Saturday was my first Pit Crew of 2017, the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon.
After being injured for several weeks, I knew the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon wasn’t happening for me. It sucked that I was out of the $100 race registration fee (ouch) and of course, not being able to even run the race, let alone pursue the goal I was training for. You know, the whole five weeks I’ve been able to train since October- the five weeks I wasn’t either injured or rebuilding my mileage from the first injury. But I digress.
I registered for this race with my running buddies as a destination race. We’ve been training for it since December and everyone was shooting for goal times, PRs, or BQs.
Instead of thinking of this race as a “DNS”, I thought of it as an opportunity to “Pit Crew” for my friends. Summerville Tri Club uses the term Pit Crew to describe athletes who attend races to support teammates. I decided to go to Myrtle Beach anyway so I could spend time with my training partners and meet up with a few runners from Grand Strand Running Club. I also hoped to meet some runners from other cities/states who I knew from the blog world.
On Friday afternoon, Melissa and I left Summerville around lunchtime, and our first stop in Myrtle was the race expo. We picked up our packets and a packet for Erin, another “walking wounded” friend who couldn’t make it due to the flu, then we did some shopping and socializing. I even tested a TENS unit at one of the expo vendors. By this point, my ankle pain was mostly a dull ache, so I’m not sure how helpful these things are, but it was neat to test it out.
Our next stop was our hotel, the Caribbean Resort and Villas. It was a host hotel and one of the few that allowed runners to stay for one night only. This hotel is located at the Mile 13 marker of the marathon, which is helpful if you have someone running and want to cheer for them at Mile 13. We booked an ocean view room, and while it was not the best view, it’s certainly more of an ocean view than we usually wake up to. Charleston is beachy but both of us live inland.
Our next stop was dinner at Liberty Brewery and Grill. I had a fish sandwich with the seasoned vegetables as the side. The sandwich was delicious and the service was good, but the vegetables weren’t seasoned at all and were terrible! Vegetables like these are why kids don’t like vegetables.
Melissa had a steak and said it wasn’t that great. I noticed she wasn’t eating a ton and she said she was feeling a bit sick in her stomach. She’d been battling a cold all week too. We made a quick Walmart run for some snacks then headed back to our hotel to relax for the night. We watched The Help, I ate some junky chocolate chip cookies, and laid out our “flat me” pictures.
I never do a “flat me” but decided to as a joke. Since the temperature would be in the 30s at start time, I wore a very warm hoodie, compression socks, regular socks, warm pants, and a North Face jacket. I even included my medicine and thera-band in the “Injured Spectator Flat Me” picture.
Saturday morning was a super early wake-up call! The race began at 6:30 and the organizers wanted runners at the start line around 15 minutes before. Our hotel was close to the start, and John and Brent were also staying there, so at 5:50, they walked over to our hotel room and I drove everyone to the start.
Dropping your friends off at a race start line is kind of like dropping your kid off for the first day of school, complete with pictures. I watched them walk toward the start and wished them well, knowing it was all on them now. As for me I (unsuccessfully) searched for a Starbucks and ended up going to McDonald’s for coffee.
The time while the race was going on was rather uneventful. The roads on the course were closed, and I don’t know the backroads of Myrtle Beach well enough to chase people down for pictures. I drank my coffee then hung out at the Grand Strand Running Club tent until a bunch of us walked to the finish line to see the half marathon finishers.
Theresa finished first, setting a new PR, and Brent matched his time from his first half marathon in December (Kiawah). John was running the full, so we tracked him on apps but he was hoping to PR and BQ. He did. Roscoe from GSRC caught Theresa and I, and we got a great post-race picture.
After around the 1:45 mark, I got really worried about Melissa because she felt so sick the night before. At first, I thought she just decided to run the race at an easier pace and not shoot for a PR, but Theresa said she passed her and said she didn’t look good. About 8:30, we figured out something was wrong and went to the finish. Melissa got insanely sick during the race and was still very sick and probably dehydrated. By this point, others in our support crew (Larry and Greta) arrived at the finish, so we were all sitting with Melissa to get fluids in her and make sure she was okay.
I dashed out to grab the car with Brent, while Larry, Greta, and Theresa stayed with Melissa (she was able to walk most of the way to the car). We drove the short trip back to the hotel, where Brent helped her get up the stairs to the room and I dropped Theresa off at her hotel.
In the room, Melissa got showered and cleaned up so we could check out. Brent, Melissa, headed to Carolina Pancake House to eat breakfast and track our marathon friends. I had quite the appetite and the omelets at the pancake house were really good. Brent and I tried to make sure Melissa got some food in her post-race. We congratulated the other runners in the diner and were so stoked to track our marathon friends.
After taking some medicine and eating something, Melissa felt a little better and was chatty and warm for the drive back to Summerville. I hate that she had such a rough race, but I am very proud of her for finishing even when she thought about quitting and got sick. She earned her finisher’s medal and will crush her next race and crush a half marathon someday.
Every race teaches us something, even bad races or races where we don’t make it to the start. Not racing was a very easy decision, and even watching my friends race wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. To be honest, taking the pictures of my shirt, socks, and bib for this blog post were mentally harder.
This weekend, I learned just how much our support crew matters. Even injured, I’m a part of the running community and can be there for my friends and training partners when they need it. I have no regrets about going to Myrtle Beach to support- I’d gladly do it again. You can’t always control what happens to you, or what happens on race day, but you can control how you react and have a positive attitude.
The season is still young, and I hope to race as soon as I’m healthy.