Monday, December 12, 2011

Last Race of the Year - Miami Beach Rock-n-Roll half marathon

So that's it - the last race of the year. Started the year with the goal of 12 races during the year. I think I've done 11 races.

That's a lot of races. Different goal for this year for sure. But this post is not about those races this is my review of the Miami Beach Latin Rock-n-Roll half marathon.

Rock-n-Roll Latin 1/2 Marathon 12/11/2001 time 2:04:36
Start Line.

The goal for this race was to break 2 hours and I just missed it. The 2 hour half marathon mark taunts me still. But 2:04:36 is the time I'm happy with that. It was a very hot day (78 at the finish) and I didn't do a drop of speedwork between the New York Marathon and today so I was - what is the word, oh yes, unprepared.

It was nice to have a local race. Packet pickup was easy. I slept in my own house the night before. I knew plenty of people on the course and at the start and finish. My family stayed home for the morning chilling out while I did my thing. It was all good.


The course
This is apparently the same course as Miami 13.1 which is a race I've never done. It has 3 bridges which is considered a hilly course for Miami. I thought it was nice. We started and finished on Miami Beach which is nice. I am not a great hill climber but with all the hill work I did preparing for New York I've become a pretty good hill descender. I passed a lot of people on the downhills. 

The bridges are a challenge but it's still got to be one of the flattest courses in the country. And it was pretty straight just one big square up left turn, over the causeway, left turn toward downtown, left turn back to the beach, fake out before the finish right turn past Joe's Stonecrab and then left and back to the finish. The finish was in sand so not so much sprinting at the end because ... well I don't know how to sprint in the sand.

Me on a bridge. I think I look pretty good here. And the view doesn't suck. Benefits of being in the tropics.

The weather
It was hot hot hot. Or muy calor as we would say here in Miami. It was overcast for most of the race but hot and humid. I'm guessing the dewpoint was like a million.

So, it would have been nicer if it was cooler. They were passing out salt before the race aggressively. And they did have people with hoses out on the course. I loved each and every one of them because it felt really great. 
Spraying the hot runners going by. This was great!

Around mile 10 going up the 395 bridge it rained on me and there was a strong wind so that was unpleasant. While the rain cooled me off shortly after that it was sooooo steamy when the sun came out. Luckily that was near to the end of the course for me. And at the finish they had ice cold towels and fans blowing cool water over finishers. I did see one person collapse from overheating at the finish and I think my friend Meli had heat exhaustion on the course but she finished without needing medical help.
Even me the non-sweating runner was drenched by mile 3.
Pelted by windy rain going back towards Miami Beach on 395.



The plan
Okay I'll be honest I didn't have much of a plan. Roughly speaking it was to run 9 minute miles start to finish. There was one problem with that plan which was that I'm not a good self-pacer at 9 minutes so I was relying heavily on my trusty Garmin. I tried to find friends around me that would be doing 9 minutes but that wasn't overly successful past the first 400 feet :-) This is a whole minute faster per mile than my New York pace and whenever I stopped watching the watch my body did settle into closer to a 10 minute mile.


At mile 3 the plan (what there was of it) fell apart when I had to make a potty stop. I briefly entertained the idea of really pushing the pace to hit the 2 hour mark but I was having this calculation in my head going up a hill huffing and puffing so reality was clear that it wasn't happening. I wasn't too bummed because I knew I wasn't fully prepared so I just kept on trucking. Then I saw a rainbow ... that was awesome.
rainbow going over the first bridge


I was using the "instant" pace on my garmin and trying to keep it under 9:00. I learned that I do slow down a lot going uphill. I also learned that I slow down when I take pictures along the way (which I hate to admit). So, it was helpful to have that tool this morning for the run. And if I'm going for a super fast race maybe I'll put the camera away. Although it does help me have fun in the run - I enjoy it and it takes my mind off the running some but when I'm pushing the pace through the race that actually keeps me quite busy by itself. 
I had two favorite signs. My favorite I was past before I could take a picture it said "run like snot" But this was my next favorite because she was at the end of the last of the bridges. Ha! It's true though they do make you stronger because they're hills.
Nutrition
I've never had a nutrition category in a race review but this time I do. There was obvious concern from the race directors to make sure that participants were ready for the heat and the race. There was a separate brochure and also I've already mentioned the guy walking through the corals offering salt. I've never taken any salt supplement so I skipped it.

One of the peices of advice going around now is to keep the caffeine below 200g on race day. This combined with not doing a crazy sprint at the end is supposed to help prevent a finish line heart attack. And I'll admit I'd like to avoid a finish line heart attack. So, that's okay advice but I had to do some research to figure out what it meant to me personally because my GU packets do not actually list how much caffeine they have in them. I do avoid taking to many gu's with caffeine already before I had this tip because they irritate my stomach. So on Friday I looked up on the guenergy website and their regular gu's have 20 mg of caffeine. A cup of coffee has 100 mg caffeine.

I had brought 3 Gu's for the race. One plain with caffeine and 2 lemon lime sublime with no caffeine. Estimated caffeine intake 120g over 4 hours. But then at mile 8-9? where the race was giving out GU I was out of energy so I picked it up. It was a Roctane. I've never taken one of those. But after an internal dialog of approximately 15 seconds during which I was unsuccessfully trying to add up my caffeine intake I went ahead and slurped up the Roctane that they gave out because I was out of gas and unable to do basic math. I have learned that anytime I'm unable to do basic math I should have some calories. That stuff does have a pick up effect.  But it's too much caffeine for me.

I looked it up this morning and Roctane has 35g of caffeine so I was up to 155g estimated for the day. 

I have no doubt that I gave this my all because I actually took my last GU at mile 11 because I needed it. Shortly after that the 2:00 hour pacer came by and just like New York I said - hey there's my guy and I ran with him from mile 10-12 when I slowed down much to my sadness but it was that oh so tired slowdown where you try to will your body to go faster and the reply you get is ... nope this is it :-) Also at mile 12 I had the whole weak leg feeling so I feel good about this PR time. While I wish it was 1:59 I'll just save that joyous experience for the next race.

me with my medal. What a bright blue sky, eh? Also when will I learn to pick up my arm more and how do I live in Miami and stay so pasty white?


In closing:
I like Rock-n-Roll races. I think they do a good job. 2 of my 4 marathons were Rock-n-Roll. They do a good job at the start holding the corals to keep the course clear.

This was also a smaller race with I think 4-5000 runners so it wasn't crowded. I'm sure that the number will grow because it's a great destination point for a half-marathon. They only had water every other mile which was okay but if it's going to be 80 they should have it every mile. I'm sure they'll change that for next year because they are good like that.

runners including tri guy and hammerhead Mike Estevez dressed as Carmen Miranda. That had to be a hassle.
The bands were good. One was shut down because the residents nearby complained. That was a bummer for the runners but it was before 8 am so I get that it would suck to have a band blasting if you were trying to sleep it. The medal is also cool and the shirt is a girl fit. I would do this race again. Hopefully 4 minutes faster :-)

my friends Carol and Max. Max left his glasses at a water stop (who takes their glasses off at a water station, Max that's who) and had to run an extra mile back to get them. Carol carried that elf hat for 12 miles to wear it the last mile. But she did have both a right and left shoe on. Inside joke that last one.

As a last note the charity that benefits from this race is St. Jude's children's hospital and I think that's a great cause. While I hope to never need their services I hope that they get a giant check from this event because they do good work.

And now for my next trick - Sleep.

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