Oh, how sad to be right. But in the ashes of defeat are the seeds of victory, so here’s my 2022 – inaugural! – North Myrtle Beach Sunglasses Half Marathon race recap all the same.
We begin with a 4:45am wakeup call (still luxuriously late compared to runDisney) and the 55-minute trek from Wilmington down to North Myrtle Beach. I built in plenty of time to start late, get lost, or get stuck in 5K traffic, but everything went smoothly and we arrived around 6:15am, well in advance of the half marathon 7:45am start time.
Incidentally, when I say “we” – rather than simply loan me the car, my parents decided to drive me down and then hang out on the beach while I ran. I can’t tell you if that’s because my dad doesn’t trust me with that car, finds retired life so boring that a drive is a welcome distraction, or simply enjoys an early morning sojourn, but they had breakfast and walked on the beach while I raced. Hey, always good to have a ride!
I picked up my bib without issue, and after pinning it on found myself with around an hour to kill. I availed myself of the porta potties, watched some of the 5K go by, wandered around, peed again, and then around 10 minutes ahead of time lined up by the start. There were no corrals, but I once again took a spot by the 2-hour pacers because hope springs eternal and/or I’m an idiot.
The start of the race was odd – although we started precisely on time, I was expecting some fanfare. There was no formal announcement that I heard, no anthem, nothing – we just kinda went. Indeed, I was so distracted by the unexpected beginning I didn’t even remember to hit “start” on my GPS until about 3 minutes in. But my headphones worked from jump this time, so that’s something.
I kept up okay for the first 6 miles or so, using my sprint-ahead strategy for the water stops to get some mini walk breaks in. But I could tell pretty early in that, just as I originally suspected, this wasn’t my day.
The real death knell came when, rather than my knee itself, my IT band started bothering me around halfway through the race. I had it taped up as I usually do, but I also had my knee taped up because of all the mess, and I think one may have compromised the other – come to think of it, both in terms of tape and also in terms of my right leg generally.
This naturally slowed me down a bit, and when I lost visual on the 2 hour pace group entirely around a corner I gave up the ghost. Now, maybe if I’d pushed I could’ve stayed with them for longer, but a PR felt highly unlikely and I didn’t want to risk really messing myself up. A girl’s got the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in a week!
Happily the IT band thing never got worse, but neither did it get better – just a sort of general “Hello! It’s me! Your IT band!” awareness the whole time, if you know what I mean. So I settled into a slower but no less steady trudge and kept at it, walking at the water stops every two miles or so and then picking it back up again. Slow and steady may not win the race, but it will finish it, and I trusted in that.
As for the course itself, it was not exciting but quite respectable: minimal inclines (although not as flat as Oak Island), a very safe course almost exclusively through neighborhoods, and decent spectator turnout. I really can’t complain.
For the final stretch, however, it got a little more fun: the last mile and a half or so paralleled the beach. Now, you couldn’t really see said beach, but all the accoutrements were there – hotels, little shops, colorful beach houses, restaurants, and the like.
It was here, around mile 12.5, that I was passed by a man with his TWO CHILDREN. I’m no child expert, but guessing these kids were between 9 and 11 and they breezed by me and my sad little IT band with ease. And I thought to myself: All right, that’s enough. Where’s the finish line? 😂
Luckily it wasn’t too far away! I left the final water stop and pushed my way down the last half mile of street, where I hung a right and found the finish arch looming right in front of me. I put on the customary last-gasp burst of speed, and then I was done.
Beyond the finish there were volunteers giving out water bottles and half-bananas (race organizers: why? Bananas are cheap; just give us the whole banana) as well as our race medals.
You know what we didn’t get at the Sunglasses Half? Sunglasses! Not that I expected Ray-Bans or anything but those cheap plastic Wayfarer dupes with the race logo on them would have made so much sense.
We also had tickets on our bibs for one free plate of barbecue and one free beer. I skipped the food but cashed in my beer ticket for a Crooked Hammock Brewery South to Somewhere coconut ale. It was pretty good! Would definitely recommend to coconut fans – it didn’t have that weird sunscreen-y taste that a lot of coconut-flavored things do.
There was also an after party at the same brewery with free tours, which sounded neat, but it didn’t start until 3pm. Instead I found my parents in the car, and we drove back to Wilmington for a shower and a nap.
Whelp, another one in the books. It was kind of disappointing, but as you know not unexpectedly so. And yet, here’s the nifty thing: it was also my third-fastest half. That’s sort of… nice, I think? My first half marathon was just under 2:52 and I here I am looking at 2:05 and change with a minor injury and thinking, eh, I can do better.
Next time, I will do better!
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