Monday, April 30, 2012

Key Biscayne Half Marathon Race Report

Well my goal was 1:57 - 1:59 and I finished in 1:57:45. Yeah Me!

Packet Pick-up
The running store sponsor of the event was iRun up on Biscayne. I went Friday to pick up my packet. It was quick and easy. That's definitely a benefit of a smaller race. The iRun store is super small but they seem nice and they have earned themselves a devoted following. It's too far from my house to go there often.
Exciting ... I know.

Saturday - Rest Day
I spent the day just chilling with my family. Sleeping in on a Saturday is a weird feeling but in a great way. I recommend it.  It was a rainy day. My daughter's swim lesson was shortened from lightening and we were sure the preschool carnival would be rained out. But amazingly it wasn't so that was a fun family activity to end the day.

I made sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat more salt than normal.
my biggest meal on the day before a race is breakfast. Eggs, sliced tomato, "marathon" bread  toasted with butter which is just whole wheat bread, banana, coffee and a glass of water.
Lunch was veggie soup. Progresso. This stuff has enough salt in it for a week. I usually avoid it because of all the salt but the day before the race I figure it's okay. Also since drinking water gets boring I try to pick foods that have liquid in them like soup. Lunch will be the last fruits and veggies for me before a longer race in the hopes that my stomach will work on my schedule. That's Crystal Light in the glass - a nutritional nightmare but water gets boring.
Dinner not pictured was a half a hotdog at the carnival and then plain elbow pasta when I got home.

I also foam rollered and stretched a bit. Packed up all my stuff realizing that I accidentally had plain GU with caffeine - oops. I had hydrated to the point where I pretty much had to pee every few minutes so I knew I was done. Pre-made my breakfast and was in bed by 10.

The race started early as a nod to the tropical heat at the end of April start time was 6:30 am. Wake up scheduled at 4:15.

Overnight it rained hard all night. I woke up a few times thinking okay, no biggie, this way it will be a nice clear morning.

Sunday - Race Day
Not so much a nice clear morning actually. I woke up at 4:10, 5 minutes before the the alarm went off and it was pouring. So I had my breakfast thinking no worries there are still more than 2 hours until the race start. Unrelenting rain is not so normal here in Miami - we get more of the heavy fast moving tropical showers. But this did not let up. I grabbed my Mickey Mouse poncho from the closet and packed a full change of clothes for after the race in case I was soaked to the bone. I drove out to Key Biscayne - Crandon Park and joined my fellow runners waiting in the dark in their cars until the last minute.

I don't know what everybody else was doing but it was funny to see everyone illuminated by their phones in the cars. But I was updating my facebook with pithy rainy run comments and obsessively checking the weather.
This is my bib. If you signed up early you got your name on it but I signed up when they announced 100 spots left so I didn't get my name on it. No biggie as there were zero spectators out in the rain.

As I waited I thought ... okay it's not the running in the rain that's a problem really it's the waiting at the start in the rain that really is no good. So luckily for me the one break in the rain was when I was walking to the potties and then to the start. As a side note one of my favorite things about racing on the key is that you get the advantage of using the park bathrooms instead of porta-potties. They had those too but I prefer an actual bathroom when I have the chance.

I found some friends along the way (Max, Carol, Tony) and that's always fun. Then it started raining hard again and we were off - about 10 minutes late actually. I had lined up with the 2 hour pacer. My friend Nati who was pacing 2:20 said go run with him - Nelson, he's cute and he's a swimmer like you. I'm not sure where she gets the idea that I'm a swimmer but she's right he was cute and also very nice. Super encouraging for all the people in his group. I did actually pull away from him after the first mile because I was aiming for under two hours and I believe that its better to start at your goal pace and then try to hold on.
This I had never seen before. This is the back of the bib - the chip if you will. It actually made the bib rigid. Other than that I have no opinion about it.

That was my mantra from about mile 3 ... just hold this pace, Amy just hold this pace. So Miles 4 and 5 were the bridge up and back and on the way over I had the wind at my back so I did okay ... on the way back -- not so much. I worked to keep the pace on target on the way up ... and then I ran down into the wind and rain on the way back and that stunk. Over each bridge going back the wind was howling and the rain stung as it hit the skin. Ouch! Coming down the bridge my training partner Tony caught up and he offered to break the wind which was a super kind offer except the wind was unstoppable so I just held on until we reached the trees and then I was fine.
This is me on the way up the bridge the first time. Smiling for the camera. Didn't much need those sunglasses as it turned out.

My target pace was 8:55. So I was checking the trusty Garmin every few strides to keep on pace. I had recently run at 9:30 for a 10k and that felt fast so I was so unbelievably surprised that I was able to hold this for so long. I Gu'd at mile 2, 6 and 10 (in case you're curious) plain, lemon-lime, plain again. They had the 8-2-Go water on course, it's eight ounces of water in a plastic bag. I have decided that for a race I love this. You bite off the corner and squeeze it into your mouth. I have issues sipping from cups in a race so this is good. However, honestly during a race I could use like a 2 ounce bag because I wasted a lot of water with these. They also served Cytomax which I didn't take any of. It's fine but I try to avoid new things on race day and I've been drinking only Gatorade.

We ran out and back on Virginia Key and then over into Crandon Park. Then we ran past the finish line (I hate that) and into the old Crandon Park Zoo. I've never been into that part of the park so that was cool but it's a lot of turns which makes it hard to keep on pace.
Okay so I went over the course with a red line so you could see all the turns at the end. I will say those guys at Multirace can find a run course just about anywhere...what you need 3 miles just run 35 ovals in this parking lot no problem. That's a joke.

Miles 11 and 12 were the darkest time when I was really working to hold the pace. At mile 12 the guy next to me said, "from here on it's all in our heads - it's mental." He was right and I took those words to heart and passed him and just kept going to the finish. I passed Tony just after and said come on - he's faster than me so I knew he should have some kick and sure enough a few minutes later he said okay let's go and sped off. I sped up a teeny tiny bit with what I had left. I looked at my watch when I could see the finish line and it said 1:55 and that's the first time I let myself beleive I could actually break the 2 hour mark.

Then back past the finish line again (I still hate that) and one final turn and then into the finish line ... ooops this is Multirace one final curve to come at the finish from the other side. But then finally finished.
The medal. It's nice and heavy and the ribbon is very pretty too. I do wish it had the date but that's just me. 
In closing
I think Multirace puts on a good race. They do mostly triathlons to my knowledge and so we'll see if they do this event again. If they do I'll probably make it an annual event I mean it's as close as a half-marathon will ever be to my backyard. I will say that if they do it again I predict that they alter the course to take out all those bends and twirls at the end for two reasons. First, the paths there were kind of narrow. Even with this smaller field it was a tight fit. If you double the size of the field it would be horrible in those spots. Second, turns break your speed and the speedsters don't love that and what the speedsters want they usually get so I am guessing that the top feedback from the speedies would be lose all those turns at the end when our legs are shot. It will be pretty easy to modify they'll just take the course further out on Virginia Key and problem solved.


  1. Great writeup. And congrats on meeting your goal!

    I like the multirace events too. They all feel the same. Do you think they have some sort of biscayne contract! They do quite a few races around there.

    1. That's supposed to be a question.... Not an exclamation :)