Race #490 -- Myrtle Beach Half Marathon -- Myrtle Beach, SC -- 05/01/2021

The Myrtle Beach Half Marathon has been the race I've been most looking forward to as the pandemic subsides and things get back to normal. It's been a favorite of mine in the past and when I saw that the date had changed from early March to May 1st I jumped at the chance to run it again. The temperature in the low 60s at the start of the race was perfect for me and the weather remained comfortable throughout the race. 

My goal was to finish in under 2 hours to extend my streak of sub-2-hour half marathons to 115, and my intention was to use the same strategy that has been working for me in races so far this year, which was to run pretty hard for 70 seconds then do a light jog for 20 seconds and continue this pattern throughout the race. Just a few seconds into the race I thought about what happened in last week's 5k. I had used my normal 70:20 ratio of run/jog and it worked okay for the first 2 miles, but then in the last mile I ended up walking 5 times! The walk breaks weren't just a conscious decision but, at least at the time, seemed like a necessity for me to stay on my feet. When I looked at my Garmin data after that race it seemed that every time my heart rate hit the 160 level I had to walk. I'm including the graph from last week's race to show what I'm talking about. 

You can see in this graph from last week's Red Carpet 5k that I took a couple of walk breaks in the first couple miles, but when my heart rate hit 160 about 2 miles into the race I felt an overwhelming need to walk, resulting in 5 walk breaks in the last mile.

I did think about it a little over the next week but not enough to change my strategy for this week's half marathon. However, as I started running the Myrtle Beach Half I remembered the 160 heart rate being a stumbling block, so I thought why not try keeping my heart rate at about the 155 level and see if it makes a difference. I gradually built up my heart rate to 155 and was surprised that not only did I feel good but I also didn't need to slow down after 70 seconds and jog or walk. I decided I'd continue to keep my heart rate as close to 155 as I could for the remainder of the race and I was not only pleased but almost shocked at how well it worked for me. 

I normally carry two honey packets and plan two stops in a half marathon, one about 1/3 through the race and the other 2/3 through the race. You can see that I stopped for a few seconds at each of those two stops and my heart rate dipped a little below 150 for each stop. Other than that I stayed as close to 155 until the very end when I hit 160 at the finish line. You can see on the graph that my pace slowed a little as the race progressed, but that's always been the case with me. Keeping a steady heart rate your running pace will decline little by little as it takes more energy to keep the heart at that same level.

Racing by heart rate is nothing new for me. It was my main strategy for my best years of racing when I'd keep my heart rate at 165 throughout whatever race I was running. I had abandoned the practice as my heart rate declined with aging. I read somewhere in the past that each year your maximum heart rate drops about 1 beat per minute per mile. That was disappointing for me to find out in actual practice as I not only couldn't keep up with the 165 heart rate any longer, but if I allowed myself to use a slower heart rate as a goal it would mean for certain that I'd be slower. 

Most of my PR's were set exactly 10 years ago when I was 59, and at that time I was using the 165 heart rate. With the natural decline in my heart rate with aging, I feel like 155 should be my goal now, and this race proved to me that even though I'm naturally going to be slower now, it beats the alternative methods I've tried. My age grading for this race was 73.84%, which is my highest age-graded half marathon since 2017 (four years ago) and the first time I've been over 70% in any of the races I've run this year.

This table shows the consistency of the average heart rate throughout the race and that the maximum stayed under 160 until the end. It also shows that even though my pace did slow down as the race progressed, my slowest mile was still a respectable (for me) pace of 8:35.

Concerning the race itself, there were Covid restrictions in place that changed some of the racing protocols. Instead of everyone starting together there were corrals with no more than 200 runners and they began each corral start 2 minutes apart. That worked out fine but wasn't quite as exciting as everyone starting together as it has been in the past. 

There were other changes such as no race expo, no post-race party, no awards ceremony, and no spectators allowed at the start and finish lines. Runners were encouraged to wear masks both before and after the race but there was no strict enforcement. There were plenty of opportunities for spectators at locations along the race course. There was some pre-packaged food for runners after the finish. The water stations along the route had only bottled water but that worked fine as well. 

The race shirts were great, and there were two of them: a long-sleeved green tech shirt with a great design as well as a black race singlet. The only drawback with the shirts was that the medium singlet was too big for me, and I suspect a lot of people would have liked to trade it for a small, but they wouldn't allow a switch. No biggy though since the other shirt was great all by itself.

Race Name:  Myrtle Beach Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k

Location:  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Date:  May 1, 2021

Race Rating:  90

Top 10 Males:

Top 10 Females:

Top 10 in My Age Group (65-69):


Weather at Start:

Click Here for Race Website

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

My Stats:

  • Time:  1:48:14
  • Pace:  8:16
  • Age Group:  4 of 35 
  • Overall:  242 of 1494
  • Average Heart Rate:  154
  • Maximum Heart Rate:  160
  • Age Grade Percentage:  73.84%





3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)

2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]

1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good

5 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic

1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out

2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good

8 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!

2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes

2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes

1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no


2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!

0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes


2 - Posted online within 24 hours:  (0)no  (2)yes

1 - Easy to find results:  (0)no  (1)yes


2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)

5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)

1 - 14 and under group (1)

1 - 65+ group (1)

1 - 70+ group (1)

2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none; (1) first only; (2)top 3 or better

0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes

0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes

0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes


5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent

2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent

0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)

5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals


4 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)

0 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes

2 - Finisher times posted after race [ONLINE]:  (0)no  (2)yes


2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful


2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes

5 - Design: (1-5)

3 - Material Quality: (1-3)

0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes


5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes

1 - Prices: (1)expensive  (3)reasonable  (5)cheap

0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (1-10)yes 


2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no

2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no

2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no

2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no


0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes

2 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent

0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

0 - Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes

x - Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  90


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