Sunday, March 4, 2012

13.1 Miami FAIL

~5 min. w/u
Target: 13.1 miles @~1:16-1:17
Actual: 5 miles @30:20, 1/2 mile walk/jog, 5 mile jog back to start
Total: 11+ miles

81 degrees, 15 mph winds, 92% humidity.

Am I describing a tropical rainforest? Perhaps a location somewhere in the bayous of Louisiana circa mid-August? Nope, these were the actual r
eal-life weather conditions that greeted me when I woke up at 4:22 for this morning's 13.1 Miami race. I stared at the iPhone screen, shook my head to clear away the early morning cobwebs, then looked again. Yup, still the same numbers. This was going to be brutal, and it probably didn't help that I'd spent a full 10 hours the day before baking in the sun during the South Beach packet pickup. Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of worse places to be working on a Saturday afternoon--and I fully realize that selling shoes, as opposed to running, is my actual job at these events--but ideal pre-race prep it was not.

My "office" on Saturday afternoon

Posing with the Karhu Bear and my buddy Frankie Ruiz--US Road Sports employee,
ING Miami Marathon founder, high school cross-country coach and
SoleRUNNERS running store owner. Needless to say, he's
kind of a big deal in the Miami running community.

Grumbling all the while, I got up and dressed--scantily so, no doubt considered normal given the weather and the standard South Beach dress code--and shuffled the two blocks from our hotel over to the beach start/finish area. It was equal parts amusing and astonishing to see the streets packed with people still out enjoying Saturday night's revelry and merriment. As I said at this event last year, I'm pretty sure South Beach gives NYC a run for the "city that never sleeps" moniker. Absolutely nuts.

After spending 30 minutes or so setting up our booth for the morning, it was already time to head to the start. I only had a few minutes to spare for warming up, but none was needed. I was already sweating and parched. Had this race not been the 13.1 Marathon Series national championship race with a whopping $13,100 at stake for the winner, I doubt I would've toed the line at all. After a surprisingly decent showing at Mercedes Half in Birmingham a few weeks ago I had aspirations of running 1:16 or even 1:15 h
ere, but by race time it was obvious that would not be the case. I couldn't help but flash back to the similar conditions at 13.1 Chicago last June, a race I won but paid the price for by feeling exhausted and lethargic for over a month afterward. This morning I lined up fully acknowledging that I was not willing to push to the same limits today, even if that meant walking away empty-handed. Some might contend that means I'd already given up before even starting, but I don't think that was the case. I was prepared to run hard, prepared to hurt--but only within sensible reason. It's a fine line only recognized when one is on the precipice of crossing it.

Fortunately the Karhu bear didn't pass out during the 5k
this year! He placed 14th somewhere around 21 minutes.

The gun sounded at 6:13 on the dot, and immediately three of us were clear of the women's field. We ran side by side directly into the wind for two miles, the clock reading 11:50 as we passed, and I was already worried at my level of exertion. My legs didn't necessarily feel bad, but the unrelenting headwind made every step a struggle. My breathing and heart rate were already well above what I'd expect at this stage in a race--two miles into Mercedes I could've carried on a lengthy conversation--and by the time we hit our second long overpass a mile later I could tell I was cooked. Each mile was a few seconds slower than the previous one and significantly harder. I split 6:10--slower than marathon pace--for the fourth mile and was nearly hyperventilating. The lead woman, a lithe African, had separated herself before 5k, and though I was matching the eventual second place finisher stride for stride I could see spots in my peripheral vision. I'd already double-fisted at the first two water stops but it clearly wasn't helping, and a mile later I realized I was unequivocally done. Whatever the prize, it wasn't worth ignoring my body's deafening warning signs.

And so, I took a little break on the ground for a few minutes. I refused medical attention but did request water and a long rest. When it was clear I still had to make my way back to the start/finish area, I began a slow and shaky trot in the direction from which I'd come. After a few easy miles I felt everything returning to normal, and with that came a sense of frustration and disappointment. I knew I'd made the smart decision, but I also knew I could've practically walked the rest of the race and still taken home the $500 third place purse. Honestly, though--and I realize this might sound crazy to some--I think I'd be embarrassed to win prize money for the time in which I would've eventually completed the race. I want to earn my winnings--which I vowed right then and there to do at 13.1 NYC in three weeks--and, more importantly, I want to preserve my body's health while doing so! Miami may have gotten the best of me, but I'll be back and better than ever soon enough.


jayholder8k said...

tough tough day, and smart move! Save yourself for better conditions. As some one who lives in NYC and sleeps a lot, I'll give South Beach the title. Also, did you see the singlet on the men's winner?

Frankie said...

Just means you'll have to come back to Miami to give it another try!