Pre-Race: Tim and I decided to drive to Myrtle Beach on Thursday afternoon so that we could relax a little on Friday and not worry about rushing there in time for the expo/packet pick-up. Also, nothing says love like spending Valentine's Day in a car for 8 hours, right?
We woke up on Friday morning to incredible views of the beach from our insanely cheap hotel room, and all I wanted to do was go exploring all day. Alas, that is a terrible, terrible idea before a marathon. Instead, we met up with Victoria and her friends for lunch, chanted sub-4 several times (only kidding! kinda), hit up the expo and then did just a LITTLE walking on the beach. Myrtle Beach is gorgeous, but I imagine it becomes exponentially less gorgeous as the population and summer crowds increase.
|At Pier 14 in Myrtle Beach|
|Baby Tigers at the Race Expo!|
I went to bed super early (9:30), stared at the ceiling and imagined crossing the finish line about 100 times, and then woke up before my 4:30 a.m. alarm. Awesome.
Race Day: There were shuttles that went straight from a few area hotels to the start, so I hopped on one around 5:20 and got there far too early. However, that was intentional - it was the only chance I had to hang out with Beth! It was wonderful to catch up a little, and I barely noticed the cold with all the chatting. For the record, she killed it and had her best half-marathon time in 5 years!
I found Victoria and her friend Rachel a few seconds before the start, ran past the giant elephant - really - and covered the first mile in 9:01. That's EXACTLY the speed I was hoping for the entire race. As luck would have it, that was actually my slowest mile for the entire marathon. To be completely honest, after that first mile I knew I could go faster than I had planned. I sped up and had an incredible first 10 miles. It was beautiful, I was happy, and I couldn't think of anything better than doing exactly what I was doing.
Victoria and I found each other around mile 10 and ran together for a while, and we even passed Tim who managed to take a picture as we flew by. He actually just had to step directly out of the hotel lobby to take a picture, since the hotel was right on the course. Awesome for spectators!
|Running With Victoria around Mile 12|
I stopped to refill my water bottle at mile 14 and told Victoria I would catch up. Spoiler: I never did. I tried to, but it was too fast for me that early in the race. I didn't want to burn out! She went on to a 47 minute PR and finished almost 4 minutes ahead of me. The rest of the race was definitely challenging from then on. The sun came out, there were a few miles along major roads and I had to dig a little deeper to keep up the pace. However, I never had to hit anything slower than an 8:58, and that felt so motivating. I never hit a wall, or felt terrible. I had to repeat a little mantra in a my head a few times, but overall I felt surprisingly great.
The last .2 I sprinted my little heart out and managed a 7:48 pace. Final time - 3:51:15, which puts me at 111th woman overall and 14th in my division with an 8:50 pace overall. Also, I believe I have entry the sub-4 club. Feels good.
Post-Race: I couldn't breathe for a minute after the finish. Honestly, I was really scared. The final sprint combined with the emotions of seeing Tim at the finish and realizing my time left me hyperventilating, and I freaked out. Thankfully it was nothing, and I was absolutely fine in 60 seconds. I smelled kettle corn and was eating a big bag of it within 5 minutes of finishing, so I guess you could say I recovered pretty quickly.
I walked a couple of miles back to the hotel, showered and headed out for food. Wait - first I used every method of social media that I know about to brag. THEN I went out for food. I had a bacon cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun (!!!) and fries. And then sweet potato fries. And then a couple of margaritas. Every bit was delicious.
|Obviously wearing my marathon shirt right away.|
Because I know some people are curious about this stuff, here are the nitty-gritty details-
What I Wore: The same stuff I always do. I have race/long run favorites, BIG TIME. I had on my oldest, nastiest New Balance shorts. They were given to me as hand-me-downs 8 years ago, and they are quite literally falling apart at the seams. But I love them. I also had on the Nike shirt from Hood to Coast. It is incapable of chafing anywhere, and I will never stop wearing it. I also wore Swiftwick Compression socks, and my calves weren't sore at all the next day. However, it's worth noting that the completely flat course may have had more to do with that than the socks. I also wore my Nuun visor - made by Headsweats and really comfortable.
What I Ate: I carried my handheld water bottle (Camelbak) the whole time, which is standard for me. I always drink Nuun for long runs, so I don't want to risk anything else for race day. I had three tablets of Kona Cola flavor, which has caffeine, and I just put one tablet every time I filled up my bottle at an aid station. I also had two packs of Shot Blocks, which is about 400 calories total.
I had a great race on Saturday, but it's really important to note that the course was incredible. It's not 100 percent flat, but it's pretty close. The temperatures were also amazing - 40 at the start and 55 at the finish. Had the conditions/course not been so perfect, I'm sure I could have added a little extra time to my finish. I still didn't manage the ever-elusive negative splits, but my first half was only slightly faster than the second half - 1:55:29 vs. 1:56:16, so I'm improving! (Also: yep, that's a 1 second half-marathon PR there, and I will gladly take it!)
Man, I let this thing get away from me. So typical. I stop blogging for three months and then feel the need to make up for it all in one post.
Thanks so much to everyone who congratulated me on Twitter, Daily Mile or Facebook. You all make me feel like a rock star, and I would be lying if I didn't say that it makes me feel amazing. I truly appreciate every kind comment.