Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Race Review - ING Miami half marathon

My first half marathon - I can't quite remember when my wife and sister talked me into it, but it is done.

The Training
I trained as well as I knew how, I found a 20 week program to follow that would slowly work me up to the race. The plan was to just finish, without too much walking. Me, my wife, my sister, my wife's sister. It was going to be great. After all, two years ago I couldn't run a mile without stopping.

Somewhere along the line we lost two competitors, for good reason, and I decided that my new target was going to be 2 hours! I was super excited. So that was the goal, 2 hours.

Packet Pickup
The pickup was at a convention center, we showed up early on the 2nd day of the expo, the day before the race. There was a line, it didn't matter we were waiting for my sister who was running behind. We picked up our packets easy as pie, picked up some rail tickets for our return journey, and walked the expo for a bit.

Race Morning
Up at 4. We got dropped off right in front of American Airlines Arena at 4:45, and headed over to the Footworks tent for some sitting and chit-chat. There were plenty or porto-johns, with hardly any lines. We found our way to the corrals around 5:30, that too was easy. There were so many people! I think 21,000 people in the end. My sister and I were in J (as in A-I were in front of us.)

There was plenty of room in the corals, it was warm, and things were going nicely. We heard the wheelchairs start, and then we saw a flair when the elites started.

15 or so minutes later my sister and I start the race, I had tossed my long sleve shirt to the side of the road and was ready to go. THERE WERE SO MANY PEOPLE! Remember when I registered, the goal was to finish, and then I switched that goal to 2 hours? Corral J is for people expecting about 11 minute miles, to finish in to hours is roughly 9 minute miles. That is a huge speed difference, starting in J was not helping my goal. I am not kidding when I say I spent the entire race passing people. Lesson learned.

The Run
I didn't have a watch, so I don't have splits - but I know now that passing people for 13 straight miles makes it hard to hit your goals :) Again, lesson learned.

The course was decent, super flat. I had done all of my training in a flat area, so I was a little worried about the couple of bridges, but they were nothing to worry about. Also, somehow, the course was layed out so I didn't need my sunglasses really. That felt like a nice touch.

There were plenty of water stops, though they were always on the same side of the road. So when a three lane road full of people suddenly run to the right for water, it causes problems. I was also surprised about the water stops, I was expecting some sort of indication that they were coming, after a while I realized that if you hear loud chattering and a cluster of people, that's enough sign. Also after the first one you pretty much had to hunt for water. The people manning them were very nice though, so I appreciated that.

The Finish
I saw my time on the board, I knew I had missed my two hour goal, but I was happy to finish. I was surprised to find out that my legs didn't want to stop running :) After that I wandered around, picked up my finisher's medal, and some water all within 50 feet of crossing the finish, and tried to find the exit. The finish was not a fun place, tons of sweaty people looking for people they knew. There were lots of barricades up, presumably to keep spectators out of the finish area, but also keeping runners in it. The funnel they created was very slow and didn't appear to have enough people encouraging people to move on.There did appear to be plenty of food, bananas, cookies, Gatorade recovery, you name it.
The Results
Clock Time 2:23:11
Chip Time 2:06:27
Overall Place4845 / 13407
Gender Place 3317 / 6592
Division Place 519 / 976
10K 1:00:31
Pace 9:40

I know for sure the first two miles were slower than 11 minutes, and I think the first mile was close to 13 minutes. so I spent the rest of race making up time.

Closing Comments
I probably wouldn't do this race again. It seems like it's larger than they know how to deal with. Some things I think they could change.
  • Add a clock at the start, except for people who start when the gun goes off, everyone else who doesn't have a watch has to guess what time it is
  • Put water stops on both sides of the road
  • Figure out a way to keep the finish stream lined, keep people moving
  • The beginning roads are too narrow to let that many people go at once. Start people slower so there is room to run
I'm happy with my first half marathon, I'm hoping to do the Ft. Lauderdale 13.1 at the end of February.

No comments: