Since diving feet first into the world of moderately serious running, I’ve been fortunate enough to take my training on the road. Thanks to an ambitious yearly travel schedule and plenty of out-of-town half marathons, I’ve had the opportunity to log miles all over this awesome country as well as that awesome ketchup chip-loving country to the north. It’s gotten to the point where I actually become weirdly excited about running while on the road, a development that very much contradicts the sloth of my younger years.
Recently, during my son’s spring break, the family made the long haul to the east coast to visit my dad who lives in Myrtle Beach. For those of you who’ve never been, this oceanfront town is a bit touristy in the same way that our president’s face is a bit orange. While I don’t have solid statistics on this, I’m pretty sure Myrtle Beach leads the country in mini-golf courses and pancake houses per capita.
I did a healthy amount of running during our visit, not only because I have a half marathon at the end of April, but also because I needed to burn off all the extra calories I consumed in the form of southern fried foods and cocktails.
While our location on the South Carolina coast didn’t provide a running landscape as historically significant as the National Mall or Central Park, it did provide some of the things I’ve been missing the last few months: warmth, flatness, and variety. And while running on the beach is not my favorite thing in the world I was less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean, which meant I was obligated to run along its shores at least once.
Most of my outings took place in my dad’s neck of the woods, which allowed me the chance to run past lagoons, small lakes, and, of course, the aforementioned Atlantic. Not too shabby. I also spent plenty of time running around the Arcadian Shores Golf Club, which reengaged the part of my brain that stores lines of dialog from Caddyshack.
In addition to my training runs, the whole family made it out to the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex (say that five times fast) to participate in the Run for the Shelter 5K, a race that supported the local Humane Society. The out-and-back course was mostly made up of a finely groomed dirt path that was delightfully flat. Mix in a sunny, warm day and the conditions were perfect for a PR! I finished with a time of 24:12 and my ten-year-old, who hasn’t run a 5K in ages, also PR-ed, finishing at exactly 29:00. My wife also did well, running one of her most enjoyable races in recent memory.
On a personal level, there was one regretful incident that took place at this event. When I initially finished, I was parched and in need of refreshment. As I was handed a bottle of water I was also offered a chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A, one of the race’s sponsors. I was recovering and in no mood for food. However, I had every intention of returning and claiming my free sandwich before leaving. Unfortunately, I forgot. I was only reminded of my error on the way home when a friend texted me a photo of the breakfast taco he was awarded for running a 5K in Austin. I vowed to make up for this horrific oversight by visiting an actual Chick-fil-A before returning home, but never got around to it.
Aside from a few dreadfully poor performances, this free food faux pas might be the greatest race regret of my running career.
Our trip to the Palmetto State wasn’t meant to check off any boxes on the running bucket list, but I enjoyed my time there, if for no other reason it allowed me to run somewhere other than home. The trip also taught me a valuable lesson… no matter how thirsty you are, no matter how you’re feeling physically, you always take the free chicken and biscuit sandwich.