26.2  Of all the things I could have been concerned with, a stomach issue late in the day wasn’t on the list. I remember an old guy running next to me near the half/full split, asking if I was going to continue on to finish the full marathon. After answering “Yes” he harped all over sharing a few pieces of advice with me. He barked, “Wait till you get to the wall, Say hi to mile 18 for me” as he turned east to finish his race and be done for the day.

Why would I be concerned with that? My training has been perfect and I had no injuries coming into the race.  If anything, adding in weight training (for real this time) would make me even better!

The lead-in:

Our hotel, the Atton Brickell, was really nice, and in a great location.

Atton’s Infinity pool

We’d later learn in the morning that we were on the new course. That explained the flurry of tow trucks and police activity before 5 am when we were leaving the hotel. I parked in the dirt lot next to Publix and across the street from the hotel overnight for $15. The drive to AA Arena was a scramble. Kristen had Steve and Sara in her car, Helen came with me. Others said they were going to walk instead. The Brickell bridge was closed, the South Miami Ave bridge was the new course in both directions, so that wasn’t an option, either. We got there in plenty of time for the group photo and to be first in our corrals. The message to the race day start personnel made it to the right folks – pacers could assemble in the corrals early and the runners found us very easily. Good improvement! Being able to use the clean restrooms in the arena before the race was also a good continuation of what was done last year.

Race morning:

I had a good group near me ready for the half – I had two gals from Oregon that had flown in yesterday and didn’t allow for the time difference, so it was 1 am for them. Others in my group were Stephanie, Elisa, Auburn, Jose, Jason, Francois, Maria, Sonnia, Dana, and Augie. There were additional folks that ran with us for the half, but with music on, they didn’t speak or interact with me.

With Karen in Start Corral E

Full marathon blue bibs in my group included Landon in his Clemson gear, Gianfranco, and locals from my area Jill and Judy. I knew Karen and her guide runner were nearby, we took a photo together in the corral. They wanted to stay behind us but try to keep us in sight to finish under 2 hours for the half.

Pre-race, I answered questions and told the runners how to roll through the water stops, tie their shoes a few ways, and our strategy of even pacing. One lady ran with me last year and told the gang she got her PR running with my pace group, so that helped in the credibility department. The temperature at the start line was 73 and the breeze was 16 mph from the Southeast. We’d be getting that on the causeway for miles 1-4 for the half runners. Then we’d get wind again on the exposed approach to the Rickenbacker Causeway for the full runners. I gathered as many names as I can while we waited, I tried to get them into my phone’s Evernote app before we started.

The start was on time and exciting with my peppy group – we moved to the left as it was less crowded approaching the hill and exit ramp up to the 395 expressway. We ran the first mile in 8:58, pretty good for the jostle through the group ahead and the inevitable slower runners that put themselves in an incorrect lead corral. By mile 4 we were on the pace and within 12 seconds of our goal time. Mile 5 -7 are north and south on the island, mostly behind buildings, so the breeze didn’t have an effect. I encouraged people to drink up, as today was warm for those not acclimatized to humid Miami in January. My Clemson runner, Landon, wondered how long he’d be able to hang on in the heat, as most of his training was in 30 degrees or below.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 1.43.30 PM
On Venetian Causeway with a group of “happy halfers”

Maria ran with her music right next to me. She was excited to have a legitimate shot at a PR in the half. She already felt the difference halfway back to Miami’s Downtown, as she would ordinarily start too fast and burn out. She was good to chat with, she was able to hear me even with earbuds on. Running back on the flat Venetian Causeway was all with the wind, so we really didn’t feel any weather. The breeze kept me from feeling warm, I think others had the same experience.

Once back in the city, I spoke with my group about who might feel well enough to increase their speed in miles 11-13 to go for a really good PR. Two guys did at Mile 11, a slow pickup that kept them ahead of me for the rest of their race. I got a few “foot clips” from other runners that weren’t in my initial group but somehow became incorporated with us.  I never fell, but like a 4th grader in a crowded hallway, I felt it was imminent that another kid would trip me – I was very aware until we split to the full-only course. Approaching the split point, I gave good wishes and “high fives” to my half people and continued south to the new part of the course towards Mile 13. They did very well, no less than 6 runners would get the 1:55 or better!

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 1.43.08 PMMile 13 was at the top of the South Miami Ave bridge, a new feature on the course. The half mark was at the bottom of the hill, we crossed that at 1:54:37 I believe. My group was smaller, the gals Jill and Julie from my town had slowed because another friend hopped in and ran with them. They were maybe 50 meters behind me, but always close. I gathered in a guy with a white long sleeve shirt and headphones who wanted to run very close to my left side. We rubbed arms a few times, as I looked towards him, he moved over but didn’t really react or respond. He faded as we passed mile 14. I had two guys with me, Landon and another that spoke only Spanish. The neighborhood area north of Coconut Grove is not well populated on Sunday mornings, it doesn’t have too many spectators. Once we popped out onto Bayshore Drive, my two guys started to fall back. Now we were exposed to wind again just past Mile 17. I kept the pace up the slight hill leading to Coco Walk, and I grabbed a cup of water at that aid station. Ahead I saw the traffic light where we turn hard left into the Grove’s “restaurant row.” This is an important place on the course. I was running solo, but I always tell anyone with me that this is the furthest away we ever get from the Finish line, every step we take from this point on is heading towards home.

(What’s that flushing sound?)

I didn’t make it to the traffic light, I coughed, pulled to the side, and emptied everything I had in my stomach. It wasn’t much, I had been drinking and eating usual salt pills every 4 miles, I hadn’t had a gel, there was no food in me. Those dry heave attempts are terrible. I ran another few yards and it started again. With an accelerated heart rate, this was going to continue unless I walked. I looked at the pace band and my watch, walked maybe 50 ft and began running again. I passed the folks eating breakfast on the patio, usually a happy sight for me and my runners. My two lady friends from back home ran past, I think they may have been embarrassed or too considerate to acknowledge I was suffering and they were running by.

I shook off the odd feelings and picked up the running in an effort to make up what I believed was a 1:30-2:00 deficit. I wasn’t in a group when I slowed and stopped, so I didn’t have a reference as to who I needed to catch to be back on schedule. I grabbed water to flush out the stomach acids from my mouth at the next aid station and kept going. I was at an 8 min pace and even that was not feeling good, the temptation to stop and possibly throw up again was growing. I slowed, tried eating a gel, and kept running. I could keep the 8:45 pace, but empty of the nutrition I had when things were going well, I knew I’d have trouble ahead. I figured if I could snatch back 15-20 seconds per mile, I ‘d be back on track by 24 and good for the finish.

Credentials for the weekend

Nope. At mile 21.5 cramps started in my lower legs and began working their way up. I stopped, stretched, made sure I drank two cups at every aid stop, but still not enough. When my breathing accelerated, I felt nauseous. I was going to keep pressing until something broke – too many cramps or more vomiting, but I was not going to paddy-wagon or walk home. And I didn’t consider a DNF. The “walk straight to Brickell instead of doing Rickenbacker Causeway” would have been an option at Mile 22, but I never seriously considered failing THAT hard. At Mile 23, I discarded my pace sign and became a regular Miami Marathon entrant.

That’s a first.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 1.44.23 PM

I ran, walk, stretched for the next 4 miles. Helen and her 3:55 group passed me and offered gels, but I couldn’t keep their pace for any length of time. I expected to see Kristen and her 4-hour group very soon after then, but not today. The course swapped roads, from Brickell to South Miami Avenue. The last bridge to run up was significantly different than the smaller, Brickell drawbridge, that’s probably just a one-year thing while they repair the usual course. The final straightaway is heading east, past the Mile 26 sign and then a quick left to the finish line. There were good fan support and music stations for the final push. Richard J. from back home came running up behind me and encouraged me to press on and run it in – but at that point, I was at my slowest jog staving off big muscle leg cramps. This was the end for me, and coincidentally it was the end of the course. No pacers were at the finish since the meetup was to be at the Marcela’s Fit Group tent. I took off my shirt and went to the medical aid tent. I needed more than a Gatorade, a beer, and bag of chips.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 1.43.56 PM

That was easy, they had a bunch of people in the cots and chairs due to dehydration, which is what I probably now was also suffering from since I wouldn’t eat any more salt pills after I threw up. I took 1 liter of IV water fluid, during which the aids had me elevate my legs and feet. Not a good thing for me. – ZAP! I have never seen my legs cramp and had my calves tighten like that in any other event, cycling, triathlon, ultra race, nothing. It looked like someone scalloped out 60% of my calf muscles as they struggled to get any blood or fluid. I had been advised to keep my legs up, propped on a cardboard box. This was causing the cramping!! I knew I had to sit up and get blood to them. My vital signs were fine, so I sat up on the cot and it certainly helped greatly. Once I finished receiving the saline IV, I felt cold. My body heat was gone and I was now on the breezy Bayfront Park walkway. There were many people celebrating their race – not this time for me. Time to go home!

I have to look at what possible race day nutrition elements I have changed. Beet Elite is something that I have used for the last 18-24 months, but only before races. It’s a 6 oz shot that tastes awful, taken 30 mins before the race. I took a Claritin to avoid having sniffles and post nasal drip, maybe that has to go? The Salt Stick pills have been good since training for and completing Ironman Switzerland in 2013. I have to approach my next marathon more conservatively on the diet side. Bland and no gambles. Of 44 marathons completed, 2 of my last 3 have had these issues.


Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 1.45.02 PM
Just before finding the aid tent at the finish

Something has changed and now I have to figure out what. I have three weeks before A1A Marathon in Ft Lauderdale.



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