This past weekend I traveled with my running buddies (K & L) to Sunset Beach, NC to complete the Sunset Beach Half Marathon. It’s the first time we’ve traveled together…and I’m sure it won’t be the last! We had a fantastic time before and after the run. The race was on Saturday so we drove down on Friday morning. K had made arrangements to rent a house near the beach and she drove as well – lucky me! It took almost 4 hours to get there but that gave us plenty of chatting time in the car.
There were also two other ladies from Atlanta (H & E) that were friends of K who joined us at the beach. The house was great, it slept 10 so we had plenty of room. After arriving and getting settled in we went to packet pickup around 5:30. The organizers were so great, they had managed to get dinner donated by one of the local restaurants – Chicken Parm with Spaghetti and garlic bread – it was yummy! And OMG, the medals for this race are ridiculous! I kid you not, it weighs 1.5 lbs and measures 8″ x 3.5″…just HUGE!
After oooing and ahhing over the medals we ate dinner and went back to the house. We chilled out and chatted for several hours telling stories of other races we’ve completed and then called it an early night. Even though the race didn’t start until 7 am and we were only a 1/4 mile from the start line, we still got up the next morning at 5:15 am. After we were dressed and fueled, we set off for the starting area around 6:30 am.
Not sure if I mentioned this in my last post but I tweaked my back on my last training run Tuesday and it’s been giving me some issues for a couple of days. I first tried ice and that worked but only for a short time, so I switched to warm baths and that seemed to provide longer term relief. The night before the race, K let me use some of her pain cream (Real Time Pain Relief) and that stuff worked great! I applied a little more in the morning and I was all set.
We milled and mingled until they started the race (which by the way, 100% of the proceeds went to their designated charity Save the Sea Turtles). The weather wasn’t too bad at the start, we were really close to the beach and there was a soft breeze but the sun was pretty strong so it got warm pretty fast.
The first three miles were pretty easy running the streets on the island of Sunset Beach but then we had to cross the bridge back to the main land (cue the scary music!)
We previewed the run the night before so we already knew this was on the course and we’d have to run it out and back but it’s pretty ominous when you see it coming up in front of you. I knew there was no way I could run over the bridge if I hoped to complete the race so I did the same as many others and walked up to the top and ran down the other side.
The rest of the course is relatively flat which was great except it was also mostly in full sun. They had water stops about every 2 miles but as I always do, I had my own bottle of water and my GU packets to get me through. Around mile 5 my body started sending me signals that I needed to use the bathroom – oh great! I ignored the signals until mile 6 when I knew I had no choice but to stop and take care of business. Luckily there was a gas station on the corner so I paused my Garmin and C25K app and made a pit stop. Unfortunately that added about 7 minutes to my overall time but when Mother Nature calls you gotta answer!
I got back on the course feeling much better and picked up my regular pace using 3-1 intervals. We finally turned into a golf community that offered some shade – yippee! I tried to keep my mind occupied with the music and the scenery and I was pretty successful. Believe it or not I was actually looking forward to crossing the bridge again because that meant there was only 2 miles left. As I did on the way out, I walked up the bridge and ran down the other side. By the time I got to the last water stop I was pretty exhausted. I gulped down two cups of Gatorade and the angel at the stop refilled my water bottle for me (all the volunteers were just so sweet and supportive).
As I made the turn to finish the last two miles I hit ‘the wall’. I started cursing the course and the heat and had an internal debate about just throwing in the towel…LOL! I recognized it for what it was and fought back with as much positive self talk as I could muster. At this point I was walking more than running but I didn’t care…all I wanted to do was just finish. There was one last turn and then I could see the finish line in the distance, it was about 1/2 mile away but it seemed much further!
Finally, FINALLY I crossed the finish – although I was pretty exhausted and a little over heated I felt MUCH better than I did at my first Half in Myrtle Beach; I’m sure it was all the GU and water I had during the course. When they handed me my medal it just about threw me off balance…seriously, I had forgotten how heavy it would be! There was no way I was putting that around my neck – not yet anyway – so I stuffed it in my fanny pack. My finish time was 3:17:15, clearly not as good as my first half but considering the pit stop and the heat I’m satisfied. All the girls were off their normal times by 10-15 minutes because of the heat.
There were all kinds of post race goodies: bananas, oranges, icees, smoothies, chicken and pork sliders, popcorn, pretzels, chips and of course plenty of water. But…no beer! That was the only let down. No worries though, K, H & E had finished about 30 mins ahead of me so one of them went back to the house and carried the cooler back to the finish line – there were Angels everywhere that day!! LOL!
After we all hobbled back to the house, we cooled off, put on our bathing suits and went to the beach. H & me could only take about an hour of that so we went back to the house to sit on the porch where we enjoyed the shade, the breeze and a few beers. The rest of the girls finally came back to the house a few hours later. After they got cleaned up, we went out for dinner and then came back to the house. We sat around looking at the race pictures and laughing like a bunch of school girls – it was great!
Here are a few post race shots:
So… the ‘one and done’ girl now has two Half Marathons under her belt and believe it or not I’m actually considering doing more! I can’t believe I just typed that – I must be suffering from heat stroke, LOL!!!
We’ll see how it goes, K & L are doing the Myrtle Beach Half again in October but I won’t be joining them because I’ll be in the Caribbean celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary (awww, poor me!). I think I would prefer doing my next Half in March when hopefully it will be much cooler…I’ll have to see what’s available…
That’s about it for now…