When people speak of Myrtle Beach or going to Myrtle Beach, things like flip flops, sun tans, pińa coladas, Ocean Boulevard and beach music come to mind. But to some runners along with myself, every second or third Saturday in February means it’s marathon time at Myrtle! Among my close running group inside the Greenville Track Club, you might overhear one say, “You going to Myrtle next year?” This doesn’t mean, “Are you going to the beach for vacation?” It means, “Will you be running Myrtle this year?”
This is one of my favorite “get out of town” races every year. Only death or a bad illness keeps me from going. I get to room with some of my favorite elite runners and hang with the best. I get to see them often throughout the year at different hometown races and at GTC events, but at Myrtle, I get to run with them for three days, talk about this year’s running plans, discuss different eating plans and cross training, and dream and plan the next few years “must have” races.
Let me give you some background on out-of-town races. It is not just to go run that race and mark it off of your list. It’s a time of letting your hair down and hanging out with some of your best friends; friends who know the lingo, understand your passion and addiction and never tire of talking about running. That’s pretty much all we do all weekend. Oh, and run. We run, too.
You experience those morning-of butterflies together, visiting the port-a-potties a few times, decide where to meet after the race, and as soon as one finishes, you stand at the finish line and cheer every runner that comes through (even though they are strangers to you) until your whole gang of running buddies have finished. Runners share a bond that only runners understand. You see each other at your worst and best times. Those best times meaning, “sweat rolling down your face, stinky, your Achilles “killing” you, but you PR’ed that day.” Those are the best times.
So, Myrtle this year was no different. Actually, it was the best year yet of my three years running it. I got to run it with one of my very dear running friends. We crossed the starting line together and he let me cross the finish line one second before him. True friendship, I tell you. Tried and true. (Thanks, Jeff!)
I took the race easy this year just enjoying the run. I’ve been doing that more and more since completing my marathon in October. I truly love running just for the run and I am glad that I have the health and strength to do it.
About the half-way mark, I let my mind wander to just being thankful. I thought of my grandmother that passed away the year before. Tears came to my eyes. She was always a “go-getter.” She was the kind of person that always said to “go and try everything you can. Life is so short. Live it on purpose.” So, that day, I ran that half marathon for my grandmother, Lexie. I know she would be out there if she could.
I talk a lot about running for yourself. Don’t run for anybody else. Do it all for you. Running is a one-man sport. You are competing with yourself. And, I still feel this way. But, I have some friends that run for different reasons, be it breast cancer, a recent tragedy or a charity of some sort. So, I have decided to incorporate that into my running this year. Run for a cause. Yes, it’s still for you, but there’s just something about having a person or a cause to run for that makes you push and breathe a little harder for. Both of my grandmothers had some sort of cancer at one point in their lives. So, my races this year may not be running for a “cancer,” but they can be run for my grandmothers that can’t run today. Running for someone who can’t…that’s a pretty darn good reason to run, if you ask me.
I know I “chase rabbits” a lot in my blogs, giving more details about the races or runs and not just about the race itself. But, that’s what running is. Yes, it’s about the race, getting through different mind obstacles and a mile-by-mile replay. But, it’s also about enjoying the whole experience. I’m a big-picture type of girl and like to talk about it. So, in short, I thought the following during the race (not in any particular order): “Boy, it’s good to be running the whole race with my friend. Man, I miss my grandmother. This is for you, Nan. I really wanted to try to PR today, but I think I’m just gonna take it easy and enjoy today with Jeff. Ooh, I need to come look through that store I just passed after the race later. Boy, those eggs, pancakes and bacon smell like heaven right now! I hope Alfred is feeling good…he’s running his first full today. I wish those women behind us would just shut up! I think I’m getting a blister already and it’s only mile six. Talk about perfect weather for a marathon! Man, I wish I had signed up for the full. Man, I’m glad I only signed up for the half (at the split)! I’m freakin’ awesome! Only 2% of the population ever run a marathon…glad I’m in that 2%. Today is a good day to be alive. I know it’s only a half, but it feels like a full already. Where is that split again? Oh, there’s Kerrie and Bobby to run us in! I’m so blessed to have friends such as these.”
It was, indeed, a good day to run and another year of Myrtle Beach was penned down for the books. Race stories were swopped, laughs and hugs were shared, pictures were taken, cheering and heavy breathing was heard, pounding of the feet was felt, medals were received, lots and lots of food was eaten, not enough outlet shopping was done, and 13.1 and 26.2 miles were ran. Just another day in the life of a runner.