Monday, February 18, 2013

Myrtle Beach Marathon Recap: Sub-4!

What's up? Long time no type. The last time I posted (in November) I had just completed the Chickamagua Battlefield Marathon with a time of 4:05 and I was incredibly proud of myself. If you told me that I would be able to cut 14+ minutes off of my PR in the three months after that, I would have thought you were crazy. Somehow, I finished the Myrtle Beach Marathon with an official time of 3:51:15 this Saturday, and I could not be happier! Here's the recap, or as much of it as I can remember.



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.


46 comments:

  1. You're awesome! Congratulations!!

    Baby tigers are probably the strangest thing I've heard of at an expo....

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  2. Vanessa, congrats, I am so happy for you!! I knew you had something like this in you!! Sounds like it all came together at once. Nice work on your slowest mile being your first one, that's the best kind of race, in my opinion!

    Great to hear a little update from you, I check back every so often to see if you've popped in for a quick hello!

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  3. You ARE a rock star! So proud of you!!!

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  4. Huge and major, major props. I've missed your blog.

    Also, BABY TIGERS HFDHFKSHGSJHGFDSJDSJHGF

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  5. Baby tigers at the expo? That's pretty random.

    Great job on the PR! Maybe next time you can get negative splits like the cool people do :)

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  6. That was damn near a perfect race if you ask me. Negative splits in a marathon are for cyborgs anyway.

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  7. ahhh sub-4! That is awesome! I hope your arm is sore from giving yourself 1,000,000 pats on the back - because you did great!

    Can you carry me in a baby bjorn at the next one so I can say I went sub-4 once?

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  8. Wahooo! So happy for you. Sub 4! Awesome.

    And so happy to see your post today too, Vanessa. I missed you and was glad to see the occasional FB update. Hope you are back!

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  9. That is SUCH a huge PR, well done! Did you go to the post race party? I am seriously so impressed! I hope that burger was epic!

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  10. What a satisfying improvement! You must be doing something right while escaping the accountability factor of a blog. Thanks for the update!

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  11. Killed it. I just knew you would. Mega congrats!!
    I will admit that I'm pissed there is no photo of the elephant!!! ;)

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  12. Congrats on your PR!! I really want to do that race some time, so I'm glad to hear it's nice and flat.

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  13. Congrats on your awesome race and PR! You are *definitely* a member of the sub-4 club now! It sounds like everything was going right for you on race day. Enjoy the post-PR glow! :)

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  14. Congratulations! That is AMAZING.

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  15. Congratulations on the PR! That is so awesome!

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  16. You are a rock star, and am so happy you posted! I've missed your posts!

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  17. OMG baby tigers at the expo? Best race ever. Way to go on your PR!!

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  18. That's AWESOME! How fun is it to get a 14 minute PR?! Hopefully I can pull around the same time when I do my first marathon in April. Oh, and welcome back to blogging...or at least for this post :)

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  19. Amazing run, I'm so honored that I was there for you half marathon PR.

    I didn't mention this while we were running, but I was feeling a little sluggish for miles 10-14, having you there really pulled me along. That mental boost was like rocket fuel at Mile 15. Congrats again! You're awesome.

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  20. vanessa, this is so awesome. Even if you just pop back in now and again - it's so great to see your progress! Congrats on an awesome race! I think there are a bunch of loyal readers that will still pop in if you decide to!! great job!

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  21. OMG you freaking rule!!!!

    Congrats on the amazing time. You inspire me. :-)

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  22. Oh my gosh, Vanessa!! That's incredible. You must have been working your butt off lately. I'm really happy for you. Amazing job.

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  23. Congratulations! Sounds like you had a perfect race! Hard work pays off!

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  24. I know you must have been on cloud 9, huge congrats for everything falling into place!

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  25. I am so so happy for you!
    You should brag...of course you should....look at what you did! AMAZING!

    I am so happy to read a post from you...
    miss reading your blog...

    Congratulations on this really fantastic race

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  26. Congratulations on a fantastic race! Sounds like the race was pretty great too, I'll have to keep this in the back of my mind since it's close to my parents. Baby tigers at the expo?

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  27. Vanessa - this is incredible! Congratulations on an amazing race and another awesome PR! Your post is great, you can feel all the emotion and excitement! I'd love to hear more about your training and what handheld do you use? I actually ditched mine mid-race because it was too heavy and bulky. I have done long runs with it and it doesn't bother me, but this was the first time I tried to race with it and it wasn't happening. Congrats!!!!

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  28. WAY TO GO!!! That is so exciting! I've been missing reading your blog so it is great to have you post again. Myrtle Beach is a great place and I'm sooooo happy for you, Vanessa! You freaking killed it. Proud of you sister!

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  29. woohoo!! Awesome race- congratulations!!

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  30. Glad to have you back and huge congratulations!!

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  31. Congratulations! Very happy for you!

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  32. Look at you!!! Awesome to hear from you again! Congratulations!

    So many exclamations!

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  33. YAY!!!! I was so happy when I saw this on facebook :) CONGRATS!!!

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  34. Congratulations!!! This totally ROCKS!!!

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  35. yeahhhh way to go!!!! baby tigers now I have to try this race :0) glad to hear from you and on such an exciting note!

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  36. belated congrats! baby tigers at an expo is rather odd, were you able to pet them? years ago my mom and i stayed at mgm in vegas and were able to pet a baby tiger and get our picture taken with it, but that was before the whole sigfried and roy thing.

    anywho, whoohoo for sub 4! those moments when you are going down the straight away towards your pr and you can see your supporters are really hard to replace, that memory will be burned into your mind for years...even longer than the finish time sticks around in your memory.

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  37. Okay I don't know how I missed this one!! I saw you post your time on Facebook and thought you hadn't gotten around to posting yet! Congrats on SUCH an amazing time! I still dream of hitting sub-4:00 one day :) I think I would run that race just to see the baby tigers! How cool is that?!

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  38. Yay, congratulations on killing your PR! I knew that you would have a great race and I'm so glad it is reflected in your finish time. The baby tigers are so cute!!!

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  39. Great job! I am never on FB or Twitter so I didn't even know you were running a marathon! You did awesome! It's so great when you beat one of those big markers!

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  40. Congrats on a great finish and welcome to the sub-4 club!! Glad to see you back blogging! :)

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  41. Seriously this post made me so happy! CONGRATULATIONS!! That had to have felt so good and hopefully you are still smiling and celebrating. A huge PR like this deserves a proper 6 month celebration in my opinion. :):)

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  42. Man, I'm late to this party, but congrats! And flat courses make my calves more sore. That whole repetitive motion thing. So maybe the socks are magic.

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  43. AWESOME! Congrats on your new PR. . . I am still in the 'want to break 5 hours' camp!

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