Thursday, January 31, 2013

ING Miami Half Marathon 2013

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”― Mother Teresa

This year I returned once again to the ING Miami course. This was the site of my first half marathon in 2009. Since then, I've run the full ING Miami twice. I love this course. The views of inter-coastal waterway are simply beautiful. The race director does an excellent job of organizing this massive event. There are plenty of water/Gatorade stops, gel on the course, tons of volunteers and a plethora of port-a-potties. Every runners' dream. Well, almost... if you like a small, quiet, cool weather event, this is not your race. 

The Expo and The Swag
The expo is rather large. Lots of everything there from running stores to shoe companies to race companies to Publix. I sampled a Jamba Juice smoothie, 2 kinds of "healthy" granola, and a Chobani Greek yogurt. As for the goods-- the race shirt is a Champion brand and good quality. A local artist designed both the medal and the shirt, so both are unique and pretty awesome.

The Start
With 25,000 or so running this race, the first 3 miles were so crowded that I was forced to reduce my pace by about 30 seconds or so per mile. I remember thinking to myself, "It's a good thing I don't have a real race strategy because it would be blown." I was really surprised-- this year I started closer to the first corral than ever (corral D), and there were still people running considerably under that corral's pace. The corrals were well organized, but not enforced (so maybe not so well organized?). *People, please do not lie about your projected finishing time.*

The Course
Who doesn't love a course where palm trees and ocean views abound? As previously mentioned, the course was quite crowded in spots and very narrow at times (well, considering the aforementioned 25,000 people). Aid stations and port-a-potties were plentiful. For the half there were also gels being handed out, just before mile 7. Pineapple and oranges were also handed out near miles 10 and 12. There were a few cheering stations, which always provide a little emotional boost. Photographers were are at numerous places on the course and encouraged runners to smile and "ham" it up.

The Finish
It really feels like you walk another half mile through the corrals to get to the water, medal and yummy treats, but your legs will thank you later. Bagels; fresh, frozen and cups of fruit; granola bars; some strange corn cake type things; cookies; water and gatorade were offered for refreshment inside the finishers' area. Just outside were multiple tents of vendors including the Chobani people, Pollo Tropical (only in South Florida can a person get beans and rice at 9am!), and Target [they actually had real furniture set-up (gross!) and were giving away flip flops]. There was a Publix-sponsored family meet up area (this year they posted alphabetical stations to facilitate the finding of family--brilliant!) and the gear check was a pretty simple process. 

Bottom Line
I really feel that this is a great race for a first-timer. The course is advertised as flat and fast. Although, for us South Floridians, there are "hills" (a few bridges). It's a great value-- and the week after the race, they offer a registration blitz for the following year's race (usually 50% off for the first 200 registrations). Because this year was my 4th time running the ING Miami, I do not plan to register for next year. I'm directing my entry fees toward obstacle course races. Official finishing time: 1:56:50.

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