Tuesday, November 13, 2012

OBX Half Marathon Race Recap

I had been looking forward to this past weekend for a long time. It was a weekend away from responsibilities. A weekend with my best friend. A weekend making new friends. Sun. Beach. Running.

Exactly what I needed.

I entered this weekend really nervous about the race. I really wanted to run my best race, but I kept thinking in my head "you get out what you put in". My life has not been exactly calm in the past three weeks since my last half marathon. Work has been unusually busy. My husband has been working practically non-stop on a project. My daughter has been recovering from an injury. She hurt her tongue and until recently it has not been healing properly which has made each meal time a particular struggle. We were meeting with ENT doctors and plastic surgeons. Needless to say, there has been a lot on my plate and my training suffered. I didn't put into my training exactly what I wanted to get out of it, a fact of which I was most keenly aware.

So I was nervous. However, right before I left for the weekend I read a fantastic blog post by Beth over at Shut Up and Run about how not every race needs to be a PR. Honestly, it was exactly what I needed to read going into this weekend.  I was about to leave for a much needed weekend off of basically every responsibility I have. I could not let the nagging doubt of PRing ruin the entire weekend for me.  Once I let that sink in, I was much more relaxed about everything.

Every year since I moved from Boston, my best friend's husband sends the two of us away for a weekend near her birthday. I, for one, love this tradition!  This year, I somehow finagled Kari to come down to NC and drive with me to the Outer Banks so I could drag her to one of my races. She's such a good sport. She said as long as I didn't make her get up early with me then she'd be happy to tag along. Now that's friendship right there, people.

Best friend, beach and good old Pennsylvania beer.
What more could I want?

We drove east to the Outer Banks on Saturday morning. After making a stop at the expo to pick up my packet we found the first bar so I could properly begin my carbo loading. We checked in at the hotel then met up with Jenni and some of her running friends for a proper carb-fest.

When I woke up bright and early I had no idea what to expect from my legs. I was hopeful because the course was mostly straight and very flat. I was optimistic, but told myself to just have fun and to enjoy the experience.

It was pretty cold at the start and I tried as much as I could to loosen up while I was waiting in my corral for the race to begin. The first 3 miles were pretty good. We started on a highway and made the first of several turns into some neighborhoods right on the water. The majority of the race was run in the right-most lane of a 4 lane road, so it was nice to actually move away from that and venture into the residential areas.

At mile 4.5(ish) we again turned off of the highway and entered another neighborhood and golf course. It was much more scenic and interesting than the highway. These were definitely my favorite miles of the race.

Around mile 6 my right quad started hurting in a way I have not experienced before - just really cramping up. I tried my best to run through it, but had to walk several times to calm it down. I really just wanted to be done at this point.

At mile 7 we got back on the highway and I knew we had several straight miles on this road. In some ways it was good because I could just zone out and go. At other times it was pretty boring. I tried to run strong between miles 7-9 because I knew the bridge into the town of Manteo was coming.

The Washington Baum bridge was our only point of elevation for the race. Located between miles 9.5-10.5, the race website warned us about it: "The bridge is tall (stats: 1.05mi long, 82' high, with a 650' climb to the top at 4% grade)." I tried not to, but eventually I started to walk up the hill. I walked a bit, ran a bit and finally walked the rest of the way to the top. After we crested it I cruised to the bottom knowing that it was only a little ways further to the turn into Manteo.

But mile 10 was my breaking point. I did the math over and over in my head. I knew 2:30 was gone, but if I ran 12 minute miles I could make it maybe a little faster than the Ramblin Rose. But I just couldn't. Physically and mentally I was just done. The last 3 miles were a struggle for every step. I was tired. There was a pretty painful blister on one of my toes. And I was wallowing in disappointment for watching my A and B goals slip away. I ran/walked the rest of the way in.

I was so happy to make the final turn and finally see the finish line.

Done and done!

I finished in 2:37:??. I have to say that I was disappointed for like a minute. Very soon after finishing I remembered Beth's post and my struggles these past few weeks. I decided to just let myself enjoy what I just accomplished. It was not my best race. But it wasn't my worst either. The weather was spot-on perfect. I pulled up my big girls pants and got happy real quick.

That's the spirit!

Kari was waiting for me right at the finish line. I stopped at the med tent for some band-aids for my poor little toe and went to meet Jenni to watch her friends come it. Eventually Kari and I took off in search for a well deserved burger and hot shower.

Since we weren't leaving until the next day, we had the whole rest of Sunday afternoon to relax. The weather was gorgeous so we spent an hour or two down on the beach reading and napping before meeting up with everyone for dinner and drinks.

In the end, this weekend was exactly what I needed in the wake of some of the most demanding weeks of my life. It was the perfect mixture of running, relaxing and having fun.

A photo essay of my weekend. In related news,
I love my new photo collage app. Also, why
do I take pictures of my feet?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Weekend of Running

Work has been crazy for both me and Brent lately so I was really looking forward to this weekend because there was a lot of run stuff happening.

On a whim, I emailed the volunteer coordinator of the City of Oaks Marathon to see if there was any need for an additional course monitor for the race. I wasn't sure what he would say since this position usually fills up fast (thanks in part to an awesome hoodie that the course monitors receive!). Much to my surprise he wrote back and said he had 1 last spot. I was pretty excited about it. I am running the Outer Banks Half next week, so actually running this race was out of the question for me. I figured why not volunteer and watch the race as well.

So on Saturday I headed out to the expo to pick up my race crew shirt, my sexy reflective vest and flag, and of course the hoodie. (Note: I see now why everyone want to be a course monitor now. This hoodie is fleecy goodness that I have not taken off since yesterday.)

Since I was already in Raleigh I decided to take this opportunity to run somewhere new. I had 10 miles planned as my last long run before next week's race. Raleigh has a pretty decent greenway system so I headed a couple of blocks away from the expo to the House Creek trail.

It was nice to go somewhere new. The trails were very clearly marked so it was easy to navigate. Some nice scenery and perfect Fall weather made this a great run.

At least for the first 5 miles. But on my way back my legs did not want to move and I just wanted to be done. As nice at the first 5 miles was, the last 5 were equal parts crap. I hate how running can be like that sometimes.

Another issue about this run: My new running skirt. I just bought the Skirt Sports Lotta Breeze Capris this week. I wanted something a little special for my race next week. Luckily they arrived in time for me to test them out on a long run before I wore them in the actual race.

The Verdict: Es no bueno.

In the first half mile of my run I had to stop three times to hike the skirt up. There is no adjustable waistband to make the skirt any tighter so they just kept falling down. I mean, I had some serious plumber crack at one point. While I think a smaller size might be too small in the capri area, this skirt just would not stay put around my waist. It was super disappointing because I spent a lot of time looking at skirts with capris, and I just don't have the running budget for another brand. I was thinking of using my crafty sewing skills to put in my own waistband that I can tie, but we'll see. After a while though everything started staying where it was supposed to. I will give them another try this week because I want so much to like them.


This morning I woke up super early to go back out to Raleigh to volunteer at the marathon. I was stationed at mile 6, which meant that I got to see all of the racers since there was also a 10k and a 13.1 happening as well.

It was COLD and my vest was SEXY
It was a really good time and I had fun cheering on the runners (especially Bang, who was rocking the purple!). I was hoping to be able to finish up at my post then run a bit of the course with Melanie, but Brent called just as I was finishing to tell me he was called into work, so I had to go home earlier  than I had planned. It was still a great morning to watch a race.