Fitbit Miami Marathon 2018 weekend – Expo & Race Review

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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.

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!

 

 

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Tropical 5k – January 27, 2018- Race Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Tropical 5k 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!

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This is my 4th time running the Tropical 5k. Most years this race has been very cool at the start, even one year it was freezing cold. That was the year I had planned on pushing Phoebe in a stroller for the race, but it was too cold and she had a cold so that didn’t happen. Something you just cannot count on in Miami is the weather, this year the weather was cool at the start because of the 16 mph winds! Cool but humid, by the time the race was over, I was windblown and sweaty, not sure how that is even possible but this is Miami.

Weather aside you must get to this race early as the line to get into the parking area of Watson Island gets very crowded and packed quickly. You have options of parking in a grassy lot or paid paved spots right across from the Children’s Museum or even at Jungle Island which is about a half a mile on the other side of the causeway. This year I choose the grassy lot area but usually choose the paved parking lot, which was not too bad but it was a little walk to the starting line. I got there about an hour before the race started so I would have enough time to set up the stroller and take a bathroom break before the race began. The race start at 7:30am but the best advice is to get in the corral area by 7:00am or be prepared to squish through the entire crowd to get to your desired spot to start. My boyfriend was going to be running with the stroller for this race and he managed to get into the corral in enough time to not have any issues while I used the porta potty. I heard one person complaining that the porta potty was a bit unstable since it was kind of on a small hill beside the corral but I didn’t have any issues and got one with toilet paper, score!

Lined up and listened to a commissioner talk and heard a young girl sing the National Anthem before the race began, same stuff. The wind though was a bit much in some spots along the MacArthur Causeway as we made our way to South Beach. Great views of the cruise ships along the right side and cheering squads along the way. The plan was to take this race at an easy pace in order to not shred my legs for the Miami Marathon the next day and I think I did that at around an average 9 min mile pace until the final mile when I boosted the pace a bit.  Heard some friends along the way cheering me on but on a sprint to the finish line it’s hard to focus on faces so I just went with it. Collected my medal quickly and made it out of the (long) finishing chute in just enough time to get my phone out of my armband to get a pic of my boyfriend and toddler crossing the finish line. Perfect timing!

After I met them at the exit of the finisher’s chute we made our way over to Nikki Beach for the 5k after party. When we got there we had no problem with any lines and had an assortment of bagels/cream cheese/fruit cups/pretzels/bananas/granola bars. Typical runner food and of course coolers of water/gatorade also. We found a nice comfy couch area and relaxed a bit. I got my official finisher pic taken in no time at all even though there was a bit of a line, photographer was fast and efficient. Listened to a live band playing 80s hits and Bob Marley songs while we snacked. Then took a walk on the beach, which is right beyond the dunes/serpentine from Nikki Beach area. Got some pics there and then went to the bus line. In past years the bus lines have moved very slowly but this year they were ready for everyone and we made it onto a bus in I would say 10 minutes or so. These are school buses so if you have a running stroller as we did, probably a good idea to be the first on the bus and make your way to the back of the bus to take up a spot. There was another family right behind us on the bus that had their running stroller as well and were very helpful. Bus ride was quick and before we knew it we were back at the parking lot and driving home.

I truly enjoy doing the Tropical 5k the day before running a Miami Marathon or half because it really does help to shake out the legs with a short run the day before a big race. You never know what the weather will be like but most likely it wont be as warm next year, but like I said before, you just never know. Another great thing about this race is the free official photos at the end! These were courtesy of fitbit, who is the sponsor of the Miami Marathon for the next 3 years now! Hurry and sign up for next year’s race now and take advantage of the super awesome pricing.

And incase you are wondering, those super sweet shorts are spandos by Oiselle.

Miami Marathon – Training so far

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Tropical 5k race 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!

Only 22 days away till the Tropical 5k, the kickoff race for the Miami Marathon and Half weekend! Marathon training so far hasn’t been as consistent as last year, maybe because now I have a very active toddler. Last year I ran a lot on the road to prepare for my race weekend but this year it has been more on the treadmill with Netflix to keep me company for the long miles. One of those reasons was because of a homeless person encounter at the park that I used to run my early morning/ dark o’clock miles at and I have been cautiously avoiding it since. I really hope to get more road miles after this training cycle has ended but will have to see how life pans out for me. I am not looking for a PR this time around, but rather a relatively easy going pace/have fun race. I am being serious and not looking to go out there and crush myself in the process of chasing a PR, I know that my training has been very lax and I am planning on racing this marathon with that in mind.

One thing that I have done differently this time around and maybe it has been a good thing was not going over 18 miles in training. I may break that tomorrow and go for a 20 miler but with 10 on the treadmill and 10 on the roads.

My pace has increased to a good marathon pace for me this week because of the cooler weather due to the Bomb Cyclone hitting the US at the moment. I just hope that the cooler weather sticks around and helps out my pace for the next few weeks. Also gotta go on a hunt to find a cheap hoodie to wear at the starting line incase we get some freezing temps again this year. I am really crossing my fingers for a 55 degree day that will continue and last at that temp without the torrential rain from last year! That would definitely be helpful but I am not holding my breathe because Miami weather is very unpredictable.

This marathon training cycle I have been using the Every Mother Counts Intermediate Runners plan and it has low weekly mileage which has been pretty helpful in my recent busy life. I do miss 40 mile weeks but I will return to them soon enough, gotta get to that 2,000 mile goal this year 😉 I am trying to keep my weekly mileage to 40 miles this year but we will see how that works out. I’m going to say it will be possible since I usually only taper my long runs and not my weekly mileage anymore but will definitely be cutting way back for a week or two after Miami Marathon. Gotta prep for A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon in February and do not want to have to miss it again this year!

Oh and I almost forgot, use the code: BIBHOLIDAY when signing up for Miami Marathon or Miami Half Marathon and save $10!! Hurry before the 1/7 price increase! Discount code is good till 1/11!

Also do not forget to check out Athlinks and claim your race results! Bet you forgot just how many races you have ran or would just like an easier way of keeping track of your times? I have been using the site for years and now they allow you to add other friends/rivals for a little friendly competition.