From start to finish, this race was the best experience I’ve had so far. The start area was well organized, the course wasn’t boring, the views at times were breathtaking, the support – while minimal – was encouraging and uplifting, and the finish area was even more organized than the start. I especially liked the food area with immediate access to donuts, pizza, fruit, and other goodies.
Kevin and I drove down from Virginia to stay with his parents for the race weekend. I was so antsy the entire drive and because I was really focusing on hydrating well, we had to stop for quite a few bathroom breaks! Kevin was a trooper – he’s not a fan of stopping!
We arrived in Myrtle Beach around 3, said hello to his parents, discussed dinner plans, and then immediately got back in the car to go to the race expo. This is where my only complaint is. We had to pay to park at the expo and while $5 isn’t breaking the bank, it was still frustrating to have to pay to pick up my race packet.
The expo itself was well organized with lots of great vendors with friendly staff and was even handing out free beer although Kevin and I both knew it wasn’t going to live up to our craft beer standards. We still indulged and I treated it as more hydration. 😉 After I got my packet I bought some arm warmers, we took some pics, and then headed out to dinner at Mellow Mushroom with his family. Their pizza is amazing and they have a decent craft beer selection so it pleased us both!
Upon returning home, we settled on the couch to drink one more beer, calm the nerves (that were surprisingly not bad!), and watch some TV before an early bedtime.
The next morning, we woke up at 4:30am after a somewhat restful night of sleep. I’m up a lot naturally because of the kids but I still felt refreshed enough. Kevin made me some coffee and pancakes – my pre-long run breakfast ritual – while I showered. (yes I like to shower before a race!) I got dressed, ate, and just like that it was time to leave. I’m very surprised at how calm I was considering how lofty my goal was and how vocal I was about it with the public.
We were able to find parking very easily at Broadway at the Beach and walked to the start with about 15 minutes to go. Kevin waited with me, his bike in tow, until there were just a few minutes to go. We said our goodbyes and he told me he’d see me at mile 2.
The race started right on time and just like that I was off and running. I settled into a 7:45-7:50 pace and the miles quickly ticked by.
Mile 1 – 7:53
Mile 2 – 7:50
I saw Kevin and immediately had a huge smile on my face. He handed me 2 honeystinger chews and some water. Our plan was to meet up every 2 miles to hand me chews and alternate water and nuun until the half marathoners turned off the marathon course where he would then ride with me until mile 24. I was really excited about this plan.
Mile 3 – 7:49
Mile 4 – 7:50
More chews! More hydration – this time nuun! I was feeling really great, confident, and happy to be racing. The sunrise was pretty beautiful too!
Mile 5 – 7:45
Mile 6 – 7:45
More chews and hydration! It was really fun seeing Kevin every 2 miles and broke the race up into nice little chunks that made the first half of the race fly by. The plan was working effortlessly, it was so nice avoiding the water stations, and knowing I didn’t have to drink liquids from a small cup was awesome! I always spill it all over myself or end up choking.
Mile 7 – 7:46
Mile 8 – 7:43
At mile 8 when my watched dinged I told Kevin “I think I’m running too fast!” but it felt good and despite my efforts to reel in the 7:50 pace I was trying to shoot for, I stuck with what felt good. My concern was running this pace would come back to haunt me because mile 8 is where the wind began.
Mile 9 – 7:45
Mile 10 – 7:44
I knew the next time I saw Kevin he would be joining me for good and I was so excited! Before the race I told him I wasn’t going to talk at all but sure enough every time I saw him I couldn’t help but talk! I was having a blast!
Mile 11 – 7:46
Mile 12 – 7:45
The course really thinned out after mile 11 with the half marathoners turning off so I decided to start focusing on picking people off. Kevin joined me after mile 12 and I told him I felt good.
Mile 13 – 7:44
Mile 14 – 7:50
I passed the halfway point in 1:40:45 (a half PR what!! 😳) and struggle a bit on 14 due to some crazy gusts of wind. My previously injured knee was letting me know it was there too. I was praying hardcore at that time that I would make it to the finish. Crazy enough, Kevin snapped this picture of me during that time and the light is shining right down on me. It was a sign!
Mile 15 – 7:45
Mile 16 – 7:48
I was still dealing with wind here but I knew I just had about 2 more miles of it and then the course would turn back the opposite way and I would either have no wind or a tailwind.
Mile 17 – 7:47
Mile 18 – 7:49
At this point I was confident that as long as my knee held up, I would make it to the finish with a BQ. A few times I had to push it out of my mind because it was making me choke up and get emotional. Especially with Kevin saying such sweet things to me while I ran.
Mile 19 – 7:35
Mile 20 – 7:35
Umm hello no wind!! 😂 I was flying at this point! It’s crazy how not dealing with steady 10 mph winds and gusts up to 15 mph can make you feel like you’re running with complete ease! My knee was still bothering me but it was nothing I couldn’t run through. Otherwise, I still felt great and hadn’t hit a wall.
Mile 21 – 7:41
Mile 22 – 7:44
This part of the course was desolate and it was literally just Kevin and I for at least an entire mile. My pelvis was slowly beginning to ache but thankfully my knee had stopped bothering me.
Mile 23 – 7:43
Mile 24 – 7:33
Two things are special to me about these miles. I ran past my friend Elizabeth during mile 23 and she was doing so amazing! It gave me a huge burst of energy! I also ran past Kevin’s mom and Mamaw at the 23rd mile marker and during mile 24 and it nearly brought both myself and Kevin to tears. Their support was such a surprise and it just meant so much to me that they came out to say hi! Ironically enough, it was my fastest mile of the entire race! Mamaw even ran with me for a minute exclaiming “you better not let Mamaw pass you!!!” It was the sweetest thing. I’m so thankful for them!
Mile 25 – 7:46
Mile 26 – 7:52
Last .2 – 1:44 (6:48 pace)
Final time – 3:23:15 (BQ baby!!)
Kevin went ahead after mile 24 to head to the finish line and his mom drove past me right at the 25th mile marker so the last mile was all me, all alone. I kept telling myself the pain was temporary – at this point my feet were killing me, my pelvis was on fire, and my knee was barking at me again. When I rounded the corner at mile 26 and saw the gated finish line, I took off! I don’t know how I found the energy to run a 6:48 pace after 26 miles but I did. Crossing that finish line with a 17 minute cushion and a BQ in just my second marathon gave me an indescribable feeling. I immediately burst into tears.
I grabbed my medal, regained my composure, and walked over to Kevin. We hugged and he told him how proud he was but I owe so much of my success in this race to him. I would have skipped out on so many runs if it weren’t for him. He was always making sure I stretched, foam rolled, bought me a torture device of a foam roller to keep me injury free, always told me how proud he was of me, and rode nearly the ENTIRE marathon course to ensure I could get my best time by avoiding water stations and slipping into self doubt. He is my rock! ❤️
I’m not sure what my goal is for the Boston Marathon but I’m confident I left some time out on that course. Boston is a harder course than Myrtle Beach and I’m not sure I have it in me to train for 20 weeks again using such an intense program but I do know that I will thoroughly enjoy running the Boston Marathon!! See you in 2018 Boston!!