Myrtle Beach Marathon: My Bojangles 5K Experience
Friday, March 4, 2016 was one of the longest, most exhilarating days of the year so far. Per my usual, I had to work that day. However, it was also the day that Cal and I ran our first ever 5K marathon. Mind you, I was all hyped about it back in October when I decided to run it. Cal had said he would too. I was apprehensive about that but I figured he would be able to. After all, he was an athlete in high school. It was a while back but not THAT many years ago.
Ah, but I digress. When I woke up before my alarm, I went to let the dogs out in the cold, biting rain. It was only 4:30 in the morning. I had checked the weather the night before and it was only a ten percent chance of rain for the day. Still, hopeful, I asked for a greater power to not let it rain during the race. After going about my normal morning routine, I went to work. I was afforded a longer lunch after working my butt off trying to get in as many hours as I could. Cal and I used that time to get some new running shoes and a nifty pair of running pants for Cal. He opted for the fashionable “Oh My Quad” statement down the leg. He refused to try them on prior to getting ready so, I patiently waited. I must say, he looked pretty sexy in his running pants and marathon shirt!
I promptly clocked out at 4PM EST and went about getting ready for the evening. Start time for the race was at 7PM sharp. From 4 to 6, I swear it was the longest 2 hours of my life! I was full of anxiety and excitement. This was something I had never done before and if you told me at 208 pounds, this time last year, that I was going to be doing this, I would have laughed at you. Six PM came, and we got in the car and left. I anticipated many people already at the starting gate as we lived less than 2 miles away. Also, they were wrapping up the kids one mile Fun Run prior to our race. We parked our car at the halfway point. There was not anywhere to park at the finish line because it was blocked off. We decided it was a good warmup to walk along the path of the race from the car to the starting line. With the temperature being close to 50 (on the lower side,) it was nice to get the blood warmed up on the way to the start. There were people everywhere. At my last check, there were 957 people registered to run the 5K. That may not seem like much. When you SEE that many people and their families and cheer leaders, it is a whole different feel.
We arrived at the starting area at about 6:35. It was cold. It was getting dark. Darkness meant we didn’t have the advantage of the sun to keep the temperature up. Time was drawing nearer. I didn’t know what to expect. I watched the people around me. There were people jogging around, jumping, stretching, and others were just standing there, trying to be warm. Cal and I opted to do some stretching and just movement to keep warm. Personally, I didn’t want to burn off any more energy than necessary and I still wanted to prevent injury by stretching out. Too many times had I just jumped out of bed and hopped on ole Tready to my disadvantage. When an exercise fanatic tells you to stretch, it is for good reason! Trust me. I noticed people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. There were some who were obvious career runners. Still, there were others that I remember thinking “Wow, will they be able to keep up with ME?” There was even a little old man who looked to be about 70. I was beginning to feel better about my own situation. You see, in January, I was training nearly every day and could do the 5K distance running and walking in about 47 minutes. I know that it is different on a treadmill and my personal goal was 1. to complete the thing and 2. to get in in under 15 minutes. The rules say you have to complete it in under an hour to be considered a finisher. 45 minutes meant I could walk/run and still average about 13-15 minutes per mile. No sweat! Right?
At about ten minutes to start, there were 4 guys who came out waving signs. These were the pace runners. Cal and I had discussed it. We didn’t want to be at the very back nor did we want to be so far up in the pack that we were discouraged by people passing us. We opted to stand just behind the 11 minute pacer. There were many people behind us. In my estimation at least 150. I felt we had chosen a great starting point. I began to listen to the excited conversation around me. Some were asking questions and hypothesizing about how it was going to be. Like me, I assumed this was their first run. One lady was sick and was hoping just to make it to the end without vomiting. Others were talking about past experiences. Yet others, who had ran before, were asking how this particular race was done. Was that the starting line? What is the route? (Here I thought, “Well JEEZ lady! The stupid map was ONLINE!” I am from Indiana! Where are you from? How long is this race? The conversations were everywhere but you could feel the excitement in the air. I was fiddling with my phone at 6:59 trying to get my runners app started and failed to hear the start. I only knew we had started as the masses around me began to move forward in a sluggish, fluid motion. One lady standing near me had already mentioned that it was going to be slow to start.
Quickly, I clicked my phone off and began the walk like jog that I was going to use to pace myself. Cal was right by my side. To begin with, it was slow enough so we could talk. We discussed other runners, that the coolness wasn’t so bad, how great it was that there was a small decline at the start and how it would be cool if the whole thing was like that. It was nice to share this experience with the love of my life. In the first 3 minutes of that run, I was proud of Cal and glad that he wanted to be here with me. I wanted to hug him and show him my grateful face. That made me want to push on. I made a mental note to keep that thought filed away for when it began to get hard for me.
While running, every now and then, my phone would talk to me. I had successfully started my runners app and it gave me periodic updates as the race wore on. The first updated I received was at the 5 minute mark. To my surprise, I had ran the first full five minutes of the race. On ole Tready, I was lucky to get in 3 minutes before I had to slow back down to a walk. Anything beyond that was HARD. I slowed down to a speed walk shortly after the update to catch my breath. At this point there were people I could keep my eye on and try to stay a few paces ahead of them. Unfortunately, the 11 minute pacer guy was long out of my site. Cal was still right there with me. Here I was mentally kicking myself in the buns because I had slacked off in my training at the end of January and picked up some bad habits again. I had become lazy. In the days prior to the race, I was fearful I would fail in my goal. But here I was, running, with the man of my dreams. At this point, I still wanted to finish in under 45 minutes. However, just finishing would work for me. Cal had not trained at all. I wanted to run the whole thing with him by my side, but I knew he would be close. Whether it be in front of me or behind me, we would not be too far apart.
I told him I had to run.
I received my 2nd update at 1.05 miles and my pace was 12minutes 51 seconds. Not bad. Not bad at all. He waved me on and said he would catch me. He did. A few yards after that, I took off again. This time, I was focused and I was pacing myself. I had figured out a handful of people that I wanted to stay ahead of. In my mind, this would enable me to finish the race and NOT be the last one in. Somehow in all of that focus, Cal must have been pretty focused too. He passed me and neither of us even knew it! It was my turn to pass him and I blew a raspberry in his direction. He later caught up to me and asked me where in the world did I come from? In our focus, we missed passing each other on that second mile. We giggled about it and trekked on. We talked about the things we noticed about the other runners as we came up on the end of the 2nd mile. There was one man we thought to be struggling that both of us happened to notice. He was sweaty, and breathing like a stalker. He was just chugging along.
Later, in one of my singular times, I happened upon the lady with the stomach bug. She was talking to her friend and they were wondering how far they had come. My third update came in at 1.94 miles with my pace at 12 minutes 56 seconds. Apparently, I had slowed a bit. I told the stomach bug lady she just hit 2 miles and that made her happy and she sped up a bit. I passed them and came out of the circle that took me to the last leg of the race. The home stretch. Cal had caught up to me again and we had found that little old man. He was about 5’4″ had on ear buds and a look of determination. While it looked like he was walk running, he just zipped on by a whole bunch of is. I told Cal “Look at him go! I want to be like him when I grow up!” Cal just laughed at me. On the last leg, we passed an ambulance, were allowed to run through one of the most busiest intersections in the city (the same one where our station wagon was totaled by a van, a few years back,) and turned into the ball field. They had the entrance to the ball field corralled. I felt like a cow going to slaughter when in there. It was lit up so bright. I said aloud “Run to the light!”
In the corrals, we passed Mr. Stalker breather. It was the last few yards of the race. As we passed him, Cal and I gave him some encouragement that was greeted with a smile. As we rounded the last of the corrals and heading into the official finish area, Cal grabbed my hand and we ran under the finish line in less than 40 minutes. That was the sweetest thing every. My heart nearly exploded because I was so loved! I not only had my own personal cheer person! He was right there WITH me and not on the sidelines like so many others had. He didn’t run this to run it. He ran this to support me in the most intimate and personal way possible. To do it by my side. He later told me that he didn’t want me to face this experience alone that he wanted to be a part of it with me. Folks, THAT is what marriage is all about! I was proud of him as I watched the digital finishing clock as we ran underneath it. There were still people behind us. Lots of them. We finished the race.
I couldn’t believe it.
We not only made it in under 45 minutes, we did it in under 40! AND TOGETHER!
What a great feeling that was. I am still reeling from it. After we received our finishers medals, we went to the statistics kiosk. On the way there, we happened upon Mr. 70. I told Cal I had to have my picture taken with him. I ran up to the old guy and asked if I could have my picture taken with him as he inspired me. He told me his name was Dave and obliged. He even asked for one on his phone. 🙂
All in all, it was a great experience. I am reeling from achieving and surpassing my goals. I am exceptionally proud of Cal for doing the same. He was great for sticking in there with me and I know he is just as proud of his own achievement as I am mine. Here are our unofficial finishing stats that we received from the Kiosk.
Division Rank: 463 462
Gender Rank: 233 230
Div Age Rank: 34 24
Race time: 35:51.5 35.51.2 (<—-THIS only happened because they scanned his number first then mine. I am still a little salty about that. I am now known as “slow poke.” It is in all good fun. I can take a little jab about it here and there. We know what happened.)
Checking on the official numbers this morning; of the 999 participants, 848 finished. Wow. There were people who didn’t finish and lots of people who finished long after we had reached our car. I don’t feel so bad. I plan on running another 5k in the future. It was pretty fun. There is one in October, not sure about that yet. We will see. We will see…
What do YOU think?