Training Motto: Destination Knoxville
As part of my training for the Knoxville Marathon, I ran Myrtle Beach since all the logistics fell into place.
Here is the grade:
Expo/Registration: C ; The lay out of the expo and registration had something left to be desired. It was a little maze with not very much help in where to go first. You had to mill around the expo displays to find the registration in the back of the main room, this was where you picked up your number. You then had to go back out, through the crowd and expo to go to the chip table, which you then had to go to another table for chip verification (and there was a problem with everyone’s ages). They you had to go to another room to get the shirt. So with a couple hundred people in the lobby area, it was rather packed and difficult to first figure out where to go and then how to get there. The saving grace was that one of the sponsors, a local brewing company was giving out beer, to those of age… of course.
Race Goody Bag: B ; No plastic bag full of paper literature or a sample size of aquaphor or tylenol 8-hour. Nope, the only paper stuff you got with your number was medical information. The reprieve was you got a bag… a blue ergonomic saddle bag big enough to hold a good sized book with a cell phone pocket on the strap with the race logo.
Weather: A- ; The weather was great. It started a little cold about 30 degree at start time 6:30, rose to 49 in 2 hours and was low 50s by noon. It was warm in the sun but with a slight breeze, the shady parts were cold. If it had been cloudier, I think that would have been ideal, especially at the end where there was no shade for the last 5-6 miles.
Course: C+ ; You don’t get to see much of the ocean, just a bunch of hotels. There was (it seemed like 2 miles) of road around mile 17-18 where the top layer had been peeled off and was very uneven. You could see the beach here, but were concerned about footing.
Volunteers: A+ ; They were OUTSTANDING! They were everywhere and always cheering the runners.
Official Course Support: A ; Aid stations were well marked and there were ambulances at a number of locations. The police were awesome and saw a couple of them chewing out motorists for not listening. “HEY HEY I didn’t tell you could go! What were you thinking!?”
Finish Line Spread: C ; Not a whole lot of food for the runners afterwards, but it was appreciated. Dasani water in cans is not very good.
Shirt/Medal: B+ ; The shirt design was nice, nothing too over the top. They stuck with simple and it paid off. The medal was a rectangular medal with the number “8” and was nicely done. I’ll try to get a picture of it soon.
My Race: C+ ; Race time was 6:30. The alarm went off at 4:45 and I tried to reset it for 5:00, I woke up at 5:30 (whoops). Thankfully, I made it to the race start with about 5 minutes to spare. I heard a gun go off before I saw the start line and it was for the wheelchairs… I wish that I had been there earlier, apart from less stress, I could enjoy the prerace excitement a little more before starting out. Given the forecast for weather, I had foregone my ‘almost tights’ and chose the shorts, I had a longsleeved coolmax shirt under a short sleeved shirt plus hat and gloves (it was cold). If figured I could ditch the gloves and shirts (they were cheap) if it got too hot.
My plan at race start, run but not race the first half, then switch to run/walk for the remainder of the race with more walking after 23.
Miles 1-4 [0:42:34] The first few miles were fairly crowded, although not “running on top of you” crowded, but there were a lot of people. There were a bunch of discarded shirts and gloves on the road side although it hadn’t warmed up that much. At this point, I was running comfortably, just checking out the scenery, listening to people’s conversations… At the mile 4 water stop, one of the runners was running in the middle of street and decided to discard her water. So, she dropped it right at her feet. Little did she know that a faster runner was passing her at that moment and it splashed on her. The fast runner said “thanks” very sarcastically and passed her by a few strides. The water-dropping lady said “sorry” kind of meekly, obviously not meaning to have splashed her. About a 0.1 of a mile down the road, the water-dropper caught up to the other lady (as I was closer to the pace of the faster lady). I couldn’t tell what was being said, but I thought to myself that a cat-fight was going to happen and I had front row seats. Nope, oh well.
Miles 5-9 [1:35] Despite getting to see all the hotels on the boulevard, a lot actually happened on this stretch of 4 miles. At mile 4, I had the “sensation” that I needed to go to the restroom. However, there were long lines at the portajohns and didn’t want to really stop and wait. I knew I would to feel as I had to “catch up to speed”, so I waited for the right moment. At about mile 5.5 there was a group of 5-6 people huddled in the street. as I got closer, I realized that it was some person on the ground receiving some form of treatment. When I got to the scene, they were performing CPR on the runner, a male. As I passed, two other runners where running in the opposite direction to help out. My first aid/CPR has expired and I knew there was nothing I could really do to help, plus there was already a crowd around him. Less than a minute after passing him, I heard ambulance sirens, good thing for him too:
The portajohn lines are still long, and I hate to use them since (I won’t say all) women can’t go behind the building, so it takes more time off of their run for either 1 or 2. I had the idea, we are passing by the race headquarters hotel, why not stop there, there was a bathroom right in the expo area. So I dashed towards the door into the building and it was locked. Uh-oh. I quickly read the sign and it said something about the other entrance… okay, to the other entrance. I get into the lobby, now what? I think the people that were spectators of other runners thought I was funny-looking. I get into the lobby, looking at the signs for “restroom” and an arrow pointing me to a convenient locations. No Arrows, Uh-oh. But wait, a bar. Every bar has to have a restroom near it, for those who drink copious amounts of alcohol. Ah-HA! A restroom, and guess what, NO LINE. I am out of the door and back on the course in about 3 minutes, too slow by NASCAR pitstop times, but I was well pleased.
Mile 9, we are now on 17 business, which is the main roadway for businesses, and most of the streets are blocked off and supervised by police. However, there is one intersection that has no volunteers or police, but does have 3 impatient busdrivers. Highway 17 is a divided road, the right most lane was coned-off for the runners, leaving the other half of the northbound lane for vehicular travel. Well a gap opened up between runners and a very large passenger bus stuck its head out and made it to the other lane. His buddy, taking his lead, also made it out to the other lane. The third guy made it halfway, before he came into the path of the runners, a few who went around him, I saw a number of runners stop and some others were able to hop the sidewalk to avoid him. I was lucky to not have had to break stride for those guys.
Mile 9-13.1 [2:17] At mile 11, I saw on a info sign that it was 8:32 and 49 degrees. So we had been running 2 hours and it had risen about 20 degrees, I hope this wasn’t a trend! I decided that I would start the run/walk at mile 14 since it would coincide with a water station, it would make the transition easier. I could feel the first inkling that my legs were getting tired, but I still felt good.
Mile 14-20 [3:28] When I moved to the run/walk, I picked up the pace without realizing it. I went to a ‘run 9 walk 1’ interval and my pace at Mile 15 was 9:58, Mile 16 9:31 and Mile 17 9:44. I paid for it later, by 20 I was ready to switch to a run 4 walk 1. The road was really bad for about a mile around mile 18, it was like trail running except that it was asphalt. We were still protected by shade for most of the way, that wouldn’t last much longer.
Mile 21-25 [4:32] I switched to a run 4 walk 1 for a brief time, then went to a “walk for as long as I wanted, stretch and then run for a while” strategy. I carried with me two advil liqui-gels just in case I needed it in the later stages, which after this incident, will switch to Tylenol and use Advil the next day. They had been stored in my key pocket in my shorts and had been softened up nicely, at the mile 23 water station, I stuck them in my mouth to get some water to take them. Well, one of them burst in my mouth. What foul tasting goop, but let me tell you, it works. I could taste very little for the next few hours and had the aftertaste for quite a while. It the joy out of the Whopper Jr I had after the race.
The home stretch… I stopped with 1/2 mile to go to stretch and collect myself to make a good run for the cameras. The finish is two turns, the first turn is off the main road onto the road leading to the stadium (minor league baseball) at mile 26, 0.1 of a mile later is the second turn which is the straight away for the last 0.1 ot the finish. Right before the second turn, a guy cruises past me…and I thought, why not? So, I picked up the pace and was gaining on him. With about 30 yards to go he realizes that I am right on his heels and does his kick, and takes off. I finish right after him in a net time of 4:45:20. I congratulated him on his nice kick at the end.
At first, I wasn’t happy with my time, seeing that I want something more like 4:30. But I reminded myself that it was fine, it had been 2 years since my last marathon and I had forgotten somethings about being in the race of this size. I was glad that I had ran it, as it was a “dress rehearsal” for Knoxville and I know somethings that I need to work on before 3-20. Personally, it wasn’t hilly enough for me. The lack of hills, works the same muscles over and over again and I think made the last couple of miles a little tougher.
My legs have been sore, but not “I can’t walk down stairs” sore. I really to get back to running either tuesday or thursday, very light. I am skipping swimming today, although the weather is going to make huge pools outside!