Disclaimer: I received free entry and VIP to the Miami Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out bibrave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.
One of the biggest things you learn by playing sports your entire life is that no matter how hard you train, practice, push, pull, and fight, you have to make adjustments. The best coaches and players make adjustments during the game. Why? When the lights come on, you never know what you’re getting into.
Sure we’ve run many races, logged hundreds of miles, studied the course, and set a game plan. But you always have to remember, things are fluid.
The 2019 Miami Marathon was a redemption race for me. In 2018, I had one of my worst races ever – a bit bad luck, and a lot of getting in my head. I learned through this experience how to overcome bigger obstacles and make mid-race adjustments.
This year marked my seventh marathon overall and my fourth Miami. It has a special place in my heart because it was my first (2014) and where my current PR (2017) was set. Going into the race weekend I felt great. Too great in fact. I even told a friend that I was feeling so good it was scaring me. During the training, I had a bad two-week stint in December. After a training run that depleted me, I made a huge adjustment – changed how I fueled myself, changed routes, changed how I go about my day, even changed the music I listen too in the car. Ultimately, I changed my routine and it put me in the best position to meet my goal.
While I made changes to my routine, the Miami Marathon made some changes of its own – flipping the script, I mean the course – on its runners. About two weeks before the race, the course map came out and I noticed the outline was the same, but the arrows were different from years past for the second half of the race. Instead of finishing with Key Biscayne and Brickell Avenue, that was now miles 14 – 17. The change takes runners out of a possible blazing sun at the end of the race. It was a much needed adjustment.
The new additions for this year’s Miami Marathon didn’t begin on the course, it began even before the expo. A new feature added this year was a VIP experience. Runners who registered for the VIP Experience at $150, got more than their money’s worth. From a pre-race cocktail reception on Friday to express packet pick-up at the expo and a VIP area inside the expo that included pre-race massages, warm up apparatuses, and Normatec devices. VIP’s also received a special Lifetime Jacket that is the nicest piece of race swag I’ve ever received.
The expo itself was filled to the gills with great vendors. Held again at Mana Wynwood, the Miami Marathon has found a great expo home here. They had lines of food trucks outside in the AthlEAT area, which was awesome. While at the expo, I made sure to visit the exceptional team from Athlinks. It was great to catch up with them, and know they were rooting for all the runners. Their technology got even more sophisticated this year, and spectators loved the ease of use for tracking their favorite runners.
After the expo, it was off to home to rest and focus. The day before the race, it rained persistently for 18 hours. It actually rained until 15 minutes before the race began. On race day, I kept my usual routine of taking the Metrorail to the race even though I had VIP Parking at the American Airlines Arena. The train ride helps me catch my focus.
Once at the race, I went my local club’s (1KRC) tent to drop off my stuff and meet up with fellow Bibrave Pro Lisa (check out her great content at Organic Girl Runs). Lisa and I headed up to the start line, and because we had the VIP experience, we started in Corral B. This was a first for both of us even though we are veteran runners. We went towards the back of the corral so all the speedy runners wouldn’t have to run around us. Lisa helped keep my nerves at bay, as we talked about running friends and our journey. She even pointed me to try out another shoe model.
Starting up front, I knew the key was not to get caught trying to keep up with the elite folks. Thankfully, Lisa was there to help with that as we kept each other in check. After running stride for stride with Lisa for the first mile or so, I had to hit the bathroom. I knew I wouldn’t catch back up to her, so I wished her luck. Back on the course after 25 seconds, I quickly settled into my race. I was a touch faster than I wanted to be and made the adjustments.
The course was wet from all the rain the previous 18 hours, but it wasn’t affecting my run at first. Around mile 10, I began feeling something bunching up in my shoe. At first, I thought it was my sock so I reached down to pull it up. The issue wasn’t fixed and I quickly found out it was the insole of my show getting scrunched. I took off my shoe and fixed it around mile 11. The humidity was kicking and the wet ground didn’t help the issue. Around mile 12.5 I felt the bunching up again. I thought to myself I can deal with the annoyance and fix it every mile, or what if I just pull the insoles.
Right after crossing the 13.1 timing mat, I pulled to the side, took off my shoes, and pulled out the insoles. I laced my shoes back up, and tossed the insoles into the nearest garbage can. Yes, I ran the second half of the race without insoles in my shoes. Less than a mile later, as I was trying to get used to the new feeling, two of my co-workers were outside cheering. That put my head in a better place, and I was able to push through.
The humidity got thicker and I saw many runners starting to pull off the road with cramps. I decided to play it smart and pull back on my pace. The weather wasn’t cooperating and I knew a PR would be difficult to attain. I quickly adjusted my goal into running a race I’m happy with. As I reached my dad and brother at mile 18 they had extra fuel for me. I stopped for 20 seconds to talk to them, and it made all the difference. At this point last year, I wanted to pull out of the race. This year, I knew I was in a good place.
With the adjustment to the course the last 6 miles were under a canopy, helping us runners. I was able to use that to finish strong and set my second fastest time. I was happy with the adjustments I made on the course. I ran the race I wanted to run. I finished a great training cycle with probably my most rewarding run even though it wasn’t a PR. And, with pride, I claimed my results on Athlinks.
Speaking of rewards, along with the unique medal, I took full advantage of the post race VIP experience perks. This included a massage and 15-minute session in the Normatec devices. Not to mention free food and drinks.
I want to congratulate Frank Ruiz and the entire Miami Marathon team. Every year, they add new wrinkles that have taken this race weekend to a whole new level putting it in the upper echelon of marathons around the globe.