So as I mentioned yesterday I spent a beautiful four day weekend at my parents’ home in North Carolina. My friend Haley (who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon a couple weeks ago) and I ran the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is under an hour from my parents’ place, so it was a perfect destination race! You know I love a good race review because racing is expensive, you want to make sure you’re signing up for quality events! I think I thought going into this event that it was women only, but I did see a couple dudes sprinkles in the crowd. I actually did my first ever half marathon in a predominantly female race (I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon in June 2011). It can be a really cool experience to be out there on the course with all other women, supporting each other, cheering, and yes, there is a lot of “wooing” (for those not familiar… it’s kind of like this… WWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!). So ok enough dawdling here is my race review!
How My Race Went: I’m going to say… pretty good. Far from my best, but it definitely could have been a LOT worse (like the time I ran a half marathon in Savannah, GA with a knee injury. That sucked). I probably should have been done for the season after the marathon and given my body a break from training, but this race looked like so much fun, I really wanted to do it with Haley (who also just ran a marathon, so we were in the same boat). Haley and I started together and ran between 9:30 – 10:00 min miles for about the first eight miles. We saw my parents and Sarah at about mile 5, which was super fun (my mom finally got that cow bell she’s been wanting, and I heard that she was dancing in the streets like the fabulous woman she is). My right knee wasn’t feeling 100% at this point, which was odd because I’ve had no knee problems at all since February. My left foot also started hurting (I was concerned I was getting a stress fracture in this foot right before the marathon). All of this makes me sound like a grandma… gross. But basically, I know my body well enough to know that this was not going to be a PR day. Also, my Garmin died… super. At around mile 5, I decided that I needed to take it easy and enjoy this SUPER fun race. I had to stop and go to the bathroom, which I don’t like doing (it totally added like 4 – 5 minutes to my official time because I had to wait in a line!) but sometimes it must be done. Haley went ahead while I used the facilities, so I was on my own after that. During this stretch of the race, I realized how much I really enjoy running alone sometimes. Having a buddy is super fun, but it is also nice to just set your own pace and enjoy the solitude. It was also kind of nice running without the Garmin. It is an amazing training tool and I absolutely love having it, but after it died, I realized that I enjoyed not always checking my pace. I went with what felt good, and it was a nice change! My official time was 2:15:23, but I did lose 4 – 5 minutes with my BR break. Even with that, not even close to my fastest half marathon. But that’s ok! As Mike loves to remind me, you can’t set a PR every time you race 🙂
Pros: For lack of a better word I’m going to refer to this as a “gimmick” race, but not at all in a bad way! The same way Rock’n’Roll races are known for the bands / live music out on the course, the Diva Race is this amazingly frilly and froofy race with more women wearing tutus, fairy wings, and body glitter than my 1st grade ballet recital. If you are the kind of person who can get really into fun girly stuff (I TOTALLY am, but no judgment if you’re not), you’re going to love this race. The official race shirt is hot pink and super feminine, and every bib has the word “Diva” in front of your name (so my bib read “Diva Christina”… I believe you had the option to personalize it though, so it didn’t have to be your name. I saw one girl with “Diva Holla at Me” on her bib. 10 points for creativity). Their official merchandise at the expo is also super cute and pretty reasonably priced. I scored a hot pink singlet with a picture of a tiara on it that said “Run Like a Diva” (as seen in these pictures) for $22. The course through North Myrtle Beach was actually pretty great. It took you through all the different areas of North Myrtle, and there were so many people out cheering! Also, right before the finish line there is a feather boa and tiara station! Awesome, even though feather boas feel pretty gross when you’re sweating, it’s ok. I couldn’t get the teeny tiny tiara to stay on my massive dome while I was running so I just held it. When you cross the finish line you had the choice to get your medal from either a shirtless fireman or a knight from Medieval Times. I meeeaaannnnn… that wasn’t horrible. You also got a red rose and a glass of champagne! I cannot drink even a sip of champagne or I get sick, so Haley had mine too (she’s SUCH a good friend). Post race food was also pretty awesome. The race was sponsored by Vitamin Water so there was regular and Vitamin Water Zero! I got a regular Revive and a XXX zero.
Cons: You know I don’t like to go too negative and I want to reiterate that I loved this race and had an wonderful experience! But every event has one of two things that could be improved. I’d rather refer to this section as “constructive feedback”. They did not have assigned corrals, which was really ok with this size race (there were approximately 4000 runners), but they did not do a wave start. I think that would’ve made the beginning of the race a little less congested. It thinned out just fine after a couple miles, as all races do. Wasn’t a huge deal to me, but perhaps if you were really looking to set a PR this would’ve been more of an issue. The event also included a 5K that started 20 minutes after the half marathon. The only problem was at one point the 5k course fed into the half marathon and the courses were not divided. Where I was in the race meant that I was running about 9:50 min per mile and the people who were coming onto the course in the 5K were walking. It got a little hairy there. I thought maybe if they had a course marshal out keeping half marathoners on the left side of the road and 5k-ers on the right side that would’ve reduced the confusion. That’s it 🙂
Final Summation: If you’re looking to do a first half marathon or looking to do a great race with a group of friends for fun… this race is for you! If you are a serious, serious, serious runner, this might not be the race for you. You need to be in the mindset of having fun, or else you’re going to miss out on what makes this race so great!