I spent the night before at my friend Christine’s house. She partied until 4:15, and we were up at 4:45. Somehow, I never heard her come in, and she never heard me leave – and she lives in a studio apartment!
Hit bathrooms in the Arena, and again at the port-a-potties near my corral. I was more calm than I expected to be.
I had wanted to start with the 4:30 pace group, but when I finally saw the sign, it was WAY in the back of the corral, and I wasn’t about to work my way back there.
I got into position and ran into a friend who was running the half!
15 minutes after the start, I finally hit the start line!
I lost Rosa around mile 3, and I was on my own. I chatted with a few people, was blatantly ignored by others… Just as we entered South Beach, the 4:15 pace group passed me. I had no idea they were behind me!
Around this time, I also changed the screen on my Timex. I had set the distance to 26.8, and the time to 4:30. The screen just had big #s, telling me how many minutes & seconds I was behind my goal time. I was probably around 4-5 minutes at this point.
South Beach was cool. I hit the 5 mile sign and thought to myself that I could do that 4 more times… and then still run 1.2. They had these 8oz bags of water they were handing out, which were the best thing EVER. (http://www.82gowater.com/site/). Somewhere on SoBe I also stepped on a mostly full one of those that squirted directly up my shorts. For a split second, I thought I peed.
We ran past a good amount of spectators, some still out drinking from the night before, some just waking up to cheer us on!
I picked up another running buddy around mile 7, and we chatted for about a mile. She told me to take the sidewalks over the bridges on the Venetian Causeway, because the metal grates were tricky. Shortly after I left her, I picked up another girl who works for lululemon. They had INSANE cheering sections at two different points on the marathon course, and she took off when an entire entourage ran about 1/4 mile with her.
Along the bridges, there were even people cheering from boats! I thought that was totally cool. The final bridge brought us back into the ING Cheering section. It was just after mile 10 – and I let the thought enter my head that I still had SIXTEEN miles to go! I quickly pushed that out of my head and decided I couldn’t count down miles until I had less than 10 left. Until then, I’d count up! The cheering zone was crowded but not very loud. The highlight was definitely the guy in the middle of the course with a “Free Hugs” sign. I gave him a BIG hug, then continued on to the crappy part of Miami.
The miles stopped flying by from 11-13. I was anxious to reach the Half/Full split. I eventually made it to the halfway point, crossed the mat in 2:13, and found my friend, Wally!
I personally do not bandit races. I think those that do are making their own decision. Wally wanted to bandit the half, but when he found out I was running the full, he asked to run the second half with me. I accepted. He’s ran the half at this event more than once, and really wanted to do the second half of the course.
So I picked up Wally, who had a Happy Birthday balloon tied to his shirt so I could find him. The balloon was meant for a friend whose birthday was the next day. But, it was Wally’s birthday earlier in the week. He was confused when people started wishing him a happy birthday because he forgot he had a balloon tied to his shirt!
I briefed Wally on my pace, progress, plans and whatever I thought he should know. We settled into a comfortable pace and kept going.
Shortly after mile 15, we came upon the hashers! Patrick met me on my side of the road and gave me a little cup of beer. I drank it, and I was off again!
My plan was to eat every 5 miles. I ate at 5, 11 (didn’t see the mile 10 aid station in time!), and at 15, I really didn’t want another gel. So, I waited. Mile 16 came and went, and I still didn’t want to. I knew I would be starting to cross that bonk line, so at 17, I forced one down. Luckily, it stayed down, and my stomach didn’t revolt.
I hit mile 18, and I was confident that I had 8 more miles in me. Around this time, I looked at my watch, and it said –:–:–. I was right on par with a 4:30 finish (for 26.8 miles though). My GPS had me about .2 miles further than the course at this point, too.
At mile 19, we were FINALLY headed back in the direction of the finish line. I was still happy feeling good. I could have stopped at a port-a-potty, but I didn’t want to. I was afriad it would be hard to get moving again. My stomach gave a few threatening grumbles for the last 7 miles, but thankfully, nothing awful happened.
We hit mile 20, and I saw my first runner in distress – sitting on the side of the road with medics attending to him. I was happy I still felt ok, but it was a reminder that things could shift at any time.
With a 10k left, gas still in the tank, I expected the miles to start flying by again. They didn’t. I kept breathing steadily, taking in gatorade and water at the aid stations, and pushing to mile 21.5 where I knew I’d see my hashers again. I grabbed a beer, a kiss and some high-fives and kept moving. To my surprise, two MORE hashers were running with me! Stop the Bus and Wimp! (Those are their hash names, get used to it!)
They caught up, told stories, and just distracted me from running. At mile 22, we split and head towards the Rickenbacker Causeway – the tallest bridge in South Florida. Wally complained, but I told him we’d just turn around under the bridge, and not cross over it. As we ran through the toll booth, I joked about not having change. Stop the Bus was happy to see I still had my sense of humor, but that was about to disappear.
Mile 23 brought pain. I was still moving, still picking off people left and right, but dang did it start to hurt!
Right before mile 24, I ran into yet another hasher! He was running the full and was struggling. We ran with him for about a mile before he dropped back. I hit mile 24 and started pushing with whatever I had left, which wasn’t much.
The finish line did not want to get closer. The last two miles felt like four! Wimp stayed back with my other friend, and Wally and Stop the Bus stuck with me. We came up to the last half mile, and Stop the Bus kept telling me to push harder! I told him I had been pushing harder for the last two miles!!
The put a nice drawbridge (read: FL version of a Hill) in that last half mile. Go, go, go. Don’t stop. I was struggling to breathe. I wanted to walk so badly, but I didn’t. As we passed the 26 mile marker, Stop the Bus told me it was my last chance to shave off a few seconds, and that I’d be happier for every bit of energy I put into it. I pushed a little harder, and crossed the finish line!