Run Oak Island Half Marathon Race Recap!

Oak Island medal and running shoes

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?

A. Yes.

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.

Run Oak Island race recap

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.

Run Oak Island race recap

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!)

Run Oak Island race recap

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.

Run Oak Island race recap

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!

Run Oak Island race recap

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. 😜

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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