One of my Ragnar gal pals, Jenny, invited Melissa and I to Myrtle Beach this past weekend – MORE than a suitable alternative to staying in Chapel Hill since I couldn’t be at home in Denver for St. Patty’s Day (for the first time in five years, mind you, sniffle sniffle). Green beer plus beach bodies-slash-eye candy? Um, YES, please!
Saturday morning, we woke up to a beautiful, sunny day. I felt rested and ready for 12 miles on the beach – six miles down the coast, six miles back to the hotel. As much as I do love Colorado - and you know that I do - we don’t have scenery quite like this:
And this was only the beginning of a full day sure to be nothing less than AWESOME. It was St. Patty’s weekend. I mean, how could the day be anything less than amazing, right?!
The first mile or two were great! A bit slow, but just fine given the new venue and the distance. Quickly, though, I wasn’t feeling so hot. I felt like I was fighting a bit more to warm up than I should have to after such a short distance. It is kind of warm today. I should have had more water before we started, that’s all.
I had some water, and it did help a bit. So I kept trudging away. Soon, though, I caught myself looking at my watch waaaaaay too often. My first flask was empty. “Do you mind if we just go five out and back? I can always run another mile with you in the other direction after that and back to hit 12 miles.”
Despite the serentiy of the waves and the packed sand surface, I continued to struggle, was not at all enjoying the beauty surrounding me, and finally stopped for a second in the shade of the next pier to catch my breath. We had only gone 3.89 miles.
“Can we turn around at four miles? That’ll get us back to the hotel sooner to refill. I think I just need more water.” “Sure,” Melissa said. “One mile out and back from the hotel the opposite direction, and I’ll have 10 miles.” I just need to hit 10. Ten’s good for today.
We hit four miles then turned back. Just the little bit of wind now coming directly at us made me wonder if we missed the memo about a hurricane hitting the beach. Each of my legs felt like they weighed about 800 pounds. I couldn’t keep up.
“I think I’m going to walk/run for a bit. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. You go ahead.” Melissa had forgotten her charger for her running watch; so I gave her mine to track her milage for the remainder of the run without me.
I stood and watched the waves and breathed heavily for a moment. Melissa didn’t get too far before turning back to ask me a question about my watch. “I think I’m OK. I feel better. I’m going to try to run back to the hotel with you.” And so, we trotted off again. By now, my second flask was nearly dry; so we moved to the boardwalk in search of a water fountain on the way back.
We filled up and decided to continue on the sidewalk along the street nearest the beach, thinking the soft surface of the sand was also taxing me. This seemed to work for about another mile and a half until I started falling behind again. That time when I stopped, I started to feel a little dizzy. I knelt over and rested my hands on my knees to keep my balance and told Melissa to continue on without me.
I headed back to the beach to take a few pictures as I walked the last two miles back to the hotel. I had run only six miles.
Was my hydration belt on too tight? Did the softer sand really make that much of a difference? Was I dehydrated? Maybe I didn’t eat enough last night or that morning before the run. I probably needed more protein. Why did I feel so awful? I hate to have to stop, and I VERY rarely do. Why couldn’t I run?
I was disappointed but then cut myself a little slack when I realized that, even with only six miles that day, I was up to just over 30 miles for the week, an acceptable distance since my first week of training included 25 miles and was still about a month away.
I took of my shoes and socks and walked near enough to the water so that the waves washed over my feet before retreating again. The walk-slash-photo shoot was nice at first, and then I started feeling tired again. The sand felt harsh on my feet, and my back was aching. That was the longest two miles ever. If just walking was starting to hurt, I don’t want to think about how running would have felt.
I was happy I stopped running when I did.
The next day, we woke again to beautiful sunshine, clear skies, and, of course, the beach! I was feeling back to normal but stayed behind when Melissa and Jenny took off for a six-mile jaunt.
I am no expert when it comes to running, but I am not a novice either. I have run enough to know when to say ‘enough is enough.’ If I am to have a strong four months of training and a successfull first-ever marathon in August, I had to play it smart. So I took the day off.
That walk on the beach was much more enjoyable.
Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.