Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Tropical 5k to review 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!
Mid March 2020 everything shutdown due to the start of the covid 19 pandemic, I had just completed my 2020 Miami Marathon and all races went on hiatus till mid 2021. Miami Marathon 2021 had to be canceled due to the pandemic with options to defer and race your chosen race virtually. I took the option of deferral and the virtual option, Running a marathon a treadmill is not all the fun like running in person in a race atmosphere. Luckily I signed up with my deferral code as soon as the race opened in April 2021 and did not have to join the 5000 participants on the waiting list. They minimized the amount of runners to keep it from getting too crowded. It did help with crowding and overall enjoyment of the experience, especially with the pandemic still a problem.
My training over the summer/fall did not go always as planned, in August 2021 I got the covid-19 delta strain and was slow to come back to my running. My lungs were just not the same and I lost a lot of endurance during the weeks I was recovering. I knew I had a marathon to train for but I was not going to overextend myself to do it, I always remember my former coach saying “Its better to be undertrained than overtrained.” I got up to about 14 mile long runs in my fall training block but relied a bit on a 6 hr hilly ultra to help with some hill training in early January 2022.
This year the race expo was at the Miami Beach Convention Center again, it hadn’t been there since 2015! I felt like in the past years the expo was bigger but I heard through the grapevine that a lot of vendors dropped out last minute due to covid restrictions and such. Perhaps next year it will be bigger and better as we covid things get a little better. Anyways traffic into Miami beach was a bit more than typical beach traffic but once I got by the convention center, parking at the nearby parking garage was easy and quick. I got to the expo about 10 minutes after it opened, and it was packed! I guess everyone had the same idea as I did to get there early lol. Oh well, there were some long lines for specific bib numbers and the tropical 5k but overall the lines move pretty quickly for bib retrieval and there were no lines for shirt pick up. Thanks to Bibrave I got entry to the VIP Experience and compared to past years it was not quite the same, smaller area and not as much gym equipment as in the past and no massage boots :'(. That really was something I was looking forward to, but moving on, the swag for the VIPs was pretty good, We got a small messenger bag with Miami Marathon labeling and a soft bomber style jacket embroidered with Miami Marathon. I walked around the expo once and then returned to the VIP area where I ran into a friend of mine, one of the 20 year streakers, Tony Jones. I was interested in the new thing in the VIP lounge, last time there was nail art and this year it was fast braids. I chose the two french braids style and had a nice conversation with the stylist/salon owner about hair stuff and how she was not a runner but a yogi. After I got my fast braids I walked around the expo more and checked out the vendors. One that really stood out to me was the Sneaker Impact booth where I talked to the owner about his company and how they are saving our sneakers from landfills to send to other countries to provide shoes for adults and children to be able to attend work and school. I will be packing and shipping him some shoes this weekend! I tried some food samples from the eat street area of the expo and walked over to the Miami Marathon museum area where they had all the previous year medals on display and old flyers/articles of past years winners and original course. Also a wall to display the 20 year streakers, very cool, wish I would’ve been part of that but 20 years ago I was not a runner. The official merchandise area was bigger than in the past and it was very busy, I bought my daughter a Future Finisher shirt, as I have been doing since before she was born (It was actually the way I announced my pregnancy to my family, Miami Marathon onesie). Ran into a lot of runner friends who I had not seen in the 2 years or more since the pandemic began. I spent about 3 hours walking around and checking out the stuff before heading home to rest my legs a little before Saturday’s 5k.
This year I did not park at Jungle Island, which I had been doing for the past few years due to the closeness of the start line, I parked in Miami Beach. They had shuttles from 2 nearby parking garages to the start line so I got to the parking garage early and met up with my friend, Caroline. Fun fact: We have been IG friends for a few years I’d say but I hadn’t met her till race morning. We walked to the buses and chatted till the race started. Plenty of port a potties at the starting line and remarkably no long lines when I went. Ran into JetSetSarah (local runner/travel writer/fashionista) as we walked around and a couple of others before we headed towards the front of the corral. We got there 45 minutes before start time and it was a good decision because it started getting crowded early, I did see a lot of masks before we started which was a good sign that everyone was keeping safe. I had mine on when it started getting crowded and put it in my pocket when we started. I tried to hold back but my first mile was obviously too quick and I had to force myself to slow down the next 2 miles, why is it that 5ks feel so much harder than longer distances? Is it because we have to run that much faster? Probably. I had an ok finish line for running the day before a marathon and collected my medal and bottle of water. Can I just say I love that the bottled water was in a recyclable bottle this year BUT those bottles were impossible to open with sweaty post run hands! I had to ask a very quick runner who was just spectating to open my bottle before I continued on towards the beach. I took a couple pics of my medal on the beach when I walked to the Nikki Beach area where the finish line party usually is and found it deserted. Found Carolina again and we found the tiny area where they were giving some post race snacks at and I collected some cookies/pretzels and a banana before we walked back to our cars in the parking garage. Fun race but I had to rush on home to take my daughter to swim class, #momlife. Later I took her to a nearby carnival and she rode some rides with a friend while I carb loaded with an elephant ear and took way too many steps.
I woke up very early, 3:05am (haha) and gathered all my stuff that I laid out the night before. I had my waffle and water before I left. I know they say to never do anything new on race day but I will admit I wore some Oiselle pocket joggers that I had just got a few days before, so they were brand new, unwashed and unworn yet. I mean I have worn the style for a couple races now and knew they were going to work out well for me for this race as they do not ride up, the best! The only chaffing I got was from the line logo tag on the bottom of the shorts. I did use KT tape Chafe Safe on my body before I left the house also and that stuff really works! Got to the FTX arena (formerly AAA/Home of Miami Heat) by 4:15am and parked for $5. I am so glad that they give this as a parking option as all the other parking options around that area are $10-$20 on race morning, the only thing is that you have be parked before 5am since the starting corrals are right in front. Relaxed in the car for 15 minutes and then started over to the charity village/team tent area. Hit the port a potties and met up with my BibravePro teammate, Sarah, who is also part of 1k run club. We headed over to the 1k tent by the water, later when the sun was up, it was a great view of the bay. I dropped off my bag of extra clothes and car keys at the team tent and chatted with a couple of runner friends. Then Sarah and I walked over to the FTX arena to use a real toilet before the race started, the first bathroom we walked into had a bit of a line so we went to the next one where we had the whole bathroom to ourselves, we hurried to our B corral (another perk of the VIP experience) and found Phil, our BibRave teammate.
The excited energy in the corral was palpable and everyone started hopping up and down to warm up, and we were off soon after 6:10 or so. An earlier start is a great, because once that sun comes out, it really gets you. Luckily I was already at mile 5 or so before the sun really started coming out. That first mile and running over the McArthur is quite an experience, especially after many years of running this race I know to expect the bagpipe playing at the top of the bridge. Couple of friends said hi as they passed on the first few miles of the race. There were a couple of runners who took some spills, one right at the start, about 15 feet after crossing the starting line and another one on those armadillo bumps on the Venetian. I hope they were okay, I kept well away from those armadillo bumps while I was running. I started taking in water around mile 6 of the race, and hit every other water stop till the halfway point of the race. Around mile 12 when all the spectators are screaming “almost there” Umm nope, there were a couple of runners sprawled out on the sidewalks, I’m guessing heat related since the humidity was at 90% at the start. I really tried not to get that into my head as I rounded the corner at the course split and headed for the big bridge on Brickell. There used to be spectators who would bring ice pops in a cooler around the Fortune building, where Brickell Run Club meets but I haven’t seen them in a couple of years, if you are reading this, please come back and give us ice pops at that corner again!! Thankfully two years ago the course was changed up a little bit so we are not running into direct sunlight at mile 23 and under the Rickenbacker bridge but instead running under it at mile 16. At mile 17 I knew one of my 1k teammates and overall running angel, Betty would be out there supporting the FDC team and runners so I stopped by for a quick hug and some kind of sugar, she gave me a cup of coca cola (I never drink soda!) and a mini bag of skittles. Seems like the cola helped me, must’ve been that caffeine!
By the time I reached Coconut Grove I was incorporating my ultra race technique (run/walk) and stopping at all the water stops. At mile 22-23 one of the police officers must’ve been pretty bored by the time we passed through because he was joking that if we walked he would give us a ticket and said “I’m watching you [bib number]”. That kept me moving a little but I walked right after we got passed him, Ha! Once we got out of the neighborhoods and closer to the finish line, the buildings started blocking out the sun and it got cooler and shady. Just before my final mile I heard my name and looked over to see my friend Carolina waving at me. I waved and determinedly kept running through the looooooong finish chute. Saw Phil waving from the VIP stands before I finished too. It really is an experience at the end of the race when you are running around that final curve and all those strangers are cheering you on, you really get a little feeling of how it feels to be a rockstar at that moment. So much fun! Got my medal and continued walking to get a water from a friendly volunteer who kindly opened it for me when I mentioned how the bottled were hard to open. Afterwards I collected my vegetarian DeliverLean meal and headed to the 1k tent to celebrate. Dropped my Nuun tablet in the water bottle and kept walking around. Took some pics with my new medal and then walked over to the VIP tent area to check if I could get a leg massage. The line was long for the massages and talked to some others in the line who came up with a good suggestion, there should be a line for half marathoners and full marathoners. Definitely both groups need a good massage after, but marathoners more so because of that extra distance. Picked up a vegan meal from the tent and started walking to the FTX arena to my car, about 2 hrs after I finished the race. There were lots of people dancing along to the entertainers on the stage and the beer tent was looking full when I left around noon.
I’m already signed up for the 2023 Miami Marathon! Hurry and sign up soon before the 2500 early access spots are taken! The race is going to be capped at 18,000 and you definitely want to be Miami Famous!
It’s Not Miami Without YOU! Who’s in for Miami Marathon 2023? Drop me a comment below or just tell me I’m crazy for running 26.2 miles in this heat. LOL.