Monday, February 21, 2011

Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon 2011


We had a pretty uneventful trip over to Myrtle Beach and broke the trip into two days of driving.  We left on Thursday, February 17th around 2 p.m., stopping first to pick up my mother who was coming along to watch the children for us.  We arrived at our hotel around 8 p.m. after making a picnic dinner stop at a cute park near Augusta, GA with a great playground for the children.  Saturday was a busy day with a near four-hour drive, a stop at Ed Venture Children's Museum in Columbia, South Carolina, a visit to the Expo to get our race numbers, a quick check-in at the hotel, a pasta dinner with our friends Teddy and Angie, and a little swimming in the hotel pool.  We loved the Expo since it was a good size and was well organized.  I liked the free beer!  Saturday night's sleep was pretty bad for all of us adults due to some pretty uncomfortable beds!  We woke up at 4:08 a.m. our time (they are an hour ahead).
Race Morning    

We arrived at the start line at about 5:45 a.m.  The race had a 6:30 a.m. start.  We hit the line of port-a-potties first thing, and then Rick went to check our bags while I made a second trip.  The full and half started at the same time (nearly 7,000 runners total), but I had no trouble getting into my pace area in plenty of time.  I couldn't find Rick, but that was okay.  He had planned to start around a 3:40 pace, and I wanted to start at a 3:30 pace.  The race started with a cannon going off (!), and we began.  It was dark still with a pretty nearly-full moon, and the weather was perfect.  I guess it was near 50.  I was in shorts and a singlet and felt great.  I thought back to last year, when the race was cancelled due to a freak snowstorm.  Wow, what a difference!

The First Half
I covered the first mile in 7:29 and felt very good.  I could feel the adrenaline.  I kept thinking, "I guess I won't be starting off smart after all," because I did not want to slow down at all.  In fact, I felt like I was holding back.  I wasn't breathing hard or in any kind of pain.  I was passing people and enjoying the pace alot.  I saw a girl wearing hair scrunchies on her wrist that she had used to attach two plastic straws to her arm (I guess for sipping water at the aid stations?).  That seemed odd to me and sticks out as something I thought about for awhile.  The first few miles went back pretty fast and stayed at an under 7:30 pace.  The sun was rising, and we started on the stretch along the ocean.  The course is known to be flat and fast. 

Around mile 10, I thought of how nice it was to have not encountered a hill of any kind yet.  I occupied myself by looking at the hotel signs and the many spectators, some of which were on their hotel balconies cheering for us.  I saw a pug that looked just like our dog, Monte.  The running still seemed pretty easy at mile 13, and I made the half in 1:36:29.  The woman there cheered for me by name since my chip displayed my name as I passed over the sensor.  I figured there would not be a negative spilt for me today since that seemed like a very good half.  I doubled it in my head and knew I was on track for a 3:13 or so.  At this point, I thought I had a possibility of setting a new PR, something I have not done in any distance in about 7 years.  That was thrilling, but it was way too early to get excited yet.

The Second Half 
I had eaten a Cliffbar before the race started, and at mile 12, I had taken some Sportsbeans.  I took a mandarin orange Gu at mile 16.  My pace for that mile was a 7:26.  I thought I'd hate that Gu flavor, but it was actually okay.  I used this part of my race to start thinking about my old PR race.  I was so glad that I'd looked it up because the splits were very fresh in my mind.  I had alot of sub 8's in that race.  Since I'd done all sub 7:30s so far today, I thought I could slow down to 8:30's for the whole second half and still come in with my Marshall Marathon time (8:00 average pace).  But I thought I would try to get the sub 3:20, breaking my old PR.  I thought today was the day to do it.  I just hadn't known beforehand!  I was so tired from Mountain Mist and didn't feel like I'd done enough speedwork to maintain the needed pace.  The miles were proving to me that I could do it though.  I thought about the "A-B-C" goals and about how helpful it was to me to actually think about that beforehand.  It really gives me something tangible to reach for.  I thought about Jane's quote from Jason about just taking each mile one at at time and making your watch say what you wanted it to each mile.  And I tried to distract myself from feeling the fatigue that was settling in.  The best "mantra" that I was able to use was "disassociate yourself."  I kept telling myself that my body wasn't really here at all, but rather it was on the beach laying out.  That helped alot and made me push through some of the tougher miles. 

I held the sub 7:30 pace until mile 20, and then I fell to 7:45 for mile 20 and 8:00 for mile 21.  I took my 1/2 packet of Cliffblocks at mile 20, hoping to hold off the inevitable slowing down.  I also broke the race up into two-mile segments at this point, so I went from 16 to 18 ("the wall"), and then 18 to 20, and then I said, "It's just an ordinary 6 miler, like I do with my friends all the time."  It really helped to break it up and not think about the whole distance left.  Mile 22 was back to 7:53, and I took the last Gu offered on the course, though I fumbled clumsily for it and almost ran into a volunteer handing out orange slices.  We entered a little paved running trail around this point.  I remember seeing a policeman pointing for me to get over to the right but thinking he was pointing to a car behind me.  I was pretty out of it.  I really wanted to stop and walk or to slow down.  Miles 23-26 were 8:22, 8:22, 8:03, and 8:13 respectively.  So I did slow, but not as dramatically as in the Marshall Marathon. 

As I started recognizing the finish line, I began to get excited.  The whole last mile, I was telling myself, "You're almost there!" and using my time on my watch to gauge how much time was left.  At one point, I knew I only had to keep it up for another 10 minutes.  The crowd was so awesome and was yelling things like, "You go, girl!" and "Girl Power!" and "You're one of the top women!" and "You're top 10!"  I was so encouraged by that and humbled that they would take the time to encourage me so specifically.  When I saw the Mile 26 mile marker, I was turning the last corner.  The finish line finally came into view.  I could stop pretty soon!

The Finish
I was checking out the finish line as I approached, and I saw two black strips on the ground.  I wanted to know which one was the finish line one so I could stop there.  Then, I looked over at the computer screen and saw my name and time come out at the top.  I assumed I was done and finally hit "stop" on my watch and tried to stop running.  I had gotten a 3:18:05.  I had beaten my old PR by nearly 4 minutes and had beaten my most recent racing marathon by about 11 minutes.  I was happy but oh so tired.  My legs just gave out on me, first my left leg and then my right.  I saw a volunteer asking me if I was all right, and I remember saying something like, "No, I think I'm gonna pass out."  I fell down on the pavement, hitting my right knee on the asphalt, just as that volunteer and another one grabbed my elbows and held me so I wouldn't fall completely over.  My head was cloudy and I was seeing black, but I never lost consciousness.  Someone with a wheelchair emerged, and they hoisted me into it.  We stopped to get my medal from a volunteer (I loved the flip-flops on it!), and then they wheeled me out of the finishers' area and into a locker room that was being used as the medical tent.  I remember feeling so glad that I wasn't running anymore.  Sitting in the chair felt so good. 

Inside, they laid me down on a cot and took my pulse, temperature, and blood pressure.  My BP was fine, but my temperature was a little warm (99.4) and my pulse was around 90 (a little high).  They gave me ice water to drink and asked me all sorts of things, like was this my first marathon ("No, it's my 21st"), had I drunk water on the course, had this ever happened before, etc.  I remember looking around and seeing a guy next to me puking and a girl coming in who was crying since she had dropped out.  Thoughts of my St. Louis experience came pouring back.  And here I was again.  The doctor there was very nice and sat chatting with me for awhile.  He'd been a volunteer for all of the 13 years the race had been held.   He let me borrow his phone to call Rick and even went out to find out if he'd finished and to look for him (they weren't able to find him though).  I tried sitting up, and a little while later, I tried to stand up.  I felt weak and almost like I was going to faint, and I got short of breath.  They took my BP and pulse, and my BP was fine again but my pulse was up from 90 to 130 and racing.  They asked me to sit down and stay awhile longer.  I thought about Rick and how he'd be looking for me and about how I'd missed his finish. 

Finally, I stood up and was able to leave (with an escort back to the finish line and an admonition not to faint in the parking lot!).  I got in line for my finisher's photo (couldn't pass that up!) and spotted Rick right after I had it taken.  I told him quickly all about my little adventure, but he'd already been to the race time kiosk so he knew my time.  I was very impressed that he got a 3:41, especially given that he'd been injured the last two months.  I had seen him once along the course when we looped back, so I knew he was looking strong and would finish.  We met up with Teddy and Angie.  I had also seen Teddy on the course (he was in front of me), but we got their times and stories.  Angie had broken 2 hours in the half and was very happy with her time, and Teddy got a 3:12, just short of his goal. 

Rick and I grabbed some food for the road.  I ate an orange slice and drank a beer (couldn't pass that up though I was warned at the medical tent not to drink any alcohol that day!).  We met my mom and the children back at the hotel, where my mom snapped a quick picture of us before we got ready for a long, fun day in Myrtle Beach.

I later learned that I was indeed the 10th overall female and second in my age group.  I was confused because this race provided a little printout with your chip time after the race, and mine said "Division Place 56."  So I didn't think I'd won anything and left without checking on the awards.  I still plan to see if I can get it mailed to me somehow.  We walked all over Broadway at the Beach, a really neat boardwalk-type shopping center with all kinds of shops and restaurants.  I was a little woozy and gladly stopped for an ice cream.  Sitting felt great.  Rick got a Quizno's sandwich later on, and I bet it hit the spot.  Hunger, when it returns after running a marathon, is nothing to mess around with! 

We took our children to the beach since they were begging to go.  The 60-something degree weather felt perfect.  They played for a couple of hours, and I walked up and down for about 50 minutes, taking my mom for part of the walk and Rick for the other.  It felt good to work out some of the soreness that was creeping in.  The water was freezing cold, but the children ran up and down the beach in the little tide pools, jumping and splashing each other.  It was just wonderful watching them enjoying the day and running for the fun of it. 

We ended the day with Mellow Mushroom's mega-veggie pizza (no peppers, no olives, no onions, and add pepperonis!) and another dip in the pool.  On Sunday, picked up the local newspaper from the hotel and read the results.  A woman was the first place overall finisher!  We left at 7 a.m. our time and drove until 6 p.m. with a couple of stops for food and gas.  We ended up letting the children run around Little River Canyon.  The stiffness had really set in for me by this point, and I hobbled stiffly down the hill to see the waterfall there.  Today is Monday, and I managed a 6 mile run with the girls this morning without too much stiffness or pain.

Here are my official time and some photos:

102 1271 KATIE MAEHLMANN half time 1:36:29 gun time 3:18:33 chip time 3:18:05 pace 07:35
Don't we look so peaceful and happy here?  I could've stayed at that beach for days.
The children got their running done along the beach after our race.
Post-race ice cream tradition.  Yum!
Myrtle Beach
The medal
When we came back from the marathon, the children had necklaces on too!  I thought that would make a great picture.  This is the only race picture I have for now since we did not take the camera to the start line.
My watch said 3:18:10 but the chip time was 3:18:05
10th OAF, 2nd in my age group


  1. WOW! What an exciting read! I laughed at the scrunchies and the straws. How strange! And what an amazing pace!

    I really like your mantra "disassociate yourself." I may need to borrow that one.

    I am just so impressed by your toughness and focus, girl! That is such a great finish time and a win too! Congratulations! You sure don't look like you just ran a marathon in that picture of you, Rick and the kids.

    We are gonna have to discuss this in more detail soon. :) I hope you are recovering well and I am looking forward to a run SOON!

  2. AMAZING. I'm going to have to read and re-read this over and over. WOW!!!!! FANTASTIC!!!

    Your "disassociate yourself" made me thing of what I heard one time: when this person starts getting tired, she imagines she is outside of herself watching a friend running and she cheers for her friend.... Pretty much what you did.

    This is a great recap---and a FANTASTIC race. EXCELLENT JOB!! :D

  3. Thanks Jane and Dana. It is interesting to me how you both liked the "disassociate yourself" mantra. I'm not sure if it's the best one to use, but it did help me push through. Thanks for reading it all and for giving me encouragement. :)