This past Saturday on Valentine’s Day Kevin and I ran the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon together. This is my 3rd year participating in this event and it’s definitely becoming a favorite tradition of mine. We ended up finishing with a time of 2:14 on 2/14… completely coincidental! I can’t believe how amazing I felt during this entire race. I didn’t have a single moment of discomfort, and I ran this half 10 minutes faster than the Rock & Roll Seattle Half that I also ran at almost 27 weeks in my last pregnancy. I even had a huge negative split, running the last half of the race 4 minutes faster than the first half! Needless to say, this race exceeded all my expectations and was very special to me, especially after my marathon DNF here last year [scroll down to the bottom for details on that]. To experience it all with my husband by my side made it even more memorable. Here is how it all went down!
One of the things I love about this race is that it’s not too big but not too small either. This makes the logistics of pre-race and race day activities easy but still exciting. We arrived in Myrtle Beach very late on Wednesday night and had a beautiful day on Thursday to enjoy the weather, a run together by the ocean, and some beach time with little Kev which he loved. On Friday morning we headed to the expo right when it opened and relaxed the rest of the day until it was time for dinner at our favorite pre-race restaurant, Mellow Mushroom. I had been waiting for this meal for a while and it did not disappoint (it never does!).
That night we went to bed semi-early with alarms set for 4:30 AM. One of the things I don’t love about this race is the 6:30 AM start time! Ahhh! But we got up, drank our coffee, ate our breakfast and got ready to go. We bundled up quite a bit because the temperatures had dropped to a freezing 30 degrees with wind chills lower than that. It was really nice to have Kevin participate in the pre-race routines with me just like old times 🙂 And it was also nice to be able to let little Kev continue to sleep peacefully with my mother-in-law staying behind to be with him!
Around 5:40 we left the house and drove 20 minutes to the race start at Broadway at the Beach. Since I was paranoid about needing to pee a million times and waiting in lines for the porta potty in the cold, we stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom on the way. After that we made our way to Broadway. I love that the race starts and finishes in this area because there is tons of parking, and you can stay warm in your car until really close to the race start time. We just sat in the car for a little bit and talked, and I couldn’t believe how different I felt this year compared to last. I was so relaxed, so excited, not nervous at all about what was to come like last year before the full marathon. It was a great feeling, and really comforting to know that I was going to get to run the entire race with my hubby. We ended up jumping out of the car and running over at 6:20, with enough time to use the porta potty (again, I know- but there were no lines at all!) before the gun went off too! Score! We hopped into the 2:30 half marathon corral and before we knew it we were off and running.
Even though it was much colder this year than previous years, the wind was minimal which made a HUGE difference. Last year I felt like I ran into a steady wall of wind for the first 5-6 miles. It was really draining mentally and physically, and I think that attributed to my DNF and how weak my body became when I realized I had to quit. It was a much more enjoyable experience running without that wind, and my body warmed up quickly. The first mile was our slowest, as we tried to get through walls of people like usual at the beginning of the race. But after that we were able to settle into more of a groove. I was feeling great.
- Mile 1 – 10:45
- Mile 2 – 10:21
- Mile 3 – 10:31
Shortly after the third mile Kevin told me had to stop to use the bathroom. I thought this was hilarious, because usually it’s me (the pregnant one) who needs to stop to go pee! He ran off to go while I continued running. I knew he’d be able to catch back up to me easily and I didn’t want to lose my momentum, and he did within a minute. Before I knew it we were passing mile 5 and about to head off the main road we had been running on and into a little out-and-back segment in a shopping area called the Market Common. I felt like this race was flying by!
- Mile 4 – 10:12
- Mile 5 – 10:16
We headed into the Market Common to do a little loop before heading back along the beach to run back to where we started. It was nice to have a little change of scenery from the road we had been running on for a few miles, and there was a small band set up there that gave us a little adrenaline boost. While we were in the Market Common shopping area we passed the halfway point (mile 6.65) and I noticed I my time was exactly 1:09. I realized if I maintained the pace I was running I would beat my expectations for this race by a lot. I had predicted around a 2:30 finish. I wasn’t sure if I could maintain it or not, but I figured I would hold onto it as long as I was feeling great like I was. We were having a blast running together and taking fun pictures. Have I mentioned I missed racing with him so much?
- Mile 6 – 10:12
- Mile 7 – 10:10
- Mile 8 – 10:13
A little before mile 8 we exited the Market Common area and started running along the road that was adjacent to the beach, back toward the start/finish area. I loved being able to look out at the sand and the ocean. I knew that we had a little over 3 miles running on this road before we would turn to head back. I was expecting the wind to kick up a little on this stretch since we were right by the beach, but it wasn’t too bad. I actually started feeling hot at this point and decided to take off my hat and gloves, and unzip my jacket a little. Once I did this I felt a lot more comfortable and was able to settle into a natural pace again. Again, the miles kept ticking by, and when we passed mile 9 I was really proud of Kevin, because that was the farthest we had run in training together. After that point he was getting into mileage he hasn’t run in years. He said he felt great and was so happy he was running with me on Valentine’s Day. That made me happy ❤
- Mile 9 – 10:07
- Mile 10 – 10:15
- Mile 11 – 10:18
At around mile 11.5 we turned left and started running away from the beach and back toward the stadium where the finish line was. Again, this change of direction and knowing we were close to being finished gave me a boost of energy and I picked up the pace effortlessly. I kept thinking about how this was my last long race until the fall, and probably my last pregnant half. It made me feel a little emotional and gave me the motivation to kick it up a little for the last 2 miles.
- Mile 12 – 10:01
- Mile 13 – 9:39
When we turned the corner to run the final stretch to the finish line the crowd was pretty quiet so Kevin tried to get them to cheer and be loud. It worked, and we had everyone clapping as we crossed the finish line!
- The last .1 miles – 8:17 pace!
- Finish Time – 2:14:04, 10:14 average pace
When I saw that I had finished in just over 2:14 I was so happy. I was even more amazed when I realized I had run the second half of the race in 1:05, a negative split by 4 minutes! I spent most of the race not even feeling pregnant at all, and was shocked I didn’t need a million pee breaks 🙂 I am so happy to have had such a positive experience with this race this year. It felt so good to be able to cross the finish line and get my medal after my DNF during the full marathon last year. It was a little bittersweet though, since this is my last long race until later this year once baby is here, and most likely my last pregnant half marathon. I’m happy to be starting to cut back a bit now on a positive note, and I’m already looking forward to next year!