I've traveled to quite a few places to run races, and without a doubt, my all time favorite race to run is the ING half marathon in Miami. Here are some reasons why:
First: The Time
You absolutely can not beat the time: January! The race is always in January, and if you have ever been to Miami in January, you know how perfect the weather is, and if you have never been to South Florida in January, trust me when I say that the highs are normally in the high 70's and low 80's, and the sun is normally shining brightly.
If you live somewhere where it gets cold in January, than you should definitely run this race. What a great escape from cold weather! I laid on the beach both Friday and Saturday, and after the race on Sunday without breaking out in a sweat. Oh the joys of the beach in January...
|Miami in January|
Second: The Place
The race is located in South Florida, must I say more? I love South Beach in Miami for so many reasons such as the small boutique style hotels, a person does not have to be concerned with how he/she looks, the convenience of everything being within walking distance, people are normally extremely nice, a person can easily get around cheaply and/or on foot on and on and on......
I caught the bus to my hotel for $2. (Really!!). I woke up early Saturday morning and walked to Starbucks, which was right around the corner from the hotel. I sat outside and drank a latte, and I had not had a shower yet.(Yay!) I showered later, and walked to eat, shop, and to the beach, and all of these places were less than a five minute walk from my hotel.
|Boutique Style Hotel|
|Relaxing in the early morning!|
Third: The Race Expo
The race expo, which is where the runners pick up their race materials, has lots and lots of great vendors. A person can try on all types of running shoes, buy running gear, find out what type of shoes he/she should run in, try all types of power bars, nuts, smoothies etc. It is open to the public, and the freebies are completely amazing. A person can leave the expo with lots of helpful health tips, running tips, and lots of snacks. But, what I love the most is talking to all of the other runners. The expo definitely put me in an excited, running, frame of mind.
Fourth: The Course
The course for the ING half and full marathon is the best: At the beginning of the race, the runners run on the freeway that has water on both sides as well as cruise ships and beautiful views. This helped to completely take my mind off of the idea that I had about twelve more miles to go. Then the course goes down the main street in South Beach and there are so many people out. Many of the people are drinking and are in quite festive moods which caused me to smile and even break out in laughter at times.
The only long stretch of the race is the beginning, but the lovely view makes up for that. There are lots of turns and therefore the runners never have to worry about seeing people very far ahead which can be psychologically damaging. Also, the course is flat, except for a few inclines which really aren't a problem, and there are more than enough water stops.
The ING full and half marathon definitely have a great course.....
I have no pictures of the course, because I was running and having fun!
Fifth: The Snacks after the race
After the race, there are so many snacks to try; it's really a dream come true after burning a whole bunch calories. I had red beans and rice, coconut milk, and a banana. However, there were so many other things that I could have chosen....smoothies, chocolate milk, power bars, oranges, cookies etc. If you love snacks, running this race would be worth it. After burning lots of calories running the race, a person can really go crazy with the snacking and not feel guilty.
|Red Beans and Rice!|
Bonus: Black Girls Run (BGR)
This year, there was an added bonus to the race! The ladies of the South Florida chapter of Black Girls Run hosted a pasta dinner Saturday night before the race, and the founders of Black Girls Run were in attendance. It was so good to have dinner with so many other runners and talk about running and races. It was also good to meet Toni and Ashley, the founders of BGR. I do not run with BGR in DC, but I do try and run with BGR when I visit Atlanta. Toni and Ashley have started a revolution....
|Toni and Ashley and one of their Florida running Ambassadors!|
|Toni, Me, and Ashley (Founders of BGR)|
If you have never run a half or full marathon before, then the ING in Miami is the place to start. I know there is someone out there thinking that he/she can not run a half marathon, but you can!!! Train, train, train....
Also, I must let you in on a secret, when you need to walk during a race, you can. There is no one with a whip saying you better run or I'll whip you... You get to run your race anyway that you want to.
I hope to see many of you in Miami next January...
Just start with one step!
Happy Tuesday "My People!"