On the 9th of February 2020 I took part in the Miami Marathon as the 4 hour pacer. Having never ran Miami Marathon before I was excited to be asked to pace the sub 4 #funbus. I was even more excited once I looked up flights and realised that it was really reasonable travel. I decided to spend a couple of nights so I could take in the sights of Miami. This was my 54th Marathon (63rd for the 100 marathon club). It was also the 27th marathon I have paced, out of 85 events I have been an official pacer.
I had a pretty rubbish start to the trip. On the way to the airport I recieved an email changing my flight, with a new transfer at Bahamas. I thought it was pretty cool to go and spend a couple of hours there, but after waiting for 8 hours my flight was finally cancelled. So at 22:00 hours I was sent to a hotel, and my new flight was at 09:00. It would be great to spend time in Bahamas, but I basically had food and slept. I had planned a night at South Beach, and to do the 5k race on Saturday, followed by more time at Miami Beach. It meant I missed the 5k, and also went straight to the expo from the airport, missing Miami Beach.
I must admit I was disappointed to be delayed 17 hours from a weekend trip, but that did not stop me making the most of it. The expo was busy, really busy. Lots of different races to spark my interest, and plenty to see and do. I also helped out for a couple of hours at the expo and helped answer questions for runners.
After the expo I checked in the hotel, had a little look around, but mostly rested my legs. Of course I made sure I found time to do my #flatlay.
We then had a meal with all the Pacers, which is a great thing to do. It wasn’t the sort of food I would usually pick before a race, more the sort of thing I would do normally, as it was full of meat. But this was my pre race meal.
I had an early night, which was needed, especially with a 04:30 meet in the morning. We made our way to the start area for 05:00 hours to be in the start area early, as the race started at 06:00.
This may put people off being so early, but frankly from the UK, your jet lag will mean you will be awake anyway, and starting early means you get to see the amazing night scene in Miami, and also means it starts off cooler.
The start area is a little confusing. You are queued in various different streets, and I was told to be facing one way, and they ended up taking us the other. The half marathon and marathon start together, and we actually share the course for 12.5 miles, which means that as the 4 hour pacer, I had lots of runners with me aiming for a sub 2 half. I was pacing with Kent, a pacer who lives in Boston. Obviously I got the shout out for the pacer who had travelled the furthest.
We got started after about 20 minutes. It was a fairly slow start as it was busy, and I told everyone not to worry. Rather than keep at pace and have to run around and lose people, Kent and I decided we would go through the first mile with everyone together, and pick up the few miles later. The first mile was 9:36, so about 30 seconds slow, but the mile finished with a hill, and it was busy. As we came down on the second mile, it was easy to make this time up without pushing too hard, which meant after 2 miles we were on perfect pace.
It is important as a pacer to have the confidence of the group, and Kent and I had this. Unfortunately the 4:05 pacer started in the wrong coral, and was right next to us at the start, in fact he started ahead of us, which confused things. He sped past us in the first mile with no one with him. In fairness he would have been on target, but he was doing it alone. This frustrated me as runners started asking what was happening and it meant I had to reassure them more. After 4 miles we were about 5 seconds ahead of schedule and he overtook me again, which was about 45 seconds too fast. This is not how you pace, and was the first time in my 85 events I’ve witnessed this.
Kent and I ran together well for the first few miles. He then decided to #pickupthepace. I was happy that I was between 20 and 30 seconds ahead of schedule, so I stuck to my pace. He went about 20 seconds ahead of me, and for the remainder of the event he stayed about the same distance ahead.
I was impressed with water every couple of KM, and I always encouraged people to take water on. There was Gatorade and water at every station, but I stuck with water. I just used my Clif Shotbloks and every time I took one I gave my sign to one of my runners to make it easier, and used this as a good photo opportunity.
The first half was busy the whole way with lots of half runners with us. When they headed to the finish and we carried on, I had been warned that it gets quiet. Indeed it was quieter, but at my pace it was still fairly busy throughout. I think it would be much quieter if you are running a slower time. I did find that I started to lose runners and picked up a lot of people along the way.
There was not a lot of crowd support throughout the course, but I barely noticed. It was so beautiful and everywhere we ran we passed beautiful views with palm trees, and great skylines across the ocean. We went through South Beach, Miami Beach, Ocean Drive and the city. As we went into the city at around 11 – 14 and towards the finish, the GPS was not good. At points it had me running 12 minute miles, and I really wasn’t, so I just ran to feel. Strava isn’t accurate at these points, and this accounts for the extra distance.
The mile markers were well placed and consistent, however they did not match up with the 5k markers. I was passing the mile markers about 20 seconds ahead of target and then passing km markers saying I was 50 seconds ahead. I just stuck with the mile markers as it is always best to be reserved rather than risk others races.
I came in shortly behind Kent at an unofficial time of 03:59:52. I don’t have my official results yet as the app was not accurate. There were queues of people in the results tent as the chip time didn’t seem to register runners start, so it started off saying I did 4:26 and is currently reading 4:05 for me. I will keep my eye on it, but it wont be far off 3:59:52.
I was impressed with the finish. First of all the medal is huge and really heavy. At the finish there was lots of food, drinks and even a snack box with sandwiches or pasta. We also had a beer token, so I made good use of that.
At the start of the race it was cool and lovely. I didn’t need gear check as it was warm enough to go in running kit. At half way it heated up, and when I finished it was 24 degrees. I like the heat so I’m fine, but some would have struggled.
I had thought about going to South Beach for a few hours before going home. But instead I met a few other Pacers and we went to the Bayside Marketplace and had a nice few beers and a burger, couldn’t have been more perfect.
I’m ending a fantastic weekend away pacing the Miami Marathon, which I thoroughly recommend. It starts to get busy for me soon with Tokyo Marathon in 3 weeks, and then I’m pacing Rome, Limassol, Manchester, Brighton, London and Liverpool Marathons. What do you have coming up?
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