Lucky #7: Miami Half Marathon

2019 marked my seventh year running my hometown race, the Miami Half Marathon. When I first ran the race in 2013, I was a new runner and completely new to the half marathon distance. The race was tough and awful at times, but it solidified my love for the sport of running and my love for the 13.1 distance. I come back to the Miami Half Marathon each year as my “runniversary” because this course takes me back to that 2013 day where I fully understood my strength and felt what it was like to own being a badass. In the years since that first half marathon, my love and appreciation for running has grown.

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I’m grateful for the years of running and, believe me when I say this, I am grateful for the ability to run. Even though I am grateful, I am still human and I get disappointed when runs/races don’t go as hoped for or as planned. The disappointment is even heavier when I’ve had a solid training cycle and saw and felt all the changes.

Miami Half Marathon 2019, here it is: you broke my heart. The frustration was real. The disappointment was palpable. The anger was intense. I finished and I’m grateful that my training prepared me to finish the race regardless of the circumstances. But, it still hurt and sometimes I just want to sit in my hurt and feel OK about not feeling OK with how things went down. I care a lot about running, I care a lot about my training, and I put my whole heart into both and when it doesn’t come together, it stings. Tears were shed on the course and relief filled me when I finished.

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Running is hard, even when it feels easy. When it doesn’t feel easy, it’s even harder and it hurts.

So, what happened? An annoying side stitch that made itself at home for almost 2 miles. I couldn’t run through the pain and my brain went overboard with all kinds of questions: Is this a repeat of the Chicago Marathon 2018? I never get side stitches in my training, why do I get them when I race? Did I drink enough water all week? Am I breathing wrong? Why is my body “failing” me? It’s been a while since I’ve had a good race, when is that going to happen again? Then, of course, the stream of thoughts: I am angry. I am upset. No, I’m just disappointed. It’s OK. There are other races. I’m still angry though. Bye A-goal. Bye B-goal. Just smile. Just finish. Just keep moving forward. There’s beer at the finish line. You got this. You look good. SMILE.

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It’s amazing how many thoughts and experiences can fit in one racing experience and how you can feel like you experienced a lifetime of events in the space between start- and finish-lines.

I’ve spent the past week processing the race and working on being kinder to myself in situations like this. The heart break has subsided and I’m in that Let’s-Find-Everything-Positive-About-The-Race stage:

  • After days of race-day forecast being rain, rain, and more rain, it did not rain.

  • Expo was quick, easy, and well-organized.

  • I got to see lots of runner friends at expo, on the course, and after the race.

  • The course showcases Miami’s beauty perfectly.

  • Smooth start and organized finish.

  • Beer.

  • I got an amazing hug at the mile 12 lululemon cheer station.

  • I finished my seventh Miami race and 34th half marathon.

  • This race came in as my fastest Miami time with a 2:01:36 finish.

  • Maybe there was a 10K PR time.

  • I’m already signed up to run in 2020 (also, got some amazing goodr glasses).

  • The race medal is a stunner.

  • I still love running.

  • I can’t wait to race again. (I see you Princess and 305).

Not all races will be the best races and that’s OK. Goals come and go and that’s part of what makes running an endless amount of fun. My work as a runner is to continue caring as much as I do while letting go of disappointment quicker. It’s running and it’s hard and there’s always another run on the horizon. Showing up and doing the best is what matters.

MIA 5K

This is my second year running the MIA 5K (last year it was called the iRun 5000) and, just like last year, the race did not disappoint. The reasons I loved the race last year were still there this year, even with the course and sponsor changes.

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I signed up for the race back in June partly because I had a great experience racing the distance (something I rarely do) at last year’s event and partly because I knew this would be the one event where I would be able to see and catch up with a lot of my runner friends.

Packet pick-up at the iRun store was quick and easy. Parking near the start line was easy to find (as of 6:00am) and there were clean, air-conditioned bathrooms, too. There were no race t-shirts this year, but the event organizers made up for it with the wooden medal and the metal beer cup.

The race started right at 7:00am and the course was one big loop in the Upper Buena Vista neighborhood. There was a water station near the mid-way point of the race and the course itself was wide enough to allow for passing. What I liked the most about the course, other than it being flat, was that because it was a loop, I got to see the lead pack of runners; talk about inspiring and motivating!

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I had no intention of racing this race as Sundays are my rest day, so when the race started my goal was to do whatever felt good and kept me in good running form. Although it was humid, the legs felt great and the mind was focused on finishing. Part of what I don’t like about racing 5Ks is that I have to go hard from the get-go and, just when I’ve found my groove, the run is done. During the race, however, I embraced the distance and my focus on finishing actually helped me stay strong and consistent throughout the run.

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I finished the 5K in 25:32 (8:14 avg) and that time includes stopping for hugs from my lululemon Brickell City Centre family at the 2.5-ish mile mark. I was really happy with this time because (1) I felt great, (2) I felt in control, and (3) I didn’t feel like death at the finish line.

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iRun and lululemon spoiled the runners with the finishers area swag: Jaguar Therapeutics was giving massages, Veza Sur Brewing was handing out beers, and Cafe Creme fed the runners pastries and fruit. And, just like last year, I was able to catch up with a lot of my runner friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time (shout out to Dana and Jackie!).

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The MIA 5K is a race I will be doing again next year. From the race’s organization to the course to the socializing, this is a race made for going after your personal best time and catching up with your favorite runners while drinking good beer.

Next up for me is my trifecta of half marathons: Miami (January), Princess (February), and 305 (March).