Sometimes running a race makes sense. You have a goal to complete the distance for the first time or you are looking to set a PR. Or maybe you do it because it is a local race, you want to support a charity or because all your friends are doing it. Then sometimes you end up doing a race that makes no sense at all. The Miami Half Marathon was an example of the latter. It wasn’t convenient, it wasn’t a new distance, I did not train much, and it was way too expensive. Still, it was an adventure.
In my list of goals this year, I wanted to run 4 half marathons. There are a number of them in Chicago during the late summer and fall and I know I could have accomplished this goal easy enough, but the fact that there was one in Miami when I just happened to be close had me intrigued. I’d never had the chance to explore Miami and this seemed like as good an opportunity as any.
The first big challenge of this half marathon was that it was located in Miami, FL. Currently, I’m staying in Jupiter, FL so it’s not a huge distance to get there, but at 80 miles it’s not exactly close. However, there is a big highway connecting the cities and it would take just over an hour to get there. That didn’t seem like such a problem. Of course, when I learned that the half marathon would take place at 6:15 am, it seemed a significantly bigger problem. Then when I discovered that I wasn’t able to register for the race on Friday when I had planned, the problem seemed even bigger. To get to the race on time, find parking, and register, I would need to leave Jupiter just before 4:00 am. That would be rough.
On the evening before the race I figured that I needed to go to be about 10:00pm. I sleep in about 90 minute cycles which would be 4 sleep cycles, plenty for me. Although I set an alarm for 3:50, it was unnecessary because I spontaneously woke at 3:30 am. I laid in bed pondering the race until 3:45, got up, dressed in the clothes I had laid out the night before, collected my things and was on the road by 4:05 am. It was dark and humid.
During the 80 mile drive, I listened to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and drank a Coke. The roads were empty save for a few cars that drove at or below the speed limit. I imagined they were runners and passed them as I would during a race. As I neared Miami around 5:15am, I was unsure whether I would actually make the race. With parking, registration, and traffic there was a chance it would start without me. Fortunately, the roads were still practically empty. I was astonished.
While driving down Washington in South Beach Miami, there were a few more cars but nothing heavier than typical traffic. The groups of people on the sidewalks were dressed in night clubbing outfits, having just stumbled out of the recently closed bars. I pondered what they would look like at the starting line of the race and laughed.
As luck would have it, I found a free parking space just 2 blocks from the race. My super power parking space finding prowess strikes again.
The time was 5:30 am and I was still unsure whether I’d be able to get registered and line up before the race especially since I had only a credit card. My backup plan was to use the bib number from the 5K I ran a couple weeks back and bandit the race. This would have the bonus of saving me $95. However, I have only once run a race as a bandit and that was because the race had filled up before I was able to register. For this race, I decided to register for real if I could. It turns out registration was a breeze. There was no line and they happily took credit cards (with a $5 service fee of course). I was both pleased and disappointed.