Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Myrtle Beach ½ marathon

3:30 AM Saturday morning, I pushed back the covers from the hotel bed and wondered over to the window. The weatherman had forecast a rainy race for this morning. The illumination of the parking lot below told me that rain was late arriving.

My ½ marathon was just a few hours away. There was still a chance that the rain might circle around use. At least until popped open my iPad and checked the local Doppler radar. Green covered the area just south of Myrtle Beach and in the center of the green was plenty of yellow. The rain would be here soon.

No more than 30 minutes later, the sound of the rain tapping against the window announced its arrival.

The rain was coming down but nearly in a horizontal pattern. The wind pushed it something fierce.

Every race I create a check list for the items that I might need on race day. For Myrtle Beach Half, I had left off packing a trash bag. Most experienced runners know the virtues of a trash bag. Large trash bags make the most ideal warm-up gear. They are cheap, easy to find, and easy to dispose. Between the rain and the wind this made me wish that I had packed one.

Perhaps the worst answer to any question is “No”, this is not possible.  However, the question must be asked before the answer can be given. I headed downstairs at the hotel in search of a very large trash bag. After all, this is a hotel. They must have an abundance of large trash bags.

Luck was on my side. The hotel clerk said “just a minute” and disappeared in to the back office. A few minutes later, she emerged with a huge trash back. All I had to do now was borrow a pair of scissors to make a few slight alterations.

From the Holiday Inn to the start is roughly a mile if I cut across the parking lot. The race started at 6:30 so I left the room about 6:10. A mile warm up and a few strides would be enough for today. Besides, there would be less time for the wind and the rain to affect me.

I had barely left the hotel when I stepped in to the first puddle. The feel of the cold water seeping through my shoes and then through my socks was not a promising start.

My skin felt the stings from the rain being pushed hard by the wind.

Many people were seeking the shelter of the tents. Most of the road was clear of runners. Everyone was waiting until the last minute before making their way to the starting line.

I saw a few guys that I know: Butch, Mike M, Mike B, Dan, and a few others.

The rain seemed to be lessoning as the starting time approached. During my last few strides, the rain had stopped but the wind continue to blow like “no tomorrow”.  

I positioned myself off the left side of the start with the rest of the ½ marathoners.

The start was smooth and efficient. Runners were quickly forming into packs. Everyone was looking for a spot to hide from the wind.

Initially, we were all one big pack, but this quickly splintered in to smaller packs. Checking my Garmin I realized that I needed to be in the pack in front of me. I pushed hard to catch them. Another runner came up beside me and we worked together to catch them.

The wind was buffeting us around, and everyone was jockeying for positions out of the wind. Shoes were getting stepped on and shoulders were getting touched. No one went down but there were a few close calls.

Our group had maybe 8 to 10 guys. I could not see anyone else ahead of us.

We made the turn for miles 6 and 7. Our group was finally starting to split up.

During these opening miles, I crossed my fingers that I would feel a huge push from the wind on the way back.

I saw Peter from Vac & Dash at the 10k point. He was yelling encouragement which I sorely needed. My stomach was churning. I have never had to stop during a race for a bath room break, but the thought crossed my mind. This might be the first time. I guess the Gel at mile one didn’t settle all that well.

I hardly felt any push from the wind long Ocean Blvd. Several places, I actually felt a head wind. I guess as the wind slammed into the hotels, it turned into our faces.

I reached 10 miles in just over an hour.

I knew that I had one more mile before taking the wind head on. My Garmin flashed up my 11 mile split, and I rounded the corner.

“Holy Smokes” was the wind blowing hard.  I leaned into it and forced myself to run forward.

A guy in front of me seemed to be struggling because the gap between us was narrowing. I caught him when we made the turn on Grissom Parkway. We went back and forth until we made the turn into Pelican’s Field. He surged and I chased him all the way to the finish.

My time was 1:19:37 for 19 overall.

After cleaning up, I headed back to the post race area. I looked at the results and was shocked to see that I was the first Masters runner. Last year, a couple of guys ran 1:14 on this course so I expected more of the same. I took home this huge award and had my picture taken with Bubbles the elephant.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip to Myrtle Beach and came away with a solid effort.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner






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