Monday, June 20, 2011

Next stop....Surfside

The rest of 2008 moved merrily along. I made it through the summer...always a notable accomplishment in the Southeast Texas heat. I was cruising through school, too, taking 16 hours a semester and keeping up good grades. By the end of the year, I was ready to take on another marathon training plan. I had figured out by then that the most difficult part of committing to a marathon was being dedicated to training. The marathon itself is just a small portion of the total hours that have to be put into running during the months before. I wanted to continue to run marathons, but my first goal in anything is to maintain balance. No matter how much I enjoy running, I cannot allow it to crowd out more important things in my life. So, I decided that I would set a goal to run one full marathon a year for as long as I can. The Surfside Marathon at Surfside Beach was the one that caught my eye for 2009. I signed up and started training in October '08. The website said to expect a slower pace on the beach. That sounded great to me. I trained diligently through the holidays and felt even more prepared than I had for the Cowtown. That means I could expect about the same pace as Cowtown, right? I did have one little glitch in training. My right foot started to bother me, and I had to take off a week, but it was far enough out from the race that I was able to recover well enough.

As always, I started checking the weather about a week before the race. The forecast changes every day, of course, but I was getting very worried. It looked like it was going to storm. Great! I had signed up for a marathon on the beach in a storm. But, what was I going to do...cancel? Never!

Surfside Beach is about two hours from home. We took the motor home the day before and stayed in an RV park about two miles from the starting line. That morning was cloudy, but so far, there was no rain. I was praying that it would hold out until the end of the day. Surfside is one of the only marathons that is run entirely on the beach. You start at the starting line, run about 2.5 miles down, turn around and run back past the starting line until mile 15.5, then turn around and run back to the finish line/starting line. The first five miles were awesome. I thought I might even PR. That's about when the headwind started. I heard later that it was upwards of 30 mph, but I don't know how accurate that was. It sure felt that way, though. I struggled just to keep my pace below a 12 minute mile. Just when I thought it could not get worse, the rain started. No, the storm started. I have run in rain plenty of times, but never anything like this. It was sharp, stinging rain that pelted me in the face til I could barely keep my head up. I just had to look around at the other runners to see how we all shared in the agony. The 15.5 mile turnaround seemed as if it would never arrive. When I finally got there and turned around, it was like going from night to day. That strong wind was at my back and the rain subsided. Ahhhh...I had never been so relieved. My shoes were still soaked, though, which made for some terrible blisters. But I was so glad to be out of that storm that I didn't even care.

This pretty much sums up the scenery.

My cheering section
 I finished up with a time of 4:47. Oh well, it was quite an experience, anyway. The Surfside Beach Marathon was a fantastic race...well-organized, great swag, BBQ dinner, free smoothies. The scenery does get a little monotonous and there aren't many spectators to cheer you on. But as small as the community is, you can't  expect much in the way of spectators. The sand was pleasant to run on...hard-packed, just as it had been described. Except for the blisters on my feet, I was barely even sore the next day. I managed to place third in my age group, and the award was a cool plate. The little community of Surfside knows how to put on an awesome event!

Exhausted at the finish line

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