Friday night we got down to Myrtle Beach without much fanfare. I woke up at 4:30 am so I could start work at 6, be done by 1, and get on the road at a decent hour. It all went really well. We got the packets at the expo, they used a really pretty shirt design this year, then we went over to Joe and Gina's place for dinner. She made a great pasta/chicken/veg thing that was perfect.
Race morning was ok. The alarm had the am/pm thing screwed up so it never went off, but the neighbors slammed their door 5 minutes before that was supposed to happen so it all worked out in the end. Usually on race morning my nerves wake me up in plenty of time anyway, so I really wasn't worried. Ate a nice big breakfast in the hotel and we walked on down to the start.
|Me in the hotel room before the start - only pic we got before the race.|
We made it to the start line while someone was singing the national anthem, so that was nice. Actually arriving before the gun went off is a plus to marathoning that we did not get to enjoy in Charleston, so I'm glad we got it right this time. I found the 4 hour pace group marker, then ended up kind of behind that as the crowd shifted forward around us. weird. My plan was to keep around an 8:30 pace for the first half, then see how I felt to go faster or slower for the second half. I wanted to take a gel every 4 miles, so that's about when I hit the lap button on the garmin to get my split times.
Miles 1 - 4.4: 38:05, 8:40 pace
The first mile was pretty standard. Crowded, but I didn't have to pass a ton of people. Pretty well seeded. the start was at 6:30 AM and it was kind of chilly out there, maybe in the low 50's. Nothing like Charleston cold last month. It was really nice to be able to run without sleeves again, and I knew it was going to warm up some going into the day.
In mile 3, right before we turned into the airport, and not long after the sunrise, it suddenly got really cold for just a few minutes. All of a sudden you could see the breath of everyone in front of you. That was really cool. Then we turned into the airport and it started warming up again. Hit the first gel point right on time. I felt good, energized, not out of breath, heart rate still nice and low, and felt like I could go all day at that pace.
Miles 4.4 - 8: 31:24, 8:42 pace
Second verse, same as the first. The course comes around through the airport and this little market square, then onto Ocean Blvd. The course this year stays on Ocean Blvd for NINE miles. They all look exactly the same. Sometimes you could see the ocean, but for the most part it was the back of the giant high rise tacky hotels and condo buildings that litter that coast line.
The one bright spot in this section was running past the IHOP. It made the whole road smell like bacon. Fantastic.
Miles 8 - 12.3: 39:03. 8:57 pace
We ran with the halfers for the first part of the course, at mile 11.5 they split off. I ended up leaving my mp3 player at home accidentally, so I was talking with a lot of people out there. Turns out halfers are quite a talkative bunch. There was a LOT of other people from Raleigh there. I saw tons of NC State gear represented, and tons of people in Marathon Maniacs gear. But in these miles I ended up talking to a few girls who were into triathlons about the B2B and OBX triathlons, other running races around Raleigh, cool stuff. You meet the most interesting people out there.
The reason this split is a touch slower is because I had to stop and poop at mile 10. They had good port-a-lets at each of the aide stations, and aide stations were every 2 miles out there. There was no line but they were all in use when I got there, so I got in, got out, and got right back on the course. Still feeling good here, glad to be a bit lighter, legs felt good, heart rate still low, I'm holding around an 8:30 to 8:45 pace every time I look down at the Garmin, and the sun is out and warm now.
At mile 11.5 the halfer split off and the crowds seriously thinned out. I ended up next to this kid going to UNC-Wilmington who was on their triathlon team. He's planning to run the B2B full this year as his first full Iron race and spotted my Ironman tattoo. This was also his first full marathon so we paced and talked together until mile 21. Helluva nice guy, and it was nice of him to keep me going for that long.
Mile 12.3 - 20.1: 1:11:34, 9:03 pace
My half split at 13.1 miles in was 1:54:xx, so I was about 2 minutes slower than my charleston time. That's ok, I was trying to save more for the back end. I did take gels at 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 miles, and just forgot to hit the lap button on the garmin to get my mile 16 split. I wish I had done that, because that's where the distance finally started to show itself. The first 4 miles on that one looks very consistent on the graph, holding steady around an 8:45 pace. So really miles 12 to 16 were ok.
Actually they were better than ok. Somewhere in mile 13 Ryan caught up with me. He was out on his bike riding the course encouraging people, so he rode by me and we got to catch up for a few minutes. It wasn't long enough of course, and it never is when you're hanging out with a guy like that. This is actually his last weekend in the states, as they moved to Italy today. I wanted to spend more time with him and the Commander later Saturday but it just didn't work out. Still, the encouragement meant a lot to me right then. He's one in a million.
Really mile 15 is where my quads started to fatigue. At that point in the day it was getting warm. The sun was out in full force and there wasn't much shade. I could feel a little dehydration starting to set in, and the lactic acid wasn't flushing out of my legs the way I really wanted it to. Again, more water early on would have taken care of this problem. I took 2 cups at each aide station, both water where I was taking a gel or one water and one Gatorade otherwise. Needed more water.
By mile 18 the lactic acid buildup was really setting in hard. The UNCW kid was pushing me to keep going with him. We both stopped to poop and there was no waiting this time. It felt so good just to sit down for a minute. Didn't think I was going to be able to stand back up. Still no problems aerobically, heart rate was low(ish), no heavy breathing, I could still carry on a conversation, however I was quickly losing the ability to remain upright. Mile 20 I took a Roctane and was ready to blast through to the end.
Mile 20.1 - 23.2: 32:49, 10:40 pace
That blast? Got me as far as the mile 21 marker. On the marker, I told the UNCW kid that I was toast and for him to keep going without me, then I did something for the first time that day: an unscheduled walk break. 21 miles is a new PDR for continual running. Yes, exclude the couple of steps I took at the aide stations to keep from spilling the water. And don't count the two poop stops. I still think that's incredibly cool. 21 miles is a long way not to have to throw in some walking.
So really I was well trained to race that pace for about 18 miles, and I made it 3 extra miles on overheated, lactic acid filled legs. That's still ok, but doesn't make for a full marathon. Thanks to the Garmin I can tell I took 11 walk breaks over that remaining 2.3 miles. I really walked just as much distance as I ran. And a 10:40 pace still isn't too bad of an average.
Mile 23.2 - 26.4: 33:23, 10:41 pace
The last 5k contained 10 walk breaks, and they were longer each time. My legs were completely shredded. There was nothing left in the tank. I cried a few times. Since we were getting closer to Broadway at the Beach there were more spectators now, so that was encouraging. Once I started seeing people with finishers medals on I knew the finish line was getting closer. I also (for a while) knew there was still a chance I could break 4 hours. Then when I looked down one time and saw 4:03 as my overall time I realized there was nothing left to do but finish it out. I ran the last 0.6 miles in without walking at or below a 9 minute pace for a strong finish. I don't think I have ever been so happy to see a finish line.
This is kind of like the leg fatigue I always get in the half iron distance tri's, where you just want to disconnect your legs from the rest of your body for a bit to separate yourself from the pain. It's amazingly uncomfortable. I can't really describe it any better than that, but if you've ever felt that kind of pain then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Myrtle Beach has the longest finishers chute in the world. I swear there's a few road turns thrown in, it just goes on forever. I was in there with some young girl (maybe early 20's young), who had her arms flailing like Phoebe even though she was clearly too young to have ever seen Friends, just bawling her eyes out crying when she crossed the finish line. When I offered congratulations she said it was her first full, which means she put up an amazing time for her first full marathon. I remembered exactly how emotional it was when I crossed my first marathon finish line in West Virginia, so I told her again how fantastic that time was for her first 'thon. Some things like that you never forget.
Finish: 26.37 miles, 4:05:18, 9:38 pace
Official Chip time: 4:05:18, 102/189 M35-39, 706/1767 overall
Easily 10 minutes slower than my PR set in Charleston last month, but I like this strategy a lot better. I just ran into some muscle fatigue. That's what happens when the longest run in between these marathons was only 5 miles. If I had put up some 15 or 18 mile runs in there I wouldn't have fatigued and come in closer to 3:45. Better luck next time, legs.
Kelley, however, did rock a 29 minute PR. She finished in 5:10:46, crushing the hell out of that 5:39 she put up in Charleston and the 5:56 she ran in Myrtle Beach back in 2009. Rock on woman.
So now we are 2/3 of the way done with our quest to Maniac! Only Tobacco Road next month is left to be conquered.
At the finish line I was greeted by Jon Jessup, one of my fraternity brothers. Jon and his wife both ran the half, him in 1:44 and her in 2:03, both had a great day out there. The weather was perfect for a half, as it was cool enough at the start to be fast, but warmed up enough by 8:30 am to be quite comfortable just standing around outside drinking free beer. Needless to say, they were a little loopy by the time we finished. So I hung out with Jon and Kim for a while, got my recovery on with the magic 3 bottles of water, some chocolate milk, a bagel, granola, doughnut, and muffin. Then I went back to the hotel to grab the camera so I could catch Kelley's finish. I thought I would have about an hour and a half like I did in Charleston until she finished. Boy was I wrong!
I was actually at the hotel when she called me from the finish line all excited about her PR. That was really cool, but I wish I would have been back there to see it. Surely our other friends running the full would still be out there.
Gina ran Charleston with us finishing in 6:2x, and she turned around and beat that time by over an hour at MB! So of course we missed her. Our friend Charlotte ran with the 5 hour pace group this time and finished in 4:59:42, leaving a scant 18 seconds. show off.
Even Debbie (who talked us into running Myrtle Beach the first time back in 2009) beat her previous 8:06 time with a blazing fast 5:38:50! So it was a good day to be fast. We didn't get a picture with Debbie, but that totally rocks. How often do you see a 2 hour PR? Never!
|Kelley, Charlotte, Me, Gina. Yes Gina actually has two beers there. And it's still before noon.|
|Me, Jon, Kim, Kelley showing off the finishers medals.|
After the race we cleaned up and hit the outlet stores and I showed restraint only picking up two Kenneth Cole shirts. We grabbed some lunch out there too. Then got in a quick nap before the social meetup at Mellow Mushroom. It ended up just being us, Joe and Gina, and Jon and Kim. Everyone had a great time with lots of pizza and beer. I mean really how can you go wrong there. Then we crashed pretty hard as the toils of the day set in.
Sunday was a quick up and out as some bad weather was rolling in, and we drove home in the rain. Lots of pain and lots of rain. I was really still just waiting for the lactic acid to go away from my quads. Gallons of water and stretching and yoga finally made it all start feeling better. The foot problem I had from Charleston did NOT show up again this time, thank God. Everything is good there. It's just normal muscle fatigue now. Kelley's having some trouble getting up and down stairs still, and we're both pretty chafed.
Overall this was a great race, a beautiful day, and a fantastic fast course. There are plenty of other stories I should tell about this one. Such a great race.