Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ING Miami Marathon: Recap

Reader beware, grab a drink because this is going to be a long one. And full of pictures. You're welcome.

Holy crap I can't believe it's over. 

Back home after what can only be described as the best.week.ever. Seriously.

Miami for vacation + First Marathon + Birthday = tough to top.

I'm still riding the high of having completed it. 

So let's get down to the business of the ING Miami Marathon the hardest most awesome few hours of my life.

As I had previously posted, the days leading up to the marathon were not exactly what I had in mind to put my mind at ease. But that is life, if everything always went according to plan it would be boring.

We hit up the expo on Saturday and I have to say - not that impressed with our swag bags. I'm a tad bit annoyed that there weren't separate shirts for the half and full. After completing one, I think it is a little sad that you don't get one distinguishing yourself. But I guess that is how they rope you in to buying your finishers gear if you want the distinction! 

Unintentional orange gear.

Sunday morning we woke up at the beautiful hour of 3:45am where it was already 70 degrees. We had an hour to get ourselves ready and out the door. We had wisely called a for a car service to get us to the start line. That was definitely a good idea; Miami's public transit system isn't the greatest or easiest and driving ourselves and parking would have been a stressful ordeal.

We had all laid out our gear the night before so it was relatively painless getting out the door. Minus - all of us were just about to leave when we realized we had not grabbed or pinned our bibs...not the most important item or anything!

We arrived near the start area at 5:30 or so and went to go use the bathrooms. (TMI) I was a little anxious at this point because I wasn't able to "go". I had cut off eating the night before around 7pm and had drank water like a crazy person but alas I started the race without being able to go. I tried not to stress about it, at least my stomach didn't HURT which was a plus, and was quickly caught up in the energy, the crowds and the music. 

My sister and I - thanks for housing us!

Running partners for life!

Ready to rock Miami!
I think that I may have said every minute or so "oh my god I am running a marathon!". Excitement level was off the charts, nerves were at bay. 

They "opened" the corrals at about 5:55 or so and this part was annoying - it was basically an honor system for them. While your bib was lettered with which one you were in - there was no one actually checking. Kind of a shit show with thousands of people. 

Just a couple people showed up to race.
The next 20 minutes or so seemed to fly by and before we knew it we had begun! It only took about 10 minutes to get through to the start which wasn't too awful. We were lined up with what should have been the 4:00 pace group - but really didn't plan to pace that out early. And a good thing we didn't.

We crossed the start and my sister took off - she was running the half and was going to be going out a lot quicker than us. I may have teared up a little in that beginning mile. It seemed surreal that it had come. Tara and I set to get on pace. This was literally impossible. I didn't stress that first mile we were trying to not weave around but it was really tough. I just told myself it was a warm up and to enjoy. Commence more yelling "I'm running a marathon!". 

Mile 2 came and we realized we were going to be a lot hotter than anticipated. We were starting to sweat pretty good already. Even worse was there was no water until about mile 3 or so. Our plan, knowing our sweat rate would be high was to take in water from every water station. I have heard so much about not hydrating often enough and there is no way to counter when you are dehydrated. So as each water stop came, we slowed down, walked through drank our water and got back to it. 

At this point it was still super congested. And annoying. People had started at the front corrals WALKING. I'm sorry I'm an advocate of needing to walk to complete - but I get PEEVED when people are SO far out of the corral that they belong in. We would get on a good pace 9:30/9:45 and be literally stopped dead by people. And based on the corral we began in that should not have continually been happening. WE should have been the slower ones. At this point several miles in, we had started to do some weaving around. Not the best decision in retrospect because we expended a lot of energy. 

I was feeling great at this point though - minus I had to pee. Of course. I knew at the start of the race I would have to stop. I took in a gel around mile 5 and then around mile 8 or so took a minute to use the bathroom. Definitely helped because the stomach started to churn a bit at this point. 

The legs though were still feeling great. I hit my first mental block somewhere around 10. I took another gu and my stomach was now starting to ache, I knew I was in for a rough stretch and I just couldn't get my breathing under control. I wasn't panting - but I was congested still from being sick and couldn't get those deep breathes in and my chest felt tight. 

It helped that as we were getting to the half way point though we hit the crowds for the half finish - SO MUCH ENERGY. And I probably expended so much energy throughout yelling to the crowds. We were literally leaping around fist pumping screaming with happiness...every time after yelling I would say ohhhh that took a lot of energy must stop...but just couldn't help myself. Having our names on our bibs was great - hearing yourself cheered on, nothing better. 

When the half split from the full it was an immediate drop off. There were SO few people on the course now. I had read reviews so was looking forward to this point to get out of the congestion. 

Tara's friend was waiting for us at the half point (our time was 2:11) with bottles of water and advil for her and we were still feeling good. But this is where we broke off. I was in desperate need of the bathroom by now and I didn't know how long it would take and told her to go ahead. She was going to ease up the pace and figured I would get back to her within a couple of miles if I stayed on my pace. 

Half way bitches!
That little pit stop cost me some time, but I knew it was necessary. 

The only problem was once I started back up again, I just wasn't feeling right. I actually walked a little bit at this point and had to give myself a pep talk. The next couple miles were spent attempting to get back in a groove, which seemed pretty impossible.

Around mile 16 I hit a wall. And I hit it HARD. I was at a cross roads. My legs, they felt amazing. They were great, they wanted to go. But maintaining that 9:00/9:30 pace which felt good for my body felt awful for the rest of me.  

I could absolutely not get my hydration under control. I was stopping at every station getting some water and taking my time walking through it. The more I tried to maintain it, the more I got to feeling dizzy and lightheaded and still could not get in deep breaths. 

It also didn't help seeing people passed out on the course, and the yellow being up stating it was under caution at the mile stops shortly after the half due to heat. 

I am not going to lie. I was angry at this point. I knew I had more in me than I was able to produce. I wanted the pride (self) of getting as close to 4 hours as possible. I KNOW I have it in me. Giving up was not an option. I knew I would finish but I had to wrap my head around that today would not be some crazy amazing first marathon time that I thought could happen. 

I took off the 4 hour and 4:15 pacing bracelets and made the decision. I was going to ENJOY this marathon. It was going to be tough, sure but I could either attempt to run myself into the ground and hate the next 10 miles or relax embrace the crowds and have FUN along the way.


 I settled in for some definitively tough miles until I hit 20. It wasn't particularly scenic going through Coconut Grove and not too many crowds (although there were a few awesome crazy dance parties going on. I may, or may not have joined in a couple). 

Too many times spectators told me "I looked like I was having fun" and that I was "so happy" and that I didn't look like I was running a marathon. Mission enjoy the marathon accomplished. 

Once I hit 20 mentally I knew I had finished the marathon. I told myself 6 miles, that's an hour of running, you've got this! Mile 22 was a good one as well - because it involved beer. Thank you spectators! You rock!!!

Post beer glow.
Oh is that a camera? Instant running posture fix.
I would periodically look at my Garmin. I knew that I could get in under 4:30 if I kept steady. Which was a good plan until we hit mile 23 or so and holy winds. They were coming at us 10-15 mph. I kept my pace steady but this was not what was needed in the last few miles. I had to take a couple of walking breaks as well and around 24 I knew I still had sub 4:30 in sight but also it was really tough. My left quad started to ache and I did kick it for a bit, until right around the end of 25 there was what looked like a ginormous incline/on ramp. 

Mentally seeing that I slowed to walk part way up it. I am thankful for whoever in the crowd started yelling but they were screaming my name and yelling that I had it, and I started running again. I saw 4:30 come and go but at this point I was just soaking up the crowds, living in the moment. 

I was about to finish my first marathon. 

I know I was screaming this. 

As I ran down what seemed like the longest chute ever I was grinning and pumping my fists in victory. 

Start of the fist pump

Almost there.

Concludes with some dueces.

This marathon turned me into a photo whore.

Disbelief, pride and joy. 

It was over.

And when all was said and done, in 4:33:05.

26.2 DONE.

We all kicked some ass.
There is not one part of me that isn't proud of that.

Did I run a perfect race or hit any of my time goals? No. 

Did I have some challenges and hurdles? Absolutely. 

Did I run the best that I could in that moment? 100%

I have been all smiles since finishing. It was the best thing that I have ever done. You have no idea how you are going to handle a marathon until you are in that moment. I now am officially a marathoner, and can train and plan for the next knowing what the experience is like. 

Could I have done better had I been more rested, not still slightly sick, more used to running in the heat etc etc...I'm not even dwelling on that. Which is an absolute shocker for me. I am usually SO hard on myself. But I am more proud of overcoming at 16 miles in to the race, my anger over the uncontrollable and producing the best finish I could and not trying to kill myself in the process. Could I have finished pushing myself - probably. But I probably would not have had the experience I did.

And as so many people told me - you never get your first marathon again. Miles of smiles. Words of wisdom that carried me far throughout the race. 

I will say a lot of the race is a daze. I feel like a good portion was just a blur. Soaking it all in. I am always impressed when people can recap mile by mile. Not so much happening here!

Speaking of mile by mile: splits to analyze:

I haven't had the mental energy to really analyze yet but there you have it.
Post race there was a beer chugged and then the perfect setting to recoup, poolside. 

Post marathon recovery should always include this view.
Now, thoughts in general on the marathon itself. Would I run it again...maybe. It will hold a special place in my heart as far as being my first so that could drive me to. But on the other hand, for such a big name event - I expected a lot more. A lot of the aide stations had to wait for water. It got a little bit boring (which I suppose any 26.2 mile run can be guilty of) but for the money I have heard of so many other marathons out there. 

Not to mention once us marathoners finished there was a significant lack of supplies. I knew this going in that since so many of the finishers were doing the half that by the time those from the full got there not to expect much.

But can anything take away from the fact that I am a marathoner? I am and will be telling any and everyone that I am.

Now on to PR the next. I can't wait.


  1. Congratulations!!! First marathons are TOUGH. You ran an awesome race- way to go! Isn't it the best feeling of accomplishment? Enjoy resting up this week. :)

    1. Thank you so much!
      It definitely was the toughest most rewarding experience! You can plan ahead as much as you want but it is impossible to understand it until you have done it.
      The smile won't be off my face for quite some time!

  2. Congratulations - love your attitude! Not all races are going to go your way - something I'm still trying to learn! Great job and nice recap!

    1. Thank you so much!

      This was definitely a first for me - being able to recognize that the race was not going to go my way and not throw a fit about it and regroup. I owe a lot of the attitude to the many marathoners who gave me advice and kept saying to enjoy because you never experience the first one again.
      Now if the next one isn't going my way...not sure how happy I will be ;-)

  3. You just won the post of the day. :D I love this.

    You and your sis are SO lovely.
    you look freakin AMAZING in all those pro-photos!!
    and, CONGRATS!! You are a marathoner with one heck of a great time!!

    1. And your comment made my day!!! Thank you so much! I am so glad the photos captured that (hard as it was) I was having the time of my life out there!!

      I don't think getting to say I am a marathoner will lose its novelty any time in the near future.

  4. I was so happy reading this post. Your amazing attitude and all the hard work you put in clearly paid off, even if some of the day-of and week-of events were out of your control. You're a MARATHONER!!!! Amazing!!! And how on earth do you look so cute while becoming a marathoner? I'll have to ask you for tips ;)

    Also, I love, love, love your enthusiasm and attitude about the race. What's next???

    1. I get so excited when someone asks me how it went and I am able to recap! I still can't believe it is over.
      And thank you - not going to lie, outfit was partially chosen with photo ops in mind ;-)

      I think good or bad it would be hard to not feel an sense of pride in yourself for finishing a marathon, it really is such an awesome accomplishment.

      As for the immediate next goal, back to speed work and lifting and preparing to go for a sub 1:50 at the Allstate 13.1 NY 3/23!

  5. major congrats!!! I so wish I had better known who was going to be there I would have organized an actual meet up. Running through Coconut Grove is one of my favorite things...and yes our humidity sucks.

    you look so strong in all your photos, way to go!

    1. Thank you! That would have been great to have a meet up! My sister lives down there and this is the second race that I traveled down for (also the Halloween Half - AWESOME).

      Coconut Grove was good and bad...mentally I was trying to overcome that I wouldn't get anywhere near 4 hours - coming from training in NYC to that ughhh - but there were some great folks out that were super helpful in reinvigorating my running spirit!

  6. Congrats on having the balls...ok nerve to sign up for your first marathon & completing it! This post was awesome! I felt like I was there every step of the way. You are loads of cool doll. Loads!


    1. Thank you so so much!!! Love your feedback :) I was hoping to give some insight to how it felt in that moment.

  7. Congratuations!!! Great recap, great pictures and great post!! So glad that WE DID IT!!!!

    1. Still mentioning it every chance I get! We totally rocked out 26.2!

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