my name is bob and this is my story

Monday, April 21, 2014 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters

My name is Bob & this is my story!

I was lucky enough to qualify for my first Boston marathon in may of 2012. I waited holding my breath for confirmation from Boston in September since I only beat my qualifying time by 3 minutes and NOTHING is guaranteed! The day my official notice came through was like winning the super bowl to me. The next few months were all about Boston and as the day got close my hamstring got more and more tender. Everything leading up to the race was amazing...the expo was like 20x bigger than any other I attended with running celebrities everywhere. Even the wait in the cold morning air to get on the buses was fun as you share stories of your qualifying with other runners. I only wish that everyone could experience the incredible sensations that Boston brings. It's everything people say and then some. I had hoped to possibly qualify for 2014 at this marathon but at about the half way point that tender hamstring started to give out, any other marathon and I would have walked off the course to prevent further injury but this was Boston! Maybe my only Boston so I had to finish. of course I had to slow down and even walk most of heartbreak hill but I finished and was at the medical tent just on the other side of the finish line when the first explosion happened. I will spare you of the details of what I saw but needless to say it changed my life.
I tried to run a marathon in early Sept.2013 as a last hope to qualify for 2014 but after the injury I just did not have enough time to prepare and I missed by a few minutes. I walked away even more determined and hired a running coach to better train me. Myrtle beach will be my first marathon since working with my amazing coach and I am as confident as I can be that will qualify and be running in Boston in 2015. I will give it my best and whenever I start to feel tired I will think of those that can no longer run as a result of those terrorists!

By the way, although I won't be running at Boston this year I will be there to cheer for those that are...I need to be there!!

Name: bob machlud
City: riverton
State: new jersey

The Longest Journey...

Friday, March 7, 2014 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters

My name is Yvette & this is my story!

For the past four years I have entered a spring marathon in the USA. The thought of sunshine, beaches and friendly faces gives me the incentive to train outside through the cold British winter. I found details of the myrtle beach marathon on line and as I'd never been to carolina before I thought I would give it a go.

The first hurdle to overcome was getting to myrtle beach in time for the marathon! I landed in
Charlotte Douglas airport to be told the connecting flight had been cancelled due to the snow. Now I
know many local people were struggling to get to
the race on time but I had travelled four and a half
thousand miles so I really didn't want to miss it!

I spent the night curled up on the airport floor trying to sleep and hoping that by some miracle I would make it in time. In the early hours when the sun came up I became more optimistic about making it to the race on time. Flights began to leave and i
was fortunate enough to get a standby seat on the
lunchtime flight. I was also grateful for the email & online updates
saying there would be packet pickup allowed on
race morning, just in case!

So, 21 hours later than planned I made it!  After checking into my hotel I found a map of the area and walked 2.5 miles to the expo to collect my packet, then walked the 2.5 miles back again to the hotel. After that all I wanted to do was sleep. After my night on the airport floor a real bed was very inviting.

I woke up at 4am on Saturday and started to prepare to run. I unpacked my trainers and thought that as I had got this far I had to give it a go.

And what a great race! The crowds, the organizers, the volunteers, the other runner's I spoke to ..... It was all fantastic. The atmosphere was electric and everyone was having such a great time. It was one of the best marathon crowds I have ever come across - and I have run 16 marathons. I jogged along enjoying the company of others and I was so glad that I made it in time. To top it all, I finished in 4hrs 19min which I was delighted with.

I think the moral of my story is 'never say never'. I really didn't think I would make it in time, but through the grace of God and a change in the weather I was able to get to the start line and put my months of hard, cold winter training to good use. God willing I will see you all again next year.

Name: Yvette Johnston
City: St Albans
State: United Kingdom

The Comeback

Monday, March 25, 2013 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Myrtle Beach with nine other wonderful women to run the Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon. This was a trip several months in planning. For my friends, The Sole Sisters, this was their third consecutive year. We considered ourselves lucky that they invited some of The Woo Hoo Crew ladies to join them this year. We all left on Friday and met up once we arrived in Myrtle Beach. Most of us made it to the expo for packet pick-up and then set about getting settled and ready for the next day’s race.

I have been struggling with my running for going on two years now. However, since having surgery in September of 2012 to repair a severely deviated septum, I’ve been working on building up my stamina and strength to get me back to a 2:15 half marathon. I have trained hard since the beginning of the year and have been working my running intervals for my long runs up slowly. So, I went into the race with an overall pace goal of 11:30 instead of going into the race with a finishing time goal (although I’m not going to lie, I knew that pace would get me right at a 2:30).

Race morning was early! We were all up by 5 AM since one of our resident rock stars, Cindy, had to be at the starting line by 5:45 to start gathering together the two hour pace group. Most of us were running a little behind, so Cindy went ahead and the rest of us followed shortly behind her. By the time we found parking and walked to the starting line, we only had time for one quick bathroom trip before it was time to say our goodbyes and head to our appropriate section of the starting area. I stuck with Carole, as I knew that if I was further up in the starting corral, I would take off too quickly. Pretty soon after we hit our spot, the crowd started to move forward, and we were off!

I’ve been training with my long run intervals at about 6:1 run/walk. A couple of weeks ago, I bumped that up by 30 seconds, so my watch was set to give me my walk breaks after six and a half minutes. I started out slowly, just as I planned and felt really well. I tried not to look at my overall time and stay focused on just getting through my intervals feeling like I had pushed a little, but not feeling so exhausted that I didn’t think I could run another one.

My plan worked really well for me until about mile 7.5. By that time, I was starting to tire and I got a little nauseated after running two back to back intervals with an overall pace under 10:30. So, I added an extra minute of walking, had a chomp, and worked on getting myself refocused. It worked and I felt pretty good until I hit about 11.5. At that point, I was exhausted. I knew I was on track to be several minutes under my goal time, and I really wanted to keep up that momentum. Then, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to take my honey at mile 11 (as I intended). So, I stopped running for a few minutes, got the honey in me, had some water, and finished out as strong as I could expect.

My final time came in as 2:26:49 with an overall pace of 11:12 (more than 15 seconds under my goal pace!!!) We had some good times at the finish line and after a massive lunch at a Mexican restaurant near our resort, we headed home for naps and getting ready for the real post-race party at House of Blues.

I wouldn’t have traded this weekend with the ladies or my race results for anything in the world!

Name: Katie K
City: Greensboro
State: NC

A Bad Accident and a Race

Thursday, March 21, 2013 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters
I didn't have the week to focus on the marathon- prop my legs up, stretch, and visualize the course. Instead I had to work and make preparations for my mom who was keeping the girls. I really liked this filling my time. Years past I would have been calculating paces and re-calculating. I would have been visualizing the course over and over. I would have directions on where the expo was in relation to our lodging, etc.

Our bags were packed and I made sure I had my running gear. A lot was left to be figured out once we got there. We arrived in Myrtle Beach on Valentine's night. We've never been "Valentine's Day people," so once we got there we decided to hit up the grocery store and grab a few things for dinner and the next three days. The first place we went was Target. Target had a grocery store section, perfect one stop shopping.

Taking our time in Target we bought the girls some clothes. We chatted with my mom and got caught up on how the day had been for her and the girls. We checked out.

Once in the car we decided we would try to head down towards the beach. It's crazy looking back on the various choices made that night, some of them quick and off the cuff.

Shawn: "Do I turn here?"
Me: "No let's go straight and try to get closer to the beach."

Me: "That car is going to run the light."

Me: "Are you okay?"
Shawn: "Yeah."

Our car flipped sideways and was sliding.

Oh Crap.

Me: "Are you still okay?"
Shawn: "Yeah."

The roof of our car slammed into something (a trucks front end.)


This is where accidents go bad, I thought, as I watched the roof come towards us. It stopped. We stopped.

Me: "Are you okay?"
Shawn: "Yes we need to get out before it explodes. We need to get out quick."

People were running all around our car. I was waving that we were okay but that we needed to get out. I'd guess 10-15 people were around us. I asked Shawn if I should try to kick the windshield out because I was in the better position to do so. He said I should. I tried a few times. With each kick more window cracked. People were pulling at my door (on top) because it couldn't open. The truck decided to back up a bit, which put us more on our side and gave them a better angle to pull at my door. Prior to that we were more propped on our side between the two cars. I started freaking out when he backed up. I was yelling to the people outside of the car "tell him to stop." I really thought we were going to keep flipping. The people outside calmed me a bit and the car settled. A man got on the hood of the truck and was able to pry part of my door open. We climbed out.

I've never been so scared in my life.

I couldn't stop smiling once we got out. I kept repeating "Praise God we're safe." I was saying it to anyone and everyone. I was elated.

We had multiple people running up to the scene. Within seconds random women who were registered nurses. “Who was in that car?” was asked more than once. I still couldn’t believe the joy I had at that moment to say “We were, PRAISE God we are fine.” I’m not lying. I felt like the healed leper. “We were. We were. We were in that car.” I still get choked up about it. I know God put us there for a reason, some lessons were practical- life insurance. Other lessons are deep. The main thing I pray is that we keep the lessons we learned that night with us forever. I want them to be so close in our minds and heart that they seem tangible like they did as we climbed out of that car. God is good. God is so good.

Back to the story:

Still it was scary. My ribs were sore. I got quickly checked out by the EMS workers. My ribs were red and they informed me I'd be pretty bruised.

We got a cab ride home and stopped at a store to get more eggs (ours were all broken in the car. YUCK.)

Oh and the cab driver almost ran a red light. Within a little over an hour of our accident I already HAD to be a backseat driver. It wasn't even me being paranoid. He literally was going to run a light chatting with us.

Shawn and I got back to the hotel and I had my first real ice cream since having Grace. I'm pretty sure she's dairy sensitive so I decided to indulge since I was pumping anyway. We were really giddy. I couldn't stop laughing but laughing hurt. I contemplated skipping the marathon and instead running Shamrock (in 4 weeks.) I decided it would be a game day decision.

I went to lay down and realized I had swelling around my sacrum. I couldn't lay flat on my back. Laying on my side and stomach hurt because of my ribs. Argh. This was supposed to be my kid-free, best night of sleep EVER. But it wasn't. And I had a hard time sleeping because I was afraid I would have nightmares. Seeing a car come directly towards you at 50+ mph is not something you want to replay in your head.

I woke up and was in pain. I still knew that I should try a mile and see how it felt, especially since my pain was mainly in my ribs and was only worsened by bending or twisting (or laughing, sneezing, or coughing.)

My goal was 2 stress-free miles. The first mile I was getting used to how to hold my torso. I was testing the impact. It hurt more than I thought but I knew I could do it. I knew I couldn't push my pace because deep breathing hurt. The second mile more affirmed that I could do it. I found a groove.

And then the rest of the day was chaos. Lining up a rental took forever. We needed to go to the grocery store again, since our groceries had been thrown all around our car. I needed food badly. And I also had to hit up the expo. Things finally started taking place and the evening ended with great conversation catching up with my dear friend. We all retired to our rooms (I had to write that because this is getting long and that line makes me laugh.)


My alarm went off. I drowned myself in Ibuprofen. I ate two waffles. I pumped. I drank my coffee to get my system going (ALL runners know this is important.) Failed. Failed majorly. I drank enough coffee to cause my bladder to be on high alert miles 5-14, but not enough for a good cleanse (TMI.)

We headed out to the start line. We were only about 4 miles away. We found parking close with no issues. The half and full were starting together, so I got to start with my friend.

Shawn headed to mile 14.5 after we left.

Mile 1:
Good pace. With my friend a bit, but I didn't want us to throw each other off since we had different goals. (This was her first return to racing after battling 5 years of injury. She's fast. She has worked hard building her foundation and didn't want a setback. Her goal was to not go too fast. I truthfully think this is the hardest goal known to a strong runner like herself.)

I broke up the race like this.

Mile 1-5 was mainly one road headed south with a wide turn around area from mile 5-8 through a little shopping district. I high fived a little guy at mile 7 and it made me realize how much I missed my girls. I love seeing my family out on the course, but this race was a different race. February houses Shawn's birthday and our anniversary so it only made sense for us to have a small getaway (our first since G was born.)

Around mile 5 I started feeling like I had to pee. By mile 8, once we started heading north, it wasn't just a feeling. I. had. to. pee. I realized now why people pee their pants during races. But I consistently and easily talked myself out of this. I kept thinking, "I really don't want to sit in the rental in wet pants." My goal was to get past the point where the half marathoners turn towards their finish and then use a port-a-potty, then maybe I wouldn't have to wait in line.

Miles 8-11 were the last miles with the half marathoners. Towards 11 it was getting strange because people were breathing heavy around me. I kept wondering who were the half-marathoners and who were the full. There were certain people I would have felt bad for if they were doing the full! I knew when the half marathoners headed towards the finish, that it could have the potential to be tough mentally. But I had already prepped myself that I would view this as "shedding a layer."

There was something mentally encouraging that no one prepped me for when half-marathoners split. The few left around me were all doing the full. We had a common ground. There was a weird bond. The group I was around laughed at how it was nice to "drop" the people who were breathing heavy. We talked about how quiet it now seemed but how it was nice to have more of the road. We were going extra.

My next mental goal was 14.5, where Shawn would be.

I decided that I would use a port-a-potty near him. He was going to be giving me a water bottle in exchange for the one I was carrying. And all I had been doing was carrying it. I hadn't drank any of it because I was so afraid it would make me have to pee more.

14.5. Once I saw him my need to pee vanished. In so many ways this was frustrating, because I went from needing to be to having dire thirst. And I didn't switch bottles because mine was still full. Ugh. I was thirsty. I drank the one I had down to about halfway. I would ration the rest, with water stops included, until I saw Shawn at 23. Then I would take the one he had. By 18 I was craving water....and craving it bad. My hand held was empty. I had a lot more miles to get to Shawn. 5 miles til Shawn. I intentionally slowed down at water stops to make sure I was getting all of the liquid out of my folded paper cups. It never seemed like enough.

Also at 15 miles I started feeling more achey from the areas that were sore from the accident. I put it out of my head and wasn't bothered too much by it anymore.

I was taking clif blocks despite not feeling like I had the water I needed to wash them down. I knew I needed fuel in whatever way I could get it. I only hoped that clif blocks sans water wouldn't wreck too much havoc on my stomach.

Mentally going from 14.5 to 23 was tough. I didn't really have a mental goal in between these two except the infamous 20 mile wall region. I made it there and didn't really hit a wall. I never really hit one, just carried that thirst with me from 14.5 til the finish.

At 23 I was sooooooo glad to see Shawn. "Come with me please," I said, or begged. He wasn't in running shoes, but had said earlier he would join me if I needed him too. I did. At first he was so excited for my pace that he wanted to "pull" me along. He ran about two steps in front of me. It wasn't fun for me. I finally told him I needed him to be next to me to support me, not in front. I was tired. I was thirsty. I was pulling myself the best I could and mentally just needed him next to me, not in front of me. I also knew I would PR by this point and just had the goal of not slowing down too much. From 20 on I constantly do math as to what pace I can slow down to and still meet my goal. THIS is NOT a good habit of mine.

I even hit mile 23 and knew I could slow down to 10 minute miles and PR. I really wish I didn't do this because it definitely didn't get me mentally encouraged to kick it out. Although I'm not sure I had it in me to do that anyway.

Shawn dropped out around 25. I loved having him with me. The finish line was close, but not close enough.

At 26 I decided to pick up my pace. I saw my friends.

I nailed my PR. I saw Shawn with a huge smile on his face. (He dropped out and took the quickest route to the finish so he could see me.)

My first goal was to start.
My second goal was to finish.
My third goal was to get under 3:47.
My fourth goal was to get under 3:45.
Anything lower would be golden.

3:40:50. And it was only possible because of God. And that accident will always remind me that the only reason I can run is because of Him.

I ran very close to the pace of my best long run. I was elated.

And more than anything I was ready to leave Myrtle and get home and see the girls.

After a good dinner.

Name: Sara
City: richmond
State: Virginia

Allen's Road to Boston Runs Through Myrtle Beach

Monday, March 11, 2013 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters
Finally, after some 5 months of intensive marathon training, there we were standing on the starting line and staring the elephant in the eyes. I do not mean this in some vague metaphoric sense – I mean I was literally staring at Bubbles the elephant who stood some 30 feet directly in front of me. And I was uptight about it, as if getting ready to run 26.2 miles isn’t nerve-racking enough. Somebody had the brilliant idea to bring an elephant, a real life 4-ton animal, to the starting line of the 2013 Myrtle Beach marathon. Laura made fun of me as I eased to the right so as to not be standing directly in front of the beast if/when it decided to charge. Yeah, it’s always funny until the elephant does this. I had my escape route all mapped out when the starter said “Runners on your mark, get set…” and then fired an elephant sound effect and we were running while Bubbles merely watched. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s back up.


Laura and I had a mostly pleasant drive from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach on Friday morning. I say mostly only because when we made a Subway (the sandwich shop, not the mode of transportation) stop just outside Myrtle Beach and my vegetarian girlfriend attempted to order an Egg and Cheese Omelet Veggie Delite sandwich, she was told that this sandwich was not available outside of breakfast. I could not resist pointing at the sign and asking, “So the sandwich that the sign says is available ‘All Day, Every Day‘ is not available? That’s what you’re telling us?” Okay, so I only whispered it to Laura, but you get the point. Stupid Subway. But again, I get off track.
So the sandwich that the sign says is available "All day, every day" is not available? Pathetic.

Shortly after the great Subway incident, we arrived at the Sheraton, our hotel and also, conveniently, the site of the marathon expo, dumped our stuff into the room, and hoofed it over to the expo where I snapped this pic of Laura with her first marathon bib:

Blurry photograph of Laura with her first ever marathon bib. Sorry, I never claimed to be much of a photographer.

After the expo, it was back to the hotel for the pasta dinner where we ran into a couple of Charlotte speedsters, Dennis Livesay and Michael Putman, both looking to break 3 hours the next day.

We ate quickly and were back in the room by 6:30 that evening. We laid out all our gear and then got off our legs. I was fading in and out of consciousness by 8:00, exactly where I wanted to be with the race scheduled to start at 6:30 the next morning. I had a fitful night of sleep, and briefly thought about getting into a fist fight when some inconsiderate jerk yelled in the hallway, but I really didn’t want to exert any energy so I just rolled over and covered my head with a pillow.

Race Day

My alarm was set for 4:15 but didn’t go off. Luckily, I got up and checked at 4:20 and discovered that I had dorked it up. The mad race day morning ensued as we scrambled to get ready, much like that recurring dream of mine. “Where’s my watch? Have you seen my heart rate monitor? Gloves – did you bring 2 pairs of throwaway gloves?” That kind of thing, right up until 5:45 when we left the room, hopefully in time to catch the last, 6:00 AM, shuttle over to the start.

I was getting a little panicky when we walked outside in front of the hotel and there was no one there, no shuttle, and no signs of any runners or any shuttles. We asked the concierge where the shuttle pick-up was but he was a bit unsure and rather iffy, “As of yesterday afternoon, I was told that it would be picking up somewhere by the side entrance”. My urgency tachometer wasn’t in the red yet, but it was definitely headed in that direction. I knew the starting line was less than a mile away and the race scheduled to start a little more than 30 minutes from now, so we could walk/jog if necessary, but I wasn’t super keen on adding additional mileage on top of the 26.2, and if we walked/ran, we’d be cutting things mighty close, what with bag check and all.

We turned the corner and spotted the shuttle, a standard school bus, and a long line of runners piling on. We joined them. By the time we got on, all seats were full so we were forced to stand – not ideal, but better than walking/running to the start. The bus driver and seemingly everyone else on the bus besides Laura and me seemed a little too sanguine and nonchalant as it was now after 6:00 and they were all joking and chatting and taking their time about getting on the bus. But eventually we started heading in the direction of the start, by Pelican Field, home of Myrtle Beach’s minor league baseball team.

My anxiety level was nearly at its zenith as the bus stopped near the stadium, yet still nearly a quarter of a mile from the starting line. Then my head nearly exploded when the bus driver failed to open the doors to let us out. The bus’ occupants, to steal a line from Fight Club, remained as docile as Hindu cows, while Laura and I were on the verge of flipping out – the bus was literally 5 feet shy of the “Shuttle Stop” sign but the bus driver refused to open the doors. 6:15 and we were still on the bus. Laura kept nervously asking me, “Why won’t she open the doors?” while everyone else giggled and chatted, not a care in the world, until I screamed “Is anybody going to open the doors?” It took all my willpower not to throw in various colorful adjectives. Luckily, the bus in front of ours moved up 5 feet and then so did ours. Calmly, gradually, the driver opened the doors and everyone else slowly exited. When Laura and I, pulling our hair out, finally got out, we took off past all these nonchalant folks and bolted toward the bag check area. There we ran into Jamie Dodge, who kindly snapped a pic for us.

Finally, we checked our bags and made it to the starting corral. I was surprised how much room there was up front – I guess I wasn’t the only person there concerned about Bubbles’ presence. We walked right up to the front of the line, where we ran into Bobby (Aswell) and Jim Mckeon. (Aside – I played Nostradamus when I guessed Jim’s time as 2:49 – he ran a 2:50.)

We all wished each other luck, the starter played the elephant sound, and off we went.

The Race

Finally, the race. After Bubbles so graciously decided not to stomp on us, we were running, although I still kept one eye on Bubbles as I passed, just in case.

But seconds later, with Bubbles in my rear-view mirror, it was marathon business as usual, and believe me, I was all business for this one. I told Laura just before we started, “Look, hundreds of people are going to blow past us at the start -the fat, the old, the infirm. Ignore them.” Pot. Kettle. Black.

I tried to run the planned 8:15 pace, but it wasn’t easy as I oh-so-very-typically ran faster, and as I accurately predicted, hundreds of people blew past. I tried to make light of it by pointing folks out to Laura and saying things like, “We’ll see him again. And her. Oh, and definitely him.” I was particularly intrigued by a quite, um, rotund (rubenesque?) lady ahead of us running probably sub-7:30 and I guessed she’d be coming back to us, which she did before the first mile marker. Laura was super uptight about the fast pace and kept reminding me of this fact. I did my best to ease her concerns by just calmly responding, “Relax, we’re okay.” We had settled in around 8:05 – that wouldn’t kill us. Theoden zipped by and we exchanged a few pleasantries before he disappeared into the rising sun.

We hit the first mile split at 8:05 and the second at 7:49, significantly faster than the 8:15 and 8:00 goals, but not ‘derailment’ faster. Now the plan was 7:45s for the remainder of the race – easy, peezy, lemon-squeezy, right? If only things were so simple.

I could tell early on that I was working a little harder than I would have expected. Mile 3 was a perfect 7:42, but mile 4 was a 7:50, both of which took some effort. I was nervous because if things were going according to plan, these should have been simple – I should have still been screaming at myself to throttle back. These early miles should be effortless. They weren’t.

For months now, I’d been preaching to Laura, “You should feel like you’re running too slow. You will desperately want to run faster. Don’t. If you feel like you’re working at all, you need to back off.” I was already breaking my own advice at miles 3 and 4. Uh-oh. I felt storm clouds gathering on the horizon – this was bad. For comparison, at this same point in the Wineglass marathon, I felt like I couldn’t go any slower and yet I was still consistently hitting low 7:40s, with minimal effort. And I had crashed hard around mile 23. I tried to repress any such negative thoughts and just take each mile one at a time. 26 mile repeats, zero recovery, with a .2 mile cool-down.

Between miles 5 and 6, as we neared a turnaround in Market Common, the leaders ran towards us. I saw Dave Munger cruise by, on his way to a huge PR in the half, and Adam Mayes, and scores of fast kids. How I envied them their sub-6:30s as I struggled for measly 7:45s. When I crossed the 6-mile marker, I thought to myself, “20 miles to go. Holy s**t – I don’t think I can do this.”

It was during this period of time that an older gentleman donning a safari hat, and what looked like a plain white cotton t-shirt, and cargo shorts, yes cargo shorts, pulled up beside Laura and me and started chatting. “I assume by your matching outfits…” (we both had on white Charlotte Running Club singlets and throw away arm-warmers, $2 Target tube socks with the toes cut out) “…that you guys are a couple.” I was proud of Laura’s facetious , “Nope, we just met” response. Chatty Crocodile f * * *ing Dundee (I can’t take credit for this title – Laura dubbed him that after the race, minus the profanity, of course – that part’s mine) kept talking away, like he was conducting an exclusive interview for the New York Times or something. I bet Jordan never has to deal with the chatty Crocodile Dundees of the world.

I don’t mean to be rude, but here’s the deal – think of your marathon energy reserves as a jug of water. Every word out of your mouth is a sip of water from that jug. Now think of miles 20 through 26 as the Sahara desert. When you enter the desert, you are really going to wish you hadn’t taken all those earlier sips. So I was Silent Sam while Laura, a much nicer person than me, indulged him briefly with short answers. Finally, he gave up and moved ahead to find someone more willing to engage in a lengthy conversation. Thank god.

We made the turnaround and I continued to struggle. It was too early in the race to be having a tough patch, and yet here I was, fading before mile 7, when I heard a familiar voice ring out, “Go Allen! Go Laura!” I looked over just in time to spot Scott Helms. It was a motivational shot in the arm and I sped up.

Mile 8 neared and we hit the strip, with the ocean in view to our right. We were now running directly into the sun so I put on my sunglasses which, up until now, had rested on top of the Why Marathon hat on top of my head. But the glasses were useless, completely fogged up, so I desperately tried to wipe them off with my singlet. I quickly learned that sopping wet singlets don’t make very good glass cleaners. I wore the cheap sunglasses anyway, ready to toss them the second they got too annoying, and blindly continued on.

By now, my arms were warm, so I struggled to get the arm warmers off without losing my gloves or, of course, my expensive Garmin watch. I was only partially successful as I managed to keep the watch, but lost the gloves in the process (also throwaways, more cheap Target threads).

Now we were running into a significant headwind coming off the ocean. I continued to struggle. We were still on pace, but man, it felt really, really difficult. I was on the verge of downright panic. Laura was a trooper, running stride for stride with me in her first marathon, even with nagging calf pain that had been bothering her for over a week now.

I am ashamed to admit that about this time, I began entertaining notions of quitting. I felt like there was no way I could break 3:25 on this day – I was working way too hard, way too early in the race. My legs felt fatigued, we were fighting a headwind, and there were over 18 miles to go. I thought things like, “I can just run the half and call it a day.” In my head, I started running through a list of upcoming marathons where I could try to qualify, “Columbia? No, too hilly. Shamrock? Yeah, maybe Shamrock…” That sort of thing. But mile 8 passed and we were still on pace. Hang on for another mile and reevaluate.

Around mile 9, Bobby Wheeler passed me and I called out, “Hey Bobby! What’s your goal?” When he answered, “3:30 at the worst”, I felt another twinge of panic as he quickly, easily dropped me even while I was shooting for sub-3:25. And the headwind continued to buffet us.

Now I was struggling mightily. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with Laura and, much like in the Thunder Road half, I fell a few paces behind her. I kept exhorting myself, “Hang on. Just stay in touch with Laura. Don’t fall off the back.” I felt bad when I noticed her, on several different occasions, looking around in an attempt to locate me. But she looked strong so I tried to play off that strength and convince myself to keep going, “You’ve done the same training as her. If she can do it, so can you. Stay with her.” I played a lot of mind games to trick myself into believing I could do this.

The crowd had finally thinned out some when Laura and I found ourselves running in a little pack of 5 – Rob (a 40-something guy in a bright yellow singlet), a 50-something Vac and Dasher, and an older, bigger, balding guy in a bright black and yellow windbreaker (Bill Vanea, I think, as I look through the results). Bill seemed perfectly content to lead this pack so the rest of us, except Laura who ran directly to my right, settled in a nice little drafting train behind him. I tried to hand signal to Laura to tuck in the line in front of me, but she didn’t see me. I spoke out, “Laura…” Nothing, off to the side of our line, she continued to fight the wind alone. “Laura.” Still on her own. “Laura!” I cried out. She finally looked over and I gestured for her to tuck into our draft line just in front of me. She did.

And we mostly stayed like this for the next few miles, occasionally trading spots, our own little private Myrtle Beach Marathon conga line. And yet, even with the drafting help, I still felt labored. The DNF thoughts continued and got more and more frequent and more and more pervasive. As we neared the 12-mile spot where the half and full marathoners diverged, I seriously contemplated turning left instead of right and stopping at the halfway point. I thought I was done and that there was simply no way I could break 3:25 on this day. I turned to Laura and for the first time all day, I conveyed my doubts to her. “I am working way too hard – I’m struggling.” She was super upbeat when she said, “Don’t worry – you’ve got this!” even as I faded back behind her.

At the spot where the halfers turned to head home, I fought against the mighty temptation to finish with them. I partly continued out of pride, partly out of stubbornness, and partly because I didn’t want Laura to have to run the remaining 14+ miles on her own. She would have been fine, but I would have felt so guilty and so incredibly shame-ridden had I bailed on her this early. Besides, I checked my pace tattoo at every mile marker and even with all my struggles, we were still on pace, give or take a few seconds. Another mile. Maybe one more after that. Hang on.

We stuck with the conga line and Laura and I, she a step or 2 in front of me, crossed the half right at 1:42:30 – dead on schedule. Again, panic mode, as I was counting on about a 30-second cushion here. I was supremely worried: a) Because I felt like s**t and b) Because it would take a negative split to qualify for the Boston Marathon, meaning I’d have to run the second half of the marathon faster than I ran the first, and I had never, in 8 other tries, run the second half of a marathon faster than the first.

I still thought about laying down, throwing in the towel, calling it a day, insert your favorite quitter euphemism here. One of the biggest deterrents was that I didn’t know how to quit. I don’t mean this heroically, as in “I don’t know the meaning of the word quit”, but rather literally, as in, “What do I do if I want to quit?” Do I just stop and wait for a van to pick me up? Do I walk up to a stranger’s door and ring the bell and say, “Excuse me, I was running the marathon and decided to quit. Can I use your phone?” While these thoughts were running through my head, we were still hitting the splits.

Until we weren’t. My fear grew when the splits started getting a little slower as the conga line of 5 began to fall off pace – a couple of the subsequent mile splits were 7:47, then we had a 7:51, then at mile 17, we ran a 7:54. It was then that something in me snapped. I realized that if I didn’t do something right now, that if I just remained settled in with this pack, I was going to miss qualifying, again. I suddenly just had this supreme anger. My mild mannered 7:50-something Bruce Banner turned into some kind of angry 7:30s Hulk. I took off. Quit? Screw that. The idea was forgotten.

I dropped our pack, wind be damned, and Laura came with me. Somehow, miraculously, I felt good. I picked up the pace. I saw Bobby Aswell, then Theoden close behind, coming the other way, maybe a mile ahead. I waved at Bobby and gave Theoden the thumbs up sign, and I pushed the pace. I was a different person – I felt great. I ran mile 18 in 7:38, the fastest split yet, and I continued to accelerate. Laura wisely backed off.

Now I had confidence. Now I believed. I passed a girl in a purple skirt and I cheerfully told her, “Now it’s just a daily run!” and she, smiling, agreed. I started picking people off and using each runner ahead as motivation. Catch that guy in the blue singlet. Pass that girl wearing the pink Mizunos. And so and so and so forth. It was eerie how good I felt after having felt so bad for so long. I didn’t understand it but I’ve run enough marathons to know that there can be a lot of good and bad patches in a single race. I’m a firm believer in taking advantage of the good patches.

I ran mile 19 in 7:26, the fastest of the day. I started imagining victoriously crossing the finish line. I began planning a pose for the finish line picture. Maybe I’d hold both arms up, triumphantly outstretched. Ooh, no, instead I would flex my biceps, bodybuilder style. Maybe I would leap high into the air.

Snap back to reality. My inner drill sergeant grabbed me, shook me, and slapped me in the face. “Hey! Dummy! Less daydreaming, more focusing! Think you’ve got this in the bag, do you? How many times before have you thought this at mile 19 and then crashed and burned? Want me to make a list for you? Shamrock. Towpath. Wineglass. Would you like me to continue? Now back off idiot before you drop dead out here.” I checked my heart rate – 160. Easy boy. Get back on track.

I backed down, closely monitoring my heart rate which was creeping ever higher. Mile 20 was the second fastest of the day in 7:37, but then fatigue starting catching back up with me as I ran a 7:46 mile 21.

Say hello to the bonk, or as I refer to it, the darkness. Here we go – this is where I break out any saying that motivates me, fires me up, angers me, any and all phrases that have helped in the past. Nut up or shut up, Buttercup. I’m a man, I’m 40. Relaxed, not fast. All the while, checking the watch, but that was getting dicey – my Garmin display doesn’t show seconds after reaching an hour – it only shows 4 digits (I know, I know, I really need to change the display), so I was guesstimating the seconds between the mile markers with race clocks. By my admittedly bad – and long run loopy – math, if I just stayed under 8-minute pace the rest of the way, I had this. But it wouldn’t be easy.

Mile 22, 7:57. Dude, too close for comfort – pick it up! My mind exhorted my body and my body screamed at my mind, “F**k you, I’m going as fast as I can!” We made a little u-turn past 22 where some lady yelled at us, “We have gels and food – please take something, your body needs it! Please! Please!” When my body starts breaking down, and let’s face it, mine had been breaking down for about 19 miles now, I start getting angry. So I wanted to yell at her, “What, are you getting commission? Leave me alone! Quit pushing stuff on me – I just took a gel!”

I grabbed a water and tried to drink it but most of it went down my lungs. I choked. I coughed. I gagged. I very nearly pulled a Bob Kempainen, circa 1996. And that memory – even while I was on the verge of puking, especially while I was on the verge of puking – was motivation. Bob was a man, a beast, a hero. Someone (I later found out it was Scott again, riding his bike along the course) called out “Go Allen! You’ve got this!” I didn’t even look up – my eyes were firmly planted on the course ahead. And I was too busy trying not to puke.

I faded. But every time I nearly gave in to fatigue, someone came out of nowhere to cheer me on, none at a more crucial time then mile 23 when my friend, and former Blue Ridge Relay teammate, Christi Cranford, appeared on the side of road. She screamed for me then ran over and gave me a high five. I was ever so grateful and Christi’s cheers lifted my spirits. Mile 23, before Christi, was a 7:58. Mile 24, after Christi, was a 7:48.

But I was barely hanging on and started slowing down yet again. If I could just maintain, I had this, but I knew it was going to be close, very close. Around mile 25, the purple-skirt-wearing girl from mile 18 passed me back. I recognized her and called out, “Now it’s just a cool-down!” And she called back, even while dropping me, “Yes, less than a mile and a half! We’ve got this!”

But it was a looonnnnggg mile and a half and I was struggling. My newest mantra, “Just break 8:00. Just break 8:00.” Mile 25 7:55. Mile 26 7:58.

Less than a quarter to go and I was cutting it dangerously close, way too close. I entered the long finishing chute and glanced at my watch. 3 hours, 24 minutes, and your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine seconds. I did the closest thing to a sprint I could do. Push. Dig. Kick. I got close enough to the finish line where I could read the clock. 3:24:40, 41, 42…kick! Kick! Kick! I realized I had it as the clock turned to 3:24:50, 51, and I crossed.

I was a bundle of mixed emotions. Exuberant that I made it, yet miffed that I cut it so close. Ecstatic to qualify, yet upset that it seemed so very, very hard.

I bent over and caught my breath, then stood up and staggered towards the medal folks to claim my finishing reward. They placed the medal over my head and then I turned around and walked back toward the finish, knowing that Laura should be arriving any second. And she did, grinning, with her arms raised high, she mouthed “Did you make it?” even as she qualified for Boston on her first try. I was trying to build suspense but she already knew by my attitude so I just nodded and then she fell into my arms as we laughed and I fought back tears.

Laura ran a 3:27:22, qualifying for Boston by nearly 18 minutes. She also got second in her age group. I’ve never even sniffed an age group in a marathon. Other friends also had great performances. Dennis Livesay broke 3:00 for the first time, running a 2:58, which earned him an age group award in the 35-39 division. Theoden also qualified for Boston with a 3:14. Jim Mckeon ran a 2:50, good enough for third place masters. Dave Munger had a huge half PR with a 1:26. It was a great day for some Charlotte-area runners.

I’d like to tell you about the great post-race party at the House of Blues, the free beer, dinner with Scott Helms, his girlfriend Beverly, Stephanie York and her fiancee Kevin. I’d like to tell you about the snow that swept through Myrtle Beach, the second time in the last 3 years that it snowed on marathon weekend. I’d like to tell you about breakfast the next morning at Mammy’s Kitchen, and about how grateful I am that the marathon was on Saturday and not Sunday when gale force winds buffeted the area. I’d like to, but I’m too exhausted from a) Running a marathon and b) Writing this epic novel of a post. So I won’t. You can ask me about all these things the next time you see me.

So that’s it. Marathon number 9 is complete, and I finally qualified for Boston again. I await my shot at redemption on Patriots’ Day 2014. Stay tuned.

Complete post with photos and more at:

Name: Allen Strickland
City: Cornelius
State: NC

PR...not just in running, but in friendships too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters
This weekend was one for the books! I seriously cannot stop smiling and all the fun and accomplishments from the trip keep playing in my mind like a great movie that you just want to watch over and over again.

10 girls (Carole, Kathy, Katie, Amanda Christie, Cindy, Christine, Amy, Sarah and me) all headed down to Myrtle Beach, SC for an all girls Dasani Half Marathon weekend. Most of us traveled early in the morning and arrived around lunchtime to the Grand Strand. We met for lunch at River City Cafe for some grub and a few celebratory beverages. The EXPO was right near where we had lunch and we went there after to pick up our bags, bibs and swag. This year’s shirt is awesome! It’s a blended shirt that can be worn as a tech tee or an every day shirt. I was thrilled! We all grabbed our goodies and Cindy checked in at the pacer booth. She was pacing the 2 hour half group, which was exactly the pace I was hoping to run! How cool is that to know the pacer, but to also have someone who is personally rooting for you, you can’t beat it!

After a grocery store trip and dinner run, we settled in for an early night with Cindy teaching us some relaxing yoga. For me, planning out what I’m going to wear on race day is always fun! The weather was going to be about perfect in the morning, 42 degrees with partly cloudy skies. I gathered my outfit, pinned on my bib and laid everything out. With a 4:30am wake-up call, most of us were in bed by 9:30. Christine also had a surprise for all of us! She got each of us a pocket stone from Lift Your Sole. We all randomly picked one from the bag and all ended up with the one that suited each of us perfectly.

Race day morning was finally here! We all woke up and got ourselves ready, making sure we all had our flowers (Fellow Flowers) pinned in our hair. Cindy had to go earlier to be in place for her pace group. Though our plan was to all go together, we ended up falling behind. We left later than we had planned and the two cars ended up getting separated as we headed to the race start. The 4 of us in my car all stayed together at the start and only separated when it was go time. Kathy and I started near the 2:15 hour banner, Carole and Katie moved to their starting corral. I wanted to start a bit slower out of the gate with the hope of catching Cindy and her 2 hour pace group by mile 3.

Once the race started, I went. I had the goal of catching Cindy and just found a great pace early and stayed patient, knowing that I would eventually catch up to her. Around mile 3.5, I finally made it to her group. I was so happy to see her! Knowing that I had started behind them, the time on my Garmin (chip time) would be less than her group and my goal was just to stay with or slightly in front of her group so that I could finish under 2 hours and hopefully, PR . I stayed with her group through mile 7. Right at mile 7, I pulled ahead by just a bit, which in retrospect was not the best decision, but I felt good so I went.

Mile 11 is when I knew that was a bad decision…

I started feeling bad and I was getting tired quickly. I realized that I hadn’t taken my 2nd Shot Blok at mile 10 as planned so I quickly popped a blok and hoped that the caffeine would kick in soon! I was starting to head into a few dark miles, questioning whether or not I could keep going at this same pace. I struggled through mile 12. Cindy’s group passed me by this time and I just had to keep them in sight. By the beginning of mile 13, I regained my composure and just talked myself into finding a pace that I could keep without having to stop to walk. I ended up going from a 9:33 pace for mile 12 to a 8:55 pace for mile 13. I finished strong for the last .10, pushing as I neared the finish line. Seeing Christie and hearing her yelling at me on the bend helped me to kick it and I ended up finishing in 1:58:03! A new PR by over one and half minutes. Everyone had a great race day! Some girls also had personal bests, other met milestones they set for themselves. Overall, it was an awesome race experience! After the race, we took the time to take some fun pictures, sit on the hill and enjoy some post race brews.

Later that night, the post race party was at the House of Blues. We all got gussied up after taking much needed naps and had a great night dancing.

Back at the condo Saturday night, we all just hung out and watched it snow (yes, it was snowing at the beach!). Ten girls in one condo might scream disaster and drama to some, but not for us. Some girls met everyone for the first time this weekend, others of us have known each other for years, but when we all came together this weekend, the whole group all had an amazing time and the memories we made will be with us all for a lifetime. We spent all weekend laughing, telling ridiculous stories, teasing each other and just enjoying each others’ company, a PR for an awesome weekend!

Name: Melanie Wright
City: Greensboro
State: NC

Runners, Get Ready at the Myrtle Beach Marathon Expo

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 by D. Anna Sheley



The excitement is building as this year's HTC Runners' Expo gets ready to welcome thousands of participants to the Myrtle Beach Marathon  and its related events February 14 &15, 2013. Every year runners, walkers, friends, supporters, sponsors, volunteers, vendors, presenters and staff come together at the Expo to get the Marathon weekend off on the right foot. Looking for your bib number and race t-shirt? They're waiting for you at the Expo. Need a snack or feel like a beer? You're in the right place. Want a new hat, or shirt, or socks, shorts or shoes?  Yep, you'll find lots of those at the Expo, too. And if you feel the need to get a little wild, you'll be able to do that, too, with a little help from The Institute of Rare and Endangered Species. A huge variety of vendors and presenters will be on hand to offer their special products and promotions, entertainment and expertise. (See complete list at end of page.)


HTC Runners' Expo

Myrtle Beach Convention Center
21st Ave N & Oak St., Myrtle Beach, SC

5pm - 9pm, Thursday, February 14, 2013
 11am - 9pm, Friday, February 15, 2013

The HTC Runners' Expo is FREE and open to the public.

(There is a $3.00 Convention Center parking fee.)

Make the first step of your Myrtle Beach Marathon a stop at the HTC Runners' Expo.

You'll be joined by folks from:


    Canine Angels   

Coastal Carolina Allergy & Asthma Associates

The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species

TD Bank

The Market Common

Doctors Care

PNC Bank

House of Blues

Grand Strand Magazine

Tanger Outlets

Georgetown Bridge to Bridge Run

Cystic Fibrosis Organization

One More Mile

Cooper River Bridge Run

Blue Cross-Blue Shield

Team Hoyt Books

Pinnacle Performance Eyewear

The Foot Place


RUseeN Reflective Wear

Wilkes Barre Racing


California University of PA

Ashville Marathon

Sun News

Continental Event & Sports Management

Native Suns


EIB Endurance Sports

N.C. Outward Bound

The Stick

Charleston County Parks & Rec.

McLeod Health

National Running Center

Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross

Leukemia-Lymphoma Society

Horry County Disabilities

Conway Area Bike Ride Registration

Goose Island Beer Company

         Grand Strand Running Club

Coastal Carolina Athletics

Quintiles Marathon








A Late Bloomer

Sunday, August 5, 2012 by Myrtle Beach Marathon Runners, Friends & Supporters
My first race of any kind was the snowed-out and cancelled 2010 Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, and I was 66 years old! I didn't run it though, I walked the 13.1 miles. I had never been an athlete, ever, although I liked to walk for exercise. My daughter, Heather, encouraged me to do the Half, and even paid for me as a Christmas present. She had done full and half marathons before that.
I was a nervous wreck, and drove my daughters crazy with email questions: What if I can't finish? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if I hurt myself? What if . . . Lots of What Ifs?
In January 2010 I visited an old friend in Florida, and while she was at work, I measured a route, that if I did it 3 times, would be 15 miles. I had to know I could do the distance. Did it, at about a 20 minute mile, but that included writing the time down every time I passed my car.
So I knew, even if I was slow, I could go the distance. Then I had to do speed work on the treadmill, so I could do it in 4 hours or less.
We practiced the day before, and when she took me to the expo, it was so exciting! All that commotion. I loved it.
Then the night before the 7 am race, they kept postponing, hinting it might be cancelled because of the snow. I wanted to get to bed early, in order to get up early, but I was glued to the tv. Then around 10:30 pm, it was official. The City of Myrtle Beach cancelled the races. I was so disappointed, but then Heather said we should do it anyway, and we did!
We started right at noon, a sensible hour, and did the half in 3:54! Not official, but still under the time frame.
I was so bundled up, afraid of the snow and cold, I couldn't bend over if I wanted to. Long johns, sweater, sweatshirt, jacket, gloves, scarf, hat, plastic baggies between our shoes and socks. It was crazy!
But the race was so exhilarating, such a proud moment to have accomplished that at my age! It was thrilling.
And that was just the beginning! I loved doing it so much, I started doing races all over. Shiprock NM, Nashville TN, St. Pete FL, Asheville NC . . .
I did that first race 31 months ago, and I have 29 races under my belt since then, including 12 halves, 13 10Ks, a virtual 11K on 11/11/11 in honor of the military, with my Air Forc Colonel daughter, Kerri, an 8K, and 2 5Ks!
And I'm signed up to do an Indoor Half in Winston Salem with Kerri and her husband and one daughter on Aug. 18, and a Rock n Roll Half on Sept. 2 in VA Beach, with Kerri, her family, and @ 20 Air Force people she works with. Also plan on doing 3 local 10Ks between August and September, and the St. Pete Women's Half in Nov.!
I walk them all, usually come in last, get medals for being old! Who can beat that. "First Place in the 65-69 Female Age Group. Only one in that age group! Last one in the race!" But 2 years in a row, I beat almost 5,000 people at the Cooper River Bridge Run going into Charleston SC, because they had 40,000 or more starters!
Right before I did the first race, I met a lady who had about 100 races under her belt. I was in awe. Now, I'm thinking, if I do it for 8 or 9 more years, I'll have 100!

Name: Laurel Gandy
City: Emerald Isle
State: NC

The 15th Annual BI-LO Myrtle Beach Marathon is Gonna ROCK!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 by D. Anna Sheley
When you're out for a run, what song is it you want to hear? headphones(No, really, please comment below.)  Bon Jovi's Runaway sound pretty good to me, and so does Many the Miles by Sara Bareilles. No matter your preference, you are sure to get major musical motivation from the live entertainment stationed throughout the Myrtle Beach Marathon course this weekend. And that's a good thing--this is not a closed course and participants must share the road with motor vehicles so headphones are prohibited.

Don't let your nerves get the best of you during this final week of marathon training. Click here for some valuable advice on diet (carbo loading does not mean carbo overloading!), pre-race anxiety, and even packing recommendations.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Myrtle Beach this weekend, February 16 - 18, 2012, for the 15th Annual running of the Myrtle Beach Marathon. If you are already registered, look for upcoming emails with important information about dates, times and events, as well as area specials to make your marathon experience even more enjoyable.

Registrations for all events, as well as packet pickup for preregistrants, will be available at the Spirit Airlines Runners' Expo, Thursday and Friday, February 16-17.