My race did not go as planned.
I met none of my goals (other than the one I set at the start line when I realized I could have used one more trip to the bathroom and vowed to remain in control of my bowels). After the first 6 miles or so, I did not enjoy it. Considering how much work I put into training, it was a serious disappointment.
My Play-by-Play of the ING Miami Half Marathon
Stats: My official time was 2:31:54. I had wanted to finish in under 2:20, and really, really wanted to finish faster than 2:25. It just wasn’t happening. I’d like to blame it on the fact that the course was 13.3 miles according to everyone’s GPS watches, but we all know the extra 0.2 miles didn’t make a huge difference. What did make a difference was the weather—it was unusually hot and humid, even for Miami, so even though there were loads of aid stations with water and Gatorade, a lot of runners struggled, myself included. Here’s the breakdown of what I was thinking throughout the race.
Miles 1-3: I know the causeway is going to be a challenge, but I’m ready for it. It’s a gradual incline, and I feel so strong that it’s no problem. Bummer there are no aid stations until mile 3, but it’s really not bothering me—I feel great. In fact, as I’m looking out over the water at the cruise ships, I’m thinking about how I’d rather be doing exactly what I’m doing than getting on a ship. I realize I can’t stop smiling, but I also can’t stop sweating. For a 3-mile run starting at 6:15 in the morning, I’m soaked.
Miles 4-6: We run over another causeway and hit South Beach. I’m still feeling great and my pace is right on track to finish a little under 2:20—I feel like I could do this forever. As we run by the bars, I’m on the lookout for people just heading home after a night out. I mean, what’s funnier than seeing people all stumbly and tired when I’m busy being so awesome? I decide to eat some Clif Shot Bloks a little earlier than planned because I’ve sweated so heavily, and I’m beginning to feel really, really thankful for the aid stations at every mile. As we round a corner right before mile 6, there’s a huge crowd—they’re loud and excited and I get really emotional. In fact, I start to feel choked up, which makes my breathing erratic, which makes me worry about having an asthma attack. I focus on breathing for the next half mile and keep my running pace under control—I might lose a bit of time, but I’d rather lose a minute now than risk my health. I realize I have some chill bumps, but I assume it’s from the emotion.
Miles 7-9: Holy cow, I cannot get these chill bumps to go away. I take a Gu and start double-fisting Gatorade at the aid stations in an attempt to get my body back to normal. I’m still moving pretty easily, but notice that I’m having to work a lot harder to maintain my pace. I’ve been doing the Galloway method run/walk (4 minutes running, 1 minute walking), and while for the first half of the race, I had to force myself to take the walk breaks, I find myself having to really push hard to run all four minutes. And then, my brain begins to turn on me and all I can think is, if it’s feeling this hard now, what’s going to happen in a few more miles?
Miles 10-12: I hate this. I hate you. I hate everything in the entire world. I hate runners in tutus. I hate runners with better hair than me. What is that person smiling about? Why did I do this? I do my best to stick with my 4:1 pattern, but end up throwing a few extra walks in there. I figure it doesn’t matter because my running pace is abysmal anyway, so who cares if I walk? Of course, then I turn around and yell at myself (silently…mostly) for walking and remind myself that, the more I run, the faster I’ll be done. This is a really fun battle to have, you can imagine.
The last 1.1 (or 1.3, by my watch) miles: Back at mile 8 or 9, there were sponsor flags denoting quarter and half miles. At that point, I didn’t give a damn about half miles. You know when runners start to care about quarter and half miles? WHEN THERE’S A QUARTER OR HALF MILE LEFT. Ahem. The crowd is huge and loud and incredible. There are cheerleaders and bands and people with vuvuzelas, and with what I believe to be about a half mile left, I pick up my pace. Which means that I begin going faster than some of your older tortoises. I don’t feel happy when I cross the finish line—I just feel relief that it’s over.
After getting my medal (which is the coolest medal I’ve ever received, I must admit), I drink all the water and Gatorade I can find. I call my husband, and here’s a brief transcript of the call:
Me: I’m done.
Jared: Congrats! How was it? I’m so proud of you!
Me: I hated it. I was slow. It hurt. I can’t believe I did this.
J: Oh. Umm, I’m sorry? But I’m still really proud of you.
Me: I didn’t poop myself.
J: Good job on that, I guess.
Me: If I ever, ever start talking about how maybe I should do another [expletive deleted] half marathon, please remind me how [expletive deleted] much I hate this distance and how I’d be a [expletive deleted] stupid [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] to do it again. I mean, this is just [expletive deleted] awful. I [expletive deleted] hate everything right now. [Expletive deleted, and maybe a few more expletives deleted just for kicks.]
J: Uhhh … I love you?
Right. So, this wasn’t exactly the race I wanted it to be. I wanted to do this, love it just as much as I loved the training, and decide that the next step is a half Ironman. Now, I’m leaning more toward just working to improve my times on the 10K and Olympic triathlon distances. And hey, you know, that’s fine. I know there’s nothing wrong with that. But man, I had just hoped for so much more.
And as much as I never want to do this again (as evidenced by the conversation above), I also hate the idea of giving up and quitting that distance on such a horrifically sour note. What would you do? Keep training and try again, or stick to shorter distances that you actually enjoy? —Kristen