Running in a competitive race takes sacrifice - of time, energy and body.
"When I'm done, I have blisters you can't even imagine. Toe nails come off," said Ken John of Colorado. Saturday's Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon will be the 39th marathon he's completed. "Right now, my calf already hurts, and I know I'm going to finish the race but it's just how much pain I'll have to endure to finish it."
The stories of aches and pains filled the marathon expo Friday afternoon. Thousands are expected to participate in the various races this weekend and endure the trials of being a runner.
"I use body glide to put over my nipples to prevent chaffing. The last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive running shirt with blood," said half-marathon participate Peter Asciuatto.
The competitors who finish the race leave with not only a medal to mark their achievement but also a souvenir of soreness. Just because the race is over doesn't mean the pain goes away.
"It's difficult when I'm running," said Meredith Allen. "But it's really worse afterward when I stop, and it's kind of a stinging pinching pain on my knee."
"It's your leg. It's your feet. It's your toes. It's everywhere," said Matt Mcdevitte of Louisville, KY. "It usually gets worse the next day and the day after."
Mcdevitte said he's brought four pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes and eight shirts for his first marathon. He plans to have his girlfriend meet him along the route with spare clothes as needed. He's running to scratch it off his bucket list, he said.
These runners say the high and the personal achievement keep them coming back, even though they know what's in store.
When they can't run the marathon anymore, that doesn't stop them.
"I had to give up running," said Nancy Johns. She's walking the half-marathon this year because her knees hurt too much. "I'll recover with Ibprofen and maybe a hot bath."
And inch by inch, step by step, ache by ache, they'll push forward through almost anything. Each seeing what level of pain they can get past.
"I think everyone has to find that level of pain of course. That is the nature of running marathons, there is going to be that pain, it's just a question of how much pain it's going to be that one particular."