Spoiler alert! I've got a new half marathon PR.
Finally, after the horrible spring 2015 racing season, I ran a decent half marathon. It's still not the time I really wanted, but considering how much my confidence was lacking going into this and between the weather (in the 40s with serious headwinds for the first half of the race) and only getting a few hours of sleep thanks to another round of teething with my toddler, I can't complain at all. And I'll admit, I got a just a little teary after I crossed the finish line because I've had such a lack of confidence and bad races, I thought I'd never see a PR in the half distance again!
The Myrtle Beach Mini is a looped course that heads north for the first half of the race and then loops back and heads south for the second half to the boardwalk finish. It's mostly flat with a few small inclines. I wouldn't really call them hills. Although, to me the Charleston half is a faster course, but maybe that's just because I'm so familiar with that course since I ran it so many times. There's something to be said for knowing what comes next in a race.
Things I liked:
- The flatness of the course
- The awesome finisher's medal and the finish line on the boardwalk
- They also had plenty of water stations and post-race food and drinks
Things I didn't like:
- The toilet situation at the beginning of the race was horrendous. They had about half the amount of porta-potties that they needed, so the lines were insane. They were also in a marshy field, so walking to the lines resulted in wet, muddy feet. Awesome.
- You do not get 5 miles of beachfront running, at least not what I consider beachfront running. Yes, you run on the street next to the beach for 5 miles, but your view of the ocean is blocked by large hotels for most of the way. This was a nice course, but not as scenic as I expected.
- The last half mile before the finish wasn't great. It was on a path by the ocean, so the views were gorgeous (that was what I call beachfront running), but the path curved repeatedly. Every 15-20 feet or so, the path curved in the opposite direction and the curves were sort of sharp so it made running the tangents hard. And the last half mile felt longer than the first 12.5 to me because of all this twisty turning. The headwinds were also back for this little stretch of the course.
So let's get to the recap.
Miles 1-4: I was able to lock into my goal pace of an 8 minute mile (or very close to it - my first mile was sub-8, the rest were slightly above), but the headwinds and exhaustion from the past two nights' lack of sleep was just too much. I started feeling strong, but I knew I probably wasn't going to be able to keep up that pace for the whole race. My legs felt great and my breathing was fine, but I just really wanted to lay down and take a nap at this point. It's a strange feeling to feel strong in your legs, but so tired everywhere else at the same time.
Miles 5-8: Ugh. The ugly middle miles. I purposefully dialed back my pace in mile 5 to about 8:20. I didn't want to deplete myself too much and was afraid the first 4 miles had taken a lot out of me. Things got really ugly in miles 6, 7, and 8 with my pace varying between 8:30 and 8:45. My coach said it sounded like I got a little stuck in my head during these miles, which is probably true. I was cursing to myself for most of these miles, wondering why the hell I was running 13.1 miles for fun.
Miles 9-10: By mile 9, I managed to pull myself together and remind myself that this is what I trained for. I was still on pace for a PR at that point, even if the Big Goal had slipped out of sight. And I did not go through all of this training to fail at getting a PR. For these two miles, I got myself right around 8:30.
Mile 11-13.1: At this point, I knew I was going to PR. I had held onto the pace long enough that I just needed to get through the last few miles. I sped up in mile 11 to about an 8:15 pace and passed several runners. One guy actually growled at me as I passed him. That was a first. I've never been growled at in a race before. Miles 12 and 13 were slightly slower, but still speedier than those middle miles and I had enough left in the tank to drop below a 7:30 pace for the last quarter mile or so.
I finished in 1:51:21 (an 8:29 pace), which is almost a 5 minute PR from January's half. I would have really liked to see at least a sub-1:50 on the clock (and had I maintained the pace I had at the halfway point split, I would have), but all things considered and with where I'm at in my training, I think this was a good race. It wasn't my prettiest race as far as splits go, but I could tell my training worked. I was able to pick up the pace at the end and had a better sense of how to run uncomfortably, even when I was tired.
I was doubtful going into this that I'd be able to run an 8 minute mile pace at this point, just because I haven't raced all-out in so long and because I haven't been getting enough sleep. So I'm sure that lack of confidence played into this as well. Maybe I should have just started at an 8:15 pace instead of trying for the 8:00, but oh well! The race is done and I got my PR. But I know I'm fully capable of running faster and so does my coach. She told me that if I was able to pull off such a big PR in spite of the lack of sleep and with the headwinds, I've definitely improved a lot.
I loved this race overall, and it was such a fun weekend running the Coastal 5K on Saturday and the half on Sunday. This is one I'll be back for again, and I'm glad I finally got to run it since it's been on my wishlist for the past two years.
Looking ahead, I'm anxious for the Charleston half this year since this will be my 4th year running it and I've PR'd every time except the year I was pregnant. I think somewhere around a 1:45 is completely within reason for that race.
But first, Kiawah.