Hello and welcome to a race recap that is in know way related to runDisney. I know, I’m surprised too.
The last couple years, I’ve done the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach Marathon as part of a week visiting my parents in North Carolina. This year, though, that race is the same weekend as the Princess Half. But when I saw the Run Oak Island Half, a mere half hour away, was the weekend before Princess, I decided to loop the whole thing into my trip to Orlando.
Q. Do I time my visits to my parents around area races?
Anyway, Run Oak Island is an interesting race weekend in that it has a full, a 5K, a 1 miler, and TWO separate half marathon courses. Marathoners obviously run the full course, but half marathoners have their pick: the east half of the full course or the west half of the full course. I went with east because the course description included a vital descriptor word: “flat.”
There was no expo for this race, but we did have a packet pickup at a nearby Moose Lodge where Fleet Feet had also set up an outpost in case you needed anything last minute.
Race morning dawned pretty chilly, but not even as bad as I feared – around 40 degrees, but, and this is clutch, not windy. I dressed in layers plus a throwaway, plus all-important gloves.
This isn’t a huge race, so we didn’t have any corrals or anything; we were simply instructed to line up near a pacer that seemed about right. A few minutes before race start I plopped myself down directly behind the 2 hour pacer with the hope he would never leave my sights. (No spoilers!)
We were treated to a quick recorded rendition of the national anthem and then, at 6:45am on the dot, we were off! Initially I was bummed to discover that my Shokz were somehow out of juice? But I tried to turn them on again about a quarter mile in and it worked. I think I just had trouble dialing into the right pressure with gloves on. At any rate, it was the first time I listened to music practically through the whole race and it was nice. Imma keep doing it! 😂
The course started on neighborhood streets and… well, mostly stayed on neighborhood streets for pretty much the entire thing. Sure, there was some variety, but I don’t remember at any point being like ooh, scenic! The weird thing is, though, the course description definitely touts a lighthouse and beachfront roads and stuff. And I betcha it was all there; I was just concentrating SO HARD on my A goal I never noticed.
What was my A goal, you ask? Well, as alluded to above, my hope was to follow the 2 hour pace group until mile 12 or so, then gun it and finally get that sub-2 hour half I know has got to be in me.
It started out great, too! It was a good morning. Well, cold, but good. I felt strong, and while I could tell as soon as we started we were keeping a good clip, I kept up with zero problems for miles. I didn’t even start to feel kinda tired until I don’t know, mile 7 or so? But even then I was right there in the mix.
Unfortunately, around mile 11, the bottom just dropped out from under me. I lost it. All the speed left me, and the 2 hour pace group got away. 🙁
That’s the bad news. The good news is, I think I know what happened, which means I think I know how to fix it.
See, historically I walk the water stops at races. But a lot of pace groups do not. This pace group didn’t. And I decided, well, when in Rome, so while I did sometimes grab some water, I never took a proper walk break. I never got around to taking my Clif Shot fuel either.
By the time I reached the last water stop, my pace group was gone, so I stopped and walked for just a minute. When I started running again, I felt way better! I wasn’t completely 100% restored to full energy, but I had enough to push myself once more.
So I think I’m just not quite machine-like enough just yet to power all the way through with no walk breaks. I need just a little pause to recharge. For my next race, my plan is to sprint a bit ahead of the pace group at every water station, walk while I drink, and then if needed, sprint again to catch back up.
Right, so after that last walk break, I was back in the groove! There was less than a mile to go, and at this point I do vaguely remember some pleasant ocean views. Although my sub-2 goal was sadly out of my reach, I knew that I was still on course to kill a new PR. I started scrolling through my phone for a suitable PR jam, and almost ran onto the marathon course! Luckily I noticed in time and made the turn toward the half marathon finish. Way to go, me. 😅
Spectator levels were by no means runDisney density, but there was good support throughout, and tons of people cheering at the finish. I lengthened my stride and was rewarded as I passed under the finish arch with a roaring crowd and the announcers calling my name.
I picked up my medal, a little disappointed with myself, but also really pleased. I shave 1:59 off my half marathon time, and who can be mad about that? 2:01 is so close; I could’ve done it. I should’ve dug in at the end more. But I have a plan for next time. I’m gonna get there!
There wasn’t a ton in the way of general snacks – just bananas and water – but finishers had bib tabs for free food and a free beer from a local barbecue place. I just can’t get excited about barbecue before 9am, but I definitely cashed in my beer tab for a Landshark Lager. It was still pretty cold outside now that I wasn’t moving, so I knocked back most of it at speed before hiding inside a nearby Publix until my dad came and picked me up.
As I insinuated above, I am equal parts pleased and disappointed with my performance with this race. So close and yet so far, you know? But I am so close. I’ll get it next time. And it was a good race overall.
Next up? Um, just a little race called the Princess Half Marathon! See ya there. 😜
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