The lack of posts pretty much summarizes what I've been up to lately... nothing! On Tuesday, out of nowhere, I had terrible muscle spasms in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. I could barely move my head, let alone exercise. After a few days of rest, prescriptions for ibuprofen and muscle relaxers, and a massage, it was still sore but I at least had some range of motion in my neck. Friday morning I decided to do a test run to see if there was any hope of running the half marathon on Sunday as planned, and Jeannelle joined me for an easy 4 miles. The first quarter mile was pretty painful and I didn't think I'd make it, but fortunately everything loosened up a bit and I actually felt better at the end of the run than I had at the beginning. I still wasn't sure how well "racing" would work out, but I was determined to give it a shot.
A few weeks ago, I was able to snag a free entry into the Diva's Half Marathon North Myrtle Beach through active.com. I figured I would be running that day anyway and am not one to turn down an excuse to go to the beach, so I added it to my already overbooked race schedule thinking at the very least it would be a quality long run. Saturday we drove down to Myrtle Beach, picked up my packet, and then just relaxed at the hotel because it was cool, overcast, and windy outside.
Between my usual insomnia, being in a hotel, and my neck pain (I didn't want to take anything that would make me sluggish for the race), I did not sleep well at all. But after having done very little all week, physically I was well rested at the very least. Went through the usual morning routine and headed out around 6, arriving a little after 6:30. The weather was in the low- and mid-60s and mostly sunny. Earlier in the week the forecast called for race temps in the mid-70s and on Friday they were predicting 60s and rain. So I really lucked out, avoiding both the high temperatures and the rain.
Being an all-women's race, previous results under 1:45 were given seeded numbers and entry into the front corral. The front of the corral was sparsely populated, despite the race having sold out at 3,600. No one seemed to want to be in the front, so I wandered up to the line. I chatted with two women next to me (I found out later that one of them was former 5K world record holder, Olympian, and eventual winner Zola Budd) and felt a little strange since I am not used to being that close to the starting line! Where were all the fast people?!
Being up front made it really tempting to go out fast, so I had to make a concerted effort to keep a pace that I could sustain for 13.1 miles. I ran the Tobacco Road half in March in 1:37:33 so I decided to shoot for sub-1:37 and just try to hold even splits between 7:20-7:25.
The course was not particularly scenic, and it was fairly lonely for a while from miles 2-4, especially in comparison to the huge races I ran in Europe last month. There was a fairly substantial headwind and a couple of unexpected hills, and I worried that it was going to be a very long race. Somewhere in the 4th mile I found myself running with two other women and we chatted through miles 5-10, which made it go by much more quickly. At mile 10, Jennifer said she was going to pick it up to try to come in under 1:36, Jacilyn decided to stay at the pace we had settled into, and I decided to go for something in between so I was back on my own. The last 5K went through a golf course, onto 17, and then back to Ocean Blvd. I focused on catching one woman who had passed us around mile 6, and made a move on her with about a mile to go. There was really good crowd support coming down the stretch. The noise was great, but I didn't hear the runner sprinting up on me and had no idea she was there until I saw her shadow with only maybe 100 meters to go. I picked it up and edged her out at the finish but she had started behind me so she won in the end, knocking me out of the overall top 10! I really could have gone faster and am a bit mad that I didn't push myself more, but lesson learned... I will not let that happen again if I can help it! Crossed the line in 1:36:51 and won my age group. Not a PR, but a PR for this year, and considering the intermittent training lately I am really pleased.
Splits: 7:14-7:22-7:22-7:25-7:17-7:31-7:22-7:31-7:25-7:32-7:31-7:24-7:20-7:21-7:13-0:59 (.16)
Finish: 11th female / 3,043; 1st 30-34 / 532