And.. We’re off!

We woke up to the alarms at 3:45am.. ouch!

Luckily, Amy had set up a little love note for us to wake up to:

How can you not get excited with that!

We got changed, ate a banana and peanut butter, and headed off for the metro a couple of minutes after our planned time.

As we were walking down the road (and joking that if it were not a race day, Amy would probably just be coming in from the bars) a car zoomed by us. It slammed on the breaks and backed up. We were both a little confused, and definitely cautious. A kid rolled down the window and asked if we wanted a ride to the metro. I peered in his car and saw that he had a number pinned to his shirt, as well as all his race stuff in the back seat. Amy didn’t know him, but he was clearly going to the race, so we hopped in.

Lucky that we did, because we ran into some trouble at the metro station!

First trouble: we would have been super close to missing the first train, which was key! Everyone told us the day before that if we missed the first train, it would be super tricky to get into our corrals on time.

We had to be in the corrals by 5:55am, and the first train started at 5 am. I guess in past years the metro has started running at 4, but at the last minute they backed out of their promise this year, and waited until the normal 5am to start, leaving people praying that they made that first train.

Second trouble: We should have bought our metro tickets at the expo, or stopped and bought them the night before. It never dawned on us that the ticket machines would be locked before the station opened. Shoot! We ended up having to stand in line for a while to get our ticket.

In Boston, you can load money onto a card, swipe it, and then hand it back to the next person to use. Apparently you can’t do that in Miami! After a frantic conversation with the attendant, he swiped my card back out, and had Amy run through behind him when he swiped it again. Also in Boston, you don’t need to swipe your Charlie Card to get out of the  station!!

Once that crises was averted, we sprinted up the stairs just in time for the first train. We got on without any trouble, and took it to the Government Center stop. From there we got off and walked because the “Metro Movers” were packed! It took us about 10-15 minutes to walk to the start line. I tried to take pictures, but it was too dark to really make anything out along our walk.

We finally arrived at the starting area at about 5:45 – 10 minutes to find and get into our corral. We didn’t think it would be too hard to find, but after several attempts to get across the street, we both started getting nervous. We ended up having to back track quite a bit, and got confused by a couple of signs that pointed us in the wrong direction. We found our corral and were in it at 5:54- JUST in time!

We were smack in front of American Airlines Arena

and another pretty building that I never found out the name of

As you can see, it was pretty dark!

There were TONS of people at the start – 25,000 to be exact! The announcer was really excited to announce that this was the first year the full and half had sold out!

The music at the start was really upbeat, and we couldn’t help but get excited.

The National Anthem was sung, and then the announcer led us in a countdown to send off the wheelchair and disabled runners. Finally, FINALLY, it was time for the corrals to get moving!

We crossed the start line, started our watches and got to running!

The first mile was unbelievably frustrating for us. Both Amy and I agreed that our main complaint with the entire course was that there were walkers in the corrals ahead of us. We spent the whole race dodging people who walked the entire way! Most of the walkers weren’t runners who needed a quick break, they were just there to walk the course. While I have no problem with people walking courses like that, I do have a HUGE problem with them being in corrals in front of runners, and not having any direction (or consideration) to stay to one side. People were walking in groups that would actually stretch across big sections of the road and we were having to push through them. It was awful!

Once we got into a rhythm of dodging people we started having some fun. We chatted and told each other fun or inspirational things we saw. There was one woman who had a shirt that said “Not even Chemo can break my 10 year streak!” She was jogging slowly with a friend who had a shirt that said “This is my first half marathon, and she talked me into it!” You couldn’t help but be inspired by that duo! Then we saw a woman with a shirt that said “I have run a marathon in all 50 states!”. She was wearing a Hawaiian grass skirt, and Statue of Liberty crown. We also saw a man dressed in full Army fatigues (and let me tell you, it was HUMID!), full gear, and carrying an American flag.

There were also the tutus! We must have seen 4 or 5 of them on the course!

We ran down a really pretty stretch by Miami Beach that I attempted to get a picture of. It’s hard to run and take pictures!

We were expecting entertainment along the course (it was designated on the map of the course), but unfortunately either we were too late for most of it (too late?? it was 7am!) or it wasn’t there. There were a few drum groups, which were great, and a cheerleading squad, as well as the Lulu cheer section, but other than that, we were on our own. Good thing we had a guy run by us around mile 7 singing “Club Can’t Handle me” really loudly along with his headphones!

Also around mile 7 there was a REALLY narrow road that we had to run down. The course was pretty packed the whole time, and then having to dodge walkers, and condense all those runners into a narrow road was miserable, to be honest. Luckily it was only a short stretch and we were through it pretty quickly.

Another gripe was the water stations. The first few weren’t too bad, but by the time we hit miles 5,6,7 and so on, we had to wait for water to be poured, so we actually had to stop completely. I just don’t think they had enough volunteers for the amount of runners that there were. It’s completely understandable though because they didn’t sell out the race until 3 days before.

The breeze on the second causeway was AMAZING! It was a perfect, cool breeze that really helped make us feel better.

Mile 10 was where things got tough. Amy and I were both tired and our legs were starting to get tight. I attempted to stretch a little at the water stop, but knew it was a bad idea right away.

Mile 11 had me calling my Aunt to let her know we were about 15 minutes away. I also think that’s where the official cheering section was. It was so great to see all those people with the signs, and to have people screaming our names. A guy from Amy’s school was there standing on an island giving high fives to everyone who ran by. She told me he is in charge of the “Random Acts of Kindness” group on campus, and is frequently found in  the library giving out chocolate kisses!

Mile 12 was a blur. The race coordinators did a great job of separating the half from the full runners. The first attempt at separating everyone was a little fuzzy (a bunch of teen boys standing in a line not really yelling too loudly) but after that, it was pretty clear as to where we were supposed to go.

Mile 13 to 13.1 FLEW by! Amy and I both picked up the pace big time. We followed a guy who was screaming at the walkers to move, which was a huge help. I remember Amy actually saying at one point “You have 0.1 miles left to go! Why aren’t you running?!”

We also managed to find my aunt and Sara in the crowd which was awesome!

We crossed the finish line and gave each other a big high five and hug – we did it!! Our time on my Garmin was 2:25, which we were both happy with considering all of the dodging we had to do!

The chute after the finish line was long. We walked a good distance from the finish before we got water. Once we got water though, it was straight to the medals (which were GIGANTIC!) and then right on to food. There was a lot of food, bananas, strawberries, crackers, and to Amy’s  delight – Chocolate chip cookies!

We meandered around for a bit before meeting up with my aunt and Sara. As soon as we found them, it was time for a finishers photo!

Seriously, check out the hardware! The inside of the 0 on the 10 spins! How cool is that!?

Overall, I think the race was well done. The expo was huge, number pick-up was a cinch, and the course itself was beautiful. I think they got into trouble when it came to the walkers being placed in the wrong corrals (keep them to the end!) and being sold out with only 3 days to go. If they had had more volunteers, and kept the walkers either to one side, or at the back of the runners, I think this would have been an amazing race!

Also, in their defense, this race is only 10 years old. That means, they’ve only had 9 other shots to iron out the kinks. I’ll give them that, and maybe in a few years I’ll head back to do the full!

Did you run or cheer at this race? What did you think of it?

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One thought on “And.. We’re off!

  1. Pingback: Fit February | The Pasta Free Runner

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