There is something about taper week that just makes my body shut down.
Last year, a mere day before the Myrtle Beach Marathon, I woke up feeling tired, icky, and run down. Luckily, I was able to go home early and rest before we left, and rest in the car, and by the evening I felt better. I PR’ed the marathon distance the next day.
Not to be outdone, I woke up the Tuesday before the half feeling tired, icky, and congested. Wednesday I felt slightly better, but had no voice. Thursday I felt better than Wednesday. By Friday, the day I hoped and expected to feel even better, I battled a cough and felt tired and icky again. I took meds all week and rested as much as possible. No cancelations Friday so I couldn’t go home early, and to make matters worse, Bryan had taken a pain pill (he is still dealing with shoulder surgery recovery) and couldn’t drive. So, no resting in the car.
About 2:00 Friday afternoon I began mentally preparing myself to not “race” this race. I knew that as long as I didn’t wake up feeling worse the next morning I’d be able to run it but a PR was out of the question. I tried to focus on the fact that I was not injured (as two of my friends were) or so sick I couldn’t run at all (as another friend was), but of course I was still bummed.
I got home from work around 4 and Bryan and I left around 4:30. My parents had agreed to take the kids for THE WHOLE WEEKEND, so I figured even if my run didn’t go as planned, we still had that. It was a pretty uneventful ride out. We stopped at my favorite place ever for dinner (Chick-Fil-A) and arrived at packet pick up at around 7:15. Bryan waited in the car so I didn’t get the traditional pic holding my bib (though I guess I could have asked someone to do it for me) but I did get a couple fun items at the expo.
We got to the hotel around 8:30 and the rest of the evening was spent prepping (including meds) and resting.
That night, like every night before a race, I slept like crap. I swear I woke up every 30 minutes. More importantly though, I woke up feeling better! I got dressed, drank some coffee and hitched a ride to the start with a fellow speed work friend (Bronwen), looking to PR her marathon time. Race morning was CHILLY (yes!) and we arrived at the start around 6am. We stood outside freezing for a few minutes while I ate my Clif bar and then we did a quick and easy warm up. I tried to get in touch with the rest of the group to meet them at the start, but never could find them, so I took a solo start photo.
We had quite big group racing this weekend, each with his/her own goals. John was aiming to BQ, Bronwen to finish in 3:30, Melissa to run the half in under 1:33 (sheesh). Amy had originally planned to aim for a 1:35 PR as well, but was sadly out due to injury. My goals were as follows:
Stretch goal: 1:42:30 (7:49 average – I liked the even finishing number)
A goal: 1:42:36 (7:50 average)
B goal: sub 1:44:48 (anything under 8:00 average)
C goal: finish and don’t die (always a good goal)
At 6:30 the gun went off and the race began.
Miles 1-3 (7:49, 7:49, 7:50)
I felt great the first mile, but typically do during the first mile of any run or race, until my heart rate catches up with me if I happen to be going too quickly. I actually got stuck behind some slower runners despite starting pretty close to the line, so started out at about an 8:30 and had to catch up. I saw Melissa ahead of me doing some of her own runner dodging, but kept myself from calling her because 1. it would be distracting and 2. I knew if I was going to do this I needed all my energy. She quickly disappeared from sight.Thankfully I completed mile 1 and still felt great into mile 2 and 3. I actually had to make myself slow down. I did stop for some gatorade at mile 2.
Miles 4-6 (7:52, 7:51, 7:55)
Slightly slower these three miles but this was partly due to the water stop at mile 4, and the part where I took my ear warmer off and dropped my sunglasses. I had to run backwards to get them, so I was pretty impressed that my 4th mile wasn’t slower between the two stops. Somewhere into mile 6 I started to feel a little wheezy ( I took one puff before the race which is usually enough but when I’m congested I need it more often) so I also lost time there at the water stop digging for my inhaler and my preventative ibproufen (that I only use during races to fend off soreness).
Miles 7-9 (7:41, 7:43, 7:52)
I pulled my headphones out for the second half of the race but was happy to realize I hadn’t really struggled without them. It gave me a boost of energy and a couple faster miles, and I felt surprisingly strong. I saw John briefly, as he passed me. Mile 8 even included a water stop. Somewhere between 8 and 9 I passed Melissa, so I knew something was wrong, but I knew talking would wind me so I squeezed her shoulder as I went by. Mile 9 we made our way onto Ocean Blvd, and here is where I began to feel the wind. And actually, it wasn’t the wind that was so bad, but this pathetically slight but gradual incline through most of mile 9.
Miles 10-13.1 (7:50, 7:52, 7:53, 7:45, 7:02 last .1)
Y’all. That stupid wind and pathetic incline KILLED ME here. My paces weren’t far off my overall goal but considering where I was at mile 7 and 8 I could feel the difference. The last 3 miles took so much more effort. I thought I’d get a reprieve when we turned off Ocean Blvd but I was immediately greeted with a more legit hill. FFS. I skipped the last two water stops because I was nearing the point of feeling like stopping would just make it that much harder to get going again. I felt seriously ridiculous that the tiny inclines affected me that much, but all things considered, I was still very close to goal pace. The final mile was nothing but grit and determination. Seriously.
I crossed the finish clock almost exactly at 1:42:36, BUT, my official time was 1:42:17!!
After finishing I collected my medal and tried not to puke. Then I found Amy, who had graciously come along as the Pit Crew even though she was injured. We chatted for awhile while following the rest of the group, mostly waiting for Melissa. Once we had confirmation she made it across we set out looking for her, and luckily she was well taken care of thanks to Wise Man and his wife. She had also been sick the week before, and thought she was feeling better but her body revolted. I hitched a ride back to my hotel with Amy (thanks Amy!), where I rested until mid afternoon, enjoying the nice beach view from the window. I asked Bryan to take a picture of me with medal and he tried to get all creative, telling me to sit on the ledge and look out the window. This picture is literally catching me asking him “why?!”, but turned out really cute.
We spent the rest of the day walking around Broadway on the Beach, stopping in almost all the restaurants, deciding we didn’t want to eat there, and ended up at Applebees of all places.
After all the crazy maybe illness/maybe allergies drama, I’m convinced this race ended up such a success because of all the rest I was forced to take. I ran less than 8 miles and swam once the whole week before, taking 3 full rest days. So I now have this documented so I can remind myself next time: MORE REST! REST REST REST!
Chip Time: 1:42:17