The Myrtle Beach Half Marathon was last Saturday and I pretty much can't say enough good things about this race. Brian had Regionals for Razorback Hockey in Columbia, SC, which was about 3 hours away from Myrtle Beach. Following the nail-biting end to his first game (that ended with a win in over-time!), my mother-in-law and I jumped on the road to make our way east. Vanessa (who crushed her sub-4:00 goal in the full!) was nice enough to pick up my race packet, so we picked that up and then got to our room. We were able to score a great ocean-front room at a super reasonable rate and even got upgraded to a suite. Unfortunately the ocean view was a little lost on us due to how late we got in.
This race definitely ranks in my top 3…if not higher…and I hope to run it again. Here is everything I though about the race -
- Takes place in the off-season and, as mentioned, you have your choice of ocean-front hotels at super reasonable rates
- The course offers shuttles to and from area hotels and the race start and finish and worked well for me
- The course is flat, as in pancake f.l.a.t. = a great Boston qualifying race
- Granted there is no control over the weather, but my guess is it is normally pretty perfect, given the time of the year. It was in the 40s and 50s this year and I loved it.
- I didn't have much free time since I got in late and left ASAP after the race in order to make it back for Saturday's game, but it looked like a fun town to explore with good restaurants
- Great race bag swag - a blanket (who gives away race blankets? that was awesome) and nice race shirts….that are cotton (I am not a fan of the trend towards tech tees for races and was really happy to get a good ol' cotton tee).
- There was an elephant at the start….need I say more?
- 6:30 am start - I'm not sure why there was such an early start and I wasn't complaining since I was trying to make it back to Columbia by noon, but had I not had to jet so quickly, I would've preferred to avoid starting when it wasn't still dark
- Um, I think that's it….and a 6:30 start really isn't that big of a deal
Overall, the race went really well. I didn't really know what to expect and didn't have precise goals. I had trained for fun, basically just running however fast and however far I felt like and did the majority of my running on the treadmill. It's not to say I didn't train hard though - I pushed my weekly mileage, number of weekly runs, and paces far more than I have in recent years. My best time last year was 2:03 (and the rest of my halfs for last year ranged between 2:09 and 2:17) and my PR (from 2007) is 1:55. I knew I had it in me to beat the 2:03 and was hoping to slide in under 2:00.
I felt good during the race, really good. I lost my gel pack at some point, so I didn't get any fuel, but fortunately it was a half and not a full, so it wasn't a huge deal. I started with a handheld water bottle that I use for long runs and never bothers me. It was the first time racing with it and it was bothering me beyond belief, so I chucked that at one point. I do like handhelds better than the waist packs, but I think I need something smaller and/or more ergonomic.
10 seconds! I missed the sub-2:00 by 10 seconds. So close, yet….no dice. Over all, I'm very happy with my time and can't complain. I just wanted my time to start with a 1, but I know I can get that in the future. This race made me feel good about my training and made me feel like I'm getting my "running legs" back under me a bit. As for my mile-by-mile(-ish) analysis…..I felt good at the start and for the first half of the race. I started conservatively and, looking back, probably a little too conservative. I just really wanted to avoid going out to fast. I struggled a little around miles 7 and 8 and thought a sub-2:00 was out of the question at that point. Around mile 10, I realized it was actually doable and tried to make it happen. The ever-elusive negative splits still seem to evade me….
And fortunately I did get to glimpse the ocean-front view when I came back to the hotel for the world's fastest post-race shower before jumping back on the road to get to Brian's hockey game.
Do you run with water during a race? Do you prefer a waist pack or handheld?
Any lightweight and comfortable handhelds to recommend?