Two weeks ago I posed a question: does my racing reach exceed my running grasp? So far, the answer is yes. 😅 … Oh, there I go again, all doom ‘n gloom. The Run Oak Island Half Marathon went perfectly fine. Here, I’ll prove it: read this race recap!
Race morning dawned chilly, with a temperature in the mid-30s. We were promised sun but not, of course, until later in the morning. After some waffling, I ultimately donned some of the warmer running clothes in my arsenal, slapped together my supplies, and hopped in the car.
My dad dropped me off near the start line, and I made the short trek to the little park that hosted the staging area/finish. I actually wasn’t in too bad a shape despite the cold, and was able to use the porta potties and walk a few laps around the grass without experiencing extreme weather-induced misery… YET. (Oh, just wait.)
The start chute was pretty bare-bones, without even a banner over the timing pads, and while there were no corrals we were encouraged to line up according to our expected speeds. I found the 2-hour pacer and planted myself directly behind them. (I was running the east course, which starts with the marathoners; there’s also a west course that starts fifteen minutes later.)
The WORLD’S SLOWEST recorded rendition of the national anthem played, and as 6:45am dropped we were off!
THE RACE RECAP GETS OFF TO A ROUGH START
If you’re reading this you probably also read my post about hoping to PR in this race. I don’t know, I could be talking out of my hindsight, but I feel like I new almost immediately that it wasn’t gonna work out. Last year, when I almost broke the two hour mark, the times set by the pacer felt readily sustainable for a good ten miles or so. This year, it’s not that I couldn’t keep up at first, it just… I don’t know, it felt like I could feel my muscles working at it immediately.
There’s a certain amount of luck, I think, that goes with making a PR. Sure, the lion’s share of it is up to you – the training, the hydration, the nutrition, the grit. But it’s that last little bit, the luck, that pushes you over the line, and I didn’t have the luck. Run with me.
The course started by cutting across the island through neighborhoods before turning at the opposite coast. I started slowly popping Honey Stinger chews in my mouth, one or two each time, which you’re supposed to take with water. I knew going in my pace group wouldn’t walking the water stops, so I brought my own water bottle.
Unfortunately, this water bottle, this same water bottle I had been using for months, chose THIS DAY, THIS PR-ATTEMPT DAY, to spring a leak. All I got when I squeezed was water all over my hands. In a fit of irritation, I chucked it at the next water stop trash can; I certainly wasn’t going to haul a useless piece of equipment around for another ten miles.
That of course meant I would have to rely on the water stops, which would mean trying to drink out of the cups while running, which meant I got Gatorade up my nose, which is not as helpful as you might think. Strike one.
We snaked along some highways and through neighborhoods, then hit upon a long out and back to and from the lighthouse. There was a minor incline here for the out, but that was okay because the back would be a decline. What was NOT okay was the wind.
NOT A COLD WEATHER GAL
It was here, around the halfway point, that I started noticing the wind gusts. They kicked up with some regularity, and it was NOT what I wanted. My gloves had gotten all wet from my leaky water bottle, and my fingers stiffened and swelled up from the cold. (Indeed, by the last mile or so I was instinctively shaking out my arms to increase blood flow.) Strike two.
With the out and back portion mercifully behind us, we ran near the water for a bit before hanging a right and turning back inland toward neighborhoods. It was here, roundabouts mile 8.5 I think, that my energy flagged and I knew it wasn’t gonna happen. Strike three and I was out. Ah, tragedy!
Okay, so, my PR attempt was over, but I wasn’t completely licked. I was still going to do my best, however that worked out! The good news was that I could now walk the water stops, which enabled me to actually drink properly from the cups instead of just sorta throwing the liquid at my face and hoping it hit the right holes. Bad news for fast times, good news for proper hydration. (Damn you, water bottle!!!)
I soon found myself exiting neighborhoods proper and stomping along the sidewalks, past shops and restaurants, the occasionally encouraging honk coming from a passing car. And then, gloriously, the course turned back toward the water and we were off toward the finish line! One sharp turn and there it was. I didn’t really have the heart for a true sprint for the end, but I like to think my final stomp to the finish was solid.
Ultimately I found myself bringing it in just under 2:06, which is perfectly acceptable, just NOT WHAT I WAS TRYING TO DO. Between the cold and wind gusts and water bottle issues and I guess the fact that it simply wasn’t my day, my best laid plans went awry. Dash it all, Tibbs.
Still, I did finish! And I didn’t exacerbate any injuries or collect any exciting new ones. Besides, I remember distinctly a time when 2:10 was a PR and I was frickin’ ecstatic about it. I like to believe I’ll finally get that sub-two one day. It just wasn’t that day. Nevertheless she persisted or whatever.
The post race area featured the usual free food and beer for runners. I considered stopping in for my free beer, but I was seriously SO COLD it didn’t feel worth it. I genuinely couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers, and that is not hyperbole.
Meanwhile, there were people around me in tank tops and shorts, and even one guy who’d taken his shirt off. I can’t tell – is there something wrong with me or them? Because that is INSANE to me. Am I just a lizard person and no one told me?
Anyway, just like last year, I hied myself over to the nearby Publix and hid inside until my dad came to pick me up. So I guess this race medal goes out to Publix for keeping me out of the elements in my time of need.
RACE RECAP BONUS FEATURE: PRE-RACE PREP VIDEO
I did my first Instagram live stream the night before the race – just a little GRWM-type thing with some pre-race chatter. I’ve embedded it below if you’d like some insight into what’s going on in my tiny little mind. I’m thinking I’ll do another one before the Wilmington Marathon this Friday, so if you happen to be browsing Insta in the 5 o’clock hour, look for that. See ya then!
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 email@example.com. See ya real soon!