Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Battle of Myrtle Beach

Sounds like a history lesson, doesn't it?

Well, I guess it is a lesson of sorts.  I know I learned a few last weekend.

Last weekend was the Myrtle Beach Marathon and Half Marathon.  I started eyeing this race for a few reasons; lots of good friends running, close to home, I've never been there (I know, right?!) and it is nice and flat.  I thought it might be the ideal spot to try for one of my 2013 goals, a 1:48 half marathon.  So, I hit that registration button and started the training cycle mid-November.  For those that note such things, that was only 2 weeks post-marathon.  I thought it would be easy peasy, coming off that marathon.  I was in shape, right?  What was 13.1 when i just did 26.2?  Piece of cake, right?  (and yes, it was exactly this attitude that led me to eating many pieces of cake....)

November was spent easing back into it, December started business as usual and then the holidays hit. What's a few pounds?  I'll work that off no problem, right after Christmas...then BAM.  Mr. Knee decided he wasn't happy.  And when Mr. Knee isn't happy, Mama ain't happy.  I was thankful for training runs when I could do them, and ecstatic when I could actually finish them which unfortunately didn't happen often.  So here I am, losing fitness, losing confidence, losing motivation, losing faith.  One week from Myrtle, I pretty much decided to just to go enjoy it, no pressure.  Eat, drink and be merry, and get through the weekend and to not worry about anything*.  (*yes, I realize that those who know me personally are laughing hysterically at that statement....)  Come Wednesday evening after I wrote this and after a session with my massage therapist/voice-of-clarity/guardian angel, I was actually beginning to look forward to it.  Thursday morning greeted me with a sore throat, clogged nose and that spacey sick feeling.  W. T. F.  Enter Zicam and Advil Cold and Sinus every 4 hours.

Friday I woke, vowing that I was going to make the best of it.  A positive attitude is what is going to get me through.  This was definitely a test for me.  I like to control as many variables as I can.  And when I can't I get very very anxious.  So, I promised I would do my best to just sit back and enjoy.  No stress, right?  So, off we went, the hubs and I.

Late travel start?  Charlotte traffic?  I handled surprisingly well (very proud of myself!) Myrtle Beach traffic? didn't see that one coming...but still, on time for dinner at 5 with my good friend, Rebecca and her hubs.  5:00 came and we're still in traffic but not far out.  We made it, I saw no line at the number pick up, so I grabbed my packet and we were sat down to dinner around 5:30ish.  I don't know what it is about getting your number and sitting down for dinner that makes me relax.  But it did and we enjoyed a nice quiet pasta filled dinner, saw more very good friends (shout out to Dave, Marc and Johane!!!), enjoyed more time at the expo (they had baby tigers!!!!!)  and ran into newly arrived Jyl and Graham (they got stuck in Myrtle Beach traffic too) and my new friend Bonny (holla!). Getting tired and wanting off my feet, we went to the hotel to settle in for the evening and get ready for the next day's 4:30am alarm for the 6:30am start. (zicam and advil are never an arm's length away)

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep.  PB and English Muffin with Banana time!  then crawl back into bed until it was time for the mad rush to leave the hotel (late).  Thinking we were smart we thought we'd drive the back way to the start.  EEEHHHH  Wrong answer.  I ended up hopping out of the truck and got my "warm-up" in by jogging to the start, which was a mad house, then frantically trying to find Rebecca and her hubs so I could tell him to call my hubs (they had plans to meet up at the start to head out to the course).  No dice.  I was able to find Jyl and Graham thank goodness.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to enjoy the nervous-tinkle-time-pre-race-porta-potty-visit.  The clock was clicking dangerously to 6:30, still no sign of Rebecca, we decided to go ahead and find our place at the start.  I was so frazzled by this point, that I didn't even see the elephant at the start line.  Leave it to me to be oblivious to the presence of a 4-ton animal.  Clearly my mind wasn't in the game.

Then, we were off.  Graham and I started together, but I got caught up in foot traffic and we got separated after the 1st mile.  Miles 2 was much the same, lots of people and I was unable to find my stride.  By #3, I was finally feeling okay.  So okay, that I thought, "1:48...should I? I mean, I'm here right....might as well give it a shot!"  I caught up with Graham.  He was looking comfortable and strong.  I was feeling decent, so after a quick check-in, I continued on and tried to get on pace for 1:48:00, which I finally was able to do around mile 5.  Mile 5.  Exactly the time I had to start my self-talks.  Exactly the time when those thoughts of "I can't" and DNFs enter the mind.  I took an inventory of how I was physically.  Legs, dead.  Energy level, dead.  The gel I took at the 40 min mark, not helping.  What is happening??  I was truly miserable for the next mile and half or so.  I did catch some much needed energy from seeing the faster runners after they made it past the turn around and cheered on as I saw Dave (who ran a 1:26, averaging 6:36 pace!!) flying by.  I got another gust of energy after seeing the hubs after mile 6 (I got so excited I almost cried!).  This helped carry me through to mile 9 between an 8:14-18 pace.  Then, it was all leaving me.  All the energy, all the will...I was leaving it in a trail of footprints behind me.  Nothing was working.  Gel, water, electrolytes.  Nothing.  Legs were like cannon balls, hips on fire.  Never have I felt this bad.  Never had I battled so hard to finish.  Finish.  I had to finish.  Just finish and then you can rest.

Hubs got this as I was coming in
at the finish.
Not the most flattering shot,
but you can see how ready
I was to be done!
Just keep going.

I don't know how, but I did.  I crossed the line with a 1:52:02.  Not goal, but it was a PR by just shy of 2 minutes.

After icing the knee (thank you Med Team!), some chocolate milk,  a little chatter and post-race photo op, we headed for the hotel.

me and Rebecca,
post-race photo op!

Hurricane Myrtle at

post-race treat
Then after sending all the "i'm alive" messages to friends back home, it was time to get cleaned up for a much needed post-race lunch.  Thank goodness we made it just in time for Hurricane Myrtle.

I wish I had more pictures, of me and Jyl and Graham and Bonny and The Hubs.  But honestly, I was really digging on my post-race treat.

I learned a few things from Myrtle Beach.
1) Respect the distance.  There is no such thing as "just" anything.
2) You can't control things that are out of your control.  Control what you can and try to flow with the rest.
3) Attitude is everything.
4) Your body (and your mind) needs rest.
5) You can't be in top shape all the time.  And that is OKAY!!

Closing thoughts:
I did battle that day in Myrtle.  I fought harder for those 13.1 than I have for anything else, even the marathon.  Not my best day, but I think it might be a day I'm most proud of to-date.  The odds were definitely not in my favor.  I was afraid the knee would bomb, I didn't know if my calves would cooperate, I was sicker than I would let myself admit.  I was not in shape to run that race physically or mentally.  The fact that I finished is a victory and then a PR on top...I don't know if that was luck or sheer determination...or maybe a little bit of both?

What now?  Now it's time for a little break.  I've taken this week off to kick that nasty cold and I've decided to take a slight hiatus from running to let my knee heal.  March will be race free.  It's time to get back to strength training to help prevent against future injury.  My training schedule will be light on running but filled with more swimming and biking to start getting me ready for my first full sprint-distanced triathlon in May....where I'm sure there will be stories of transition areas, bikes with lots of people, a lake and possible wet suit fiascos to share!  Until then?

Do like Jyl says....just keep going.

1 comment:

David Brown said...

Awesome Hope. Well done that lass.

What elephant?