I have a lifetime goal: to run a marathon in every state. At least this is a goal for now and it’s been since I found out about the 50 States Marathon Club 5 years ago.
I say for now because you never know what life is going to throw at you, how are you going to evolve or if your interests will remain the same.
The truth is that even though I love running I can burned out. Sometimes when I train hard and run a marathon I feel I need a break from running to have more time to do other things I enjoy like yoga, spin, weight lifting or sleeping in!
Now last year I was in California and I found out about the OC Marathon 3 weeks before race day. I wasn’t training for anything but I felt that I couldn’t pass the opportunity of being there and checking out the state from my list so I did it and it was great! Something similar happened with Myrtle Beach.
I haven’t been running much since I paced the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon back in November and after performing well at the Tybee Half in February I wanted to focus on training to maybe break my PR at the Palmetto Bluff Half (race recap coming soon).
One night I started looking into races to see if there was a marathon in the area I could sign up for later in the spring and found the Myrtle Beach Marathon that was in just 10 days and only 4 hours away from home! It seemed like another opportunity I couldn’t pass since I haven’t run a marathon in South Carolina yet. I gave it some thought and decided to sign up because that previous weekend I was able to run 16 comfortable miles, my longest run in the past 4 months. This is not even close to enough training when wanting to run a full marathon but I knew I could cover the distance so I started thinking about people who may want to join me.
I invited my dear friend and running partner Julie who couldn’t make it and my friend Cecilia who, like me, couldn’t resist the offer! Her friend Matt was also signed up so we decided to ride together and oh boy! So glad I had great company for this trip!
We left Friday afternoon and headed straight to the expo, which was at a very pretty location. We picked up our bibs and t-shirts and were happily surprised with our race bag that included some cool orange sunglasses that I used during the race and some pretty race socks.
Then we headed straight to Mellow Mushroom to do some serious carbloading. I ordered their medium thin crust kosmic karma pizza with vegan cheese and devoured it all but one piece… I was so full! Then we headed to our hotel in a food coma. The race was offering some great deals for the weekend in some hotels and since I signed up only 10 days before go time my options were limited. We stayed in a pretty decent room at the Landmark Resort and when booking I was very happy to learn that they have many green initiatives: they recycle, use energy star qualified products, use recycle material toiletries, use energy efficient bulbs, and much more… For more info click here.
We changed, checked the weather, unpacked our race clothes and went straight to bed.
Race day!!! Now I had two options: to run like crazy without any training knowing that I’d probably crash at some point to probably be barely under 4 hours with no possibility of a new PR and have a most likely miserable race or to have fun, enjoy the whole experience and take advantage that I could run a race with friends… I chose the latter!
Cecilia and I kept going back and forth about what to wear. We kept stepping in and out of our balcony to check the temperatures and in the end I settled for long tights and a t-shirt while she went with a skort and long sleeve shirt. I was very happy with my clothes choice, I only wished I had some gloves. We had a brown rice cake with almond butter and headed down.
We barely made it to the last bus that was leaving from the hotel to the starting line. I rushed to check my bag and when we got to the start there was not that many people and everyone we saw was walking on the opposite direction. We thought that was weird so we finally asked a guy that was wrapped in a blanket and sipping some coffee from a ceramic mug and he replied “Oh! The race started 5 minutes ago but don’t worry I’ll be the last one”, that’s the sprit, I thought! We started running and right away we began passing people. At this point the temperatures where in the low 30s… Perfect racing conditions!
The course was flat and pretty. I’ve never been to Myrtle Beach so I was happy to explore this town running! There were some good bands every so often that really kept our energy going since we were running without music. We passed some beautiful shopping area with cute colorful houses and then hit Ocean Boulevard where we stayed for about 11 miles. It was nice to see the ocean in between the buildings and more than once we had some strong gusts of winds. Once we passed all the hotels we got into this beautiful area full of gorgeous beach houses and we couldn’t stop talking about how each house was prettier than the one before!
At mile 16 I started feeling the pain in my legs… A bit early for this but that’s what happens when you don’t train for a big race. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run: 26 miles is 26 miles.
Then we started heading back and hit a very nice and quiet trail, exactly what I needed around mile 20! There were a lot of water stops and volunteers around the course and it was so great to have Cecilia next to me… Our strategy consisted in walking every water stop, chatting almost the entire time and encouraging each other during those last difficult miles: perfect plan for me!
We finally got to that last stretch and sprinted our way to the finish line. Marathon #11 is in the books! Official time? 4:15:35. We hugged, got our medal and found our friend Matt who finished an hour before us. By the time we finished temperatures were around the low 40s.
We grabbed some food, headed back to the hotel to shower and went to eat some delicious fried pickles, burgers and onion rings at River City Café where they had all these crazy burger combinations and of course a vegan option!
Right after a second food coma in less than 24 hours we jumped back in the car and headed back home… A very short but very productive trip!
This race is a great one for those looking to PR in a fast course. The only thing I found difficult was opening my two energy gels because my hands were frozen and I couldn’t move them so definitely be prepared!