Another great experience in Miami
Updated: Feb 18
Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Miami Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro by going to https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro. Find more race reviews like this one at www.bibrave.com.
I ran this race in 2019 and enjoyed so many things about it that fairly quickly afterwards I decided I would come back in 2020. Between the enjoyment of the awesome Expo, course scenery and atmostphere, and having a lot of family who lives in Miami I can see and visit, I have plenty of reasons to run this race.
This year the Expo was held once again at the Mana Wynwood Convention Center. This is a great location not only because it is quite large and spacious to fit in plenty of vendors, packet pickup, and all other amenities without the feeling of being overwhelming, but also because it is in the heart of the Wynwood district with great art exhibits, places to eat, and night life surrounding it. After arriving there and meeting fellow BibRave Pro Mike Dill, I went through the VIP packet pickup process and was helped right away by the Expo staff.
The VIP package this year included a special set of gear (running jacket, tumbler) and access to a number of special amenities pre- and post-race, from food and drinks, to massages and private restrooms at the Finish Line.
I then went on to enjoy what I feel is one if not THE best Expo of all the races I've ever done. It was that way last year and this year it was no different. Plenty of vendors, carrying a big variety of colorful and interesting styles of merchandise. Tons of booths from representatives of races from all over Latin America, such as Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica.
One of the things I did differently this year was to get the area around my left Achilles taped up for extra support by the Infinity Sports Institute, one of the awesome vendors participating in the Expo. I had been nursing a soreness in that area since completing the Houston Marathon in January and while I felt confident I'd be able to run this race, I wanted to be cautious with it nevertheless. Infinity Sports tooks great care of me and is representative of the great participation of vendors on this Expo.
After the Expo, we moved on to walk the Wynwood Marketplace, which is directly adjacent to the Expo Convention Center and has a great vibe and atmosphere with music, food trucks, merchandise tents, art exhibits, etc.
On race morning, I took the MetroRail from the Palmetto station to Overtown, which is located only 1/2 mile from the American Airlines Arena and the race starting area. The trains run early and made it quite convenient for me because I was able to park my rental car at the MetroRail Station for free and avoid having to drive into downtown and deal with all the street closures necessary for the race. The race had an early start of 6:00 a.m.
I also used the 1/2 mile distance from the Overtown station as my warmup jog for the race which helped me save time once I arrived at the starting area. After dropping off my gear bag, I went through my dynamic stretching routine and entered Corral E to line up and wait for the start.
Within the first mile the course goes onto the MacArthur Causeway Bridge which crosses Biscayne Bay. While this is definitely a bit challenging since it is a bridge incline, I was already familiar with it from having run it last year and knew what to expect. The climb only lasts a few minutes and it is not really that steep. It is only a matter of maintaining a consistent effort and before you know it you are halfway through it and can actually take advtange of the downhill on the other side of the bridge and speed up.
Despite there being thousands of runners (20,000 participants this years), not once did I feel that that there were too many people or found it difficult to hit the pace and stride that I wanted to be in. Before long we had crossed Biscayne Bay and entered South Beach, with streets lined with colorful buildings and tall palm trees everywhere. The course was very well-marked and supported from beginning to end. There were plenty of hydration stations, port-a-potties, and medical tents throughout, always full of eager and friendly volunteers cheering us on.
Although the weather was not optimal for racing with temps around 69-70 at the start, I made a conscious decision the day before the race to not let those conditions get into my head. I made that mistake last year and struggled with my pace right from the start. But this time I recognized the fact that the weather is the same for everyone in the race and PLENTY of people still find ways to do great despite of it, and get PRs, BQs, etc. so why couldn't I be like them and improve on my time from last year? Right then I commited to fighting for my goal no matter how uncomfortable conditions would get. Luckily, my body responded well to this mindset and I was able to get into a great pace and zone from early on.
I also truly enjoyed the course with all its awesome views of the water throughout, palm trees, cruise ships, and hotels. Not once did I feel bored or thinking about a change of scenery.
Along the way there were a number of bands playing music and plenty of people cheering runners on, in particular over the last couple of miles. I thought that the roar of the crowd as I entered the last 50 meter stretch before the final left turn into the finish line was incredibly loud and totally loved it; it is so energizing and makes for a truly unforgettable moment.
After the finish, volunteers placed the awesome medal on my neck and handed me a bottle of water. I walked for a couple of minutes to cool down and found a good area to stretch and sit for for a few minutes.
After taking a couple of pictures, I walked through the food tent, which was very well organized with neat baskets and box lunches and moved very quickly. From there I headed to the VIP tent where I met fellow BibRave Pros Mike and Sarah, where we celebrated and chatted about each of our experiences on what turned out to be a great day.
Before heading back I made my way to the opposite side of the finish area, where once again the 13th Army Band was entertaining the crowd with its awesome salsa music on a gorgeous morning in Miami.
As I walked back to the MetroRail station, I I came upon the Kids' Run & it was a very enjoyable moment. It is representative of the race organizers' efforts to make this a complete weekend full of enjoyment for the entire family and community.
In summary, I once again absolutely loved this race and overall experience. This time a bit more as I was able to improve my race time by more than 23 minutes from last year. I wiill do all I can to train smarter next time to do even better in 2021!