Wednesday, April 24, 2013

KB Half Marathon Race Recap

Miles today: I wish... first day back from vacation sucks.
Miles in 2013: 340.13 miles

How do I say this? These 13.1 miles did not go down in history of best runs. I had low expectations, but I managed to fall below even those. 

Hiiiii. I am happy because I don't know what the next few hours hold....

I left our cushy, comfy hotel in Ft. Lauderdale and headed south to the Sun Life Stadium in Miami where the Dolphins play. I met my friend, Natalia, and we got our race shirts and numbers. The set up was great, we got everything easily and parking was a breeze. There was tons of food, drinks, and entertainment at the start. Walgreen's was taking silly pictures, Neutrogena had a tent and sand castle set up, and PowerBar was handing out tons of samples. Great way to start....except for the fact that it was 80 degrees and the sun was not yet up. 

This was a very small race. We lined up at the start, they thanked everyone for showing up and let us go. I intentionally started out slow, knowing that this was going to be a hot race. I was well hydrated and had eaten my standard zone bar an hour before the start. 

For the first mile we literally ran around the parking lot before heading out on the road. If you are looking for scenery, or really anything nice to look at, do not run this race. Major highways make up a large majority of of the course. (And there were some VERY unhappy people with half the road shut down. Lots of funny and entertaining things being shouted from cars - way to keep it classy, Miami!)

I am not going to lie, I struggled from about mile 3 on. One very positive aspect of this race, the amount of course support. There was water and cytomax every mile. When it is above 80 degrees and getting hotter by the minute, this is essential. Volunteers had Gu's or something at mile 6, but I always bring my own. 

Speaking of wonderful mile 6, this is where things really took a turn. And not for the better. I walked the water station and took down my PowerBar Tangerine gel with a little water. A man had stopped to walked and looked a little weak, so I asked if he was ok. He was fine so I started off running again. For about 50 feet. It was then that a wave of nausea hit me like a kick in the face. I stopped and started dry heaving on the side of the road. I tried to get as far away from runners as I could to spare them the gory details. To all the people who passed me at that point, sorry. I dry heaved and gagged for about 30 seconds or a minute but it felt like about an hour. So much for that tangerine gel being my favorite, non-gag producing gel.

I walked for another minute and then decided I felt up to running. My friend Natalia caught up with me about 5 minutes later and we ran together for another mile or two. Thank God she was there, I am not sure how I would have made it through those miles. 

Since I could not keep down the gel, I figured drinking cytomax was really the only way to finish the race without a DNF or death. Did I mention how much I despise cytomax??

I walked through the next water station, took a water and cytomax, and pushed on. Around mile 9 I really started feeling good. I put in my music and started picking off people, one after another. 

I started feeling stronger, but was still getting the chills off and on and was worried about getting sick. I stopped at every water station and choked down one water and cytomax. Oh yeah, you also run over a decent sized overpass at mile 10.

Heading back to the stadium was a little confusing because I knew we still had well over a mile to go. That's because they totally screw with you and make the entire last mile and a quarter or so weaving though the parking lot. When I got to mile 12 and saw people zig-zagging, all I could think was, "You gotta be kidding me." - Only with more f-words.

The race organizers did save the best for last and all the runners finished by running through the tunnel and out onto the field. 

(I think when you cross the finish line, they show you on the screen. I shutter to think what I looked like. Also thanks so much for the pictures, Natalia!)

I finished in 2:10. It was a mixed bag of relief at being alive, happy that it didn't take me 4 hours, and disappointed that my time was so slow. Crazy? Yes. Delusional. Probably.

If you are considering running this race as one of your first races, just don't. It is almost always guaranteed to be hot in late april, and the course was fairly flat, but overall, pretty bad. Other than wonderful volunteers, there are no spectators whatsoever. I doubt a first timer would be happy, despite the exceptional course support. (Unless you are a total badass, in which case, teach me your ways....)

Just hanging out on the field. Happy to not be puking in public... 

I was glad I did this race this year because it was so tough mentally. I have had rough races but this one was exceptional and I did push through, albeit slowly. Training really does come through later in the race. I felt 100 times better during miles 9 and 10 than during 3 or 4. Running through the boring streets of Miami Gardens was a good mental challenge going into a race next Saturday. Nashville, I am ready for you!