This past weekend, the Mrs and I finally made it down to Myrtle Beach to visit friends and for me to run the new Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. The event was a new race for me and for the city of Myrtle Beach. You may recall my failed bid to run the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon in February, a different half marathon which I missed due to illness though it was snowed out as well the morning of. My decision to run the race was prompted by several things including a reduced registration fee (for runners who signed up for the canceled event in February); a new, flat 13.1 mile course and a commitment made over a night of drinking in the summer of 2007.
A good college friend who lives with his family in Myrtle Beach and I agreed that year to run the MB Half together and planned to do so the following year but never got around to it until 2010. Our plans were dashed by my illness and the canceled event so along with signing up for the new October race, we also made a wager over tickets to a Carolina Panthers game. Essentially, the loser buys. Therefore, I had an added incentive to train for and run the event: trash talking.
Race day came this past Sunday morning and the weather forecast was perfect. Low 50's at the 7 am start with sunny skies ahead, no chance of rain and a day time high in the mid 70's. The only downside was the humidity was at 96%. We headed to the start on the outskirts of town in front of the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament hall. The start reminded me a lot of the Virginia Beach start due to the sky still being dark and that everyone was wearing summer clothing. We had driven most of the course on Saturday so I already had a good feeling about the race if my knees didn't give me any problems - a concern I have had all season. The only hill on the course was in the first 2 miles crossing a short bridge over the river heading into south Myrtle Beach. As we got underway, my knees did feel good and overall my legs were well rested. I had not run in 5 days but had run 20 miles only 8 days before.
I won't do the mile by mile race report but I can say that overall, the course was very pleasant. We ran around a big mall, through a park, around Broadway at the Beach and down Ocean Boulevard before coming back up the boardwalk to the finish. The run down Ocean Blvd. was particularly cool as that is where most of the spectators were while we were also surrounded by the beachfront high rise condos and hotels. It again reminded me of the Virginia Beach Half Marathon's run down Atlantic Avenue. The new boardwalk it turns out is partially a twisty concrete path through sand and palm trees. As the final mile took us north along the path to the finish, I was able to break into a full sprint and passed nearly 50 runners on my way to the boardwalk finish.
As I did in the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon, I wore a Clif pace armband to calculate my required time and mileage throughout the race. At each mile, I knew what time I needed to be within in order to achieve my goal of breaking 1:50:00. By mile 5, I had a :50 second buffer and by mile 11, I was on pace nearly :90 seconds under my goal. I knew as I passed Michelle and my friend's family around mile 11.3 that I would set a new PR unless something drastic happened in the final two miles. I picked up my pace as I moved in on the final mile and felt good enough to accelerate faster onto the boardwalk and towards the finish. As I crossed the finish line with a time around 1:46:30, I realized that I had run the final mile in under 7 minutes. This was by sure my best half ever.
I ran through the finish so fast, I basically forgot to get a finisher medal on the other side. A friendly volunteer quickly hunted me down and asked me if I wanted my medal and boy did I. This baby is sweet! It's a surfboard design with a shark bite/bottle opener, removal neck strap and magnet on the back. It weighs about as much as a full can of beer.
One of the best things about finishing a race in the front besides finishing a race in the front is that the lines for beer in the post-race festival are short. I had a big breakfast before the race and ate 4 Gu packs during it so I wasn't hungry but I sure was thirsty. I headed to the beer tent and got a free cup without even a wait before making my way back to the gear check table. There I got my clean clothes and cold cans of craft beer I stashed at the start and headed over to Ocean Blvd. to join Michelle and my friend's fam awaiting his finish.
Needless to say, I won the bet; now it was just a matter of making sure he finished his first half marathon. Some time later, he did run by and we headed to the finish line awaiting his arrival. I was now working on my second can of New South Brewery White Ale - a beer from a new, local brewery in Myrtle Beach. In the end, my buddy did finish the race and he did so having run the entire 13.1 miles, just at a slower pace than me. While I offer my congrats, it's time to pay up. Luckily, he already did and we are headed to the Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens game next month in Charlotte. Yes, I know our Panthers stink this season but ironically, they did finally win one Sunday.
I had a great time (literally) running the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. My official time was 1:46:21 with a 8:06/mile pace. For a new event, I thought it went quite well. I really enjoyed the run down Ocean Blvd. and would love for it to be an even longer part of the course next year. The course overall was very forgiving and as good as any I have run. The medal is bad ass and stands out for sure in my collection. A few suggestions to the race organizers - offer energy gel or beans or something similar on course and have signs or flags posted on poles to alert runners of upcoming water stops. Thanks to every volunteer and band who was out on course, you make all the difference.