Race weekend started just after noon on Friday. My sister picked me up and we headed 90 minutes south to Myrtle Beach. The first thing we did when we got there was go to the convention center to pick up our race packets. The expo was set up nicely and pickup was easy. Sis was racing the 5k that evening and I was racing the 1/2 on Saturday morning.
The 5k was pretty awesome. They had glo sticks and glasses, plus glowy alien antennas for the participants to wear. The music was great, the finish line was lit up with neon lights, and my sister rocked her race. We were off to a good start! We went to Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery so I could get my pre-race burger and her a post-race meal. Yum.
I was watching the weather forecast closely the entire week and just Thursday, all of a sudden, there was a chance of rain. I had been running in the freezing cold rain for the past week, so it’s ok, but I was just tired of it and didn’t want to have to deal with rain for a race. When I got out of bed at 4:45 am on race morning, I immediately checked the forecast and thought this: “FUUUUUUDDDGGGGGEEEEEE” when I saw this:
I was pissed. Really? Of all the $hitty weather we’ve had the past few weeks and then we get THIS to race in? I can run and race in the rain. I’ve PR’d in the rain before. But it sucks, makes it less likely/more difficult, and I wasn’t prepared as I totally forgot my poncho. My main concern was to keep my shoes dry and I had no way to do that, PLUS we were running from the hotel to the start. Oy. My head was spinning with swear words but I maintained my calm. There’s nothing you can do about the weather, so there’s no reason to let it ruin your race. It is what it is, right?
There were three of us who were going to run from the hotel to the start line together, so we gathered our flimsy little garbage bags and posed for a picture while we all had feelings of dread as we watched the cold rain fall.
We ran to the shelter of a gas station that was conveniently located right by the start line. We waited there until just a few minutes before the race started and then headed to get our place at the start. My PLAN was to get to the start line 30 minutes before race time so I could use the bathroom. You runners know what I mean when nerves get to you and many times, you just have to go. And to those of you (not me) who drink coffee, wow, you go A LOT 🙂 I really don’t know how you do that. Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to hit the can before the race would start so as I was standing there, all of a sudden, I needed to go. I decided that I would just go with my pre-race mantra, “Never trust a fart”, and suck it up, so to say. Thankfully that didn’t backfire on me, no pun intended.
Evidently there was an elephant at the start, but I couldn’t hear nor see anything that was going on and all of a sudden, they were counting down from 10 for the race to start. I started my music and got ready to go. The 1/2 and full marathons started at the same time but at different lanes of the road, so that decreased the crowding. I thought it would be a slow start, but I found that I was at the pace I wanted right from the beginning and didn’t have to dodge a lot of traffic.
Thankfully, the rain stopped right before the race started, and I was very careful to avoid stepping in any puddles. My shoes were slightly wet, but I didn’t feel it was going to be an issue. At about 1.5 miles, we turned into the wind. And this was no breeze either. I’m guessing at the time, it was a good 15 mph sustained and gusts up to about 30. After about three miles, I had kept my pace of about 7:45, which was :10 faster than my race plan. I was good with that. My breathing felt good, legs were strong, and at that point, I knew I was going to PR, it was just a matter of how much. My mind wouldn’t focus on my music like it normally does, and I found myself distracted. By what, I don’t really know, but I was irritated. The wind was annoying, the guy who’s spit blew onto my leg was annoying, the ocean wasn’t pretty, the girl who passed me and then went right in front of me to just slow down annoyed me, but the girl who had spare change jingling in her pocket made me the maddest. Why on EARTH do you need spare change in your pocket while running at least 13.1 miles? I don’t get it. I almost pushed her.
Around mile 6.5, we turned and were gifted with wind at our backs. It was great. My pace decreased slightly and when a gust of wind blew, I let it take me. At some points, I was at a 7:10 pace, which made me feel very happy. As happy as I could be for being unnecessarily grumpy anyway. I was trying to do the math to see about where I would finish, but I didn’t know what a 1:44 half pace was, so I didn’t know how much leeway I had. I used how many minutes/seconds I was under an 8:00 pace. That used up some time since still, I just can’t do math well when I run. It only took me about five minutes to figure out what 8 x 8 was and be comfortable with my answer. (It’s 64.) I knew my pace was decreasing since the “leeway” I had for under an 8 minute mile was increasing. I wondered if I was close to a sub-1:40. I gave it as much as I felt comfortable giving that race. My knee was bugging me, my calf was a little tight, and I felt a different kind of hot sensation on the ball of my right foot. Was that a blister forming? I’d never had one but I hoped it wouldn’t cause any pain before the race was over.
At mile 9, I was spent. I was going under my planned race pace, but I knew I needed to keep going or I’d have regrets. I got my Gu with caffeine out and ate most of it. THAT had to be fun to watch. I bet I looked like I was either going to gag or barf, or gag THEN barf. But it got most of it down, just so I could have a little sugar for the remaining four miles.
“Come on, Kelli, you’re doing it, you’re pushing yourself harder than you’ve ever done before, you knew it wouldn’t be easy, you’re strong, you CAN do this, make yourself proud, make all your training worth it. Right Now. This is your moment, this is your race, don’t regret your decisions now.”
Somewhere between mile 11 and 12, we had to turn into back into what had to be a 30 mph wind and head to the finish. I felt the energy just being blown away by the wind. My pace slowed and I was royally pissed that I saw an 8:15 for my current pace. I tried, I pushed, I said “shit” about a hundred times as I fought into it. “Do NOT let this MFing wind beat you now.”
I turned the corner to the finish line and saw the official race clock turning over to 1:40. I knew I wasn’t going to be making that ultimate goal of a sub 1:40, and it pissed me off. The MFing wind. BUT, I was thrilled though, to accomplish a big PR (about a 4 1/2 minute PR) and race the half in 1:40:15. I finish 6th of 284 in my age group, 41st of 1623 females, and 180th overall of 2893 runners. The training was working, was worth it, and then I cried, partly in happiness, partly because I missed 1:40 by a sliver. Competitive, aren’t I?
So a few days post-race, I feel that I would totally do Myrtle Beach again. The route wasn’t really too boring and the weather, well, the weather is just the weather. The race was what I consider to be expensive for a 1/2 marathon, but the swag was good and it appeared the post-race setup was really nice (We left before we could really enjoy it). They had warm chicken noodle soup for us cold runners, lots of food offerings, sports drink, water, chocolate milk, and some other things that I didn’t pay attention to. I think there was a band and they gave us tickets to the post-race party at the House of Blues for that evening. We were cold and wanted to head back to the hotel, so we finally made it back, and it was just after 9:00 am. Wow, what a day already!
I look back at the race and feel that I did what I came to do. I probably could have pushed a little harder, but I didn’t want to hurt myself. This is not my “A” race, it’s a prep race for Boston. I learned to not eat late and not give myself enough time to truly wake up before having to head to the race start. I also learned that we can give our runner power to the weather if we choose. It was truly terribly windy (so thankful I didn’t run the full marathon), but I came out and conquered my goal. I didn’t let it mess with my head. The owner of my training group, Without Limits, actually won the full marathon with a PR in 2:30:05. That just goes to show that you can accomplish amazing things when you may not expect it; however, you must still believe in yourself and just go do it.
Today is Monday, and I had an 1850 swim on schedule. I did NOT want to do it. I woke up with a sore throat, was physically tired, and well, didn’t want to deal with the water aerobics people (sometimes the perfume is gaggingly overwhelming). But I also realized that had I skipped workouts prior to Myrtle Beach, I wouldn’t have been as successful. So I got my gear and headed to the pool. Performances like Saturday’s don’t happen when you skip your training. No excuses, no fear.