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Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon 2014

I ran the 2014 Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon to complete my South Carolina state race and check another location off my 50+1 list.  Doug also ran the half marathon, his first in over four years, and even though it’s not an arduous journey from home in Virginia Beach, we stayed an extra myrtle beach miniday post race to relax.  The racecation began with our Friday night arrival.

We checked into our hotel, grabbed some dinner and hit the hay after a long day of work and traveling.  We had a leisurely Saturday morning while the Coastal 5k went off then made our way to packet pick-up.  The expo was small but well organized and I thought it was interesting you had to walk through the vendor area to pick-up your race shirt at a different location than your race number.  With our myrtle beach mininewly acquired numbers the rest of the day was spent relaxing, watching college football and hydrating before a nice big salad and bowl of pasta for dinner.  I went to bed a bit before Doug with my alarm set for 5:20 and got an OK night’s sleep on the firm hotel bed.

Race day dawned chilly like we expected, but that meant good running weather and I was very happy with the 60 degree morning.  We fueled with breakfast, bagel for me, oatmeal for him and both downed an E2 en route the the Start.  The race was point to point, beginning at the Coastal Grand Mall and finishing on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk.  There was more than ample parking and the Port-a-Potty lines were fairly short when Doug and I walked over.  A few minutes later the lines started to lengthen, which was problematic because the portable toilets faced the road and people waiting were forced to stand on a curb trying to stay out of the incoming race traffic.  After avoiding that mess, we made our way back to the car, folded our sweats into gear check bags, checked them (hence no start photos) and made our way to the corrals.

We wished each other good luck and I slid happily into the front of the 7-8 minute mile corral.  A short time later I listened to the National Anthem and took off with the crowd just about right on time.  The course began with a loop around the mall for Mile 1 and I did a good job of being sure not to take things out too fast as I clocked a 7:30 first mile.  Coming into sight of the Mile 1 sign, I was running between two gentlemen and within a few seconds of one another, all of our watches beeped.  Before the marker.  I was at 1.06 when I ran past it and knew I had to be very aware of taking the shortest route possible for the remainder of the race.

The course wasn’t anything spectacular on a mile by mile basis until the last few.  Through Mile 9 it was pretty flat with only one big bridge to conquer, a few gentle grades and a paved trail around the Mile 6 mark.  My left glute got a little grumpy climbing the bridge but it loosened back up quickly as I ran on.  Miles 2 through Mile 10 were between 7:18 and 7:21 and I did a very good job of taking the straightest lines I could through each curve and turn since I didn’t pick up any additional distance.  When I passed the Mile 10 mark my watch read 10.06 and I was ready to go for the last 5k.

A turn at Mile 9.5ish had the course running south, parallel to the ocean, and a mile later a lovely a 10-15mph headwind kicked up.  An annoying headwind is something I’m used to but never keen on at that point in a race, especially one where I’m pushing myself.  Miles 11 and 12 averaged a slightly slower pace (7:23, 7:24) but I felt good in spite of the slower times because I was ahead of my goal time by over a minute.  When I passed the mile 12 marker with 12.06 and myrtle beach mini1:28.26 on my watch I was thrilled.  In all of my excitement, I made the turn onto the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and don’t recall when I saw the Mile 13 marker, or even if I noticed it at all.

Turning left onto what I thought was the final straightaway, I quickly became frustrated.  Running on what’s known as the Promenade, this last stretch was not the friendly, straight Boardwalk I had expected.  The Promenade is narrow.  It is twisting.  It felt never-ending.  When I finally hit the wooden boards, it was completely demoralizing.  The Finish Line, like the last two races I’ve run, isn’t visible until you’re practically on top of it.  I took a glance at my watch and noticed I had run much more than 1.1 miles since that Mile 12 marker.  With 13.18 on my watch, I could see the clock ahead and realized I still had more than 100 meters to go.  After feeling so great about the first twelve miles of the race, terror sank in as myrtle beach minithe seconds ticked away and I thought I might not make my goal due to the extra time additional distance had eaten up.

I made it by the skin of my teeth, crossing the under the Myrtle Beach Mini race clock as it flashed 1:37.25.  Even though I averaged a 7:20 pace for the race, I was incredibly frustrated when I hit the stop button on my watch.  I had run 13.29 miles in 1:37.24 when I had expected to run 13.16 in under 1:36.45 just nine minutes before.  My frustration took a while to dissipate as I collected my massive medal (these things are huge), water, pretzels, a banana, an apple and finally cruised over to the gear tent.  I settled onto a bench to trade shoes for flops and give my feet a little air, used one of the large number of finish area port-a-potties and started to calm down.  No matter what had myrtle beach minihappened during that last mile, my race had been a success.  It proved that my training paid off and next target race will definitely be faster.

Waiting for Doug to run past me as he came off the Promenade himself I decided to check the results online.  Citing my frustrating finish and the large number of people who had taken off in front of me, including the 7 min mile pace group, I didn’t feel good about placing in my age group.  I’m pretty sure my mouth fell open when the page opened and said I was first in my age group, 13th female and 79th overall.  I had correctly guessed there were a lot of people in front me, luckily they happened to be mostly men.

Moments later Doug ran by, beating his goal time by two minutes and just as frustrated by the Promenade section as I.  In the end, Doug ran 13.30 miles, I ran 13.29, several people I chatted with were anywhere between 13.18 and 13.31 and apparently myrtle beach minithis non-USATF certified course is not coined a half marathon because it’s longer than 13.1 miles but shorter than 26.2.  We enjoyed our complimentary beer while waiting for the awards ceremony and here I am with the other female 30-34 award winners.

Other than the length of the course, it was sparsely populated with spectators until the oceanfront portion and even though I wasn’t stopping at the well staffed water stops I did notice, and have Doug confirm, the final stop seemed a disproportionately long way from the penultimate one.  There are lots of positives about the Myrtle Beach Mini, too.  The course is fairly flat, the water stops are well stocked with volunteers, water and Gatorade, there was tons of parking at the start, the medals are massive, the awards ceremony was great, the band was very good and it was well organized.myrtle beach mini

We snapped this photo while waiting for our shuttle back to the start and that was quite an adventure itself.  When we lined up there were three buses departing for the 3.5 mile trip back to Coast Grand Mall and our parked cars.  We waited on a cement sidewalk for close to 20 minutes before a bus finally returned.  It seemed like this could have been spaced out better or communicated to the participants.  Once a bus load of people had boarded, we were on our way.  It was a quite a bumpy trip as the bus seemed to have trouble shifting out of first gear and possibly needed some engine or transmission work.  We finally safely arrived back at the car and made our way back to the hotel for some serious foam rolling and refueling.

I don’t see myself running the Myrtle Beach Mini again but recommend it if you’re looking for something in the area.  There was construction that forced the course to be changed this year and I think that might have been the source of the additional distance.  Myrtle Beach is a great place to visit off season, especially in the beginning of the week and we had a great time exploring the Boardwalk area on Monday.

Meredith

Have you run Myrtle Beach?  How do you deal with an extra long race course?

A New Workout + Myrtle Week 3

Myrtle Week 3 isn’t technically finished yet, with Rock n Roll Virginia Beach coming up on Sunday, but since both the race and its expo will get their own reports, I wanted to share myrtle week 3two other exciting things about this week.  1. I overcame a slight injury and 2. I completed an awesome new speed workout on Wednesday.

Let’s start with the injury.  At some point during last week’s GHDs and sit-ups, I strained the transverse abdominal on my right side.  I rested Saturday, did a long run Sunday and a light recovery run Monday which meant I didn’t notice anything more than normal muscle fatigue until I went to strength train on Tuesday.  As soon as I went to powerfully engage my core (tuck jumps) or anteriorly tilt my hips (pull-ups), I knew what I had done.  The Myrtle Week 3 Core Muscle Strain of 2014.  Combine the fact that I hadn’t noticed the strain for three days and the lack of pain when I wasn’t trying to use that muscle, I knew my little injury wasn’t serious and I’d be just fine after resting it.  At least I could still run and do some things in the gym.  I bailed on my planned workout to avoid making things worse and settled for heavy back squats.

When Wednesday morning rolled around, I was excited to take on a new speed workout.  My legs felt pretty good for having an unexpected heavy lifting session Tuesday and  cooler, low humidity weather was on my side for a day.  This is what the as yet unnamed 6.5 mile workout looked like:

1 mile warm up
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
4 x 400M 5k pace with 200M recovery
1 x 800M 10k pace with 400M recovery
1 mile cool down

I was fried by the time I finished but ecstatic with how the session had gone.  My 400M and 800M laps were fast, steady and consistent which made me happy since I hadn’t done a hard track style workout in a over three weeks.  This is a tough one but definitely deserves a try!

A light shakeout run Thursday helped my tired legs get back on track for this morning’s Race Pace 5k.  The heat had returned and it was definitely not the run I wanted to get in on a sun baked, crowded boardwalk.  I fought through it, knowing that I was paying for going so hard on Tuesday and Wednesday and that I was a little bit dehydrated.  Even though it wasn’t the outing I had hoped for, I’m glad I gutted it out and made myself a little bit stronger.

Tomorrow is a rest day then it’s long run Pace Day on Sunday.  I’m really excited to wrap up Myrtle Week 3 with the 2:15 group and looking forward to meeting lots of awesome runners while hopefully helping them accomplish their PR goals.  I’ll also be at the Expo Saturday until noon at the Pacer Booth, right next to Garmin.  Come visit me!

Meredith

Are you running RnRVB?  Have you tried any new workouts lately?

Myrtle Week 2 Training Recap

Myrtle Week 2 is in the books!  Because I decided to volunteer as a pacer for the 2:15 group at Rock n Roll Virginia Beach next weekend, I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a tiny bit.  I’ll still be getting in a 13+ mile long run in Week Three but it won’t be the finish hard run I had planned on.  This didn’t concern me because I’m feeling so good about my training that I was happy to move it up a week.  In addition to moving my finish hard long run up to this week, here’s how the rest of Myrtle Week 2 went!

Monday:  60 minute tempo.  Sort of.  I was waiting on some rain to cool things off and get the pavement wet so I could take my new shoes out in the yucky weather but it took its time showing up.  I held off as long as I could then eased into a late afternoon run, peaking with 1200M at 5k pace around minute 30 then gradually decreasing my pace.  As soon as my watch face showed minute 37, the sky turned black, the wind kicked up and huge, cold, hail like raindrops began to fall.  I was OK with this, it actually felt really good to get soaked with cool rain and brisk breeze.  The lightening, however, I was not OK with.  I got home as quickly as I could, arriving at minute 43.  Needless to say, the 60 minute tempo run was cut short and I cooled down by jogging up and down the stairs a few times.

Tuesday:  Heavy lifting of the front squat and push press variety with the same bar for a bazillion reps (or 84).  My shoulder struggled but I could tell it has definitely gotten both stronger and more stable while the front squats felt light.  My legs powered through the workout but my mind knew I’d pay.myrtle week 2

Wednesday:  Five mile recovery run, foam rolling, stretching, massaging.  Sore as expected, this was much needed.

Thursday:  A ‘light’ cross training workout.  I say light because tabata GHD sit-ups sound much easier than they are, especially when you rarely use a GHD.  Sit-ups?  ALL DAY.  On a GHD?  Umm, nope.  The workout also included 30 front rack walking lunges.  Overhead walking lunges, DB walking lunges?  Yes, please.  With a bar in the front rack position?  No, thanks.

Friday:  Sore glutes, sore abs, sore quads and 14 miles (10 easy, finish with 4 hard) on the schedule.  It was also very humid, quite hot and altogether miserable outside even at 7:30am.  I rolled first thing in the morning then again just before my run.  It helped mildly.  Around mile 6, I knew I didn’t have enough to get the workout I wanted so I ended up doing an easy 10 that was mostly unpleasant and involved 4-5 stops for stretching.  I also decided to skip out on the Myrtle Week 2’s speed work and get that finish hard long run in on Sunday with eight easy, three hard and a one mile cool down.

Saturday:  REST!  My legs felt surprisingly good after Friday’s 10 miles.  I stretched, rolled and a did few air squats to get everything moving but otherwise just relaxed.

Sunday:  I pushed it on this 12 miler because I’ll be taking it easy during Week 3’s long run at the Rock n Roll and it went wonderfully.  Let’s start with the amazing weather.  Temps were in the low to mid-70s, humidity hovered around 60% and a nice breeze to keep me cool meant I was excited to get out and work hard this morning.  With eight miles at 15 seconds faster than long run pace, three at 10k pace and one cool down mile, Myrtle Week 2’s long run was a tough workout that left me feeling really positive.

This week was full of solid training and I’m looking forward to the next eight.  Myrtle Week 3 starts with a light recovery run tomorrow then goes into cross training on Tuesday, two days of intervals and one race pace run before rest on Saturday.  I’ll be out doing my long run Sunday at RnRVB with the 2:15 group and can’t wait!

Meredith

Have you ever used a GHD?  Did you love it?  Are you running Rock n Roll Virginia Beach next weekend?

Play Week Five: Training Mayhem

Play Week Five originally had a 35 mile schedule.  Then it didn’t.  It’s been a week of wacky weather that dampened my plans more than once and I am ready for the fall at any moment.  Even with almost constant rearrangement wreaking havoc on my nicely planned schedule and wrapping Play Week Five up with a big reality check, it did manage to include 23 miles.  Here’s how they were supposed to happen, what really did and how I feel about it.

Monday:  LSD 10. 25 miles to go.
What really happened:  Got a late start and ended up on the dreadmill for a six mile tempo run.  In spite of the indoor situation and shortened half mile warm-ups and cool downs, I was happy kicking off the week with a 7 mile day.  28 to go.

Tuesday:  Heavy lifting.  Add a shake out run I knew I’d need after beating my legs up in the gym to make up Monday’s missed 3 miles and we’re right back on track.  25 to go.
What really happened:  Just the lifting.  I did give my legs a pretty good beating with lots of heavy deadlifts and tighten my calves up with lots of double unders.  I’m not sure why I didn’t force myself out to shake out later in the day but I didn’t.  Wasn’t motivated, wasn’t in the mood, something (a hint, perhaps?).  28 to go.

Wednesday:  800M repeats, 7 total miles.  21 to go.
What really happened:  It was humid and hot Wednesday morning but with rain in the forecast, I was excited to get some 800M repeats checked off on wet roads that afternoon.  Usually one to avoid the wet weather, I was looking to try out my new shoes on a slippery surface in case it’s not dry on race day.  I waited and waited and waited but the rains never came.  With dodgeball in the evening, I knew I had to do something before game time.  I canned the speed work, moved it to Saturday and settled for a recovery pace five mile shake out run at 4pm on a brutally hot afternoon.  23 to go.

Thursday:  Strength training.  Then I discovered would be able to do the 9am Crossfit class on Saturday with all my buddies.  I switched my now Saturday speed work with strength training and planned on running the 800M repeats I had missed Wednesday.  16 to go.
What really happened:  I woke up with a knee tweaked from dodgeball.  Thursday’s workout got tossed and I concentrated on Friday’s 15 miler.  Rest day, 23 to go.

Friday:  LSD 15.  8 to go.
What really happened:  LSD 11 and leg death.  With 90% humidity, the 75 degree day felt heavy from the first step.  I spent the first five miles running easily, feeling good about the next ten.  At mile six everything fell apart.  I started yawning uncontrollably (oxygen?), my legs said ‘no more’ and I could feel a blister starting to develop on my left foot.  I forced play week fivemyself to run five more miles for a grand total of 90 minutes and 11 miles.  During those final five miles I made a few decisions.

1)  My body was obviously trying to tell me something (see Tuesday shake out run that didn’t happen) and it’s time to listen.

2)  I am not running 12 more miles this week (see 3).

3)  I’m definitely burnt out.  I haven’t taken two days off in a row since the second week of April.  That was 18 weeks ago and it’s too much.  With three exceptions, including this one, each of those 18 weeks involved running at least 30 but up to 50 miles.  Even though most of my workouts have been decent lately, some better than others, my running hasn’t been where I want it to be.  Especially my long runs.  My legs are working hard and I’m getting nowhere.  They are exhausted.  I’ve never hit a wall or felt like this before.  This decline in performance can only mean it’s time to take a break.  Therefore:

4)  I’m taking the weekend, maybe longer, off.  A 23 mile week isn’t going to derail all of my hard work.  Some time off is going to make things better.  I probably should have thought of this sooner.  Should have even planned it.  I head into my 10 week Myrtle program Monday and would like to feel fresh.  (Note: I’m not entirely sure I know what ‘fresh’ feels like anymore.)  I’ll use the next two days to regroup, bathe in ice, foam roll, massage, work, sleep and maybe do a few push-ups.  That’s it.  And if I don’t feel better on Monday, well, I’ll just have to wait and see.

Meredith

Are you flexible with your workouts or do you stick to a plan like glue?  How do you handle burn out?

Summer 2014 Recovery Week

Recovery week is in the books and it’s almost time to get down to business.  I have a few weeks (5 to be exact) before my 10 week training plan for Myrtle Beach kicks into gear and am excited to see what I can do with fewer miles to run each week.

I didn’t run a step for any of the seven days during recovery week, but I did lift twice, row a 5K and walk a bunch.  I got lucky with the dates I chose for recovery week because there was a ton of wind at the end of the week with Hurricane Arthur making a meek appearance.  I had enough wind over the winter and can definitely wait a few more months, or longer, for it to come back.  With recovery week behind me, here’s this week’s schedule:

Monday:  Back at it easy 5 miler (done!)
Tuesday:  AM: Heavy lifting squats  PM:  800M repeats
Wednesday:  5 mile pick-up run
Thursday:  Heavy lifting
Friday:  Long run 13 miles
Saturday:  2-3 mile recovery run and Crossfit
Sunday:  Rest Day!

My easy 5 miler yesterday was just to get back in the groove.  It was nice and hot but with humidity that was below 50%, it seemed like a treat.  My legs felt very fresh, which wasn’t a surprise, and I’m ready to push it later this week.  The forecast is calling for rain and a bit of a cool down at the end of the week meaning I should have good weather for Friday’s long run.  My last few long runs have been in tough conditions and I’ve taken them slow, doing little more than try to get my miles in.  I’m looking forward to hitting that 13 miler hard and getting a good idea of where my training is a few weeks before I get into my 10 week training plan for the start of my Fall 2014 Race Season.

Meredith

How’s your training?  How often do you take a recovery week/few days/month?

Rest Week Begins

It’s Rest Week.  A great performance (new PR!) in the Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and a tough Eagles loss left me ready for seven days without breaking a serious sweat.  Spending the weekend in Philly was a blast and it’s always nice to see Mom and Dad.  My left knee was stiff and sore this morning, but after moving around a bit it loosened up just in time to hop back in the car and head back to Virginia Beach.

I arrived home with enough time to unpack before teaching a cloudy evening Boot Camp.  After Boot Camp a light dinner accompanied a DVRed viewing of Boardwalk Empire and I’ll be hitting the hay early tonight for more Boot Camp in the morning.  Tomorrow’s early Beach Boot Camp is set to be both chilly and very windy with 20 mile an hour winds being called for, so I’m looking forward to another day bundled up in a fluffy hoodie.  Working out usually follows Tuesday morning Camp, but I have this week off and won’t be lifting any weights at all.

Rest Week means there will be no Tuesday Two a Day, but a short, easy pace two mile recovery run tomorrow will get my muscles back in gear.  I’ll spend the rest of the morning with my wonderful clients and then finish up my official review of yesterday’s race.  I’ve already started working on my schedule for 2014, and with 47 states left on my Running All 50 States list, want to get a few more crossed off.  I’m currently registered for the Shamrock Half Marathon in March, but I’ve already crossed Virginia off the list.  To take care of Tennessee, South Carolina and Delaware, I’m leaning towards adding the Rock N Roll Nashville in April, the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon in October and Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon in December to the calendar.

Have suggestions for my 2014 calendar?  Let me have ’em!

Meredith