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Miami Half: Race preview
I didn’t end up running it in 2023, but here’s what I learned about planning for the race. Plus: Coping with disappointment when you need to cancel a race.
My first race of 2023 was to have been the Miami Half Marathon on January 29. I was really looking forward to it, as I was to run it with my son — a freshman at the University of Miami.
But I got sick about 10 days before. I assumed I’d get better in time, but didn’t. I ended up more sick than I’d been for over 10 years. Much worse than when I had Covid.
I stubbornly refused to give up until the very end. And I thought of going to cheer my son on even if I couldn’t run. But, ultimately, I didn’t want to be that person on the plane who seemed sick, even if I felt I was no longer infectious. So reality caught up with me in the early hours of the day I was to depart. I wasn’t going to Miami.
It’s hard to have to back out of a race close to the event. Yes, there’s good advice to put it in perspective. “There’s always next year.” “It’s a first world problem,” etc. But it can be demoralizing, nonetheless. Although one way to snap out of it is to reflect on how fortunate one is to be able to run races like this in general, both in terms of health and opportunity. And not to take any of it for granted.
Sometimes it’s obvious when you have to cancel, even if it takes a while to accept if. The trickier times are when you are sort of in denial about whether you are injured. But if you really like to run, you should know when not to run — as that way you will ultimately end up running more.
And, ideally, have a backup plan for other forms of exercise. If it’s an injury that stops me from running, I try to make it up on my Peloton. This time, I had to back off on all cardio for a while. So it was a good time to think about putting more time into Pilates and strength training. Something I should do more to prioritize anyway.
Planning for Miami 2024
All of that said, I did learn a few things about the Miami Half Marathon I wanted to pass on, in case they help anyone contemplating running it on January 28, 2024 (as I plan to do):
Check it out: I originally wanted to do the race simply because my son was in college there. But I don’t think I realized initially what an epic race this one appears to be. Looking at the course and overall event — and the extent to which it attracts runners from all around the world — I suspect it deserves to be in the same bucket-list category as the New York City Half or the London Landmarks Half (which I ran back to back, one week apart, in 2018).
Register early: It’s a big race. The Half and Full combined were capped at 18,000 in 2022. There is no ballot to get a place (except for a waitlist lottery). But it sells out. I generally don’t sign up super early for races, so as to reduce the risk of losing my money if I can’t make it. Ordinarily, I would have waited until at least December for this one. But I ended up registering on October 14 (when I was in Suriname). It was actually a tactic to get my son — who was with me on that trip — to commit. It never occurred to me I actually needed to sign up then. Then on October 21, almost a week later, I got an email sent to all registered runners informing them that the race had sold out!
Book a hotel early: The race starts and ends at the same place, more or less. Personally, I much prefer staying within walking distance of the race start when running an out-of-town race. Especially with one like this that begins at 6:00 AM. But by the time I registered, the hotel choices were already very limited (and expensive). So even if you don’t normally book hotels way out, I’d do so for this race (on a cancellable rate, of course).
Looking forward to January 28, 2024!
Next race: Lisbon in March.
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