a handler escort me to the tent. My elation for 1:25 was killed. I didn't understand. My garmin said 6:34 pace. Well peeps, don't trust your garmin.

I was disappointed in the number because had I have know I needed to pick it up I would have. I knew I could handle 6:34 pace. But I didn't want to get cocky and run 6:30 flat so I was patiently waiting for my 1:25 at 6:34 pace. So, they take me to my bags and hand me a medal. I immediately had to see what the other runners thought. Yup, wind was confirmed, heat killed many. But I was still standing. 10th female out of 15,000+ runners in the half, a PR and excelling in horrible conditions. I am still irked but content.

Here's my garmin. Perfect aside from mile 4. All I can say is it was dark and I'm glad I didn't see that one.

After that I mingled and got everyone's story. I changed and we went to awards. I won first in my age group. They didn't present AG awards so after that I thanked the coordinators and left for my hotel.

I'm headed back to the sub freezing temps in NC now. I am PUMPED as hell for my March half and Boston. I needed to get back out there after a slight hiatus of not racing. 

Let's roll guys!! 8 recovery on deck in a few hours.

Happy Running!

Here are some pics:

Miles 1-3 HARD WIND

dinner time elevator pic

elite dinner
my thoughts at 3am

y'all know this

I swear this was pre coffee. lol

4am heading to race
This is my race morning "security banana" I didn't eat it but it made me feel safe should I starve to death pre race.

Me and Miguel the Elite Coordinator.

Me and Dane Rauschenberg. A badass runner/author. Buy his book!

elite area post race at the finish line

more vip tents

can you feel the wind?!

Me, Miguel and his own running coach
overall female half 

The best news a tired runner could hear: Are you ok with Exit row ma'am?

Later Taters!


  1. Aw yeah - huge congrats. What a great race, especially in that weather! With all the travel issues and everything.

    Very very cool!

    1. Thank you!! I went into the race wanting something remotely similar to your nice, even, non-cracked out splits from a few weeks ago. lol. Even at mile 12 I thought, let's Darkwave this last mile, c'mon body, go!! I'm getting there! thanks again!

  2. Love this post, I can remember when I lined up at Amsterdam Marathon (1997) and they had me starting up front with the fast boys... they ran a 2h08 and me a 2h32 at my best was at the end of a 5 week holiday and running for fun... (3h02)

    looks like you had fun and maybe you should look at running a couple more like that, who knows maybe you will end up VIP at Boston...

  3. Hey Laura,

    Great race! Congrats on the Elite status too. I enjoyed your post.