What a week! On Monday I developed “an issue” that I’d rather not broadcast to the entire world. Suffice it to say I was uncomfortable enough that in order to keep my running streak of 600+ days alive I limped and plodded and agonized as I “ran” a mile in approximately 16 minutes. It was possibly the most difficult mile I’ve ever run. If this race had been three days earlier or my “situation” had occurred three days later there’s no doubt that I couldn’t have even made the trip to Myrtle Beach, let alone run the race.
I managed to run a total of 7 miles in the 5 days preceding the race, which worried me a little but I was reassured by some level-headed runners that it would work as a nice taper, and as long as I was able to run on Saturday I’d do fine.
The fact that everything had already been paid for (race registration, hotel, etc.) was beside the point. For me, this is one of my most important races of the season. It’s the 7th race of the 10-race Running Journal Grand Prix, and one of three races that has to be completed in order to receive a double-points bonus in the Grand Prix, which would put me in a much better position. I considered just jogging through the race, possibly starting at the very back of the pack and just moseying along and finishing slowly since any finishing time would keep my double-points option alive.
|Me, pre-race, sportin’ the mustache. With the ‘stache, the toboggan, and my sunglasses
(which I need to wear in order to see my watch), none of my friends recognize me.
Things worked out nicely though, and by Saturday morning I felt pretty good so I headed up near the front to start with Bob Nelson and Roberta (Bobbi) Villneff, who had both come from Charlotte and are also competing in the Running Journal Grand Prix. Bobbi took a late detour for the porta potties and ended up in back of us but Bob and I exchanged our semi-mandatory excuses of why we wouldn’t do well and talked about starting off slowly, which we did for the most part.
I never saw Bob again after the first half mile or so, and I didn’t look back, so I wasn’t sure whether or not he was in sight. I gradually built my heart rate up to 167 and was able to keep the average at 167-168 through the first 12 miles. About 7 miles into the race Bobby Aswell passed me (he was running the full marathon) and yelled, “Bob Nelson said to tell you to slow down!” I asked him how far back he was and he said probably about 30 seconds. I was glad to know he wasn’t breathing down my neck but 30 seconds isn’t much of a lead with 5 or 6 miles left to run. I just concentrated on keeping my heart rate where it should be, knowing that’s all I can do.
I finally took a peek in back of me at around the 12-mile mark. I didn’t see Bob or anybody who looked like they’d be in my age group, and I was able to turn up the heart rate to about the 170-172 range and stayed there for the rest of the race. My finish time of 1:35:51 was a little more than 2 minutes slower than last year at the same race (1:33:48), but it’s been a rough 12 months in between those two races for me and I was thrilled to be under 1:36. This is a big race and a lot of years my time wouldn’t have been fast enough for a top-3 finish, but this time around it was good enough for first place in the 60-64 age group, so I was thankful that fleeter feet than mine decided to stay home.
I waited at the finish line and Bob finished 2 minutes and 4 seconds later and 2nd place in the 60-64 age group. We both waited for Bobbi Villneff, who finished a couple minutes later, finishing 2nd in the 60-64 female category. I was surprised to see anybody beat her, but 1st place went to Catherine Wides, the 2012 USA National Masters 8k Champion, who beat Bobbi by about 3 minutes. To put things in perspective, the 3rd place finisher among 60-64 females was more than 22 minutes behind Bobbi, so it was definitely a 2-woman race. Bobbi has only been running for two years and this was her third half marathon, so I believe she still has plenty of improvement left ahead of her. Catherine’s time of 1:38:42 was just a few seconds slower than the state record for the age group of 1:38:27.
|John Sneed (1st place 70-74) and
Richard Hefner (1st place 60-64)
Speaking of records, Steve Annan broke the South Carolina state road race record for the 65-69 age group with a time of 1:33:02, slicing 12 seconds off the previous record. If you’ve kept up with my blog, you may remember John Sneed, who had graciously sent me a duplicate award after we ran a race in York this past year where the course was screwy and I ended up running an extra mile. John is now 70 years old but looks like he’s 50 and runs like he’s 30. He hoped to break the state record for the 70-74 age group. He came up short by about 40 seconds (1:43:21) but he finished a full 12 minutes ahead of the 2nd place runner in the age group.
Age Group: 1 of 88
Overall: 166 of 3362 (4.9%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:17:33 (76.37%)
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
5 – Course Scenery: (0)bad (2)pleasant (5)extraordinary
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0)mediocre (2)not bad (5)very good (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
0 – Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
10 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
1 – Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful (at start)
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful (at finish)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics! (Myrtle Beach Online)
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
5 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes (RJ Grand Prix)