This was my first half-marathon. While I had ran 13.1-plus numerous times during my training in high school and college, I had never actually raced the distance.
Since coming back earlier this year, the most I had run leading up to the half marathon was only 6 miles. As a result, I was unsure how I was going to do in this race. I was excited, but really wasn’t sure.
Amanda and I rode down with a co-worker of mine, who had actually encouraged us to sign up for it. Initially I was hesitant due to my inexperience in the distance, but ultimately signed up and am very thankful we did.
Going into the race, I eventually decided on my A, B, and C goals. C was simply to finish. I was 99% sure that I would accomplish at least one goal. B was to finish in under 2 hours. This came out to just over a 9:00 minute mile. Again – I was almost positive that I would be able to accomplish this goal, but I wanted a B goal that was in reach. My A goal was to finish in under 1:45.
It was also a cold 39 degrees at the start – super cold for Myrtle Beach.
A quick con – the bathroom situation was pretty dismal. I was lucky to have gotten to use the facilities immediately prior to the race.
We were off! Again, in keeping with the theme, I wasn’t quite sure how to race this half marathon, so I started towards the back of the 8:00 minute per mile to 9:00 minute per mile groups. The gun was off and I quickly found myself catching up with the 8:00 pacer. I decided .25 miles in to stay with the pacer for as long as I could. If I was able to hang with the pacer, I figured that I would be able to get my A goal and a number of 8:00 minute miles would get me closer to the 2 hour goal. I figured that if I could run 5 miles at 8, even if I didn’t have the endurance to keep that up, I would only have to run 8 miles in 80 minutes, which was a 10 minute mile. Right there at 2 hours.
Our pacer was a friendly and talkative guy. A number of us interacted with him through the first few miles, which absolutely flew by. The mile markers kept coming quickly. 3 miles in. Feeling good. 4 miles in. Feeling good. In fact, one guy with an awesome hat, who I ended up seeing right at the finish line, and I kept slowly inching forward and having to reel ourselves back in with the pacer. During this time, we had been talking about the races we ran, and I mentioned that it was my first half marathon. The guy with the awesome hat looked at me and said, “Oh, so you’re one of those guys.”
In the third and fourth miles, I kept thinking about how I wanted to race. I was feeling shockingly good. So much so that with 10 miles to go, I had decided that with 5 miles left, if I was still feeling good, I would leave the pacer. At 4 miles, that was still the plan. However, at 5 miles, I decided that I wanted to really try to run the remaining 8 miles and power out some miles.
I put the second headphone in, changed the Spotify station to my running playlist, and began to race. Between miles 5 and 10, I averaged just under 7:15 per mile. I was reeling in runners and passed approximately 50 runners over those miles and was not passed by anyone.
Mile 10 hit and I was feeling as good as you could after racing 10 miles at sub 7:45 pace. But at this point, I was really beginning to look for those mile markers. Whereas they before they were coming earlier than I expected, I began looking for them and thinking that I missed them, only to see them a minute or so later.
Mile 11 hit and I hit a wall. I really started to struggle. My lower back really began to hurt and I slowed considerably. I wasn’t quite sure what my time was as I didn’t have my GPS watch. A guy came up on my right and passed me and I decided to try to run with him. He was pushing out at 6:15 or so pace, and I was able to keep up with him for 3 or 4 tenths of a mile. We passed quite a few people, only for them to pass me after I was unable to keep up with 6:15 guy.
Ultimately, the guy with the awesome hat ended up catching me with about 600 meters to go. He was moving quite quickly. He came up and said, “Let’s go rookie. Let’s run this out together.” I gasped, “Alright. But I went too early.” He ended up sprinting ahead of me and finishing about 20 seconds ahead. I finished with a gun time of 1:41:40 and a chip time of 1:41:26, good enough for 7:44 per mile. This was well ahead of both my A and B goals, and I have a new benchmark.
As is everything with Myrtle Beach, the post-race celebration was loud and fun. Plus, take a look at these medals. They are huge and add a pretty neat element to our racing display. Really, part of the reason why I wanted to race this event was for this medal. Super cool.
There was music, free beer (all you cared to drink), and a lot going on. We stayed for the awards ceremony as I was interested to see how close I was. I ended up finishing 10th out of 90 in my age group, 115th out of approximately 900 in gender, and 143rd overall out of 2600 total entrants. I was very pleased with this. I was approximately 10 minutes of age-group placing, which is completely doable in the future if I train and log more miles.
I’m writing this less than a week and a half out of the race and have already signed Amanda and I up for the one next year. I truly enjoyed the distance and the experience and am excited to run the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon again next year.
I ended up using my Reebok Compression, HYLETE Shorts, UnderArmour Top, and racing compression socks.
I went with the HYLETE shorts because of the zip pockets on both sides. I was able to keep my phone, a car key, and a gel without ever really knowing they were there. They totally kept them stable for me during the entire run and I absolutely love them. Really, my favorite work-out shorts ever. They were also light enough and right above the knee that I didn’t feel like they ever slowed me down.
One place where I can update my gear is in the shoes – I need to get a racing half marathon shoe instead of my trainers. I’ll definitely be looking at updating this.
Overall, I definitely rate this experience as a 9.5 out of 10.