Anyways, I arrived on Friday to sunshine and palm trees. After quick hugs, it was off to check in to our hotel (off of Oceanside Drive!). As we checked in, we asked about late checkout on Sunday and I said maybe 3:00. Heather was puzzled why I would think that we would need it that late... then I realized the race started at 6 a.m. 6 a.m.!!!! Oh my goodness, I LOVED that fact. The earlier the better. It seems all I do is get nervous on race morning, so the less time to do that, the better.
Our hotel was walking distance to the expo, so off we went to check in for the race.
After the expo, we relaxed with a nice meal on Lincoln Drive and then hit the local Walgreens on our way back.
Saturday was all about rest, relaxation, and a nice little run (mad I forgot my camera-- gorgeous!). We ate in outside cafes, drank (a little) in outside bars and just laid low. Jen and Heather's hubbies showed up just in time for dinner where we observed some of the nightlife just starting to kick off. Oh, South Beach...
Sunday came way too early. We were up and ready to go by 4 a.m. (ugh)
Pre-race with our matching pink Bondi bands.
We walked up to the convention center, where we were catching the shuttle to the start/finish. This was a classic moment for me. As we were walking, everyone was still clubbing. It was awesome. Us in our running clothes and all the South Beach hotties with their pleather mini skirts and fishnets. Oh, it was awesome. I tried to take a picture, but it didn't turn out. Sadness.
Got to the start and we decided to separate. I needed to get a good warm-up run in and the others just wanted to chill. The beginning was a little bit of chaos, but mostly just because there was lots of people. There was 18,000+ all starting together. Yikes. So, off I went on my warm-up run AWAY from all the people and I ended up by the water by myself in the dark. It was perfect for my mental to just be away.
Then I returned and hopped back in my corral. There were nerves and mostly I just wanted the race to start. I knew once the gun went off, I'd be fine. Or at least I hoped I would. I was very anxious to see what the day would bring me.
The gun went off and so did I. The first half of the race is island hopping, so we started up and over a bridge. It was dark, but we got to see all the huge cruiseliners lit up. The sun came up and we passed Star Island. I looked over at P. Diddy's place (or at least I like to think I did) and ran on by. My first mile was pretty slow (it was also the biggest "hill" on the course) and after that, I settled into a pretty steady pace.
View from top of the first bridge by day
Somewhere around five miles, I decided that if I continued on with this pace, I would have 6 miles of real pushing in me at the end. So, I mentally broke my run up into two 10-mile runs and one 6-mile run. The first 10, very easy. The second 10, somewhat harder. The last 6 miles would be an all out effort.
Everything seemed to be going well for most of the race. I was ahead of my desired pace at the beginning, which I liked. The first aid station wasn't until around 2.5-3 miles, but after that, the aid stations were placed about every 3/4 mile-- which was really nice. There were plenty of opportunities to grab whatever I needed. Mostly I grabbed Gatorade, since I was carrying a small hand bottle of water. Around mile 3 I discovered that my salt tablets had disinigrated in my pocket-- and that I was really sweaty. The humidity was high since we were right on the water and I looked forward to the second half of the race that would be away from the water.
After running around an island or two, we headed back toward downtown. When we got there, there was plenty of excitement and cheering. We went through a stretch that was lined with people cheering and cheering-- very Tour de France-ish. They even had ING dancers in full on orange bodysuits dancing and slapping hands. Fun stuff.
We then split from the half-marathoners and off we went, the lone marathoners. The second half was very different from the first. The first half was beach, water, exposed and humid. The second half, the sun had come out, so the temperature had risen, BUT it was much more residential and shaded, so that was a nice pay off for the less scenic route. I continued on with my game plan and just ran.
Somewhere around 18-20 miles my legs really started to hurt. Really hurt. I was pushing harder, but going slower. I wasn't sure if it was muscle fatigue setting in or my legs were starting to cramp due to lack of salt. Either way, it hurt. By mile 20, I could do the math. If I kept my pace under 9-minute miles, I would reach my goal (a sub 3:40 marathon). If I cramped, I was going to be SOL. Luckily, at mile 21 I asked for some salt and WHOOLA! the med people handed me a tablet, I asked for three. Took them and kept going. 8:26. 8:31. 8:11. Just keep her below 9. The mile 24 aid station came up and I got more salt. Yay! Now, I was SURE I could make it to the end without cramping. With just 2 miles to go, I reasoned that the sooner I finished, the sooner the pain would be over. So off I went...
At the end of mile 25 there is another bridge. On the website it describes it as this: you'll go over a drawbridge that goes almost unnoticed because it is small and as you go up it you'll begin to hear the cheers and the music of the finish line. Lies. All lies. I wouldn't call it small, it certainly didn't go "unnoticed" by me (and friends) and it felt very, very cruel at the time. Not to mention, I believe it was the longest .2 miles I have ever run after that regardless of the cheering. BUT, then it was DONE!!! The clock read 3:36:09!!! (Later found out my real time was 3:34:44, which qualifies me for BOSTON!)
I was so happy to cross the finish line. I will say I was a little woozy and it took me a minute or two to recoup. Once I did, I realized my feet hurt and my shoes were bloody. During the race I had blistered heavily. I guess my quads hurt so much that I didn't notice my feet. This would mark my first trip to the medical tent. Oh well, small price to pay for a good race.
Overall, it was an awesome race for me! I pr'd by 25 minutes and dropped my marathon time from last year by 33 minutes. I felt good (for the most part) until the very end and even that was a test to myself to see what I would do, and I succeeded. I had a great time with my friends and had awesome support from family and friends along the way. Thanks to everyone that helped make this happen!
Me, Heather and Jen after the marathon.
So proud of those girls both kicking butt in their first marathon!
In lieu of an ice bath, I chose the ocean. The perks of racing in Florida!