This recap took much longer than I expected to finish. I have just been tired.

In the past, I’ve finished marathons with the desire to stay far far away from another one for at least a year. While I wasn’t upset about my finish at Disney, I finished it feeling…..unsatisfied, because I knew that in better conditions I could have done better. Not even 24 hours after finishing, I was mentally working through how I could try again before the humidity sets in.

My husband is a saint for putting up with the constant training.

Anyway, I managed to finish training take 2 without injury or illness, and then 48 hours before the race, I started to feel sick. Tired. Lightheaded. A little nauseous. I took an ibuprofen and hoped, waking up Friday morning feeling slightly better (at least not worse!). I lucked out with a few cancelations at work and was able to leave early and plant my butt on the couch for a couple hours, and (THANKFULLY) by the time my ride came I felt considerably better.

Tammie, who originally thought she might be making the trip up and running solo, found herself carting 3 of her closest Tri friends with her. Kelly and Dena had signed up for the half, and Tammie and I were both searching for our own redemption. Although she had BQ’ed at her marathon in December, given the time cut off needed in the most recent race, she wanted to switch her qualifier from a “maybe” to a “definitely”.

We left around 3:30 and spent an hour in Summerville traffic (fun), finally arriving at Myrtle and the expo around 6:30. Packet pick up was simple – give your bib number, get your bib. Rules hadn’t changed from last year, you could still pick up a friends packet with the need for a secret password – something I’m still amazed by. We walked around for a bit and I bought some much needed Body Glide and a pair of sunglasses. On the way to the hotel, we stopped for dinner at TBonz, where I happily gorged myself on carbs. (Mmmm, carbs). From there, we headed to the hotel, got our million things ready for the morning and went to sleep.

I don’t normally sleep well the night before a race, and this night was no exception. Considering I was in an unfamiliar bed and racing in the morning, I slept pretty well. My alarm went off around 4:30 and I jumped in the shower (it helps wake me up), ate and got dressed.

The four of us loaded the shuttle at 5:30 to head to the race start, which was right outside the Pelicans ballfield. We made a few trips to the bathroom and huddled together to try to stay warm.

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Perfect race weather isn’t always perfect standing around weather. There, we met an older gentleman dressed as a penguin. Apparently he does this for many races.

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We headed towards the race start at about 6:15, and it was here some excitement finally started to kick in. We situated ourselves near the 3:45 pace flag and waited.

Even though the conditions of Disney weren’t optimal, it was still a good learning experience. Typically, I like to try to start races a bit slower and finish faster, but the marathon is a whole different ballgame for me I nixed that idea and decided I had one goal: STEADY.

The race was well manned, with water stops every 2 miles, planned GU stops at 16 and 22, and then water every mile from 22 on. We hit one snag early on though – the mile marker at mile 1  was a tenth of a mile too soon. In fact, every mile up until where I stopped caring, so probably mile 18 or so, was at least a little short.

The first 10k was down a side street to 17 and then to the airport. Not super scenic, but I’m often concentrating too much during races to care anyway. We passed the first water stop and did a quick walk through of the second two, finishing the first 10k at an 8:34 average. Around mile 8 is where the “fun” started. The scenery became considerably nicer, but with it came a freakishly annoying coastal headwind that lasted FOREVER (around 11 miles). We pressed on, though, stopping at mile 12 for a potty break (Tammie) and a stretch break (me), where we lost about 55 seconds, but still finished the half at 1:52:53.

Fuel wise, I had two applesauces with me, and had planned to walk through most water stops and use the Gu stops at 16 and 22. By the time we reached 16 I was starting to get tired from trying to keep pace fighting the wind, and was really looking forward to that Gu, but I COULDN’T FIND THEM! I saw bananas and oranges, but no Gu, and by the time I realized that I missed them (or they weren’t there, I’m not really sure which) it was too late to go back to get anything.

I’m pretty sure I cursed the wind all the way through miles 16-19, where we FINALLY turned and headed a different direction. At the third checkpoint we were slightly behind pace (8:37) and I was starting to feel the effects of missing the Gu 3 miles before. Tammie was nice enough to give me a couple chews she was carrying with her, which helped a little, but I was still struggling. I was keeping pace, but what had started out as an easier conversational pace turned into a pace I really had to concentrate to keep. Not only that, but the “fast flat” course forgot to mention a  couple of steady inclines late in race (which I had obviously blocked out from the year before). I pulled out the music, which helped some. I was REALLY happy to see Mile 22 where someone was actually passing out the Gu. I’ve never been happier to see a packet full of carbs and sugar in my life.

At this point Tammie was leading and I was beginning to trail slowly behind. We’d agreed to stick together until Mile 23, which was where she started to pull ahead. I was searching for my best running music in my iPod, because I needed all the help I could get. I wouldn’t say I ever “bonked” or officially hit a wall, but I was definitely feeling tightness in my hamstrings and overall fatigue. I managed to speed up a little, and ran Mile 23 in 8:25. I stopped to stretch a few seconds at 24, and finished that one on pace in 8:36. Finally I picked up a bit of a “second wind” the last mile and ran 26 in 8:17.

Most of the last .2 was through the finish chute, and I was thrilled to realize that those couple faster miles had moved my average time up from an 8:37 to an 8:35 – the goal I needed to finish in 3:45. I crossed the finish in 3:45:54 gun time, feeling like a rockstar. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, and these ones taken by my friends captured it well I think.

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Official Results:

Total Distance: 26.26 (much better than Disney’s 26.5!)

Gun Time: 3:45:54

Chip Time: 3:45:18

Overall Finish: 325/1421

Gender Finish: 79/597

Age Group Finish: 11/67

Average Pace: 8:35

Redemption race was a success with a nearly 10 minute PR from Disney, and 17 minute PR from this same race last year !!

Oh, and Tammie turned her maybe into a definitely with plenty of time to spare, finishing in 3:44:38 (her BQ goal time was 3:55)!

WOO HOO!

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