Sunday, February 14, 2010

Live Tweeting to Enjoy a Race to its Fullest - Race Report for Surfside Beach Half Marathon, 2/13/10

On Saturday, I ran the Surfside Beach Half Marathon, about an hour outside Houston.  The race is limited to 900 and had sold out - about 650 in the half marathon and 250 in the full marathon. I had run Austin Half Marathon this weekend last year and thought it would be nice to try a new race.
Me at Mile 10 of the race - in my standard hot pink Heels and Hills gear.

Going into this race, race day was day 40 of my all-outdoor running streak.  Unfortunately, the chiropractor had noticed a little bit of rotation in my knee on Wednesday and he corrected it.  After running in the snow and playing with my daughter in it (record approx. 12" of snow in Dallas!) on Thursday and Friday, I was on the phone with the chiropractor race eve getting tips as I'd re-rotated the knee a little in the uneven snow. I drove 5 1/2 hours late Friday to arrive about 8:30 pm at the hotel.  A little stretching and icing on the knee and off to bed.

Race day morning, it's about 40 degrees with a light breeze, but I miscalculated that breeze, because it really made everything so much colder. I regretted leaving my gloves at the hotel when I thought, "Oh, it will be way too warm for that!" We all  park along the beach against the dune fence with beach houses on the other side.  A big tent is set up for pre- and post-race needs. 

The race starts on time at 8 am.

The course is literally, we run ~2.5 miles south, turn around and come back, pass by the start, go down another 6ish miles, turn around and come back to the finish.  It's a true out-and-back.  It's cloudy, but the ocean is still so pretty.  The sand is fairly packed, so it is somewhat like running on "soft asphalt" as another runner had described it.  But it's definitely a little odd with stones, debris, and shells to watch out for.  With the entire width of the beach to choose from, I know it's important not to run on a slightly sloped area or you'll feel it before the end of the race.  Those thinking like I am stick with high up near the dune fence or all the way down in the wetter sand near the waves rolling in.

My chiropractor (who is also a past college cross-country athlete, university coach, and still gifted runner) and I had discussed taking it a little easy since I had tweaked my knee and didn't know if I could rotate any more in the sand.  With a current PR at 11:27 pace, I decide to plan on a 12:00 pace for this race.  I keep the first 5 miles right around an 11:45.  In fact, my consistent splits are just plain beautiful. :-)
Mile 1: 11:54
Mile 2: 11:44
Mile 3: 11:45
Mile 4: 11:48
Mile 5: 11:43
About mile 6, I'm really struggling with stiff / sore back/neck/chest.  Runners will understand, it's like I just couldn't get my torso to relax into my hips and let the legs do the work.  I'd try to shake off my upper body but it just stayed tense.  With a recent fibromyalgia flareup and a long drive the day before, I'm guessing neither of those things helped, although I don't know if they were the cause or if it was "just one of those days." 

By mile 8, I'm just struggling.  Definitely hurting in the back and neck.  So I pull out my phone that I carry in my Amphipod pocket attached to my shorts, and I tweet the following... "8.65 mi into the half - not havin fun. Never loosened up and back/neck r stiff". (If you want to follow me, just I get some encouraging responses from some awesome running tweeps ("twitter peeps" or twitter friends).

And I realize something - I didn't set out for a PR today anyway and if I continue pushing at the slower pace I'm at when I'm not feeling my finest, I will completely miss the entire point of this race! And as a simple out-and-back race up and down a beach with no major spectators or highly distinguishable scenery, it would be so easy to go home without a lot of memories.  I came to enjoy a unique race site, beautiful scenery on a long run, and have fun.  And I'm hitting a state of miserable where I'm losing the fun. 

So I decide to find the fun again.  And decide that I'll live tweet the remaining 5ish miles of the race.  It worked out great.  It would give me plenty of walk breaks to stretch out my back while I tweeted and then I would sprint a few tenths of a mile, and I found that my sprints were faster so I didn't slow down as much as I would have expected from tweeting and taking all the pics!  So the rest of the race report is a collection of the tweets and pics I took.

10:01 am - "Aid station at mile 9.5 - surprised the volunteer when I said to say CHEESE!"

10:05 am - "Mile 10 - gal offered 2 take my pic - too sweet of her!"  This was a funny moment where I had stopped to take a pic of the 10 mile marker sign, and on this out-and-back course, a gal run/walking on the out part (I was on the back part) said, "Hey, why don't I take your picture?" I said, "Are you sure? We're in the middle of the race!" And she said it wasn't a problem.  Very very sweet of this random runner!

10:14 am - "Dude has all his fishing poles set up at mile 10.6 - sadly he's caught 0 runners so far..."

10:19 am - "Aid station at 10.9 - look at all empty boxes. View from back o the pack"

10:25 am - "Aid station volunteer ( HS girl ) asked about my cell - and I found the generation whose reaction to my live tweeting made me cooler - lol"

10:27 am - "HEED the warning: this race serves Heed at aidstations, which I've never trained with, so no sports drink for me :-("

10:32 am - "Mile 12 - white dot in distance is tent by finish area, almost there"

10:36 am - ""Tonight's going to be a good good night..." Heard thru another runner's earbuds - TURN UR VOLUME DOWN! - mile 12.3"

10:39 am - "Birdies were the race spectators... Bunch of seagulls at mile12.5"

10:43 am - "Passing my car... At mile 12.85...ugh"

And then I was done.  2:44:58 on my Garmin.  A friend Cruz was there to cheer me into the finish - very nice of him. 

The post-race was fun with Maui Wowi making real fruit smoothies (I had strawberry) and an okay BBQ meal.  Each runner also received a race plate - sorry, but I don't see the point in a finisher plate - I'm not going to display it.  I'd rather have a tech shirt or race hat or something I will use if they are going to spend the money on a finisher item.  But that's just my opinion - and it is a pretty plate so I appreciate the effort, either way. :-)

Here's the race bib, finisher medal, and decorative plate for 2010 Surfside Beach Half Marathon!

All in all, I'm glad I slowed down and let myself have some fun and soak in the beautiful scenery.  It was a race I enjoyed and would recommend to others if you aren't a runner who needs a lot of bells and whistles and frills.

Finish Time on Garmin: 2:44:58
Distance measured by Garmin as 13.23
Mile 1: 11:54
Mile 2: 11:44
Mile 3: 11:45
Mile 4: 11:48
Mile 5: 11:43
Mile 6: 12:36 (walked through aid station and took Gu slowly)
Mile 7: 12:16
Mile 8: 12:40 (tweeting begins)
Mile 9: 12:54
Mile 10: 13:08
Mile 11: 13:47
Mile 12: 13:10
Mile 13: 12:58
Mile 13.1: 11:15 (pace for last 0.23 miles per Garmin)

Next Up
Thinking about doing the new Stonebridge Half Marathon in McKinney (10 minutes from my house) that Playtri organization is putting on next Sunday, just to keep the miles up.  Then, Cowtown Half Marathon on 2/27.


  1. You need to have fun when you run. Congrats! Yes, the plate is a little unusual, but it looks like a nice trophy. Good luck at Stonebridge.

  2. Congrats Libby. It was nice meeting you! Have a great season and good luck with Heels and Hills.

  3. Running on sand sounds kinda...freaky - but being that close to the ocean the entire time sounds awesome. I saw the tweets and thought about doing the same thing during my half yesterday when I thought I was going to be sicker and taking it slower, but I didn't.

    Sounds like it was a great race!

  4. Thanks, guys, for your support! Glad I found the fun!