Snow on palm trees. What?
It took me nearly 5 years between marathons #13 and #14 – you’d think I’d have run (err, shuffled) right home and written the post about my Great Comeback Marathon at Myrtle Beach. Alas. No.
Now, in the wake of all that has happened in the past two weeks, it seems pretty anticlimactic, not to mention irrelevant, to write about a marathon from over two months ago. But there are some highlights to revisit, and I suppose they are worth revisiting.
First, leading up to the race, I made sure to do all the right things: I worked 10-12 hours a day, I didn’t exercise at all, and I got super stressed-out in the office (see items 1 and 2), so I was a joy to be around. Oh, and my birthday was Fat Tuesday, so I celebrated by not going out and by watching the State of the Union like the DC nerd I am. (Don’t feel too bad. I celebrated early, on Sunday, with Bon Jovi and drinks with friends at my homeboy Lincoln‘s bar.)
But the day of departure finally arrived, I deleted access to my work email from my phone, and I made my way to meet Nikki at the airport. We boarded the bus to our teeny tiny plane, only to realize Cokie Roberts was on board with her husband (she helpfully pointed out a place for Nikki to place her bag). Now, Cokie is on the board of my organization, and I’d just had a bad week…so for the purposes of conversation my place of work became “Safeway.” I was pretty sure she wasn’t running the marathon, but that would have been particularly awesome.
We flew into Myrtle Beach and took a cab to our hotel. Unfortunately it reeked of smoke. He took us on the short ride into town – and I began freaking out that I’d convinced 6 friends to run a race in Cancun; specifically, it looked like Cancun threw up. I had not been to Myrtle Beach since 1976, and since I was 2 then, my memory wasn’t so good. Of course, I had to say this on Facebook…and (of course), when my post went up I found out a friend from growing up lived there, and I’d just insulted her city. Sorry, Brandi!
Myrtle Beach was an awesome race, because everything was very closely located. We stayed in the Sheraton, and the expo was in the convention center attached to the hotel, so we could walk to everything without even having to go outside. Priorities, though: Nikki and I convened with our NYC friends and went in search of food before doing anything else.
One of the people in this photo wearing stripes flew all the way from Switzerland to join us. (She’s crazy.) (Love you, Andrea!)
After lunch, we headed to the expo. No signage, but we just followed the fit-looking people.
Best part of the expo?
Baby tigers?! What do baby tigers have to do with a marathon? Not too much. But this race’s beneficiary was the The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S….get it?). More on that later.
We breezed through the expo, gave some money to service dogs-in-training (if you took out a dollar, they’d take it from you, and dump it in their charity’s bucket. Awesome party trick.)
Then we went in search of food again. Dinner time!
Traveling with my friend Ilse is like traveling with a personal concierge. She had done tons of research, scoped out good places to eat, and made reservations for nearly all of our weekend meals ahead of time. Even when we found a closer place, the reservation was magically switched – all I had to do was show up and eat. This is my kind of vacation! Dinner was Italian, and delicious, and ended with a birthday tiramisu for me (+ 3 days) and birthday chocolate something for Nikki (actual birthday).
We all went our separate ways, so we could set our alarms for (4 a.m.) an early-bird (6:30 a.m.) start time. Honestly it had been so long since I did a marathon that I couldn’t remember what to do. So I took a shower, laid out my clothes, and talked with Nikki. At some point I fell asleep, because next thing I knew the three alarms (and our wakeup call) were blaring and it was time to get up.
The good part about not remembering was that I also wasn’t very nervous. I ate my gross soy nut butter sandwich, had some coffee, and used my foam roller. The start line was about 3/4 of a mile away from the hotel, so we followed everyone else walking in the street. I peed behind a gas station, and Ilse, Phil and I lined up.
Then Bubbles started the race.
As we passed Ms. Bubbles, I thought she might be taking a poo, but she was just lying down in the median (the half-marathoners were separated from the marathoners by the median; the course is shared until about Mile 11). Also, as you can see from Ms. Bubbles’ backdrop, at 6:30 a.m. it was still dark. This reminded me a lot of running the Honolulu Marathon, where the race begins at 5 a.m.
So then what happened. Lots of running. 26.2 miles of it, actually. Ilse, Phil and I stayed together for the first 18 or so miles, and Ilse and me until after mile 20. The highlights, if you want to call them that, of what I remember:
- Phil and I ran behind some bushes to pee around mile 7 (We wondered if the good people of Myrtle Beach might arrest us for this. They didn’t.), then spent the better part of the next mile catching back up to Ilse.
- Some excellent hotel signs from the many hotels of Myrtle Beach. I can’t remember a single one. But they were funny.
- At Mile 14, I declared I was “over this” and “didn’t understand why anyone would think running a marathon was fun.”
- At Mile 14.5 we turned a corner and ended the long slog along the strip of hotels. Two men sat on that corner singing “Wagon Wheel” and I lit up. Old Crow Medicine Show is a band started by some young’uns from my hometown – I am all about “signs,” and it was a sign that I would finish. It also gave me something to sing.
- At Mile 15, I said “well, at least we have less than 10 miles to go.” Err… my math was corrected quickly.
- At Mile 17, I saw my friend Sandeep from my DC runners group run by…which surprised me because he’s way faster than I am, but I also had no idea he’d be there. He started 10 minutes late (?) and it took him the 17 miles to catch up and then pass us.
- Mile 20, some random man in a median singing Jackopierce songs. This made me even happier than Wagon Wheel.
- Miles 20-26 made me think about how I probably should have trained better. Or, you know, maybe run more than twice a week.
- I was alone for the ending miles, but around 24 I saw Phil and was super happy to catch up with him. I wanted to run the rest of the way together, but he waved me ahead.
- I did at least remember to run quickly at the end – I still had some kick – and my last mile was my fastest (8:15). Unfortunately, my dying piece-of-junk, want-me-to-pay-$32-for-new-battery Nike watch deleted the splits, but we were pretty consistent all day.
- Ilse, Andrea, Phil and I all finished within four minutes of each other. Finally, I was off of (very unlucky) Marathon #13, and onto #14. Final time: 3:51:53. No complaints here!
The post-race food and goodies were excellent – soup, chocolate milk (better idea than reality, at least for me), Cape Cod potato chips, and who knows what else.
This is perhaps the most boring race recap I’ve ever written. I don’t even have a photo of all of us from the end, because I am too cheap to spend $30 on MarathonFoto to get one, and I haven’t seen Sandeep (who took one on his phone) since race day.
I really, really wish I could post them, but MarathonFoto is smarter than I am.
Anyway. Overall, Myrtle Beach is NOT Cancun, at least not in the wintertime. The people are exceptionally friendly, the food was good (and inexpensive) and we had a great time. If the most negative thing I can say is that “the cabbies smoked in their cabs,” well….I guess that worked out alright.
Once again, I am going to ponder…what could I run if I really, really trained? I am beginning prayers to the Keep Me Safe From Injury God now. Let’s see what happens!