My expectations for this event were pretty low. Not enough training (one run over 12 miles since my 50k 6 weeks ago) and coming off a cold that had me struggle to run 3 miles on Tuesday, not go into work on Wednesday morning, and 90% sure I was Not going to the beach for the weekend.
Once I had a glimmer of health back Wednesday evening, I was back on for the attempt. Anywhere from 4:10 to (hopefully) 5 hrs was likely, with a 4:18 goal to beat my 1st marathon time from 2001 out in San Diego.
Drove from Greenville Friday afternoon and went straight to packet pickup. $3 parking fee was a surprise. Expo is not much to behold unless you want Gu, gloves or stickers. I did pick up an extra 50K sticker for a dollar, so it wasn't a total waste.
I picked up 2 other bib's (relay-Todd who was running the full and my co-worker who was skipping the fun) which was easy: Sign your name and their name and here you go!
Picked up shirts, bags and towels too. All with some shade of green as this was a "green" marathon. Towel for the beach made sense, and soon came in handy as my 2yr old fell on her back in 2 inches of ocean water!
Skip to that evening and a later than expected dinner of pizza with the relay crowd & family, hoping the pizza wouldn't sit too heavily with us.
Got my bag ready before a 10:30-ish bedtime. 4:40am alarm for a quick bagel and we were out the door from the Surfside-Beach-party-house soon after 5am.
Parking was a breeze and other than dozens of port-a-johns and a couple of tents, saw nothing but people everywhere getting ready for the full or half marathons. We made our pit stops, got our bags ready to drop off (so much for making it "green", supplying a garbage bag to hold everyone's drop bag. Ridiculous.)
My 1st mistake was forgetting to take out my powerbar. Oops. Had 3 Gu's, disposable camera, chapstick, and four S-caps. Mistake 2: no sunscreen. With temps already approaching 60° at the 6:30am start time and sunny skies with a high near 70° - I'd pay for that one. With it supposed to be windy, I opted for my sleeveless shirt, a long sleeve throwaway (that didn't even last 1 mile), my thin gloves (didn't last half a mile), plus my Race-Ready shorts and some compression shorts underneath. Decided against my new Balega socks and stayed with one of my worn pair. Asics 2140's rounded it out (same pair as Marine Corps, still plenty of miles left in them). Used my hand held Ironman water bottle - as usual.
Ran into fellow relay goons Kerrie and Kathrin as Todd and I settled into the pack near the 4hr pace group sign.
In no time, we were off as the glow from the upcoming sunrise was behind us. I ran with Todd for just a few minutes before letting him go and settling down into my own pace, not quite sure what that would be. It was crowded, but very manageable. Cardio seemed fine as my pace was fairly consistent over the first few miles.
Mile 1-9:04, Mile 2-9:08, Mile 3-8:59, Mile 4-9:03
Running down deserted King's Highway was interesting for a bit. Then the smell of breakfast (Mmmm, bacon...uh, please no, not now!) hit you as you pass Pancake House after Pancake House. Out past the airport (Hooter's girls manning the aid stations?) and turned up for a loop around Market Common. Some full and halfers were already exiting as I came in, 2+ miles behind them. I started looking for familiar faces and saw relay-Dave cruising. Hit the 10k (?) timing mat with the same pace. Soon came across a few fellow Greenville Track Club runners doing the half, Guenter and one of my older rabbits, Bobby. Ran with him for a bit, so that was nice.
Mile 5-8:58, Mile 6-9:07, Mile 7-8:51, Mile 8-8:53
Should have taken one more pit stop before the start, and waited until the right opportunity at Mile 9. Saw many guys run off to trees a good 50 yards out of the way to take care of business. Why run that far more than you have to?? I wasn't going to (and didn't). Anyway...
The half marathoners split off near mile 11 and I took advantage just after that to refill my water bottle.
Mile 9-9:25, Mile 10-8:56, Mile 11/12-17:55, Mile 13.1-10:10
Hit the halfway mark at ~1:58 or so. I wasn't pushing, but I knew I couldn't hold that pace for too many more miles. Hips were already making their presence known, but nothing from my knee(s). Hitting around 9min/mi thru 16 or even 18 would be wonderful, and give me a good cushion to finish closer to 4 hrs than 5 hrs.
Gu's at 5mi, 10mi, 15mi had me expecting to have 1 or 2 more from an aid station at 16 & 22. No luck. Why would they only have 2 flavors? and not vanilla? Come on! Really had me wishing for my power bar. Did have a quarter of an orange along the way.
Forgot my S-caps after the 1hr and 2hr capsules (didn't break open this time! yippee!! Hmmm, never did that Paris Mountain 20k report, did I?). Oh well.
So - kept my consistent miles thru 16, where I decided I would start walking for 1 minute at each mile marker. These 8 miles along Ocean Boulevard were fine. Glimpses of the ocean between the high rise hotels were nice. Very thankful the sun was hidden behind them as well. Wind started picking up around mile 15, and running directly behind someone did not help against the headwind.
Around Mile 17, the hotels ended and began blocks of houses. Then the only obvious bit of elevation change in a slight downhill followed by the full-on heat from the sun.
Mile (13.1to)14-7:59, Mile 15-9:06, Mile 16-9:12, Mile 17-9:42
As we headed into the out-and-back section, I started looking at the runners coming back from the turn around. Soon enough, saw another co-worker well under his 4hr goal pace, followed immediately by Todd. Snapped a few photos and hit the aid station at 18 for another refill. Yet another GTCer, John (Race Director for many events, including the Paris Mountain Trail Races) was leading the 4hr pace group and came upon me. I quickly said No as to whether I was trying to break 4 hours. At this point, I knew 4:18 was a reasonable goal. 8 miles left and I was already doing the math. I would continue the math for the next 8 miles. (a 14min/mi pace for the last 4 miles would put me here...). Kerrie flew by me at mile ~19.5 looking strong. No more familiar faces after that. Did leap frog quite a few of the same people the last miles as we alternately ran/walked.
My will began to wane at 21 miles. From 16-20, I decided to walk 1 minute twice a mile. That dropped my pace down to ~10:25 or so. At 21 though, that combination wasn't appealing either. Run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. That was my plan and I (mostly) stuck to that for the final 5 miles.
Mile 18-9:55, Mile 19-9:37, Mile 20-9:53, Mile 21-10:23
Had started dumping a water over my head at the aid stations, which led to an important discovery: look what is in the cup BEFORE you dump it over you. I thought I had asked if it was water. Then I look down and my white shirt is now pink and wanting to stick to me. Oops. Bet I looked funny. Felt kind of silly, but it did interrupt the monotony for a few minutes.
Running on the bike/walking path was a nice diversion, but it seemed more like 2-3 miles than the actual ~1 mile it was. Making that turn onto it though was a high point - it meant we were really heading back towards the finish line! We soon had one more short out-and-back (by another water stop) I could have done without.
Mile 22-11:01, Mile 23-11:15, Mile 24-12:24
Mile 25 and I knew I needed to do better than the previous mile, so I pushed myself a little more. I walked up on a happy younger girl who declared she needed someone to run with her and decided I was it. It was her 1st one and she had much more left than I did. I had to stop at an aid station for some vaseline (I remembered a few miles earlier this was the shirt I had an issue with at Marine Corps, chafing under my arm. another oops). With the reminder not to eat it, I applied the gob under my arm and continued on. 4:18 was going to happen, but what about 4:15? Let's see...
Ran a bit more that last mile, Saw a right hand turn and the 26 mile marker as we went into the finishing chute. This really was nice...made you run to the end. Kept my eyes open for my wife/daughter, and ran pretty strong thru the finishing mat in ~4:14:14. Whew!
Mile 25-11:39, Mile 26-11:32 last 0.2-1:54
Got my medal and there was my family - they had seen me finish (and had a 2 second Flip video clip to prove it!). I was beat and my hips/thighs were done. No cramping, although my right arch and right calf "almost" showed some signs. Stomach didn't feel quite right the last 2 miles. Wasn't nauseous, but just not right.
Post-race: food (hot chicken noodle soup - Good!) and lots of water/gatorade as I rested and chatted with our group. No serious pains, but did get a little sunburn. 2 days later and I feel on the mend and can see myself running in another day or two. Not sure where I'll go from here, but that 40 miler is still calling...
Pictures to come (eventually)!