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ING Miami Half Marathon: Kristen’s Race Report

I earned this medal. I also earned the four free beers I drank after the race.

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


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  1. Jan says:

    I had a bad marathon in December so I feel for you! Three days of “never doing that *bleeping* *bleep* again” followed by a really good run on day four and, yep, I’m doing it again. Give it a few days and if you’re not busily scheming how you’re going to do better next time then maybe the distance just isn’t for you.

  2. Jan says:

    P.S., you look young….in my experience, distance races skew toward older ages for whatever reason so if you give the half up for now, consider it again in a few years.

  3. Brian says:

    Sorry you didn’t meet your goals. I also struggle with heat and humidity, some of my worst races have been in those conditions (and some of my best have been in cooler/drier temps). I used Endurolyte tablets in the past, and now have SaltStick tablets. Getting goosebumps might have been a sign of your body not being able to cool itself properly? I’m biased – I think you should keep at it. If I had given up after my second, disastrous marathon (the one where I told my family I would finish in 4 hours and they were still waiting at 5 1/2 checking the first aid tent) I never would have set my PR a year and a half later.

  4. Julie A. says:

    I can totally relate to this post, although regardless how bad I do at the half (I’ve done 2 now), I always feel intensive relief and happiness at the end because I know it’s going to be a long time before I (stupidly) decide to do another one. My mental journey throughout the race was pretty much the same as yours….the race is so much more mental than most people understand!

  5. carrie says:

    I can totally relate. I feel like we ran the same race but in different bodies….weird.
    I also wanted to finish in 2:20 but the last three miles total ass kicker finished in 2:40.
    The half Iron is on my bucket list but not this year …I will also work on improving my times and an Olympic tri.

  6. Crissy says:

    I know exactly what you mean! I tend to stick to 5ks now. I can still do long runs when I’m training, but now if I have an off race, it’s only 20 minutes of torture verses 2 1/2 hours!! That being said, weather really does make a huge difference so if sometime down the road, you’re thinking it would be fun to do another long distance race, do it (and just hope the weather is much more cooperative next time)!.

  7. Amy says:

    Hi Kristen, your time was great for a half I ran the princess 1/2 last year in Orlando and I think the breakdown of emotions was about right! You should def try again. GOOD LUCK!!!

  8. Frank S says:

    Even though it is late “winter” and its such an inviting locale it sounds like it was quite warm, so dont let that discourage you. Temperature is a huge factor. The next factor would be if this was your first half? then your 1 and only goal was to finish! And you did that, and didnt poop yourself, besides!!! So, keep training, stick to the distances you love for now, and do another half earlier in the season farther north, when its cooler and you will rock it! Now, every one pray for cool weather for Franks 5 points half on Feb 19th!

  9. Shannon says:

    I can relate. I’ve had the exact same experience. Wanted to run a 2:20 half, and ended up with a 2:40… So frustrated, I quit running. Told everyone I was over it and didn’t enjoy it anymore. That lasted about a month or two. One day I decided to go for a walk and started jogging. Next thing I know, I’m training and running another half. Finished at 2:13… Next goal is 2:10. You will not PR every race. You will not hit every goal. But you should feel proud and empowered just for showing up at the start line! I’m proud of you!

  10. Nancy says:

    Kristen, you should keep at it. Every distance runner can relate to your report, but WOW! You did it!
    Keep to a training plan. There is a lot of science and experience put into those plans. You will learn personal lessons from each event you run too. Stay with it and you will find the right training plan for you and you may figure out some tips and tricks that work great. It gets better. I promise.

  11. Courtney says:

    First of all, congratulations! You should be proud of putting in all those miles…completing a half marathon isn’t just about the 13(.3) miles–it also includes all those miles you put in training. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you can never predict what race day will bring, and heat & humidity make a HUGE difference in your pace & experience. I ran the Chicago marathon in October and even after training in the Kansas City heat & humidity all summer, the 85 degree weather that struck on race day really slowed me down. Was this your first half? I would definitely give it another shot before deciding not to repeat that distance. Especially since you enjoyed the training–I think that can be the best part! Each race is different, and whether you get crappy weather or just have an “off” running day, sometimes they just suck. Going for it again will give you an opportunity to improve your experience!

  12. Erin says:

    I just ran my first half last weekend, too. I think the way you described the last 3 miles was pretty accurate. It was awful. The course was over 13.1 as well — it ended up being 13.7. There is nothing worse than looking at your GPS, knowing you should be there, then realizing the finish line is nowhere in sight. However, the main thing I was happy about was the fact I finished. Was it fast? No. Did I hit my goals? No. Did I make mistakes? Yes, namely not eating the GU early enough and not taking in enough water. Did I cry afterwards? Yes, from sheer exhaustion.

    However, I’m still happy with myself. I ran a freaking half marathon. You ran a freaking half marathon. How many people do that? It may seem like there are a lot of people at the starting line, but realistically it’s a small percentage of the population. By doing that, we joined a club that not that many people ever will. So, congratulations. Give yourself a pat on the back, even if you don’t think you deserve it. Reflect on what you would have done differently, and start planning how you’ll change things for the next one. The next one will be easier, and you’ll come out stronger having learned from your first one.

  13. Andrea says:

    I appreciate your honesty here! I can totally relate to every stage of your race. Next time you feel a little nutty and decide to do another race, just think of how much your readers will enjoy you sharing your experience.

  14. elz says:

    You captured my sentiments on miles 10-12 perfectly! I’ve now done 2 half marathons. I think most of my conversations go like that the day after when I’m all achy and grouchy. I have never once thought, “Gee, that was so much fun, let me turn around and do it again!” Half marathons are just fine with me, thankyouverymuch.

  15. Funny, I did my first half marathon last October. I hated the training but loved the half on race day. Opposite you. =) Probably because the training consisted of running 5-10 miles in 100+ degree Southern California Summer heat and the race was on a lovely 70-80 degree October day. The miles flew by and I completed it in 2:05 (9:34 pace – ran the whole time) and my goal was to run it in 2:15 (10 min/mile pace) which is what I trained at. I have not signed up for another half, but I did the Spartan (8 mile) mud run in January this year (only a few months after the 1/2) and that one kicked my butt. Most likely because I didn’t train hill runs and the weather ended up being in the 90s day of the mud run. Anyways, I still like running regularly but hang out around the 4-5 mile mark and have yet to decide if and when I am going to do another half or mud run, but probably will, maybe next year. Or maybe I try something new…Thanks for sharing your experience, it made for a fun story even though it was a less than fun day. Oh, and I say, give it another go, who knows maybe next time will be better. What was the farthest that you ran during training prior to the 1/2 and did you always, run/walk? Just curious. Take Care!

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