When I announced that I’m celebrating my 30th birthday by running the Miami marathon, people’s faces just went blank. The hilarious looks I’ve been getting are unfortunately very transparent, and say something along “I usually party, not torture myself for my birthday”; or “I always knew you were weird”. Somehow, no one (except a crazy runner or two) could relate to this type of celebration. But a big milestone such as this one has to be marked with a grand event.
Miami is a fun tropical race location[/caption]
I came to Miami for a warm vacation and to escape the cold Asheville snow storm, I’m going on a Bahama cruise, and I reunited with my mommy after more than a year and a half. But no, that wasn’t enough! There was that desire to celebrate even more..
Running the Miami Marathon was a perfect way to say goodbye to my twenties (cue in sad violin in the background).
In the yoga tradition, there is a specific practice called tapasya, or sacrifice. This tapasya is performed for many reasons, whether purification, to grow stronger, to build a resistant mind and will. They are usually performed for special occasions as well. I find running to be one of my favorite ways to perform tapasya, and a very long race like a marathon is definitely a painful but very rewarding experience. Since I’m entering a new period, and it surely feels like it, a certain tapasya was in order.
A short description of the race would be: fun, surprising, very painful, almost disheartening, emotional, and celebratory.
Here’s a long description…
PRE-RACE PREP AND TRAINING
I finished the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon just over two months ago, in November. I didn’t get to train as much as I would have liked to, and considering we pulled off a cross country move from California to North Carolina in October, that’s not really surprising.
After I returned from Vegas, I got back into marathon training in a week or two, but only had a few weeks of nice weather left before it got too cold for me to train outside. I had a few long runs in on the weekends, and the longest outdoor training I had was 9 miles on a Friday, 6 on Sunday, before i had to take my runs indoors. I counted on running a marathon two months ago, and figured I should be in good enough shape to run another. But my running mileage went down, obviously, as I can’t run longer than 6m on the treadmill before going nuts. I started doing much more cross training, strength and hot yoga in the last month or two, and I think I’m going to stick to it as I’m slowly starting to understand why us runners need to cross train more. However, I wasn’t as well trained as I would have wanted to be.
Both the race course, and the expo location were changed this year. The Expo was packed, as expected for such a big event. There were food trucks parked up front, and we did come hungry – but I do have to complain the food wasn’t as healthy and quality fuel as you would expect (or need) the day before the race. I had some whole wheat pasta and an Acai bowl, which was absolutely delicious and the only super healthy vegan thing I could find!
Suja juice at the expo – I had a green juice the morning of the race as well[/caption]
Ready to run – with Daniel and Felipe running their first half marathon[/caption]
This was a very fun race for me, as my brother-in-law Daniel ran his first half marathon (I kind of feel my husband and I got him into running). My husband ran the half, his cousins from Colombia, Nathalia and Felipe came to run as well, with Felipe running his first half too. Besides, I knew a lot of local runners that were participating, and felt happy to be back in the running zone of Miami. The expo was a lot of fun, encountering old run buddies along the way, sharing stories and catching up. I used to work for a running specialty store here in Miami back in the day, so I got to catch up with a few co-workers and other friends in the industry.
His & Hers bib numbers[/caption]
My husband, his brother, my mom and I stayed in Miami beach, relatively close to race start. After many years of racing experience, I don’t get as excited and nervous as before, and knowing this race boosted approximately 30,000 runners, I decided not to sweat it in the morning at took it very easy.
I ate, what turned out to be more than I should have as I felt my belly heavy for the first few miles. I can never eat that early in the morning, specially with all the race jitters, but as I was happy and celebrating my birthday, I felt good and hungry, and I wanted to fuel up for the full 26.2 miles.
My corral was the very last one, so we took our time and didn’t rush to be there at 6am sharp, which was the official race start time. The bib numbers carry chips, so your race starts when you cross the start line, and in an event this big, that may be as late as an hour after the first corral heads out. The parking was crazy easy, and very close to the start line – we were lucky! I think we had a lot of international and out of state runners who chose to take the shuttle or other forms of transport. My mom and Zen came to cheer on us from the start, which made it that much more fun for me!
The race morning was cold – crazy cold for Miami! I was worried about heat and humidity slowing me down, and brought light clothes, thinking I was going to run in shorts and a sports bra. But high 40s-low 50s temperatures surprised us all! I ended up switching to my favorite Lululemon Capris, tank top, short sleeve and long sleeve. I used the race short sleeve shirt as I didn’t bring that many layers – definitely a race day faux pas, but those were my options.
I wore a cap, and a bandana around my neck, which came in handy for the first few windy miles. I ran with my Garmin 910xp, Flipbelt with my phone and nutrition, and my good old Amphipod handheld bottle.
The shoe of choice was Hoka One One – Huaka model. Hokas have saved my knees and other joints. I used to wear neutral minimalistic shoes and race flats, with Brooks Pure Flow being my absolute favorite – I ran my first marathon in it as well, and that was a big mistake. I know better now, and go for cushioned shoes instead that help minimize impact.
Miles 1 – 10. We came to the race at 6:45am and immediately started running with the corral that was in line. Yes, even 45min after the fist runners took off, there were hundreds of people waiting in line to start! I took off nice and easy, feeling a bit uncomfortable in my belly because of the green juice, banana and other nutrition I ate before the race, which I’m not used to. It was pretty windy, and we took off straight onto the McArthur Causeway, which is a bridge exposed to ocean breeze. The views were very beautiful, and as I started pretty late, I got to see the fast elite runners on the other side, including a few locals I know. People were in a great mood, cheering and having fun. This part of the race took us over the bridge into the Miami Beach, including Ocean drive, the iconic location next to the beach itself. It was a beautiful and fun course. Going over the bridge twice would have been an issue if I was still a Floridian, but as I trained in California and North Carolina, the slight incline didn’t bother me much and it actually helped my legs as running on flat uses different muscles than running up and down hill.
Race course – Famous Ocean Drive[/caption]
Miles 10-13 Back over the bridge and into the downtown location. There were a lot of people cheering and partying, music playing and other fun festivities which made this part entertaining, albeit a bit nerve wrecking as I saw all the half marathoners running towards their finish line, and all the cheering folk yelling: “You’re almost there!”. Well, not if you’re running the marathon! The split point happened in mile 12, which is always a bit of a reality check and a test of will, as we marathoners can always take the half marathon course if we want to. I remembered it was my 30th birthday, and I took off towards the full marathon course. It’s always a sad point as you usually loose a lot of runners (most people always run the half in races I’ve done), but not this time – I had company throughout the full course, which made me very happy! I finished the first 13.1 in 2:15, same as in Vegas and on a good path towards my 4:30 – 4:40 hopeful goal. I did start to slow down and knew that my goal time probably won’t happen, however.
Miles 13-20 I was worried the first half of the course was going to be the prettiest, as it usually is with half/full races, but the second half was just as nice. We were running south towards Coconut Groove, an area I know really well from when I lived in Miami, so it was a nice sentimental run at this point. We passed through a few nice tourist streets, and next to Peacock park and the marina. I felt good, although my splits show I was progressively slowing down. I never stopped to walk, only at water stations for a moment.
I had to stretch a few times as my lower back was hurting since mile 6 or so. Why? Well, I had a chiropractic adjustment the day before, and I took a yoga class with the same man, my old teacher and studio owner here in Hollywood. Yes, I am aware that’s definitely not a recommended course of action, but I had to take advantage of the fact I was here and get all the treatments I was looking forward to for some time. My knee and hip were well, on the bright side, but my lower back/sacrum felt like never before, and it really bugged me.
Mile 20-26.2. Around mile 20 was the breaking point. That famous wall hit, and it hit hard. I somehow had only 2 gels on me, I had a big breakfast (for my racing standards) but had already eaten my gels by this point. I took a salt electrolyte pill, and lost the baggy with the seond pill and fizz pills. I was convinced I had more nutrition in my flipbelt, but it was nowhere to be found. They only had one nutrition station at maybe mile 10ish. However the gels they gave away were of an unfamiliar brand, and I know better so I took none. By mile 20 I was slowly freaking out. I felt a terrible loss in energy, and my legs were in a crazy amount of pain. I slowed down tremendeously, and stopped at a station or two to stretch a bit better and drink gatorade.
A nutrition station finally came up in a couple of miles, and I grabbed that new gel and a very unripe banana, which ended up going well together. That helped a bit, and I kept on rolling.. That’s exactly how I felt. Like I’m barely rolling, not running. We turned into Virginia Key, over another causeway with beautiful ocean views, but it was pretty windy too. Luckily, we didn’t go over the biggest bridge there, but under and around. Acyuta was there at the end of that strip waiting for me! I was so happy, I cried a bit. He totally saved me and carried me for those last couple of miles.
As we were turning back into the crowds, the energies rose again as everyone was cheering on. That last mile was so long, but it finally came – the FINISH LINE! I saw my mom taking pictures and cheering very loudly too, which made me so happy. I got to celebrate my 30th with her, and share something I loved with her too.
Acyuta running the last few miles with me saved me![/caption]
Almost there! My mom took these as she cheered at the finish[/caption]
THE FINISH LINE![/caption]
This was my third full marathon. I finished in 4:57, 4:53 according to my Garmin, but it must have turned off when I stopped a few times. That’s my slowest time, with Vegas being my fastest at 4:52. Not much of a difference, and as it seems I’m still chasing that 4:30 goal. I promised myself I will train more for the next full and make it happen! My half PR is 1:56, and by all pace calculators I should be running 4:20-4:30 easy. But a marathon is a marathon and anything can happen. Pain definitely will happen! So I just take it as a victory in itself and move on. I’m passed running for competition or to prove myself to anyone, and run to enjoy instead – which I do! I just love running. One big realization during this race was that I can do it! As much as I feared in my previous two marathons wheather I will even finish, I was very confident this time that 26.2 miles is a distance I can conquer. That is a great feeling.
AFTER THE FINISH LINE
I walked it off a bit, cried, hugged Acyuta, my mom and Zen, and set on a nearby hill. It finally got a bit warmer in the last few miles, it was just perfect running temperature (for me). My mom is an amazing healer and therapist, so she immediately gave me a nice massage which helped tremendeously. I was very tired and in pain.
Celebrating my 30th with my mom![/caption]
Love Having my boys by my side![/caption]
We layed down, chatter with Acyuta’s brother Daniel and cousin Nathalia, got to celebrate our running victories a bit. We stretched, did some yoga (but of course! It’s the best way to recover), and slowly made our way to the car. The finish line wasn’t at the same spot as the Start, so we walked another mile or so, which is always healthy.
With Daniel and Nathalia, who ran their 1st and 2nd half respectively[/caption]
I nibbled on some food at the finish, but couldn’t take much. We stopped at Whole Foods, grabbed tons of veggies, soup and more, and headed back to the apartment to rest and recover.
Getting a healing massage from my mom helped me recover quickly[/caption]
My mom gave me another great massage later in the day – I tell you, having a personal therapist with you at all times is the best!
I headed out in the evening to celebrate my birthday with a few local friends, yoga students and instructors, and relatives in a delicious new vegan spot in Miami Beach called Full Bloom. Read more about that restaurant, and what to eat in the area, in my Miami Vegan Dining guide.
One of the delicious things I ate after the race, courtesy of my BFF[/caption]
Sunday was a busy day – I wouldn’t normally go out celebrating like that after a marathon, but it was a special occasion after all. I took my time to recover, eat and drink properly, and I surprisingly didn’t have a headache and felt well. The real soreness kicked in the next day anyways. The friends were surprised at my birthday dinner, and kept on asking me how I’m even walking (slowly and with a certain amount of pain was the answer). Delicious vegan foods at Full Bloom definitely helped the recovery process.
All in all, this is what I call a birthday milestone successfully celebrated!
Those sunsets on the beach made it all worth while…[/caption]