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A Runner’s Diary: Experiencing the Divas Half Marathon & 5K Series in Myrtle Beach

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When Marti, my running partner, and I arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, late Friday evening (April 26) in preparation for our run in the Divas Half Marathon two days later, we were exhausted. We flew Spirit Air and the flight was delayed several hours. When we got to the airport, we “schlepped” our bags across the terminal to Thrifty car rental and stood in a long line.

“It takes at least 15 minutes per person,” the man behind us said. Marti and I looked at each other and shook our heads. We just wanted to get to the hotel and crash.

As we approached the counter, the Thrifty representative took my ID and told me that our car was already gone, since our flight was delayed more than two hours, and he gave it up. After some back and forth exchange, he gave us a Hyundai.

“But if you turn that car in with a scratch, you will pay,” he said. When we looked at the car and saw all the scratches, we turned it back and he gave us a Chevy Impala instead. Between my new aviator glasses and the Chevy Impala, I felt as if I were an undercover cop all weekend!

The next day, we picked up our numbers and walked around the expo. The Divas folks had about 30 or 40 various vendors selling everything from Newton running sneakers to Sterling Silver running jewelry. Ali Vincent from the first season of The Biggest Loser was also there. She was selling her new book, Believe It, Be It: How Being the Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life.

Marti and I were excited to see her. We’ve both been fans of The Biggest Loser since the show’s inception. Ali said she would love to be on my radio show, Hilary Topper On Air, so I was thrilled.

We also got to meet Kendal, the running coach for the Divas Marathon & 5K Series. He was especially nice and offered lots of helpful tips on what to do the day before a half marathon, including “don’t carb up.” He said that if you do, you will have stomach issues during the race.

That evening, we had a light dinner (as suggested by Kendal) and went to bed early. We had to get up the next day (April 28) at 5 a.m.

Even though we laid out our clothes and tried to be as prepared as possible, the morning of the race was hectic. We lost our car in the parking lot. At 5:30 a.m., I was running from floor to floor to floor in the parking garage looking for the rental Chevy Impala. I thought I was going to cry!

After some time, I found it. Marti stayed with the luggage and I drove down to the second level and picked her up. We still got to the race with plenty of time, but that was very nerve wracking.

Getting a parking spot right at the start/finish of the race wiped away any thoughts about losing the car. We both got out of the car feeling strong and ready to go.

We lined up with the rest of the 5,000 women running the Divas Half Marathon. The organizers gave a moment of silence for the people who lost their lives in the Boston Marathon, then played the national anthem and we were off.

As I was running the first three miles, I felt as if I were on a huge treadmill. It didn’t even feel like I was making any effort. The road just took me.

The Divas folks had water stations after every mile or so. They also organized some of the local radio stations to have live broadcasts on the course. Some of the local residents came out to cheer us on. There were so many funny signs along the route. At one point, I was laughing so hard I had to stop!

There were lots of teams of women and everyone dressed like a “diva.” Marti and I wore tutus and matching outfits.

By mile 12, I hit the wall. I really didn’t think I could keep going. We ran along Route 17 and there were still cars coming next to us. At one point, one of the runners screamed and a truck went by. This threw me off. I panicked. “Come on Hilary,” Marti said. “You have to keep going. Don’t stop!”

To be honest, toward the end of the race, I was starting to get mad at her because I really needed to walk and she refused. We trained for several months together and we were going to finish this race together.

At the last quarter mile there were dozens of people, which motivated us to sprint to the finish line. We finished the race in under three hours with personal records! So for two slow, middle-aged women, we didn’t do too bad.

When I asked Marilyn Hatley, the mayor of Myrtle Beach why she hosts the Divas Marathon in her city when I thought her city was primarily a golf town, she responded by saying:

“The City of North Myrtle Beach is a strong running community. A good variety of 5K events are held during the spring, fall and winter months, largely as fundraisers for different charities. … I am not a runner myself but I do know that runners like us for our relatively flat terrain, and moderate fall, winter and spring temperatures. And there are not too many other cities in America that can offer runners 9 miles of flat ocean beaches to run on!”

Great golf and great running. What a perfect combination for someone who loves both.

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