Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Very Miami PR: Race Recap

A couple of weekends back I went to Miami with my friend Jen to root her on as she conquered the Miami Marathon. I did the Miami Half Marathon as part of my Boston training...but was also secretly trying to PR!

As faithful followers of MeriG will well-remember, Miami is where I #actually ran my first marathon. Rooted on by co-#1 fan Betsy, I conquered that race and was able to complete something that was an 18 month journey in the making.

Officially a marathoner!

I had always wanted to come back and do the half since -- quite frankly -- the first 13 miles of this race are far more exciting than the back half. The full has far fewer participants, and the course (which I'll describe in a moment) definitely peaks in the beginning leaving you a bit-lackluster when you need the motivation most.

What was great about going back to Miami this time was that I got to have the experience with Jen. I've written about "Roomie" Jen before. We were Freshman year roommates at Brandeis many moons ago and have been close friends ever since. Jen introduced me to health and fitness in many ways, and living with her was something that I will cherish forever. Today she is a doctor with a hubby and three kids, and our lives pretty much couldn't be more different. But our history and our mutual love of running keeps us connected. It's pretty beautiful, actually.

Jen's parents live in Miami, so I tagged onto their family vacation for this little race.

After arriving Friday night, Saturday was spent in race prep mode. Jen and I did a little shake-out run in the morning to get the muscles moving and then went to a yoga class at a random studio in her parent's neighborhood. I don't want to talk crap about the class....but actually I do. It was pretty bad. The teacher just obviously was not properly trained, and rather than a nice flow class (as advertised) he instead tried to have us hold awkward, random, and difficult poses without really leading up to them in any way. Not only was it not relaxing, it actually felt kind of downright dangerous. So Jen and I kind of stretched on our own to not risk injury and that was that. Afterwards, we headed to the expo to get our bibs.

Me and the Roomie. She's tall.

I love how you can personalize your bibs for this race!
After dinner with her family, we were off to bed as early as we could for our 3:30 am wake-up call. Oh, did I forget to mention that the race starts at 6:15 am? Yup. Miami gets hot, it turns out. So you want to start early. On this particularly day, however, we totally lucked out. The weather for the run was low 50s, sunny, and zero humidity. Pretty rare and pretty freaking amazing.

Although I tried to be cool about it, I had been craving a Miami PR. I've been doing a lot of strength and speed training, and I was ready to roll. However, once never knows what the race gods throw at you. So seeing that weather forecast made me nervous. Because with the combination of the stellar weather and the fact that Miami is a very flat course...I now knew that I had all the tools to make me capable of PR. If my legs (and tummy) would hold out...

We arrived at the start about 20 minutes before the gun went off. It was pretty cool. And by that I mean it was cold out but I was pretending to be warm because I am a NEW ENGLANDER AND I AM IN MIAMI. But for reals it was cold.

And then, we were off! I wished Jen well and then we parted ways so she could be Speedy Gonzalez for 26.2 and I could be...Speedy MeriG for 13.1.

Even though you have to wake up at an ungodly hour, there are benefits. The key benefit being sunrise over the long bridge to Miami Beach. I tried to snap some moving pics, but these truly don't do justice to the beauty of these miles.

Miles 3 through 10 are basically around Miami Beach. Very cool. And then you run back over bridges to Miami to finish near the starting line. The full marathon loops down south for several miles before coming back along the coast and back and forth over some causeways before finishing in the same spot.

I felt great for the first 10 miles and was totally on pace not only for a PR...but for a big PR. I was fighting against a 1:55:56 and I was pacing -- according to the math racing through my head -- to something like a 1:53 or 1:54. Nutty.

At mile 11 I felt a twinge in my knee. Ow.

And then my knee kind of seized up. Oyyyy.

But by this point I knew that even if I ran "just" 9ish minute miles I could still PR. I stopped for a few seconds and stretched, and then I said to myself, "girl. Do this. Do this now." And I was off.

My gait looked something like this:

And I wasn't sure I was going to make it without walking the last mile. But I focused on my breath, on my mantra (an uninspiring "You will be so pissed if you don't do this." Yep. That was my mantra), and on putting one foot in front of the other.

And then I saw the finish. And I looked at my watch. And I saw the finish. And I looked at my watch. And by golly...I was going to PR. I ran under the Finish Banner like this:

And my time was 1:54:40 -- a solid PR and with a busted knee! I was so, so happy and proud of myself for this accomplishment.

I recovered in the finish area and posted on the social medias and called my parents to brag (because  -- let's be real -- they would have thought I was pretty amazing if I had just stayed home and eaten a bagel). And then I was able to see Jen come in at an amazing 3:50 for her marathon. Here she is lookin' like, "hey! no big deal! 'bout to finish me a marathon!"

Before I leave you, I have a closing thought: Reader, please keep in mind that my first half marathon in Brooklyn in 2008 was a 2:22 finish. That's slightly under an 11-minute mile.

Over the course of seven years I have trained and tried and educated myself and really worked at this. And it's that effort that has brought me to 1:54:40, which is an 8:45 minute per mile average pace.

If that's not a gratifying stat? I don't know what is. 

Teaser for my next post: New things I'm trying. Hot yoga in Miami...and FlyWheel in NY. More to come!


  1. Every time I get tempted to head back to Miami for the marathon I think of how hot I was that day! Congrats on the PR!! Looks like this is setting you up for one in Boston!

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  3. Hi there, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to speak with you, please email me when you have a chance, thanks so much! Looking forward to hearing from you :)