Hilton Head Marathon; Hilton Head, SC; February 11, 2017
Lifetime Marathon #44; South Carolina Marathon #1
Finish Time: 3:58:36
It has been almost 3 years since I have run back to back marathons. In 2014 I ran the Wisconsin Marathon and the Kalamazoo Marathon to complete the Mitten Challenge. In the months and weeks leading up to the race weekend I dedicated days to back to back long runs trying to prepare myself. For 2017, I was selected as a D-Squad Ambassador for the 26.2 with Donna National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer and the week before traveling to Florida for the race I decided to add a Saturday marathon to my schedule in South Carolina. I have not recorded a new state on my journey since the 2015 NYC Marathon so the opportunity to pick up a new state just 2 hours away from where I was going already seemed ideal.
Brooklyn and I left our home after work on Friday and began the 9 hour drive to South Carolina arriving around 1:30am. Our friend Lisa had already checked into the hotel was asleep when we got there. The hotel was about 15 minutes away from the race start and had a beautiful view of the Hilton Head coastline.
Saturday morning we were up early for normal race day prep. After only 5ish hours of sleep we were dressed and out the door heading to the local park for the race start. Since this was my first race in South Carolina I made the decision to try to push for a sub 4 hour finish to knock that off my list as well. After a very disappointing run in New Orleans the week before I was determined to shake it off and push through, so I opted to leave the GoPro packed in the car and instead carried a water bottle for the race.
I knew going into the race that the field was going to be small, but in actuality I was surprised by the number of runners toeing the start line. I didn’t realize that the marathon, half marathon, and 8k all started together through the small one lane park paths at the start of the race. (Maybe not the best planning effort.) The starting line was jammed, but I found a couple pacers scattered throughout (surprisingly) and tucked in with the 4:00 pacer for the run.
The crowd thinned out fairly quickly. The 8k had a turnaround point after the first 2 miles or so and the marathon and half marathon course ran together for the first 5-6 miles. The biggest mental obstacle was a giant bridge that we were running up around mile 5. Not so bad though, I knew I would have to come back the other way. I thought it would be towards the end of the race, but as I was approaching the top of the bridge the leaders were coming back down the other lane. Ok, so the turnaround is sooner than I thought. No worries.
Fast forward 15 miles later, pace is holding strong, feeling good, the course makes a right turn & I’m staring at this bridge again! Up and over the bridge for the 3rd time just before mile 20, loop around another park area and back for the 4th time across the bridge to head back towards the finish line. The island is apparently at 10ft above sea level so the elevation chart doesn’t really showcase that this bridge exists because the highest point of elevation is still really low, but 4 bridge climbs?!
They took their toll on me and burned my legs out making the last 5k of the race incredibly tough to get through. But I wanted that sub 4, the pacer was running hot the whole race and I knew he was ahead of the clock. He was about 100 yards ahead of me as we crossed mile marker 25 so I gritted my teeth and fought to push ahead of him for the final 1800 meters and come across the finish line at 3:58:12. A new state and a new sub 4 state!
There was a lot of food and music and things happening around the finish area, but I head to get out of town quick to make it to Jacksonville so I left pretty soon after finishing to grab a shower back at the hotel. Brooklyn and Lisa had already finished the half and taken showers by the time I made it back.
We left as soon as we could to grab lunch and a slight shopping excursion before making the 2 hour drive to Florida. Hilton Head has a New Balance outlet store and we had to stop to check for runDisney shoes, I lucked into a new pair of 2016 Dumbo shoes 🙂