This past weekend, I left my 15-month-old in the competent hands of my sweet husband and left for 4 DAYS for a girls’ weekend in Myrtle Beach! Everyone I’ve told this to says, “ooooh that must have been SO relaxing!” I guess I failed to mention to these people that I went with three of my friends to run a half marathon. It’s October, people. The off-season. And I left my boys for 3 nights! But it was an awesome weekend!
okay, so we did have it pretty nice…
We headed down to South Carolina on Friday right after work. It was a 7-hour drive from Virginia, and we arrived around 11 PM after a few bouts of getting lost, decapitating possums on backroads (ewwww!), and 4 GPSs all yelling out different directions, none of which seemed correct and all of which took us on old country backroads heading north, away from the beach. Oh and it was, naturally, pitch black outside and raining hard. But our hotel was wonderful, oceanfront, and so much better than the HORRIBLE hotel I stayed in this summer (mental note: I need to repost what I wrote on TripAdvisor about that place).
On Saturday, we headed out to the Mini Marathon race expo and poked around some of the displays and picked up our race bibs, bags, and tech shirts. I wanted some of the race-sponsored apparel (the half-zip grey and hot pink thermal shirt, hello!), but alas, it was too pricey, so I decided to save my money for the RunDisney expo in January instead.
After the expo, we had a yummy lunch at a local seafood restaurant by the boardwalk. I got a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. We ended up walking six miles on Saturday, most of it along the beach, and a pod of dolphins swam along beside us for a whole mile! Breathtaking! For dinner, we ate at Carrabba’s – YUM!! I loved going there to carb-load before the race!
I laid out my gear for the next morning in nervous anticipation! Sunday was raceday. We all got up at various times beginning at 3:20 AM to start preparing. I got up at 4:20 and immediately ate a Zone bar and started on my Gatorade. I took a quick shower and put on mascara (both silly, I know), and the four of us were out at the race shuttle bus by 5:45ish. While standing in line for porta-potties at the race start, it started to rain. Cold, cold rain. We quickly sought shelter under a nearby mall awning, but so did several other hundred people:
Finally, just as the race was about to start, it stopped raining, and we made our way to find a pace card to stand near. It was just chilly enough that I was happy to start running so that I’d warm up. The four of us started out together and ran in a line 4-across until about the first water stop, when we split up. My friend J and I ran ahead, while W and K stayed just behind us. [Someday, I’ll rewrite this paragraph to make it more interesting.]
J and I kept running. I train using Galloway intervals and had never really run continuously for more than about 9 miles. We made a small goal to run until Mile 4 (because then the remaining mileage would be in the single digits). After 4, we were feeling great and had made it over the mental hump, and I took a Chocolate Raspberry GU packet and continued running. The miles ticked by, and we continued running and appreciating all the police directing traffic and spectators who’d showed up to cheer us on. We only witnessed one police altercation at a residential intersection. The driver was mad that he’d had to wait more than the promised 10 seconds for runners to pass before he could cross. He boasted that he recorded the whole convo on his phone. I did an Espresso Love GU packet at Mile 9, and soon we were at Mile 10, where I normally hit my physical wall. We encouraged each other, knowing it was “just a 5k” left!
“Well, we can’t walk now,” we challenged each other. We were both still feeling great. The course was oceanfront for the last 5 miles, although some of the view was blocked by hotels at times. Only Mile 12 was torture for me. We had to run PAST the finish line party on the left, where they were already handing out awards to people who had finished with times like 1:14 and 1:21. Then the roads were empty and quiet, with only a waterstop (which we bypassed). I started to feel dizzy around Mile 12.5, but J gave me some water as we ran, and we continued on. Finally, we turned a corner, and we were back on the oceanfront again, with lots of encouraging spectators. No stopping us now! I felt much better, and got a burst of adrenaline as we kicked it in for the last half mile or so through the serpentine pavement walkways and onto the boardwalk.
My RunKeeper app kept me updated throughout the entire race, telling me that not only was I ahead of my target pace the whole 13.1 miles, but also that we gradually sped up the entire race!
It was with a sense of victory, then, that we crossed the finish line on the boardwalk and accepted our gorgeous medals! It was the first time that I had ever completed a half without walking!! (Although, my finishing time was only 60 seconds faster than the half marathon I ran 2 weeks ago using Galloway intervals!). I know, in part, it was due to having a fabulous running buddy, and also because J was running in memory of a brave 8-year-old student of hers whom she lost on Friday, just two days before the race.
We stayed in the finishers’ chute for a long time, taking pictures, laughing, and waiting for our other friends to finish so that we could get a group shot. We then headed off to the finish line party, where we vegged in the grass and listened to the band. That night, we headed to Broadway at the Beach for lots of celebratory food at Joe’s Crab Shack! Wearing our medals, of course.
Monday morning, we all got up early to be on the beach to watch the sunrise (or in K’s case, to walk about 4 miles before the sun even thought about rising), then began the long drive home.
I highly recommend this race! An awesome race course, perfect temps, plenty of encouragement, a spectacular medal, and a rockin’ finish line party! What more could you ask for??
And how did my little one fare while I was gone, you ask? I think he had a blast going on his first camping trip, hiking, and FaceTiming with Mommy!