Saturday, January 27, 2007

Inclement Weather in Miami?

Miami Beach

So, dear readers, you may wonder why I have been silent for so many days. I've been worrying. Hate to admit it but it's true. About everything and anything. It's over now. It's one of the parts of myself that I haven't "embraced" yet, I am afraid. I hate it. But it happens--especially before some big event. The event? A half marathon in Miami with my dear friend and her daughter in a condo that I booked, and a race that I chatted up.

This morning was the big race. Oh. Yes. Another thing: I ran the race alone.

Ann and Elizabeth arrived Friday night around midnight. I left the aerobed out in the living room and sheets, and told them to come get me if they needed me. Saturday morning, I found them both on couches. The aerobed leaked. Ann's legs were draped over the loveseat.

I called the owner ( I had booked the place and been there at Christmas with some problems ).He didn't answer his cell. What a surprise. So, we went to breakfast, then to the Expo to pick up our packets, then to the pool, then to the Ritz for a drink. Nice day so far after a rocky start, right? I hailed a cab to take us back to the condo when Ann's phone rang.

It wasn't good news. The exchange student she has had since September called to say that her father had died at his home in Rio. We spent the next two hours trying to figure out what was the best thing to do to help her. Finally, Ann and Liz got a flight at 9pm for Philadelphia.

No worries about the aerobed Saturday night ( although a non-leaking inflatable bed was delivered after a most contentious conversation with the owner ). And the race that I had run last year, and hadn't really trained for. Yup. I was going to run it myself. Alone.

I walked to the lobby at 5:30am expecting a cab that I had asked the desk cleark to order the following night. No cab.
Oh, and it was raining. No. It was pouring.

I went out to the street, trying to hail a cabin the dark. A cab pulled over and a man in the backseat opened his window.
"Going to the marathon?" I nodded and gave him a grateful smile. "Get in," he added, as he moved over in the seat. The rain continued as we drove over MacArthur Causeway toward the start of the race. It was the same causeway we would be running over in less than 30 minutes. I made a mental note to start slow--there's a 30 degree incline in that bridge, and it goes on for almost 2 miles.

When we got to the race start, the rain was unrelenting. We joined a couple of racers standing at the PeopleMovers station for shelter. What you don't want when you're running 13 miles is to be soaking wet and get chilled--even in Miami. At 6:05am, I ran toward the starting line trying to avoid the huge puddles that seemed to be everywhere. Soaking shoes, with their added weight and effect on your feet is no fun. I straddled the puddles for the two block sprint and slipped into the crowd with 10,000 other runners just before the starting whistle.

The race had a rocky start, but as I reached the crest of the causeway, looking over at my condo, I realized that this would be a good challenge--not for a personal record but to finish what I started and run my own race.

Miles 1-4
Lots of people passed me as I tried to find my rhythm. The view was spectacular--Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Lines were docked on the port, their lights glistening in the rain and darkness. Off the bridge and south to the art district in South Beach, then over to Ocean Boulevard where I spend most of my days at one of my favorite hangouts--The News Cafe where I can sit at the bar and read the whole New York Times undisturbed while watching the Atlantic perched on my bar stool. Last year, I watched the sun rise over the ocean as I ran. This year, the race was pretty much overcast. There were occasional club folks who hadn't been to bed who would stumble outside just to "sightsee", then slip back in to the dark club, its sound system with its heavy downbeat reaching the street.

Mile 5-8

Hit my stride amazingly. It wasn't pretty but I kept running. Stopped for salt tablets--the risk of dehydration on a day like this is much greater for me. We were now heading toward the Venetian Causeway, that I see every night from the condo, a fussy, white bridge that is really a series of bridges. Not much of a crowd but I suppose they all rolled over when they saw the weather.

Mile 9

The wall. Blisters on my right foot. Tight hamstrings. Running out of gas. I switched my Ipod to "Dare You To Run", turned it up full, and plugged along. If I can make it to 11, I'm home free. This is just a little blip. Self-talk rules in my book for a race.

Mile 10 and 11

Walk a little, run a lot. Stretch over at the side. Gatorade mixed with water at each stop. Lots of folks walking .The humidity is sapping all of our energy. Someone has a boombox on an especially ugly part of Miami--and it made a difference. Take my last GU for carbs at Mile 10. That'll kick in for the finale.

Mile 12

I can do this. Pull over to the side, pull off my sock, slather Vaseline on the blister, reverse the process, stretch. Run. And run.
I can hear the crowds at the finish line, and a great rock band. The streets are lined as we close in on the American Airlines Arena with its flying buttresses. I turn to the guy next to me. "How much longer?" He smiles and gestures around the corner.
"Almost there." He came to run for charity with 100 others from San Francisco. Now the crowd will bring you home, M.C., I told myself. So, I pulled off my earphones and just listened to the crowd. My anonymous guide from the west turned and said goodbye as he began to sprint the last .2 of a mile to the finish line.

I didn't sprint much this time which is unusual for me. I just enjoyed the fact that I was finishing the craziest race I'd probably ever run.

Oh, and by the way--not one thing I had worried about happened.


1 comment:

Linda said...

This was such a fun read, congratulations!! Sounds like it was quite a run, good for you!