Sunday, March 29, 2015

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon and United Airlines NYC Half

The weekend actually started Thursday evening, when I picked up my bib for the NYC Half at the expo located at the Skylight at Moynihan Station, a new venue for NYRR's signature distance race, after the NYC Marathon.  The expo was smaller this year, it seemed, and the new venue, while spacious, was in dire need of some better lighting.  I'm of course only comparing it to last year's expo at the Metropolitan Pavilion, where it had a couple floors and it was better lit and seemed more suited for a running expo.  The booths were pretty standard for a race, offering apparel, medal holders, opportunities to run the NYC marathon for charity, nutritional supplements, and post-run recovery devices.  I did stick around in line for the opportunity to get commemorative ear warmers from the United Airlines booth, after getting photos taken in front of green screens - but never got the photos because the iPad I filled out all my information on had 2% battery remaining when I got it.

The next day I went into work for half a day, leaving at around noon to head to the Megabus stop located near the Javits Center, for my 4 1/2 hour bus trip down to Washington, DC.  Of course, I leave on a Friday afternoon, arriving in the DC vicinity at the height of evening rush hour.  As soon as I get off the bus, I rush to the metro to take me to the DC Convention Center because it's 6:30, and the expo closes at 7pm.  I make it in time to grab my bib and sneak in a "hello" to my friend Amy, one of the tour managers for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, who I see at practically every city I run an RnR race.  Afterward, I head to the hotel I'm staying at for the night, the Loews Madison Hotel, to meet up with my roommate for the weekend, Derek, a fellow Front Runners New York member.

Pre-race Thai Food!
After getting settled, Derek and I head out for dinner at a local Thai restaurant about a ten minute walk from the hotel, cheekily named "THAI TANIC."  During our delicious dinner, we meet a couple sitting next to us who happen to be running the race the next morning as well.  Over our meals, we discuss our race plans and I reveal my goals of running a half in every state as well as reach the Hall of Fame with Rock 'n' Roll by completing fifteen of their 2015 races.  Tiffany, from Portland, is planning to do the same!  I told her and her boyfriend Kyle of my plans to take the DC race very easy - run a comfortable and conservative pace using the Galloway method, running for 4:30 and then walking for 0:30 - the same way I had ran the Ocean's Run in Rhode Island, but also to keep my legs fresh for my Sunday race in New York City.  Both Tiffany and Kyle, running the half, seemed very open to that idea, and vowed to look out for me the next morning and run with me at that easy pace.  We headed back to the hotel to get rest for the night since we had an early morning the next day.

A rainy start to Rock 'n' Roll DC!
We woke up to cloudy skies and rain coming down on Saturday morning.  Our short 15 minute walk to the start line was pretty wet. After dropping off our bags at gear check, Derek and I met up with Hollie and Donna, who were waiting in corral 14, and shortly thereafter, Tiffany and Kyle found us.  We posed for some photos, and soon were off on the course.  The race started on Constitution Avenue NW and 14th Street NW, and headed westward, passing the White House on the right and the Washington Monument on the left, with a slight detour along 18th Street NW, E Street NW, and Virginia Avenue NW, before returning on a westward course along Constitution Avenue.  We turned along 23rd Street NW, and made our way to the backside of the Lincoln Memorial, hitting mile 2 in the process before we embarked on a mile-long out-and-back along the Arlington Memorial Bridge, toward a rotunda just in front of Arlington Cemetery, and literally meters before the DC/Virginia boundary.

With new friends Tiffany and Kyle, who accompanied me
the entire race on my 4:30/0:30 run walk!
The massive hill at mile 6 begins!
We hit the 5k mark as we began the winding course of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, skirting the Potomac River, and passing the Kennedy Center (where we had a nice reprieve from the rain underneath a cantilevered section overhanging the Parkway) and the Watergate Apartments before reaching mile 4.  We continued for the next couple miles making our way along the parkway before the first big challenge of the race - the massive hill at mile 6.  In only a matter of 300 meters, runners climbed nearly 200 feet, with photos of fallen heroes and several spectators carrying American flags lined up along the left of the course.  At the top of the hill, we hit Calvert Street, which would begin a small jaunt through the Adams-Morgan and Columbia Heights neighborhoods of Washington, DC.  At about the mile 7 mark, I ran into my friend De Moe, who always runs in a kilt and always carries a flask of Fireball with him, and I took our ritual fireball shot, which got captured on film :)  Afterward, we continued on down Harvard Street NW, passing Mile 8, when we turned and ran through the Howard University campus.  Right around here, Tiffany, Kyle, and I ran into the mascots for the Washington Nationals, the Presidents, and posed for a picture!
#teamfireball represent!
The Presidents!
Around Mile 9, we ran down streets with several homes having parties, and providing shots of beverages to runners passing by, which of course I partook... beer, jungle juice... there was even a little tent with a makeshift cardboard sign declaring "MEAT" on it -- and serving brisket!  We made a turn onto North Capitol Street NW, and ran under two underpasses. We started to head east at around mile 10.5 on K Street Northeast, hitting the 11 mile mark and making another turn to go two blocks down to H Street Northeast and then running our final 2.1 miles down 13th Street NE and C Street NE before arriving at RFK Stadium, where we crossed the finish line under continued rainy skies into the parking lot.  I finished in a conservative 2:36, considering we walked/ran and stopped for many a
photo opportunity and alcoholic beverage!
Victory Headstand for Rock 'n' Roll DC!
(where'd my head go?)
I stuck around for a few more hours in the superbly cold temperatures, waiting for Derek to finish (he would complete his first marathon in 4:30) while listening to Better Than Ezra.  We then headed back to the hotel to shower and for me to pack, as I had a bus back to New York in a matter of hours.  After the long bus ride back to NYC, I finally hit the hay around 11pm, prepared to wake up in a mere six hours for the NYC Half.

Me and the ladies... Fifty Staters!
And then 6:30am came.  Legs were actually feeling pretty fine when getting dressed for the second half of the weekend.  I left the apartment a little hurried with my bag ready for bag drop, not realizing that it would close by 7:20.  ACK.  I was still on the 7 when 7:20 came around, and I was frantically texting my friends who were spectating in Central Park that I may have to drop clothes off with them a couple miles into the run.  I got out of the subway at 59th and 5th and rushed to find my UPS truck... and for the second year in a row (I need to STOP making this a tradition, haha) I was the LAST person to be able to turn in my bag for gear check before the closed up the truck.

YAAAAAAS!
I met up with friends Donna and Hollie, and we met up with a couple other Fifty Staters/Half Fanatics (Lynn, Jane, Amanda), posed for a few photos and then made our way to a corral we could all start together in.  I had a ton of energy - ready to get going on miles 13.1 to 26.2 of the weekend, and my one year halfaversary (as this race in 2014 was my very first half!)  Thankfully, there was NO rain forecast for the day, and we got started running north along Park Road in Central Park, and I set off solidly with a steady pace, getting faster as I registered a solid 30 minute first 5K.  Before hitting that 5K mark, though, we exited the park at Central Park North and some friends from MFF, Margaret-Ellen and Amanda, were there cheering us runners on with a FANTASTIC light-up sign that said "YAAAAASSSS!!" so obviously, I stopped for a photo op -- and then kept going!

Times Square traffic
for runners only!
The rest of Central Park was a blur, just me in my head, continuously chugging on through the rolling hills of the west side of the park.  Before I knew it, we were exiting the park on the south side, hitting the 10K mark (which I managed to do in 1:01:33), and then proceeded down the always-exciting stretch of 7th Avenue, head into Times Square.  I always feel like I speed up from the excitement, but can never realize my pace because my Garmin goes berserk bouncing the signal off of the many tall buildings in that canyon of an avenue.  I stopped for a quick photo at around 49th Street, and to catch my breath before continuing dow 7th and then making the turn onto 42nd Street, where almost instantaneously, you are hit with the wind coming off of the Hudson, ever increasing the closer you get to the West Side Highway.  Running into that headwind of course, is a beast, and despite the wind coming at us from the side as we started to progress down the highway, I still managed to chug on through, only stopping momentarily to remove a stray Powerade gel that attached itself to my shoe, and then a super rough right calf cramp that I needed to stretch out at around mile 8.5.

My Garmin isn't a fan of
NYC streets...
As I shuffled down the seemingly unending West Side Highway, I got to the Front Runners water station, greeted by many an enthusiastic Front Runner!  I caught my breath and chugged down a couple cups of water before continuing on, the wind starting to pick up a bit while I passed One World Trade, Battery Park City, and finally reaching the downhill into the Battery Park Underpass, a roughly 3/4 mile stretch of tunnel where my Garmin does not register any signal at all until emerging at the end, to a small uphill before the home straightaway to the finish in Wall Street.  Thankfully I anticipated this and trudged right along.  I looked down at my watch and noticed I was going to eclipse my half time from the day before, which was my initial goal, but had the very real possibility of finishing the 2015 NYC Half faster than I did one year ago!

Happy One Year
Halfaversary!  2:14:48!
I made the last couple turns, and there it was, the finish line!  Official time -- 2:14:48.  DAMN! Only TWELVE seconds slower than 2014.  But I couldn't be mad at myself, because I accomplished my first goal, finishing the 2015 NYC Half a whole 22 minutes faster than Rock 'n' Roll DC - and I still managed to take a couple photos while on the course.  Mary Wittenberg was there congratulating all the runners at the finish, and I shook her hand before I retrieved my bag, re-bundled myself up, and headed to the FRNY brunch at one of our members penthouse cabanas in Battery Park City in the seemingly brisker wind.  There, I ate and drank to my heart's content, and posed for two awesome Victory Headstands - one with the Statue of Liberty in the background, and one with fellow Front Runners cheering me on.  Another fantastic double half weekend in the books (my third!) - and with a "negative split" 2nd half, to boot!  Happy one year halfaversary to me!!!


 VICTORY HEADSTAND on my one year halfaversary!


Epic two-half weekend, complete!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Race Report: Ocean's Run

My digs for the evening
in Matunuck, Rhode Island
I planned to do a little road trip... nay, a RHODE trip, to get the state of Rhode Island off my list, and actually as a last minute race; my New Hampshire race on February 22 (Half at the Hamptons) got postponed due to weather to March 15 (which I couldn't do because it was the same day as the NYC Half) and then the race itself got completely cancelled.  For my goals to reach the "Sun" in Half Fanatics, I needed another race in a new state, so I decided to do Rhode Island because of its convenience, only a three hour drive from NYC.

My roommate for the night, Oscar!
I left Saturday afternoon around 4pm with a rental car from the LaGuardia Airport Hertz, and battled through traffic on the Whitestone Bridge (it was a GORGEOUS day with temps finally approaching the mid to high 40s) before I was on my way to the Ocean State.  I arrived about 7:45pm to the little village of Matunuck in the town of South Kingstown, still partly buried in the amazing accumulation of snow that New England had received over the course of the winter. I arranged for an AirBnB at an incredibly cheap rate - due to the fact that I'd have to take care of the host's dog while I was there, since she was busy working a shift as an EMT in town... and it was in the pilot house of a boat right on the water!  After familiarizing myself with the surroundings (and with Oscar, the pup), I headed out for some carbloading at the renowned "pond-to-table" restaurant, Matunuck Oyster Bar, which happened to be serving a special menu for Narragansett Restaurant Week.  I partook in a local beer, Matunuck oysters, some clam chowder, a heaping plate of clams and linguini, and an incredible dessert of chocolate bread pudding.  The food was perfect, and upon finishing and heading home, I was ready for bed.
The perfect way to carb load.  Clams and linguini!

Ready to get started on this
chilly Rhode Island morning!
The morning came very quickly, and I got myself dressed for the race and out the door to drive to Matunuck Elementary School, where we were asked to park.  From there, we boarded a bus to take us to the start line.  It was a small race, just under 400 participants.  The course had been slightly altered due to the snow still on the ground, but we were ready to go - in fact the heated tent where we could pick up our bibs was on a thick sheet of ice on the beach parking lot.

Much of the route was on roads
very similar to this. 
At 8:15, we were off.  I decided the night before that I was going to run/walk this race using the Galloway method - precise timing of certain amounts of running, followed by short periods of walking, repeated for the entirety of the race.  I had programmed my Garmin to alert me to run for 4 minutes, 30 seconds, and then walk for 30 seconds.  I decided to run through the first ten minutes of the race and the last ten minutes of the race.  The course took us south down on Matunuck Beach Road toward residential areas right along Potter Pond, looping down and back on Prospect Road, and then out and back on Ocean Road, before taking Matunuck Beach Road back toward the startline again.  We made a turn onto Atlantic, Cove, and Washington Streets, and before we knew it, we already had completed three miles, over some seemingly rolling hills.

With the Salve Regina Seahawk!
One of the great things of this race was that there were aid stations at every mile marker along the course.  After continuing back on Matunuck Beach Road, we headed in the direction of the school, and then turned on to Matunuck School House Road for a good three mile segment, surrounded by open Rhode Island coastal farmland, of course, covered by snow.  It smelled like nature too - or really, perhaps an errant skunk.  We turned south down Green Hill Beach Road, and for the next couple miles, went down more residential roads before getting back onto Matunuck School House for a shorter two mile run back, and then a turn onto Moonstone Beach Road after hitting mile 11, for the homestretch back toward the finish.  Along this route, we had a fun cheering squad from Salve Regina University in nearby Newport, Rhode Island, and I stopped for a quick picture with the sea hawk mascot that was out cheering runners on.  Soon, I turned onto Cards Point Road, and the finish was within visible distance.

The Ocean's Run finish line!
It was cold, but we made it!  I finished in a respectable 2:15:06, and after getting my finisher's pint glass (and a gift of the previous year's medal from the race director, as I had emailed her about my ritual headstand photo, which I took with Matunuck in the background), I headed back on the long walk back to the car, and back to the pilot house to take a much needed shower before I got back on the road again.

I stopped in Charlestown at the Charlestown Rathskeller for the race "afterparty" where I grabbed a delicious broiled Point Judith flounder for lunch, and was approached by a few members of the race director's team, who were aware of my goal and my ritual picture.  Soon I was back on the road to head back to NYC and call it an evening.

The harbor just outside of the place where I stayed

Shhh... I got a medal, but it's from last year!  Everyone
this year got a finisher's pint glass...

Post-race meal.  FLOUNDER! Yum :)

Victory Headstand!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Race Report: Little Rock Half Marathon

Pre-race shenanigans with
Crystal at the expo!
My milestone 20th lifetime half marathon brought me back to the center of the country, to Little Rock, Arkansas, home of some of the biggest race medals in existence.  I flew in early Saturday morning via Atlanta (where I had a tight 40 minute connection -- we landed clear at one end of Terminal A, and lo and behold, my flight to Little Rock was on the other end of the terminal.  Thank goodness I'm a runner!) and landed in Little Rock at 11am.  My friend Crystal, who was part of my Ragnar DC team last September, had arrived the day before, and was kind enough to retrieve me from the airport since the rest of my friends weren't to arrive until later that night.

#LRMARATHON sign!
We proceeded directly to the expo at Statehouse Convention Center, where I picked up my bibs, and was given permission to pick up the bibs of my four other roommates (the five of us, self-dubbed, "The Renegades") - three were doing double duty that weekend - Donna, Loan, and Hollie each ran the Phoenix Marathon on Saturday morning; Loan and Hollie were going to do the Little Rock full, and Donna the half on Sunday.  I picked up the race packets and then we proceeded through the medium sized expo, decked out in pirate chic decor.  I brought Crystal to the Real Time booth, where I got to show her the glory of this awesome recovery salve, and ordered the expo special which was to be delivered to my home in a few days time.

Feeling presidential at the
Clinton Library
After picking up a few more things at the expo (Balega socks!), I parted ways with Crystal and headed to my hotel to check in and grab a quick bite to eat before having to go back to the expo to get information about the early start, which Hollie and Loan were going to do.  The information was pretty much the same as what was already sent to us via e-mail, so after doing a little more wandering around the booths, I decided to kill some time by heading off to the Clinton Library before dinner plans with the Fifty States Half Marathon Club.

Fifty States Half Marathon Club Dinner at Ciao's
(Photo by Joan Roby)
Only a short walk away from the main downtown strip, the Clinton Library sits on the east side of downtown, on the other side of the highway.  The two floor library houses a museum of all things Bill Clinton, including a replica of his oval office and the presidential war room complete with his special leather chair, and other memorabilia during his two terms as president.  Also in the Library was a Peanuts exhibition, showcasing some of Charles Schulz’ work – which I am not so sure has anything to do with the Clintons, but oh well.

Reunited with members
of #TeamRenegade
I sped through the exhibits and made my way back downtown because the dinner was about to start at Ciao’s.  Quite a large turn out for our group, with members from all over, making their way to Arkansas for the race.  The food was good, though it took a while for it to come out… it was then when I got the unfortunate text that Donna and Hollie’s flight from Phoenix to Little Rock (via Dallas/Fort Worth) got cancelled, and they were not going to make it for their second race of the weekend.  After dinner I headed back to the hotel to wait for the two remaining members of our group who were arriving late – Kimberlee from Boise (via Las Vegas); and Loan, who luckily was able to get to Little Rock from Phoenix but through Dallas-Love Field and a different airline.
When they finally arrived, we were thrilled to see each other, but it was bittersweet because of the absence of two of our group.  We proceeded downstairs for a late night bite to eat (and shots of fireball, duh) before calling it a night since we had an early morning for the race, in particular Loan, who was doing the early start.

The Little Rock start line
The morning came, and I donned on my Rufio costume (complete with eye makeup!), and Kimberlee and I headed down to the lobby to meet up with our fellow "Renegade" Laura to proceed to the start line.  Already some of the early starters were coming up the street, nearing the six mile mark – but it was quite damp, already raining a little bit.  We walked to the start line and proceeded to get ready to get on the race course.  And then we were off!  I had my earphones in already, but supposedly, the announcers had acknowledged my Rufio costume as I ran through the start gates!

Bangarang!  Rufio is ready to get out on the half course!

Kimberlee, Laura, and I,
pre-race in the Holiday Inn lobby
The race course zigzags through the downtown area for the first four miles of the race, with long stretches heading westward along Capitol (toward the landmark Arkansas Capitol Building), then eastward on 6th Street, then westward again on 7th Street.  After turning right on Pulaski and passing the Capitol Building again, we had hit the 5k mark.  Turning right toward Markham, we went eight blocks before turning on Broadway and then right again onto 3rd, before looping eastward onto 4th Street and then back onto 3rd going further eastward again toward the I-30 underpass.  This was where we could see turn-off point for people heading toward mile 6 (which was just past our hotel), while proceeding straight would take you on a loop around toward the finish line.

The Couch Potato Corner at
the 10k mark!
(Photo by Crystal Aho)
Just past mile 6, at the 10k mark (turning onto Commerce Street), was a fun little spot that some locals deemed "Couch Potato Corner" where they actually had couches on the sidewalk!  Here, there were also some spectators handing out potato chips, and tater tots from Sonic, as well as donut holes - all of which I, of course, partook in.  There was even someone handing out plastic cups with a few ounces of beer in them - which I gladly took and was happily surprised to find contained stout beer!  This likely fueled me as I crossed over the Interstate 630 bridge (the first of three times) and made a couple more zigzags through residential areas along Cumberland, 9th Street, and then back onto Center Street.  At mile 8, we were greeted by newly appointed Arkansas Governer Asa Hutchinson in front of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion. We looped around more of the city's residential areas, westward on 16th Street, and then passed the iconic Little Rock Central High School, site of the landmark civil rights integration milestone in 1957, just before mile 10.  After continuing eastward on Daisy Gatson Bates Drive, we turned left onto Chester Street as we headed back toward downtown.  Around here was where we passed a group of students from nearby Philander Smith College, who were cheering us runners on... and I partook in a bit of twerking!  Hah!

The L'Oreal Lipstick Spot
(photo by Crystal Aho)
The last couple miles were a blur, as we once again headed through downtown Little Rock, eastward along the route we had passed from mile 4.5 to mile 5.5 earlier.  This time, we got to continue past the I-30 underpass, where I got to stop and check my rain-soaked face at the L'Oreal Lipstick Spot!  We looped around the Clinton Library parking lot, and then headed toward the finish line on Markham in the River Market district!

The rain slowed me down, but I finished in a respectable 2:28:53, to mark off state number 17.  Despite the rain, there was a great amount of crowd support on the course, and even an unusual amount of beer served to runners as well!  It was a great route, passing through much of downtown Little Rock's major landmarks.  Though we didn't receive the actual medals for the event due to the delays on the west coast from the longshoremen's strike, the proxy medal that was created for us was a nice touch, demonstrating the generosity of Geneva and Gina, the CIC's (Chicks in Charge) of this wonderful event.
Bling and Fireball 
#VictoryHeadstand!

Crystal and I going all out on the Little Rock Marathon's pirate theme!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Race Report: Dasani Myrtle Beach Half Marathon

Waiting for our flight to Myrtle Beach
I took Friday, February 13th off for my flight down to Myrtle Beach with my running buddy Donna.  And since I was flying Spirit, I packed lightly and decided to wear multiple layers since I knew this airline to be very strict about their carry on rules.  Upon arrival at LaGuardia, it turns out the flight was delayed by roughly an hour, so we sat around waiting for any news from the ground crew about when we were going to board.  Eventually we did, and a few hours later, we landed in Myrtle Beach.

OMG, EXPO PUPPY!!!
After picking up our rental car (a nifty black VW beetle, which we lovingly referred to as Beulah!), we headed to the expo at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, where we picked up our bibs for both the Neon Nights 5K that would occur that night and for the half the following morning.  The expo was cute - about medium sized.  There was a booth with a lady selling some delicious cookies, which we decided to partake in... and unusually a booth dedicated to the local humane society with golden retriever pups up for adoption, and another booth for guide dogs (there were about 20 just laying around on the floor with huge signs saying "don't pet, I'm working.") And thankfully, a beer booth, which we gladly partook in, as well.

Myself, Dan, and Donna before
the Neon Nights 5K
We then headed to the resort to drop off our bags and check in, and then get changed for the 5K that was to happen that night at Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach's premier shopping destination.  We got there a little early, so naturally, we found a restaurant that served drinks, and Donna and I got ourselves a mojito and strawberry margarita, respectively.  Minutes before the 5K, we found our buddy Dan from Kansas City, and outfitted with our nighttime glow-in-the-dark accessories, were on our way!  The route took us all the way around the shopping center, and then out onto the street, where we continued along a barricaded route to the TicketReturn.com Field just down the street, where the finish line laid.  It was a very chilly night, so we promptly returned to our car, and headed back to the resort to get some rest before the morning's events.


She dragged me out into the cold!
LOL...
February 14 arrived... and so did my 31st birthday.  Oops, one thing I forgot to mention - I was running this half to kick off my birthday weekend festivities!  Another chilly morning before getting out to the 6:30am start.  We stayed in the car for as long as feasibly possible, thankfully finding a parking spot only steps from the start corrals.  Bundled up in our black garbage bags, we begrudgingly took off into the brisk 27ยบ weather (with thankfully, no wind).  I was able to get rid of my garbage bag early on, while we ran down Grissom Parkway, and then took our turn onto Mr. Joe White Avenue (really, the name of these streets!) before hitting the 1 mile mark.  We then took a right turn onto South Kings Highway (US Bus Rte 17) where we ran on a long stretch for about 3.5 miles.  Along this stretch, we ran by many miniature golf courses, which Myrtle Beach is famous for having the most of, per capita, in the world.

At mile 5, we ran by the airport, seeing the runway to our right.  We finally turned right onto Farrow Parkway, running toward The Market Common, the 114-acre community that used to be part of the air force base complex that surrounded the current airport when it was an active air base.  It was promising to run up this street because there were runners coming back in the other direction, which signaled the halfway point of the half marathon wasn't too far ahead of us.

At mile 7, we were back on Farrow Parkway, heading into the straightaway to Ocean Boulevard, another long stretch that would take us closer and closer to the finish.  It was a four mile long stretch, and it felt like it never ended.  Mile 11 finally showed up, and we turned left onto Mr. Joe White Avenue, and then it was just a matter of time before we were headed back down the streets we initially came down when we started, then turning into the TicketReturn.com Field parking lot, to get to the finish line.  I finished in 2:18, which wasn't particularly great or bad - but knowing that it was a flat course, I wish I could've gone faster.  Granted, it was COLD.  And I guess I'm a little spoiled by having done halfs that have hydration stations at shorter increments than the "every two miles" mark that this race course had -- even then, they weren't exactly at the mile markers, and so I kept on anticipating them, but they wouldn't show up for a few hundred meters down the course.  After the race, we stuck around for several of our friends to finish and reconnected with new friends for some photos -- and then proceeded to find warmth as soon as we could!

After my birthday lunch!
To celebrate my birthday, Donna and I met up with Dan and his wife Paula, and Ken Fattmann and his incredible 13 year old son Calix, both of which are prolific half marathoners/marathoners (At this writing, Calix has 132 halfs and 17 marathons under his belt!) for a late lunch at RIOZ, a Brazilian steakhouse, which was PERFECT for our protein needs and muscle recovery post race!  After a quick nap back at the resort, we headed to the marathon after-party at the House of Blues (after getting lost for about 45 minutes going in the wrong direction...oops!) and met up with some other new friends, Jason and Travis; later we accompanied Travis at a Thai restaurant near his hotel to talk shop about races -- the half that morning was Travis' very first half marathon!

Sparklers on my birthday!!
We wouldn't leave till Monday afternoon, so the rest of the trip was spent discovering more of what coastal South Carolina (and even North Carolina) had to offer - driving up to Wilmington for lunch, and then to the kitschy "South of the Border" landmark at the NC/SC border further inland; a stop at Chili's (Donna has added a Chili's component to her "Halfs in all 50 states" journey, so we kind of had to!); and then lighting fireworks in the middle of the street at our resort (they're legal in South Carolina!)

All in all, a fun (even if a bit cold) weekend celebrating my birthday in South Carolina!




Victory Headstand in Myrtle Beach!

Margaritas are necessary

Having too much fun at "South of the Border"