In Which Jenn Recaps The Battleship Half Marathon

Battleship Half Marathon start

Okay, so the Battleship Half Marathon may not have been a triumph, but it turned out fine.

The race was a bit unusual in that in order to accommodate COVID precautions, the start would be staggered across several hours. My wave time was 8:30am, so I didn’t even have to wake up until like 6:30am (which if you’re into runDisney is like one in the afternoon, seriously). My dad drove me over to the race start, and as we crossed the bridge to downtown Wilmington I saw the marathoners who had started at 6:30am already out on the course. 

I was worried about getting to the race on time – what if it turns out important roads are blocked? What if I can’t find the start area? What if I can’t find the porta potties? – but of course since I had budgeted the time everything went smoothly, and I arrived about an hour before my call time. We were on strict orders not to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance for our individual wave, so I busied myself taking a few laps around the neighborhood. 

At 8:15am it was my turn to file into the start area, where I found Becky from Disney In Your Day, so that was nice – it was good to have company for a couple minutes. We were given a few last minute instructions and warnings (the boardwalk could be slippery; don’t take off your mask until you reach the trash cans past the start line) and we were off!

Battleship Half start corral

I took off at a pretty speedy clip as, per my pre-race post, I harbored unrealistic but not entirely unattainable hopes for my first sub-two hour marathon. The first few miles, along the edge of the water, were reasonably flat and any predicted boardwalk slipperiness proved no problem – so far, so good.

We turned off the boardwalk area and crossed a bridge, which had a bit of an incline but not too terrible. From there we ran around the namesake Battleship North Carolina’s memorial boardwalk, which goes all the way around the ship – I was very pleased with this, as I had fully expected to run up to it in the parking lot and then immediately turn around, but nope! We got a full 360 degree view. The ship was in drydock, too, so I saw rather more of it than I ever had before.

Following that we had to suffer through a bit of an out-and-back, but not too long of one, and at least it was flat from what I can remember. Then it was back out onto the road and over what would prove to be my nemesis: the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Boy howdy, was that bridge steep. I kept telling myself I could run the whole bridge, a la the Severn River Bridge when I ran the ZOOMA Half, but no – this one was much longer and much worse. And, to add insult to injury, my dad pointed out on the drive back that we had to run up the side with the steeper incline; the downhill portion wasn’t as steep. I demand a reversed course!

After escaping the bridge, the course turned back to downtown Wilmington and its brick walkways. And then: power to the finish!

HA HA, JUST KIDDING. If you were doing the half marathon, it was time to do the whole thing all over again!

Yes, the half marathon course was a double loop, which meant it was time to pull a Bill Murray and repeat everything I just outlined: the Riverwalk boardwalk, the battleship, and – gulp – the stupid Cape Fear bridge.

Oh, and I hadn’t mentioned the weather yet, had I? It had been sunny and steadily climbing toward 80 degrees all morning. I went into it all cocky, thinking: I live in Puerto Rico! This shouldn’t be a problem! What an idiot. It was still hot, and it was still affecting my performance. I also feel like we could’ve stood to have more water stops, but I totally understand why that wasn’t possible given the desire to keep volunteers from congregating as much as possible.

All of which is to say that when I hit the halfway mark and checked my GPS watch, I knew I was already just shy of my A goal even if I kept my pace steady. Given the heat and the stupid bridge, I knew coming in under two hours was out of my reach. Drat.

But it was okay. While it would’ve been nice to hit my goal, all I ever really wanted was a decent proof of time for my runDisney corral placements. I resolved to Do My Best on round two, and while I don’t know if my best is right, I certainly didn’t give up, either. I just wish I’d decided to bring my headphones – I was worried about missing directions, but ultimately I don’t think it mattered and I could’ve used some music.

Wait, what I said a few sentences back was a lie. I did give up on the second round of the Cape Fear bridge, but only a little. I definitely ran some sections, but I also walked some too. And once I got to the top I made myself run again. I just didn’t want to risk burning myself out completely, you know?

At least I didn’t sign up for the marathon; I can’t imagine doing the bridge four times. 😱

By the time I ran back into downtown Wilmington again, I was approaching toast. A random spectator – some of ’em got in somehow – called to me, “Looking good! Nice steady pace!” which just goes to show that it’s impossible to know what a runner’s actually going through at any given moment. 😆 Honestly, I probably could’ve stood to push myself a little harder over that last mile or two, but what can ya do. I crossed the finish line with a decent time and with the vast majority of my reserves exhausted, so at least I can say I put some effort in.

Battleship Half GPS time

Medals, new masks, and snacks were all bagged to minimize contact, so I grabbed one and plopped down on a nearby curb; I needed a quick break before I felt ready to get on the move again. Becky came up behind me shortly, and we commiserated over the dang bridge for a bit before she headed off to her hotel and I called my dad for a lift. Success!

So I didn’t make sub-two, or even get a new PR, but for a first race back in sub-optimal conditions I’d say it wasn’t so terrible. I got my decent PoT, and that’s what really mattered. Now here’s hoping Rivals happens – with runDisney magic and some accompanying negative splits, maybe my sub-two hour half lives there?

Thanks to the organizers of the Battleship Half for making this race happen with maximum safety and COVID precautions. I’m sure it took even more care and planning than usual, and without it I wouldn’t have my new and improved PoT, so I say again: thanks to those guys!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is Off To The Races

Battleship Half Video Screenshot

Sunday is race day!

Dang. Haven’t said that in awhile.

This race will mark a lot of firsts for me. It’ll be my first non-cancelled in-person race in a post-COVID world, for starters. It will also, believe it or not, be my first half marathon since 2018 – due to some life changes, I only ran two races last year, both of them marathons. And it’ll be the first time running the Battleship Half Marathon!

I am, as anyone who knows me might expect, equal parts anxious and excited – although I must admit, anxiety is pulling more weight than usual. 😅

I’m a little nervous about the COVID aspect, of course, but the race organizers are doing a great job communicating all the precautions we’ll be taking (I talked discussed this in more detail in an earlier post). They even made us a little video.

Side note: in the video they pulled out these authenticated American flags that had flown over the USS North Carolina, and I was thinking to myself, hmm, depending on how much they are, that might make a good Christmas present for my dad. Only to have them say they were only for the first place finishers of each race. So, I’m DEFINITELY not getting my hands on one. 🤣

I’m more nervous about what the COVID precautions will mean about race day logistics – getting to the race on time and in good shape is always the scariest part for me. And since you’re not allowed to show up to the course start any earlier than 15 minutes before your wave, my usual anxiety-calming technique of showing up crazy early won’t cut it! 

In the end, though, I’m gonna have to trust that’s gonna be okay – because I’m excited to RACE! I even have an ambitious A goal: a sub-two hour half. Now, I’m not pinning my hopes on that, for a wide variety of reasons, but I’ve had some pretty good training runs and depending on how the day and the course shake out, I think it’s within the realm of possibility. Beyond that, though, I really just want a decent time to submit for my Rival Run corral placement.

Okay, kids – I’ll see you on the other side of the weekend, hopefully with a triumphant story to tell!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Race Is On! (Mostly)

Hey! I actually get to run an in-person race!

Remember when I had the audacity to put together a race schedule for 2020? I was so young and full of hope. Which of course turned out to be stupid and everything is cancelled, including some of my early 2021 races. Boo.

Happily, there is one light on the near horizon – the Battleship Half Marathon in Wilmington is ON!

Well, mostly. I was originally signed up to do the 5K on Saturday and then half on Sunday, but the 5K has indeed been cancelled. It was apparently in conjunction with a veteran’s parade the same day which is no longer happening; my guess is they were sharing road permits. What can ya do. 

The amazing thing, though, is that anyone who signed up for the 5K has the option of upgrading to a Sunday event OR – get this – receiving a refund! And the people who were doing one of the 5K challenges gets a REFUND! I get a REFUND! I totally understand how some race organizations don’t have the resources for refunds but it’s so nice that they’re able to do that.

So now there’s a half marathon and a 10K on Sunday. Oh, and a marathon – they added a marathon, since they’re now doing a looping course. I was tempted to upgrade (they said it’s the only time they’re going to do it and you know how runners love that kind of thing), but I’m gonna stick with the half. Assuming the Rival Half happens (oh God please let it happen), I REALLY need a proof of time for corral placement.

That, and as one of the precautionary anti-COVID measures, there will be NO spectators allowed. A marathon with a quadruple loop course and no spectators? Pass. Additional precautions include required masks when near others and a graduated course start where only 45 participants are released per wave. And no after party, of course.

So yeah! The race is on! But you know what isn’t? My flights. A couple days before race confirmation Spirit emailed me to inform me my flights had been cancelled. Okay, fine. I went on their website to rebook… and they have NO flights at ALL until two weeks after I need to leave. Sweet. Now I’m paying twice as much to fly AA. Hooray!

But whatever. I’m running a race! A real race! LET’S GO FAST FAST ZOOM ZOOM RUNNING

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has A Rough Sketch Of A Race Schedule?

And now for a list of races that might get cancelled.

Kidding! Kidding. Hopefully they all happen. Certainly the virtual ones will.

I’ve never been a virtual race girl. Kudos if they’re your jam, but I find the medal without the full experience of a race attached to be underwhelming. Still, the world being but it is in the age of COVID-19, I’ve adjusted my outlook a little.

For starters, the Rock ‘n Roll Race Series has started a virtual race experience where everything is free! I mean, you can order medals to accompany your accomplishments if you like, but it’s not required. They have little challenges during the week and a different virtual race distances on the weekends. There’s a point system with prizes attached, but they aren’t very good; likewise, there are randomized prizes to be won when completing a challenge, but statistically the winner won’t be either of us. Still, it’s a fun little runner’s diversion – and did I mention it’s free?

In addition, my former hometown race the Parks Half Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. 🙁 The good news is they’re now offering a virtual version, so I can participate even from 1,000s of miles away – AND it’s only $25 WITH a premium! I don’t know what that premium is, exactly, but in the past they’ve handed out fleece hats, ballcaps, and ear warmers. If you’d like to try a virtual race that doesn’t just duke you your millionth cheap t-shirt, give this one a shot.

Now for some actual, geographically localized running, assuming we are so lucky. Since my March marathon in Wilmington, NC was cancelled and subsequently my trip to visit my parents, I’m taking a stab at an event there in November instead – the Showboat Challenge at the Battleship Half Marathon. I’ll be doing the half plus the 5K the day before. KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD that it can happen!

Let’s add some theoreticals:

I was strongly considering taking another stab at the Baltimore Marathon, which is October 17 this year. I’m sitting on it a bit before registering, though – in addition to the whole looming spectre of potential cancellation, we’d potentially be staying with someone who’s immunocompromised, so keeping a weather eye on the virus sitch is imperative.

There’s a Divas Half Marathon in San Juan on October 25. I’m not 100% on board with the whole “men as sex objects” angle, but I’d really like to run a local half so I might sign up anyway. Again, we’ll see if it looks like it’s happening, and how I’m feeling leading up to Battleship.

I also randomly stumbled upon a Santa Run 5K right by my apartment here in Puerto Rico last December – I had no idea it was happening and spent my 10 miler running past the course and sulking. Now that I’m in on the secret, I intend to sign up, assuming it happens again this year!

And that leads us into 2021, which I will of course begin with my beloved WDW Marathon. There’s a kink in my plan, though – because of the virus, bib numbers were reduced, and all the races sold out super quick… before my race buddy could get her bib! Luckily she got a bib through a charity, but yikes!

(Incidentally, this has me what the kids would call “shooketh” – I’ve never seen the marathon by itself sell out like this. My race buddy was only like 90 minutes behind. Hell, I didn’t sign up until October once! One time I waited until several hours after opening! What if I’d gotten cavalier and not registered during the AP window? Perish the thought!)

Obviously this is ALL pure speculation at this point, even for the races I’m legit signed up for. But ever the quixotic one, I hold out hope that we can start racing for real again by the end of the year. Clap if you believe in races!

Have you put together a race schedule for this year? Or to put it another way: are you also a quixotic one?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!