The plans for my first marathon were hatched shortly before my first Boilermaker - the 15K road race, not some alcoholic drink. My friend I was traveling to that race with asked me if I had ever contemplated doing a marathon. I had already run two half marathons at that point and several other races. I hadn’t really thought about a marathon, at least not right away. Then, I did.
I started training last July to run a full marathon in October, only to get closed out of registration. Wineglass is very popular and a nice course. It had not filled up the year before but last year, registration closed in August for the October race. My first non-form or actual running-related lesson – register early!
So I toyed with Hartford but decided no. Then, my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas. This was mid-October. I said register me for the Myrtle Beach marathon in February. Her first question was you are going to run it, right? Of course was the immediate response and I chose a training plan that started the Monday following this phone call. It was on!
I had a few second thoughts as I was training with long runs of 20 miles in single digit temperatures. My mind kept saying I should have thought training for a February race through a bit more. But I kept going and it all brought me to the start line. (Warning: Beware cell phone photos!)
Start lines always make me nervous. Ben and I left the hotel about 5 am. Yes, I said left the hotel about 5 am. No, I was not staying that far away. I think we were four miles from the start line. I had woken at 3 am but my alarm was set for 4 am. I went to the bathroom and then lay in bed until 3:45. I got up, turned the alarm off and started getting my breakfast food out. I made coffee while the oatmeal was in the microwave. I pulled out a bagel. After eating, I started getting dressed. Thankfully, One Mile More had BodyGlide at the expo. Believe it or not, I could not find any locally before we left for SC. I had chosen to wear a short sleeve tech shirt but was toying with changing my mind. Good thing I stuck with my first instinct as it was cool at the start of the race.
Some of the streets were being shut down as we started over to the start line. Ben got me with a block and dropped me off. He was heading back to the hotel for some sleep. I was heading – first thing – for the portapotty before a line formed. I knew I needed to go. Then, I started thinking about the race. Music was playing and others were starting to show up. The marathon had about 1800 runners and the half marathon, which started at the same time, sold out at 4,000 runners.
I hadn’t printed off or written a pace bracelet on my arm. I was hoping to keep my five mile pace to right around an hour. That would be easy enough to remember. I was hoping – should have had a plan not just hoped – to finish in about 5 and a half hours but I was not going to get in with the pace group. I had trained alone and would run this my way. That is funny! I started talking to a woman who was also lining up behind the 5:30 pacer. She had her times on her arm. We talked. A man joined us. The woman wanted to finish in six and a half hours. The man, who had had his gallbladder removed in January, just wanted to finish. I kept talking but knew in my mind, I would leave them behind when we started. The announcer kept repeating that the half marathon was to line up on the far side of the divided street and the full on the side closest to the stage. I was all set. I stretched and did a quick jog. Lines at the portapotties were long but I didn’t have to go a third time. I just tried to keep warm.
Instead of a start gun, the Myrtle Beach High School had loaned out the cannon that is fired on Friday nights during football season. Every time the kids score a touchdown, the cannon is set off. That would be our start gun. The wheelchair start was five minutes ahead of the rest of us and the cannon went off. The cannon went off a second time and we started walking towards the start line. I hit the start button on my Garmin about three minutes after the cannon and was off.
Shortly after crossing the first intersection, I said good luck and good bye to Chris and Rob. We had already seen the first group of tree pee-ers. Yes, the lines were long enough that some men were stopping within the first half mile to urinate behind some palm trees. Nice show as, well, palm trees don’t hide much.
The first turn came at about 8/10th’s of a mile and the direction was pointed by a line of Chick-Fil-A cows. They all wantedhigh fives and I was more than happy to oblige – after snapping the photo below.
I was going at a good pace but it was just a normal run for me so far. I kept going along and remembering what I had thought as we drove this portion of the course yesterday. We turned again and were running in US-17. The first five miles went by without any incident, except I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. While I have never stopped to pee during a race, I was sure I would have to this race but I had not planned on doing so early. I thought about stopping at mile 5 but the line was really long so I kept running. I had finished the first five miles in 58 minutes and 51 seconds. My splits were all right close to each other so I was happy. I thought I was working my unwritten plan.
My other plan was my hydration and nutrition plan. After all, I had eaten about 4 am and new I would not make it to the end without eating so I was stocked with Clif Shots – my energy gel of choice. I had my first one between miles 5 and 6 – espresso. I didn’t think I would need another one until about mile 15 or so. You see, the hotel and my kids were between mile 10 and 11 and I had a pear waiting for me there.
I don’t know if the energy gel had anything to do with it or not but at the water stop at mile 6, I had to stop to use the portapotty. No, I am not modest. If I had not been having my period, I would have quickly walked behind said portapotties and peed but I was not doing that at this time of the month. I waited in line what seemed like an eternity but I was in and out in about two minutes. I figured good and that would hold me. I had no plans of stopping more than twice to use the portapotties.
We ran past the War Birds Park. This was about mile 5.5 and there was a band playing. It was great to hear the music. Between miles 6 and 7, we went through a shopping area called The Market Common. There were people out and it was only 7:30 or so on a Saturday morning. The sun was now shining bright and there was a timer set up at 6.2 miles. Maybe that is what did me in. For some reason, at 6.25 miles my Garmin stopped. It didn’t shut off. I must have somehow hit the timer stop button. I have never had this happen before but it did and I didn’t notice for quite some time. It was two miles before I noticed I didn’t have a running time.
As we turned onto Ocean Blvd, the race got interesting. I was thinking I was warm. Definitely thinking I would change at the hotel, as this was part of my original plan, into a sleeveless shirt. Good thing my son forgot to bring it down from the room. I am not sure I would have wanted it as the breeze really picked up. My times per mile went from 11:45-12:00 minutes to almost 13 minutes a mile. While the ocean view was nice – in between buildings – it was helping the sun heat us up and there was as good stiff north wind. I recalled those training run where I swore it felt like running with a resistance band around my waist. The wind was not too cool, though, and it seemed like I was wicking pretty well – or at least my running attire was.
The hotel we stayed at was about mile 10.5 or 11. The boys were out with “Rocky” set to play on the computer. They handed me my
pear. I was all excited to see them. Dan, my youngest, even had my camera and got a shot or two of me. I was a little unsure how much time I had been running when I hit the hotel due to the whole Garmin debacle. If I figured it out right, I was about 15 minutes behind where I wanted to be. I think the Garmin, when I discovered it, had thrown me off a bit as I tried to run and figure out what had happened. I hit the hotel area between 8:45 and 8:50 am. On top of the Garmin issue, about mile 8.5 I started feeling something funny in my foot. I swore it felt like I had somehow broken a bone. I couldn’t believe the foot pain. I have had toes cramp up on me before but this was definitely in the foot. It hurt and slowed me down as I was running. By mile 12, though, the pain was gone.
I have decided this post is long enough so the remainder of my recap or my thoughts on the race will be in a separate entry. Hope you all want to read it, after this one.