Pie in the sky goal: Set a new PR. Which means finishing in under 2:09:45. Yeah....
More realistic goal: Set a new personal course record. I ran the Miami HM in 2008 and finished in 2:22. It was my first half ever so I had no real clue how to run the distance, so now with some experience under my belt, it feels possible to beat this time. In fact, I think I can finish in 2:15, but there are some factors to consider with Miami (which I'll list below) that may not make this feasible.
Most basic goal: Finish with a smile.
So, what do I already know about Miami that makes me hesitant to insist that I can do it in the timeframe I've trained for? Several key factors I learned from my experience in 2008:
- Miami is a big race. I heard at the expo that there will be about 18,000 runners starting at the same time (for both the half and the full). That's a decent sized race with big crowds to navigate and I'm corraled in the same place I was 2 years ago -- pretty far back.
- I have a tough time establishing my own pace in a big crowd.
- Plus, I tend to weave -- adding both time and distance to the run.
- Miami is also not flat. The race directors claim it is, but it's not. At least not the half: There are two significantly sized bridges on the course and one of them is at mile 10. I don't have the opportunity to do much hill work since to run on hills in FL, you have to either find yourself a bridge or a landfill and neither is in my neighborhood.
- Race morning traffic is bad and parking is bad, so to deal with this, I plan to arrive early. This means I'll be waiting around at the start for a quite awhile. This has two negative effects: One, I tend to stand and pace, wasting energy and exhausting my feet, and two, it's tough to remain mentally engaged in the excitement when the race start is preceded by so much boredom.
However, to my advantage are the following:
- Experience. I am aware of all of the above difficulties and I think this is always advantageous, so I know that:
- While the crowd is big, I just have to do my best to establish my own pace and run my own race and not get caught up in the race of my fellow race participants.
- I must try not to weave. Always seems good in theory but is bad in practice.
- While the course is not flat, it is very scenic, and while there is that big bridge at mile 10, the end of the bridge brings you back into downtown Miami into a very loud, fun crowd.
- Yes, I'll get there way early, but I'll try not to stand around. Instead, I plan to sit around. Sitting on concrete at 5 am is not much fun, but it's better race preparation than standing on it.
So, there you go. I'm looking forward to the race no matter its outcome, so I'll let you know how it goes on Sunday!