Thursday, March 18, 2010

Season re-cap

My racing "season" is over, for the most part. I have two more 5K's penciled on my calendar (Miami Corporate run and a Memorial Day 5K), but that's basically it. It's just too darned hot to race down here in the summer time!

In a word, my season was awesome! Between October and March, I ran five half-marathons, two 10K's, and two 5 K's. I ran almost every race faster than the year before, setting personal records in every distance and winning two first place age group awards (10K's). That's 5 finisher medals, 1 age group medal, 1 age group trophy and 9 t-shirts! Sweet.

I believe the primary success factor was maintaining a higher mileage base during the off season. My running group kept at a 12 mile long run base all summer. They were very SLOW and sweaty miles during mid-summer, but we kept 'em going. Ramping up in Fall's cooler weather was a snap in comparison to previous years when our long run distance dropped to 6-9 miles.

So the plan this year is - do the same thing! Keep up the mileage, keep cross training, stay strong, stay healthy (hopefully) and have fun. It won't be long before I start ramping up again for the Salmon Marathon in September!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beach party!

I have to admit, the 131 Miami half marathon does have its appeal.

The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect - mid-50's temperatures, light breeze, clear skies - beautiful! I was a little unsure of the parking situation, so arrived near the South Beach start area around 4:40 am to find plenty of spaces available at one of the recommended parking garages. The late night partiers were weaving their way back to the same garage to drive home and crash for the morning. A couple of short-skirted, but pleasant, girls asked me about the event, and marveled at the distance (13 miles!!!?). It's a juxtaposition that never ceases to amuse me: bleary-eyed, scantily-clad party-goers crossing paths with bleary-eyed, scantily-clad runners in the pre-dawn hours.

The race had a nice-size field of around 2000 runners. The race took us up Miami beach and over a causeway and back in a loop to the start. The organizers really did try to have entertainment on the course. One of the nice things about running along the causeway is that you could hear the entertainment (drum line, DJ or band) from both sides. There wasn't a lot of crowd support, but the onlookers that were there were vocal and enthusiastic. All of the runners were very friendly, and everyone really seemed to be having a great time. There are several fairly stiff bridges on the course, but the view from the highest bridge was spectacular - you could see miles of bay and the Port, and skylines of both Miami and Miami Beach. And did I say that the weather was perfect?

I really didn't care about my time, I was just running for fun! Is it just me, or does 13 miles just not seem as far as it used to? The miles passed quickly. The last mile was on a winding bike path by the beach and almost before I knew it, the race was over. I finished in 2:05, a VERY respectable time for me considering all of the bridges, and totally blowing away last year's time of 2:16!

The best part of the race, IMO, is the finish line party right on the beach. There were the usual post-race bagels, fruit, cookies, muffins, etc. But there was also a beer tent - Sam Adams, some GOOD stuff! And arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and all sorts of vendor samples, salsa music and beach cabanas. I have never seen a race with beach cabanas and lounge chairs at the finish. It was very cool! Unfortunately, duty called and I had to scoot off to make it to church on time. But for those who had time to hang around, it was shaping up to be quite a party!

So, will I do it next year? Maybe .... I have a lot planned already and it will depend on how I feel. Just two suggestions for the organizers - a Broward County packet pick up option and negotiated parking rates! I paid $18 for less than 4 hours in a City parking garage, ouch!

But, it was fun .....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Last Half

Well, the last for this season anyway!

Coming up this Sunday is the 131 Miami, part of a half-marathon-only series brought to you by the same folks who produce the Miami Marathon. The first 131 race was run in Ft. Lauderdale in November 2008 (which I did) and the second was the 131 Miami in March 2009 (which I ran). The series has since expanded to a number of cities all over the country (Atlanta, LA, Chicago, etc).

There are a couple of things I'm not crazy about with this race. The course spends a lot of time on the Julia Tuttle causeway which not only has fairly sizeable bridges on either end (which you have to run twice each!), but you are also sucking exhaust fumes from the causeway traffic which is still running alongside you. Also, the packet pick up is very inconvenient - either go WAY down to South Miami to a FootWorks store, or to Miami Beach the day before. If there was a big expo, it would be worth the trip, but driving an hour for a 5 minute pickup isn't very palatable. Fortunately, a friend already had to make the trip herself and picked up mine for me, what a gal! Also, March can be very warm (last year was pushing 80), but this year is promising to be quite cool, maybe even in the 40's! Brrr!

So I'll run the race one more time, but the jury is out for next year unless they really blow me away with the revised race course and amenities .....