The day started like most other race days.
It was dark.
For some reason I woke up 45 minutes before my alarm so I made the best of it and got dressed and ready to go anyway. We got to race start with plenty of time to spare which was nice for a change. I’m usually frantically trying to find a parking spot.
I drove down to South Florida from Orlando on Saturday morning and was lucky enough to have my wonderful mother to drive me to and from Miami on Sunday.
I hate driving south of Broward County with a passion.
Almost as much as I hate Spirit Airlines which I thankfully did not have to fly like Monica over at Run, Eat, Repeat. Don’t fly them if you can avoid it, seriously.
I set out with three goals in mind. I was really hoping/crossing my fingers/wishing on shooting stars for a 2:15. I even took a 2:15 pace bracelet with me to see how close I could come.
Miles 1 to 3 had no aid stations. Zero. There were 25,000 runners and the crowd never thinned out the entire race. I’m not sure where the promised Gu/gels were because I brought my own. Maybe the medical tents? I never saw them.
We did get to see a pretty east coast sunrise though.
I took a Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chew at Miles 0, 3, 6, 9 and 12. Those things are so darn good (get the cherry flavor)!
Somewhere around the two-mile mark I saw a man’s junk because there weren’t any Porta Potties until Miles 3 and above and he really had to go. Also at the two-mile mark I felt a twinge in my right knee when I landed a little funny.
I hadn’t run more than three miles since the Hollywood Half Marathon on Dec. 2 because of my knee. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind and kept going.
The bridges started early on and they were KILLER. I’m sure for a non-Floridian they were nothing but there were SO MANY BRIDGES.
We ran by The Miami Herald building which was pretty freaking cool.
At Mile 7 I tweeted while running. I had yet to see the promised pineapple and Cuban coffee. I’m not sure if that was just for marathoners but I was really looking forward to it and it never came. I used #ingmiami which announcers kept promoting before the event but no one ever answered.
At the 8-mile mark I was still able to see that 2:15 pace flag even though I lined up somewhere behind the 2:30 pace group. I calculated I would finish at around 2:18 if I kept up that pace because I was well-ahead of the 2:30 group. I felt good.
Pineapple-less and coffee deprived, the 2:20 flag started to get further away at the 10-mile mark.
Just before getting to the marker for Mile 11 the flag was gone and I was absolutely exhausted but the 2:30 pacer had yet to pass me.
It was getting harder and harder to push the pain from my knee to the back of my head but I figured I’d already run 11 miles, why stop now?
Miles 11 and 12 were brutal.
I can honestly say this has been the most painful race I’ve ever done.
I realized I wasn’t hitting my second goal time of 2:20 during Mile 11 and I slowed down while telling myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I passed a girl slumped along a wall being helped by paramedics. She was wearing a mask and seemed unresponsive. The medics were trying to detach her bib to get her information. I prayed she was OK.
I thought about how hard J is working at basic. I’d gotten less than four hours of sleep but he’d gone 48 hours without any sleep at all and was still going strong with plenty more sleepless days ahead.
Mile 11 was soooo long.
I thought about walking.
And then, just in time, I ran past one of the many, many cheer squads along the way. A marching band added some pep to my step for a little while.
I really needed it.
I kept going and remembered I had my phone that I’d been holding the whole time but forgotten to turn on because I’d been entertained the entire way with a myriad of running personalities.
There was the guy in the kilt, some guy dribbling two basketballs while running and outpacing the heck out of me and more guys’ junk.
I wished I had someone to talk to while I was running about all the junk I saw.
I put Pandora on and Missy Elliot got me through Mile 12. Slow and steady.
After turning the corner at Mile 13 I stuck my phone in my pocket for the home stretch. All I wanted was for the pain to end. My knee. My feet. Everything hurt.
I could see the finish line and I ran like someone was chasing me.
While I didn’t hit my first two goals I did hit my “ultimate” goal and I’m happy to say I have a new PR!
As they say in Miami, dale!
I switched the layout tonight. What do you think? It’s cleaner, right? Now I just need a header.
What did you do this weekend?