Sunday, March 5, 2017

State #34, Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, Myrtle Beach, SC, Part 2

Race morning brought temperatures in the 30's here in Myrtle Beach! Ouch! Definitely not the weather I was expecting for this one. Thank goodness I thought to throw one set of long running pants and a long sleeve half zip in my suitcase, and good thing I picked up those cheap gloves at the expo yesterday. Yikes!
Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete were troupers getting up at the crack of dawn with me to get me to the starting line by 6 am. This was an early start, for sure, and for two retired folks who are used to getting up late, they were rockstars! 
We made it to the parking area at Broadway at the Beach by 6 am, and after sitting in the truck for a few minutes (to avoid waiting around in the cold too long), we headed to the starting line. I made a detour for the porta-potties before heading to the corral. Pete & Linda took their signs to line up near the starting line with hopes of seeing me run by.
Starting line up. I love the guy giving the thumbs-up on the left.
The corral entry was lined with metal barriers along the sidewalk, producing a narrow walkway for runners to enter through. This was all backed up with runners, so to avoid being late and shuffling along in the hordes, I chose to walk around this area to an open field and jump the barrier in to the wider line up area. As I was heading through the field, the starting command went off, and I panicked a little bit, but others around me assured me it was just the start of the wheelchair division. Whew! I didn't think we had cut it so close. 
The line up was packed with runners, and I couldn't get up to the 2 hour pacing group, so with only a few minutes to spare I snapped a couple of starting line photos and hoped for the best. I decided to stay near the left side of the road, figuring that was the side my aunt and uncle would most likely be on based on the way they walked over from our parking spot. At the starting command, a song about South Carolina blared from the speakers, and we were off.
Starting line selfie. Not my best smile.
As expected, Pete and Linda were up ahead on the left side with their cute signs. I gave them a wave and made my way the best I could through the crowded street. This race was very tight which always makes for difficult running. I kept getting stuck behind slower runners or trying to find a way to weave my way around others. It was really slow going until about mile 4-5 which is pretty unusual, but this being the 20th anniversary of the race, perhaps the registration was more crowded than usual. 
The race moved along well. The first two miles led us from the Broadway at the Beach area through a small neighborhood and out to the commercial route 17. This road was your typical beach thoroughfare, lined with restaurants, tourist trap shops, retail shopping, grocery stores, bars and everything else you can imagine. I chatted with a guy who was running the full marathon...he complimented me on my crazy hat. I told him it was so my aunt and uncle could pick me out of the crowd. I told him to look for them at the finish line with their signs. We followed this route until we got to about mile 6, where just past the airport we turned right in to the Market Common neighborhood. 
Market Common was a combination of high end stores and restaurants along with condos and single family homes. There is a nice walking/running path that winds throughout along with small ponds and a playground. It was a fun space to run through, checking out all the good shops there. When I come back to Myrtle Beach sometime, I will head here for some shopping and good eats. It was a cute little area.
As we made our way out of Market Common, we crossed route 17 and entered on to Ocean Drive, the road that parallels the beach area. It was lined with hotel after hotel. Unfortunately, at this part of the run (mile 8) the wind was against me, and the shadows of the hotels made for consistent shade, and I started to feel really cold. I removed my gloves at mile 4 but now it was time to fish them out. My fingers were getting numb. There weren't many spectators along this stretch despite the overabundance of hotels. I'm sure the cold temperatures and early morning start time kept some folks away. 
This was my hardest stretch of the race, due to the cold, long distance (miles 8-11) and undulating rises and dips in the stretch of roadway. Even though this race is pretty flat, those small inclines and declines make a difference when the wind is in your face. I could feel myself slowing down a bit, but I tried to push on as much as I could. 
The fun thing about Ocean Drive was looking at the cute swimming pools of the hotels, amusement park, water park and catching glimpses of the ocean in between the tall buildings. It seemed to take a long time to get down this road, but once it was done, the finish line wasn't too far away. 
We turned left off Ocean Drive on to 10th Street South, back through a neighborhood area that led back to the more commercial Broadway at the Beach surrounding. As I neared the finish line, I looked for Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete. I crossed the finish line with a net time of 1:54:17, well below my goal of 2 hours. Hooray! Just past the finish I spied my aunt and uncle with their signs. They are the cutest spectators ever!
My fans! Aunt Linda and Uncle Pete with the signs my girls made.
We met up and walked back to our parking space, and we traded stories about all we had seen both as a spectator and a participant. They were so amazed at all the people and set up and activity that surrounded the event. It really is a huge undertaking! I stretched and then we headed for home so I could shower up before hitting breakfast. 
We went to a place called Johnny D's Waffle House that was awesome! In addition to their eclectic waffle menu, they had all kinds of other breakfast stuff, and I ended up with a California eggs benedict, featuring avocado and tomato. Yum! 
Dinner at the Roadhouse.
Later in the day, Aunt Linda and I hit Talbots to cash in on their 25% off sale. That was fun! I scored a pair of light pink pants, a flowered shirt and two oxfords for work. Yay! Their collection this season is really cute, by the way! We stopped at World Market and a junky tourist shop for other souvenirs to take home. I took a nap in the afternoon after all that excitement and then we topped off our wonderful day with dinner at Uncle Pete's favorite place--The Texas Roadhouse. That was my first time there, but the steak tips really hit the spot after a big morning workout. 
Race t-shirt backside, number & finisher's medal.
I am so grateful to have participated in the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon and to have spent such terrific time with my relatives. They are fabulous people, and we don't get to see each other nearly often enough. This trip solidifies that I need to get down here more often for more fun! Maybe I will have to repeat this race another year, and maybe Aunt Linda will try the 5k so I can go cheer for her. Thank you, Pete and Linda for an awesome weekend! State #34 is in the books!

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