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Miami Half-marathon

Why because of a positive covid test in november I ran the Miami Half-Marathon last February, had a “fear poop” almost in NBA mode, and drank a beer at 9am…

When you have to postpone your non-refundable plane ticket to Miami, because of a positive Covid test in November, well you choose random dates in February, so you can still enjoy the sun and the tropics during the winter… 

And when you realise that you’ll be there during the marathon weekend, well, you register for the Half, right? Especially if you’ve run 50 Half-marathon (off, on your own) in 2021, and it’s been almost 3 years since you’ve pinned a bib. And moreover it will motivate you to get out and train in the freezing temperatures of the Swiss winter. 

And that’s how you end up in early February in a great Art-Deco apartment in the middle of Miami Beach, 100m from the Atlantic, separated from the large beach only by a few rows of palm trees (if you want to stay in this flat, it’s this one, and contact me by e-mail, I’ll try to get you a runner’s special discount).

Anyway, back to this half-marathon… for which I tried to follow a training plan, in the hope of getting a 1h33'30 PB (at 51 years old, lol)

Expo and bib collection

The expo is held at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Perfectly organized, I get my bib, my t-shirt and my official transparent bag, the only bags allowed in the locker of the start/finish area. For the rest, classic exhibition with mostly American brands we are not used to, and strangely enough several stands specialized in bikes.

Chill afternoon 

when it’s really hard to resist the urge to drink a few beers. Yes, terraces, sun, ideal temperature, palm trees, it’s not easy to resist, I guarantee you, and I fail

I’m not stressed, but I’m a bit worried about the too ambitious goal I’ve set myself. I’ll have to stay in a fun state of mind, not put too much pressure on myself, and not go too hard, this goal was mainly to push me up the arse during the preparation in the cold winter. And it’s hard to imagine that it’s winter at home.

Then I organise my racepack: I have to have something to change into after the race, but everything has to fit into the transparent bag and the foldable backpack I’ll have for my bike ride: 9km to the start/finish, at 4am.

Evening

Small pasta party at the appartment, cookies for dessert, last preparations, then I go to bed quite early, not really stressed, a bit anxious anyway.

Before the start 

At 4.30am sharp, I get on my bike and start pedalling for 10 km as a warm-up, and especially as a transportation mean. I arrive at the start shortly before 5am, at the foot of Miami’s downtown towers: loud music, spotlights in all directions, giant American flag at the top of the firemen’s ladder. Good atmosphere, but I guess nobody can still be sleeping in the whole area and in these skyscrappers…

All is very well organized, and the bag drop is done in a few seconds. I get to the starting area, and do a little warm-up around the FTX Arena, the Miami Heat basketball arena.

Classic fear poop in a secluded portypotti behind the basketball arena (it avoids the lines in the front of the building).

I reach my starting corral, just as a policewoman starts the national anthem, to mark the beginning of the official ceremony. It’s very strange, motivating, and emotional to be in a starting block after such a long time (Rotterdam Marathon, April 2019). I didn’t think it would do this to me. I feel good, motivated, and still a bit anxious.

The race

Start at 6:10 am, in the night. After 500m I have to climb the highest bridge of the course, but it goes pretty well. I find the right pace after one kilometer, and the crossing of Biscayne Bay begins. 

We pass the huge cruise-ships along the dock, then the illuminated cranes of the cargo harbour. In the distance on the ocean, the few clouds are already turning pink.

A short climb over another bridge, and we are in Miami Beach. 

5th km, almost on time, but I’m starting to feel the struggle. It’s hot and humid and I realise that it’s going to be really difficult to keep this pace until the end.

I hang on to the uphill (actually it’s flat, but due north) Ocean Drive, knowing that my lover is waiting for me soon, and to the east on the ocean, behind the palm trees, the sky is starting to lighten, yellowed by the first rays of the sun.

Silvia is waiting for me in front of The Carlyle, which makes me feel better, because it’s starting to get really difficult. I hang on until the 10th km, which I pass in 43:47, maybe a PB for this distance, I don’t know.

It’s getting harder and harder, and I’m really struggling to hold on to other runners, to keep a pace. 

Around the 13th km, I meet Silvia again. She starts to follow me on her bike, which encourages me a lot. We cross Biscayne Bay again, through the Venetian Islands. The sun is now shining, the bay is peaceful, and in front of us stands the skyline of downtown Miami where the first rays of the sun are shining.

I hang on as long as I can, I enjoy Silvia’s encouragement on her bike, but I don’t have much energy left. 

Back in Miami, km 18, Silvia leaves me to reach the finish. 

There are a few people on the side of the road, the atmosphere is good, noisy, it feels good. I feel like I’m slowing down again, but I hope I’ll still have some strength to run a little better pace into the last km. I count in stadium laps: 5 and a half, 2, 1.

The atmosphere becomes very noisy, and finally feeling the end I accelerate and go towards the finish line, after a last sharp left turn. Silvia is there but I can’t hear or see her. I can only see the arch.

That’s it, it’s over… and so much the better. I’ve had it…

1h38'58. Goal not reached, but I’m still happy: 3rd best result on the distance, 25th out of 569 in my age group (M50–54, i.e. in the top 4.3%), 359/4959 in the men’s category. But I’m mostly relieved that it’s behind.

After the race 

Silvia is there behind the fence, just after the line, sweating as rarely, where I receive the heaviest medal of all time. Fortunately I still have some strength left and I don’t bend… 

Some food, banana, lunch tray (which I’ll give to a homeless man sleeping behind the baggage locker), and we’ll settle down on a bench in Bayfront Park, to continue dripping for a while under the palm trees while enjoying the view of the Bay and the concert of a US Army band.

It’s not 8am yet, the temperature is perfect, the sky is blue, and a guy is walking around with a “Trump won” flag. I didn’t know that this jerk had run this half marathon, let alone that he won it, lol. I doubt as I didn’t see him pass me

Almost 9am, it’s time to go and have a good local beer at the Beer Garden installed on the docks for the occasion… unusual and funny Sunday morning, but it goes really well…

In short, the Miami half, I say yes… go for it!

*** urbirun Miami downloadable running tour, it’s here.

*** running urbirun in Miami, how is it like? read here and watch the video here

*** Amazing interview of Raven Run, the guy who runs every single day the same 8mile route in Miami Beach, since Jan. 1st 1975... 1975…

 

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