Over the years this race expo has been held in 3 different locations, well that’s since I have been running this race in the past 5 years. 6 years if you count the year that I did the Tropical 5k only. Mana Convention Center is actually my favorite expo location for this race. The parking might be a pain somewhat as you have to find street parking and use a meter/parking app but its way less crowded to get to than the Miami Beach Convention Center with all that traffic to get there and not as confusing as the Marlins Park one was. The first Miami Marathon expo I went to here I remember it being a very windy day and surprise, again it was a very windy afternoon as I walked to the expo from parking a few blocks away. I brought my toddler again this year to pick up 4 race bibs between my boyfriend and I. Upon walking into the convention there is all the typical vendors for shoes (I hope you already have your shoes for your race before going!) and Geico, running store booths, massage booths and the food trying booths (yum!) I walked past them quickly in order to pick up the packets because even though it was still only about an hour into the expos start I knew that the longer I waited the longer the line would be. Before leaving work I had printed out copies of our bib numbers so it would be easy to pick up the packets but then promptly forgot them in the car and remembered when I got into Mana (mommy brain is real, people!) Luckily there is a convenient computer bib look up zone with very helpful volunteers so I was able to look up all 4 bib numbers quickly and head to the bib number pick up line. I went to the marathon line first because I know those get busy and was able to get my bib in like 2 minutes of waiting. The line was quick and went over to the Tropical 5k line to get my bibs there and that line was pretty quick too but longer because that race was the next day. In less than 5 minutes after entering the expo, with a stroller, I was able to pick up all the bibs I needed for the weekend of racing.
I then walked around the expo, saying hi to running friends and running store friends. My toddler got to take a pic with the Geico Gecko and I was able to find my name on the Miami Marathon letters for a quick selfie. The one thing that I ended up buying was a toddler shirt saying Future Finisher, it’s kind of a thing since I found out I was pregnant and bought the first future finisher baby onesie secretly. Of course I stupidly gave the bag with the shirt to my toddler, who quickly lost it without me realizing till I was home and she was napping (AAHHH!) So someone went to the expo and got a free toddler shirt that they found. That was the only negative to the Miami Marathon expo and it had nothing to do with organization on their part at least. It was pretty cool that this year they had a few areas where you could do fitness classes or lift weights while hanging out at the expo. I don’t know if I would want to try a new exercise out a few days before running a marathon but I’m sure it was popular with a lot of people. Outside there was a bag check area for the runners coming directly from the airport to the expo (very helpful and there were quite a lot of bags there) and a bike valet zone in case you wanted to ride to the expo and wondered where to park your bike. Also there were 3 food trucks incase you were in the mood for trying a fun new food, I do have to say that the Jamaica food truck’s wraps looked pretty tasty! I stopped by the Athlinks booth and asked them about the race day app, which they told me works with runners carrying phones but that the regular Athlinks app would help me track runners without their phones gps. I looked at the features and learned that you can also see/download your FREE finisher pics on the app too! I have had an Athlinks account for years now and love that now I can use the app and claim and find my results even faster than using a regular pc. Anyhow after I left there after having some Harmless Harvest coconut water (the best coconut water, IMO) and getting a sample of Hemp Hearts (love these!) We walked back to the car while taking pics with some of the Wynwood art on the walls and sidewalks, my toddler really enjoyed this part of the trip. I actually saw a ton of runners taking selfies and pics with the art walls. Quickly drove home, as quick as traffic would allow and got in a short nap with the toddler.
Instructions on how to use the Athlinks app
Found my name on the letters
Next morning I headed to the Tropical 5k, which I recapped right here.
Now Miami Marathon morning, woke up at the early hour of 3am! Way earlier than any of my early morning training run wake ups have been and left my house by 3:45am. Early enough to be in the race area and parked in the American Airlines parking lot (only $5) before 5am. Walked over to the 1k booth and hung out with friends with some porta potty stops along the way. Pro tip: there is no line for the porta potties in the charity village area and you can get a nice warm up walk to get there and back to the finish line after. First thought: it is quite windy, looking at the skies all I can see is grey clouds, unsure if they are rain clouds or regular pre dawn clouds. Just making sure my phone didn’t get damaged I put it in a plastic sandwich bag in my armband before starting.
As usual the first 12.5 miles were crowded and the first 5 were almost nonstop elbow smashingly close. At mile 3.1 I missed the 5k timing mat and had to run back to cross it to not miss any splits on tracking, the mat did not stretch all the way across the bridge in that area. All the other timing mats were right in my way and no way I could have missed them, I don’t understand how anyone could have missed any of the others on the course. The first part of the race has you running over the MacArthur Causeway and in that 20 mph winds, it was very rough. Nothing like being battered by winds in the first 2 miles of a marathon, only 24 more to go, right? The next couple of miles are through South Beach, which was nice as it was around the time that the sun was rising. Around mile 9 I saw a fallen runner being taken care of by paramedics, I’m guess it was dehydration as the temps were starting to heat up by that point in the race. Later they raced by in a mule with said runner in the back, scary to see but glad all the runners in that lane got out of the way, I may have yelled to get their attention to get out of the way of the incoming ambulance. Lots of great views and then we were heading across the Venetian bridge. It was there that I saw the Every Mother Counts crew cheering at mile 11 and that helped give me a little bit of a boost to get through the next couple of crowded miles before the split. A few miles later was cheered on by Doug, owner of GoRun, always nice to see a familiar face that knows your name out there. Something that is never cool and always happens just before the half/full split is the bystanders who think they are helping but unfortunately not for the full marathoners, start screaming “Almost There!!” I did make sure to yell out “You mean, almost HALF way there” as I finally made it into the full marathon chute. After that you can stretch your arms out and shake off all that crowding and you are in a quieter zone. You have a bridge soon after the split which is expected but what you may not realize is that you have to cross that same bridge again just before you finish.
The course was changed a bit from the past when we would run down Brickell and cross the short but steep Brickell bridge. Strangely in the past marathons I would speed up around this point, I guess the freedom of less crowding but this year I started to slow. I believe the slowing down was not really due to my terrible marathon training this year but rather the humidity started to get pretty high around this time. Around the Brickell area there was a corner stop with ice pops and I made sure to grab one, it was the best ice pop I had ever tasted, I could tell I was starting to dehydrate at that point. It was still pretty cloudy through most of this race but there were some times when I felt the sun, one of those times was while coming back from under the Rickenbacker bridge area. I started to really slow in the Coconut Grove area and it was strange because I wasn’t having any aches at all, but rather the heat was starting to get to me. I have trained in the temps this whole time but maybe less in the elements as a lot of my long runs were done on a treadmill. Something I will not be doing the next time around but rather more long runs on the street, even if it means bringing the BOB running stroller & toddler along for the miles. It was around mile 17 or 18 I saw another runner friend who was being the guide for a visually impaired runner and ended up running almost the rest of the remaining miles with them. They took walking breaks and usually some walking breaks through the water stops which really helped me. Since the heat was getting pretty crazy there, I started stopping for water at all water stops after mile 15. I was not taking a chance of getting dehydrated and having to be rushed away on the back of an ambulance and there were plenty racing by us as we ran up Bayshore drive. Along the way it was nice to zone out a bit about the running part and just chat with others while the miles slowly passed by.
Finally we were out of the Grove/Key Biscayne area and heading up Brickell to move onward to the last 2 miles. Those were some very very long miles, but when I got over that last bridge, the one we crossed twice, and I walked up/ran down, the buildings were blocking the sun a bit and helped with the overheated feelings. At the final mile was a group of iRun runners who had completed the half marathon and were back out there to cheer and Hector, one of the owners of iRun cheering me on as I ran through that final mile. They said I was looking strong but I was just chugging along just trying to get to the end in one piece. I never felt like I was going to collapse through the whole race or anything, just exhausted from the heat and ready for it to be over already. Since the race weaves through the downtown area and not a straight shot as it was in the past it was getting kind of overwhelming as I would turn another corner and still be like where is the finish line. Finally in the last stretch, there was a 1k running friend who had a megaphone and was calling out “Go Running Mama!” as I passed by for that final boost before the finish line. When I saw the finish line I just tried to run as fast as possible, that was my idea of a sprint at the moment and so elated when I finally had crossed over and my finish line pics show just that, haha!
I wasn’t sure if I had my 2nd best time of 2nd slowest time until I checked the official time on the Athlinks app but that was later on when I finally sat down. I picked up my new medal, making sure that all parts spun (issue earlier in the weekend about that) and headed to the food tent. Last year the food tent was a mess and I had to juggle all my food in the cold freezing rain but this year it was much better and (yay!) no cold freezing rain either! They had boxes of DeliverLean meals ready to pick up, at first I looked at it and it said something like Turkey sandwich and I guess one of the volunteers could see my face “oh damn, meat” and asked if I was vegetarian they had meals for us too. Finally, a meal option for vegetarians at a race! Best news ever! I got my pasta meal box and some pretzels and oatmeal cinnamon cookies and quickly went to another tent where they had cold water. I got a cold water bottle and went in search of a place to put all my stuff down to better organize it for carrying back to the 1k tent to eat. I dropped my Nuun tablet into the cold water bottle also and was happy I didn’t have to wait long before getting re-hydrated. They also had Gatorade bottles available but I almost never drink Gatorade so I passed on it. Then I walked sorely back to the 1k tent where I could put my stuff down on a table and start snacking on some cookies. I stayed standing for a long time while I gave my body time to slow down a bit and get readjusted to not running. I know better than to sit down right after a long distance race, one thing I learned really quickly after my first half marathon. After about 25 minutes or so I decided it was time to sit and rest a little, it was at that time that I looked up my boyfriend’s splits and could see that he was nearing the finish line. I continued to watch the app while I ate my cookies and drank my cold Nuun infused water until he finished and came to the 1k tent to find me. After that I got my gear bag and was trying to debate whether I should change clothing or not, I ended up not choosing to change clothing as it wasn’t cold and I really didn’t want to see what would happen if I tried bending to change, haha! Took a porta potty break and then went to the Florida Storm Series tent to collect my Cat 3 medal of the series. At the 305 Half I will be collecting my Cat 4 medal so in about a month I will have 2 more medals.
Another reason to park or not park at the American Airlines Arena is the walk back is a good cool down, re stretch your muscles walk before the drive home but can be terrible if you can barely walk. Luckily it was a good cool down walk for me and not the latter, also it makes it easier to leave the downtown area also. All in all this was not my best marathon and not my worst. The conditions were brutal but I endured the wind and heat and conquered my 4th marathon to date! Miami Marathon 2019, I am coming for you and will hopefully be PR ready. Now I just need the weather to cooperate and I will be good. If you haven’t signed up for next year’s race, what are you waiting for? Right now the prices are the lowest they will EVER be, so sign up now!