Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon and "How To"

This post is a little race recap and a little advice. Starting with the above quote. Sometimes a particular race or event will feel like hell. Follow Mr. Churchill's advice.

The "How To"

  1. Check yourself. Before beginning to train for any event, see your doctor for a complete physical including blood work to make sure that you are healthy and your body can handle physically intense training. I'm afraid I don't say that enough. Yesterday at the finish line, I witnessed EMT's performing chest compressions on a man who had collapsed. It was scary. His wife was hysterical, never dreaming that a fun, yet difficult event could turn into a life threatening situation.
  2. Find a plan. I've used plans from Runners World, Hal Higdon, and also the plans from Train Like a Mother successfully. Most plans are 12 to 16 weeks, depending on your current fitness level.
  3. Work the plan. For the plan to work, you must work the plan. Including speed work. Including rest days. 
  4. Live right. Eat right and sleep right. Food is fuel. And in order to perform optimally, your body needs sleep to recover and build muscle. (I really hope I didn't have to say this.) And be sure to fuel and hydrate properly during your long runs. 
  5. Gear up. Get some good running shoes-- for best results, get fitted at a running store. (If your shoes are right for you, you should NOT have to "break them in.") Get some comfortable, moisture wicking clothing (You don't need Nike to run well). Watches are helpful. Some would argue that they are absolutely necessary, but don't underestimate the power of running by feel (perceived effort, if you want to get fancy). A Garmin or other GPS watch is a bonus, but you can live without it.
My almost costume

Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon Race Recap*
First of all, the title of the race is a mouthful! 
I was drawn to this race first because of the pictures I've seen-- fun costumes, great bling. And of course, there's the location-- Miami Beach, my ABSOLUTE favorite place to race! (Well, if we are talking road races.) But the thing that sealed the deal for my registering was that it would be taking place on my birthday. 

Packet pick-up-- I was really happy that they had packet pick-ups at three places in Dade and in North and South Broward locations the week of the race. Unfortunately, I was out of town, which meant pick-up the morning of the race. However, I got there early (about an hour before race start) and had no problems. Except they ran out of shirts. I was told they would mail mine.

Race Start-- The race began at Parrot Jungle. There was parking offered at the start and the finish line (with shuttles running back and forth). Getting there an hour early, I had no trouble and got a great spot in the parking garage. There didn't appear to be a whole lot of parking spaces at the start, so I'm not sure about those who were running later. (**Note-- always arrive early!) Bag check was available, but I didn't use it.

The Course-- (not sure how long the link to the course map will be active, but I thought I'd include it) Miami Beach is beautiful-- lots of views of the ocean and most races involve running over at least one bridge or causeway.  This course had us running on the board walk all along the beach for the bulk of the race. We even ran ON the beach for about a mile and a half (NOT ideal for a road race!) Mileage markers were few and far between-- I remember seeing miles 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10. No time clocks on the course. And although water stops were promised at approximately every mile, running on the board walk made that difficult, but there was plenty of water.

My major complaint-- the course was a little whacky. Lots of out and back turn arounds, including the last mile-- we were running towards the finish line and as we approach a volunteer yells, "Keep going straight (past the right turn and the finish line)! It's a half mile to the turn around!" UHM... EXCUSE me?! Had I the energy and lower morals, I would have punched him in the face. Apparently there were a few last minute course changes due to road construction, and I think the odd finish turn around was one of them. 

The Finish-- Medical help was available and competent (as I saw them in action), plenty of food (apples, oranges, bananas, 1/4 bagels--love it! with PB or Jam, an organic food catering/delivery service had various foods samples) and various types of bottled drinks, including coconut water, water with electrolytes, drinks with electrolytes and carrot juice drinks. I only wish the area was a little more spread out-- as soon as I crossed the finish they shoved a medal at me, then I practically tripped over the water coolers. I left the area to walk a bit and had to come back to the finish line for the food. There was also a local restaurant that was hosting a post race party and awards ceremony, including a free beer for runners-- but I didn't stay around for that. Shuttles were running efficiently.

Overall-- this was a beautiful course, especially for a destination race. And I didn't even mention the costumes-- which were highly encouraged and awarded! There were super heroes, villains, zombies, cross dressers (even a male pregnant zombie cheerleader!), and just regularly dressed runners. 
*There is also a 4 Miler option for this race. 

My Finish-- I earned my second best time and 9th in my age group-- 1:56:06.
Photo courtesy of Diana Dardio


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