Monday, February 20, 2012

Myrtle Beach Half recap

Time (chip)- 1:12:17
Position- 9th (3rd in AG)

Let's start at the end. My immediate feeling upon crossing the line was one of relief. I had just about managed to get a new PR in spite of spending the last 2 miles of the race feeling like I was crawling through treacle, in more agony than I can recall feeling in a race since the last few miles of my first marathon back in 2006. I was so out of it that I thought I had seen 1:12:07 on the clock as I passed underneath it. I got myself together and chatted to a couple of the other finishers, chugged down some Endurox and managed a 10 minute shuffle warm down with Ben before heading to the food and beer tent!

It was only an hour later when I checked my chip time that I found out I had actually run 1:12:17, a mere one second improvement on my previous PR but a PR nonetheless! The official results have my gun time of 1:12:18 as well but I'll go with the chip time! (Most of the other runners had a discrepancy between chip and gun time too so I presume they started the clock too early). Despite initial disappointment that I had not managed to hold on to my agressive early pace and notched a time closer to 1:11, the overall feeling was satisfaction and accomplishment. My solid training block hadn't been wasted and the groundwork is in place for a few more prs down the road!

16 hours earlier the Mainwarings had arrived in Myrtle. After a brief stop at the expo to pick up my and Ben's race packet it was off to the hotel which was to be our home for the weekend. I went for a 2 mile shake out run while Lisa cooked us some pasta and meat sauce for dinner. A post dinner swim in the pool with the kids and I was ready for an early night.

I slept well (for me) and woke to calm/cold conditions, it looked like the weather was going to be great for the race. I quietly exited the hotel room and had plenty of time to drive most of the course before heading over to Broadway on the Beach to park up and get ready to race. After a couple of miles warm up with Ben, the Anthem and some strides I found myself on the start line, excited to race but also a little nervous- I had trained well for this race and now I needed to make sure I executed, no excuses.

Looking around it was clear that the race was going to be highly competitive with lots of fast looking guys! The gun went off and I immediately settled into the back of the lead group. All systems felt good and I got into a good rhythm. Through the first mile in 5:19, faster than I perhaps should have been but not entirely unexpected given the conditions, terrain and competition. Two guys had broken off the front including the African who I had presumed would win the race when I saw him on the start line (he did), then there was a group of 4 a few yards up the road then me and another guy Upchurch (everyone had their names on their bibs). I knew he had run 1:11 here last year and recently broken 50 minutes in a 15k so he was good company to try and stay with.

Mile 2 I had settled down a bit and hit 5:29. We turned parallel to the beach road and the next three miles were to be spent running straight along this main road, the only break in the monotony being provided by the pockets of spectators (including a very brightly pink clad Megan Hovis cheering loudly) and the ever changing road surface. Winds were light, there was a slight chill in the air and the sun was rising, no doubt these were conditions to try and take advantage of.

Mile 3 5:23 and now pretty much into my rhythm, focussing on the group ahead, Upchurch on my shoulder, the pitter patter of our shoes on the highway, our gradually quickening breaths and the occasional cheers from spectators the only sounds breaking the silence of the calm morning.

At mile 5 we eventually turned off the highway and headed towards the Common Market where I had been told there would be some bands playing and more crowd support. These distractions provided welcome relief and encouragement as I could feel myself starting to work pretty hard already and we were still not at the halfway point of the race. I knew at this point that it was going to be a hard morning's work but I was trained for it and ready to give it my best shot.

After the Common Market we headed back towards the ocean and were passing the other runners heading up the other side of the road. This was a good section of the course as I heard many a shout from fellow CRC runners all setting out on their own quests. We hit Ocean Boulevard and started heading parallel to the coast back towards the finishing area. There was Megan again cheering and I knew that at mile ten my kids and Lisa would be standing outside our hotel giving their support.

Upchurch and I were still stride for stride, knocking off the miles in the 5:25-5:30 range. Each mile was getting harder but I was holding it together. At mile 9 another guy joined us and stayed with us for a bit before heading off into the distance. Upchurch made a move to try and go with him but I found myself in no position to respond and it was clear to me at this point that damage limitation was in order and it was going to be a question of just holding it all together for as long as possible.

getting dropped- quickly

trying to hold it together

Mile 10 passed in 5:33, the first 5:30 plus mile of the race. Cumulatively I was at 54:18 at this point, almost certainly a 10 mile pr. I passed the kids and Lisa and tried to look as happy as possible to see them but my body was already revolting. I forced a Gu down me on the off chance that 100 calories of sticky gel may be the answer to my impending melt down but alas my troubles continued. Mile 11 5:35, Mile 12 5:43, Mile 13 5:40 and I'm not quite sure how. My form at this point was ragged and I was just imploring my body to get me over the line, shouting obscenities at myself as a last resort. My average time was increasing rapidly from 5:26 towards the 5:30 I needed for a PR but as I turned at last towards the finishing straight I could see that I hadn't completely messed it up after all and was going to get a PR at least. It was only an hour later that I realized how close it had been!

Looking back a couple of days later I am pleased overall. The first ten miles gave me a sight of the runner I want to be- agressive, strong and competitive, the last three miles was all about guts. I've learned many things from this race (as you always do from adversity and mistakes) and will, with the help of Coach Tim (who once again I cannot thank enough!!) address these points in the coming training cycle and races. For now it is a week of very easy running before hitting the roads hard again next week. Less than 6 weeks until Ukrops 10k!!

5:19,29,23,26,24,27,21,27,29,33,35,43,40,1:00 for 0.18 miles (Garmin measured course at 13.18)

1 comment:

  1. Way to gut it out, Paul! As you said, hopefully setting the way for a few more PRs to come.