Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon

A few months ago, Sara and I decided that the timing of this race would work well as part of our Boston Marathon training plan.  Myrtle Beach is just over a 3 hour drive from Durham, has a beach, offered a fun post-race party, and hotel rates were reasonable, so it also seemed perfect for a girls' weekend.  We set out on Friday after work, checked into the hotel, grabbed some dinner at the pre-race pasta buffet, and picked up our packets.  Since our hotel was race headquarters, both dinner and packet pick up were right there, which made things very convenient, and I would definitely recommend staying at the Sheraton if you're to travel to MB for this race.

To our disappointment, sun and spring-like temperatures were markedly absent from the forecast, and the weather was predicted to be in the 40s and rainy with 20-25 mile per hour winds.  I guess this was much better than the snow and ice storms we'd had just a few days earlier, but still wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for a race at the beach.  So at 6:00 we set out to run yet another half marathon in the rain.  After a mile warm up, we lined up somewhere between the 1:30 and 1:45 pace signs and thankfully the rain stopped just as we ditched our throwaway clothes.

The plan was originally to run at goal marathon pace (7:30), but given this year's setbacks and complete lack of mileage, I decided that was probably not the best idea and called it a supported training run, especially given the weather conditions...

From MyrtleBeach.com:
[Runners] were greeted with a cold, rainy morning and bone-chilling wind on race day.  But they ran. Sporting makeshift trash bag raincoats at the starting line and ditching layers of wet clothes along the course, they ran.  The rain stopped shortly after the race start, but the wind was a constant companion, relentlessly battering the participants and spectators as the course weaved along the oceanfront. But that’s the thing about runners. They just kept running.

Miles 1-3 (7:38-7:29-7:31)
I was curious as to how much of a struggle that GMP would be and how much I should adjust my expectations/goals for Boston, so I started out with Sara.  She sped up during mile 2, so I decided to just stick to 7:30s as long as it felt comfortable.

Miles 4-7 (7:43-7:50-7:55-7:55)
The headwind was taking a lot out of me, so I decided to slow down a bit.  My training plan called for 14 miles at 7:45-8:00 for the day, so I figured I could stick to that pace range and still end up with a successful workout.  SO. WINDY.

Miles 8-11 (7:51-7:42-7:51-7:52)
I assumed that once we made the turn to head back to the start/finish, that the miserable headwind would be a tailwind.  Unfortunately, that part of the course is more sheltered from the wind thanks to some large hotels, so we didn't benefit from it nearly as much as I'd hoped.  We did have a few nice gusts at our back though, it felt a lot easier to run the same pace, and in between resorts we had a nice view of the ocean, so I actually enjoyed this part of the course quite a bit.

Mile 12-13.15 (8:11-8:05-1:02)
Just after mile 11 we turned left off of Ocean Boulevard, and the full force of the wind was coming right at us.  I felt like I was almost running in place, and the effort level went way up while the pace went way down.  I wish I'd pushed a little harder to keep it under 8, but at that point I was cursing the wind and the thought of running faster had zero appeal. 

Overall, the race went about as I'd expected, though it took a little more effort than I would have liked to just run at my normal training pace.  Given how little I've run, I'm trying not to worry about it too much.  Sara, meanwhile, killed it despite the wind and won 2nd place female master's, so at least one of us was fast!  

After the race we walked back to the hotel, showered, and went back to the finish line for the awards ceremony, which featured both an elephant and a monkey!  Normally I'm ready to go home and shower, so I don't spend much time at post-race parties, but since we were clean, dry, and dressed relatively warmly, we decided to stick around.  The band was pretty good, they had unlimited Sam Adams and cider (which sure beat the standard one-free-bud-light), and we made some new friends, so all in all it was a great experience and I'd definitely recommend it/run it again.

Elephant at the finish line
Award winners got to hold a monkey for post-race photos!
3rd half marathon in 4 weeks
Of course we'd have to make friends with this team, right?
Putting that award to good use
And we met Superman
(Um... NO)
Interviewing for Not the News

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