Monday, April 29, 2013

Racecation Recap - Divas Half Marathon

This weekend my friends Melanie and Francesca joined me on a road trip to Myrtle Beach, SC for the Divas Half Marathon. Our trip began on Friday morning and after arriving in MB and checking in to our first hotel, we decided to head to the outlets for some retail therapy. I got a sweet deal on the Under Armour 7" compression shorts that I've heard such great things about and I'm looking forward to testing them out. Our next stop was the race expo but somehow the GPS took us in the completely wrong direction! By the time we realized what had happened it was too late to turn around so we decided to grab dinner at one of our favorite places (Nacho Hippo) and call it a night.

Posing like a diva at the expo & my new necklace
Saturday morning we woke up and grabbed breakfast and then attempted to find the expo again. This time we were successful and we arrived just before they opened the doors. We were able to grab our bibs and shop a little bit before all hell broke loose. I treated myself to a sterling silver necklace with a winged shoe charm. I also bought a 13.1 charm and a "13.1 - I don't go all the way" tech shirt. It started to get really crowded after an hour so we decided to drive over to our oceanfront hotel to see if we could check in early. Luckily our room was ready so we were able to unpack and settle in!

We had plans to meet up with Jesica and Kat for lunch and we enjoyed some good food and great company. I was exhausted from having slept terribly the night before but I really enjoyed learning more about some of the ladies I "know" on twitter and in the blog world. After lunch some of us headed to the beach and I'm proud to say I didn't get sunburnt at all. It was probably the best-spent pre-race day I've experienced yet. Being on the beach especially helped to take my focus off of my nervousness about the race, I wish every race was at a beach location!

I had spent pretty much the entire week stressing about the race-day weather. Predictions of rain and thunder showers had me worried all week that the race would be miserable or worse, canceled! Luckily, aside from the major humidity, we had perfectly cool temps and cloud cover. The race start was slightly disorganized in that there were no formal corrals, just signs with paces on them as a suggestion of where to line up. It was also unclear whether or not there were pacers available. There was no mention of pacers either on the website or at the expo but I did see a couple of people with the balloons-on-a-stick on the day of the race.

This was one of the bigger races I have done and once the race began it took 3-4 minutes to even cross the start line. Once we did it was still rather congested but I hung in there and did my thing. Due to the humidity I was dripping sweat before I'd even completed the first mile! My legs felt heavy and my initial thought was "I'm just not feeling this today". Then I found my groove and the miles seemed to fly by. For this race I did run/walk intervals of 4/1, which is what I'd been training with over the last month, and I chose to forgo music and just focus on the experience. I felt from the beginning that I had started too fast but I felt good and told myself that if I ended up crashing because of it, I'd deal with it then.


Around mile 5 I still felt I was going too fast. Truth be told I started to panic! Why wasn't I tired? Was I really running as fast as I thought I was? Would I hit "the wall"? It was then that I saw a woman running ahead of me and printed on her shirt were the words "when your legs get tired, run with your heart". I did a mental self-check: did my feet hurt? Aside from a painful blister, no. Was it difficult to breathe? Nope. Any hesitation I had was due to the doubt in my own head. It was a huge wake up call to me and I kept my pace and ran with my heart.

There weren't many spectators throughout the course (they were all pretty heavily concentrated in one area) but the ones we did encounter were fun. As I ran by a sweet older couple who were cheering for us around mile 7 I said, "Thank you for coming out!" and the man replied "Thanks for making it this far!" Haha! Then a woman next to me shouted "She's going to make it all the way!" I thought that was sweet. It was a very girl-power type of race, which made for a fun race atmosphere. One runner was wearing a shirt that said "You just got passed by a pregnant woman!" LOL.

The course was the flattest I have ever run with just one or two speed bump-like "hills". When I reached the 10-mile marker and looked down at my Garmin I realized I hadn't even been running for 2 hours yet - I've never run 10 miles in less than 2 hours before. Then I started doing the calculations in my head. If I was under 2 hours with 5k left to go, there was a very good chance that not only would I PR but I could cross the finish line under 2:30:00 - a time I never in a million years thought I would see any time soon. After all, my first half was less than 6 months ago and I had run a 2:47:54 in that one. I mustered up every ounce of strength I could and I ran on.

As those final miles counted down, the spectators began their shouts of "Only _ miles to go!" and "You're almost there!" I felt tired but also excited and I pushed on. Some time between miles 12 and 13 I spied the Divas boa & tiara station where Melanie was volunteering. In my head I knew if it came down to getting a PR or getting a plastic tiara I was going to run right past that tiara. I glanced at my watch and knew that barring catasptrophe I would get in under 2:30. I started shouting Melanie's name until she saw me and I grabbed a boa and kept running. I stuck out my hand and someone put a tiara in it and I promptly stuck it on top of my head, still running frantically. As I turned that final corner with the finish line in sight, I gave everything I had and as I crossed the finish line I made sure to stop my Garmin (I always forget to do that after a race). I looked down at my wrist and almost fell to the ground in disbelief: 2:28:40!!!

Blue & yellow for Boston. My shiny new PR & shiny new bling!
I sort of wandered around in a daze for a minute, not believing that my Garmin was correct. Someone handed me a water and then I saw the gorgeous shirtless firemen waiting with their muscular arms full of medals. I went straight to the guy I was most attracted to and he gave me a smile as he put the medal around my neck. The guy beside him high-fived me and I'm sure I grinned like a fool as I followed the crowd to another location where champagne was being poured and a sweet woman handed me a long-stemmed rose. All of those little touches made my finish even sweeter. I couldn't have asked for a better race experience.

The medal-holding hotties.

14 comments:

  1. I did the Nike Women's Half this weekend and am sooo jealous I couldn't do this one too. I wish they'd add a Midwest race since any locations I'd do are really far out and aren't timed when I'd be flying west. It looks like it would be a great race..love the bling!

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  2. Congrats love!!! I want to meet up with you and the crew sometime too!! Sounds like an awesome race! My dream is to break a 2:30. Hopefully once the ankle is all healed and I, back to training it will happen. If not ill just keep running :)

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  3. Congratulations on an awesome PR! This race is on my list for sure. Hello, hottie firemen!

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  4. it was so great meeting you ladies this weekend! I'm proud of you for completing the race with a PR too! xo

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  5. Congratulations Bang! I am so, so excited for you. What a great race! I am also so glad I finally got to meet you in person. Hopefully we'll both do the same race again soon. Enjoy your PR high! xo

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  6. CONGRATS!! What a great way to PR- with a shirtless man giving you your medal. I want to run a Diva one day.

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  7. Congratulations again!! Heart you!!! I am super proud of you my speedy friend!

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  8. @Shannyn - It's funny, I had already signed up for Divas but then tried to get into Nike. When I didn't get in to the lottery, I stuck with my original plan of running Divas and I'm really glad it worked out that way. I hope they offer a race near you soon, it was a lot of fun :)

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  9. @Melissa - Thank you! I hope we get to meet up sometime too, in fact I know we will make it happen! I hope your ankle heals up soon, I'm so proud of you for staying so active throughout your injury. You inspire me!

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  10. @Jodi - Thank you! I know you will love it, I'm ready to run it again just to see those hotties once more time hahaha

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  11. @Kat - Thank you girl, it was so great to meet you too. Can't wait to hang again in Portland!

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  12. @Abby - I think all races should have shirtless men handing us medals, it really enhanced the atmosphere lol.

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  13. @Mel - I heart you back, especially for calling me speedy ;) Thank you for being the best race concierge/volunteer/friend ever!

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  14. Congratulations! So so proud of you.

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