This weekend was awesome! Seriously the whole thing was EXACTLY what I needed, a break from everything and a chance to have one last trip to the beach! I love when we plan a trip around a race!
The Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon came highly recommended to us by several of our running friends. Our expectations of the event were high and it didn’t disappoint us. It lived up to the hype!
Firstly, we were lucky enough to be staying in the host hotel, the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes, the location of the starting line for the Coastal 5K and EXPO. This was by far the closest I’ve ever been to an EXPO. We literally got in the elevator hit “LL” and we were right in the middle of it. Saturday morning, we got up early to head out and cheer on the runners in the 5K. We had a blast encouraging all the runners, especially all the kiddos! There were some great costumes out there too! After the 5K, we took off along the Greenway that was right there and ran out a half mile and back to shakeout our legs for the next day’s half.
Sunday morning, we left to head to the starting line which was at the Coastal Grand Mall. The race goes off at 7am and we wanted to get there about 6:15am to be able to hit the potties, check our gear, and have time to get to our corrals. This is a point to point race so we would be leaving from the mall and heading to the boardwalk on the beach. We got there in plenty of time and headed to the port-a-potties. The location of the potties wasn’t the best. They had them facing a road and the lines were a bit ridiculous. Luckily, we moved all the way to the end of the potties and didn’t have to wait too long. I found Christine and we went and got into our place at the start.
While waiting in our corral, they were playing some really great music and making updates about the race start, which I appreciate. We also noticed there were pacers, but not by specific times, but by paces. This was a bit different from other races we’ve run. The 10 min pacer was right in front of us. Once the National Anthem was played, we had just a few seconds and we were off!
The start of the race was crowded, but not too congested. We run one full loop around the mall, which I liked. We were able to spread out a bit before having to work our way down to one lane of traffic on the roads. This race is unusual in that there are only a three turns on the whole course. The course was also different from year’s past, with 5 miles of it along the ocean! Christine and I set out at a pretty good pace, running completely on my heart rate (keeping it under 140 for the whole run). I was running this one as a training/marathon pace vs racing it. Christine’s plan was to run this half faster than her half a few weeks ago. Both of our plans made us perfect running partners for this race! We fell into an easy groove right at 9:55 by the second mile.
We chatted and talked for the first few miles. I had to stop to use the bathroom around mile 3. Christine kept moving and it took me about .7 miles to catch her! (The only time I got my HR higher than 140) Although the course was really flat, there was some undulations along the way which we liked! There is only two points of a true elevation change, one bridge and one uphill section near the beach. The time went by quickly and we were already at mile 9 before we knew it!
Christine and I just ran along, encountering many interesting folks along the way! From the 10 min pacer offering folks bacon while we ran to a girl who was singing and cheering for herself loudly. It was definitely entertaining! Christie and Jen came out to meet us right at mile 12. At this point, we decided not to check our watches, but I bet Christine that we were going to come in about 2:12. We picked up our pace just a bit for the 12th mile, but slowed back to our comfortable pace once we made the left to head towards the boardwalk. Christine and I made our way towards the finish line, grabbing hands at the last minute and crossing with big smiles! We didn’t hit 2:12, we hit 2:11!! We were both so excited! I had stayed exactly on marathon pace (9:55 overall, the course was a bit long on my Garmin) and she had beat her half time from a few weeks ago and even ran all 13 without stopping! We rocked it!!
We found Cara, Christie and Jen, grabbed our gear, and we headed over to the beach party and beer garden. They had a band playing that I totally loved! They were playing some good ol’ rock and roll and Christine and I were in heaven! We stayed there through the awards ceremony since Jen placed in her AG!! We went down to the beach for just a bit to take a few pictures and I had to put my feet in the water! We headed to the shuttle line shortly afterward to catch the buses back to the starting line where we parked.
This race had a ton of pros! The course, the after race party, and the organization of the race are all reasons alone to run this one! Add in the huge surfboard medal and it’s an absolute must run event! The Expo was convenient if you were staying in the hotel. For those who want to run more than one race, it’s nice to be able to have that option with the 5K on Saturday and half on Sunday. The course was well marked, the water stations were plentiful and the volunteers were awesome! The gear check was well organized, as was the post race shuttle back to the starting line.
The course measured long on all of our watches. With only 3 turns, it seems a bit impossible that we ran it too long. The port-a-potties at the start could be improved if they were located in the parking lot vs near a road. There were plenty of them, just hard to line up when it’s on an entrance road to the mall. The after race party was awesome, but if you are going to advertize it with a beer garden, then a limit of one half beer per runner needs to be made known beforehand. It was a bit odd. The shuttle back to the starting line was organized, but our bus was a bit scary and we wondered if it was going to break down at one point. Very jerky!
Overall, I would definitely run this one again! Of the two Myrtle races, this one and the one in February, I loved the course and race just a bit better! Running along the beach for 5 miles was awesome and you can’t beat an October beach trip! I can’t wait to return again next year!
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