I started out last year on the west, and now I am starting out east, as far east as I can go….on the beach of North Carolina. With 5 or so weeks to go until the Flying Pig Marathon, I needed a half marathon to gauge my fitness level. My local Fleet Feet was doing a training program for the half in Wrightsville, so I joined up. This spring I wanted to focus on getting faster, and was still un-sure about whether I would be doing a full. Who am I kidding right?
Anyways, Wrightsville is about a 3 hour drive from Winston-Salem and it’s a small beach town with lovely views and some pretty nice weather. However, this winter’s training has been quite the opposite. On our daily runs we usually have long sleeves, gloves, hats and other layers to keep us warm. Starting temperatures for Wrightsville were 55 degrees and humid, raising up to 65 at the end. QUITE a bit different and I think it was a bit of shock to my body going in. However, I tried to mentally prepare for it and drank plenty of water leading up the race.
Got up in the morning, ate some breakfast, hopped in the shower to wake up… It was 4:30am after all. Then headed out the door to drive to the mall as that’s where all the runners were being transported from. The bus to the start line was a very nice touch as that has been a lot of the problem in other races i’ve done. Getting there.
One of my nagging questions going in was if there was a checked bag option? No literature in the packet i picked up the previous day… So i assumed no.
Got to the start line and its still pitch black out at this point. Decide to go for a warm-up run as I have an hour to burn. Run about a mile down the course and turn back doing some interval work to test the legs. All systems are a go. Minus the slight pain from the right knee, I fell right on the center of it during training on a slick night.
The race itself underestimated how big it’s gotten. I was assigned to Corral 1, which was enforced by a rope with no one watching. So essentially EVERY person who thought they were fast lined up in Corral 1. Something to note if you ever do this race and don’t want to fight people at the start. Line up early.
Also the 70 porta potties they had… Not enough for the mass of humanity there. Not by far. I ended up running to a nearby secluded area a couple minutes before the start to take care of that.
Again got to the start line and pushed my way through the crowd as much as I could, I was lined up close to the 3:45s a lot slower than where I should be for a half marathon, but I really had no choice.
When the race started I felt like I was trapped between people, tripping over feet and looking for an escape route. None existed so I prodded along with the crowd until about .75 miles in when I looked at my watch and saw the pace. I realized I had lost a TON of time by doing this and decided to start weaving to try and get out of the mess of slower runners.
Mile 1: 7:43 – The slowest mile by far, for the reasons stated above.
Mile 2: 7:00 – Making up some time this mile, was trying to get into a comfortable rhythm, this is where I should try and be most of the race.
Mile 3: 7:06 – I remember thinking to myself, only 10 miles left. Ran into a air force guy around here and he was running for a similar time so we teamed up.
Mile 4: 7:12 – Looking back, I am not really sure what slowed me this mile, might have been a hill, but the course was relatively flat.
Mile 5: 7:03 – Picking up that pace again and feeling good. The best part about this race was that I was barely looking at my watch, I just was just cruising and working hard to run.
Mile 6 – 7:04- Nearing that halfway point, this is where I saw the 3:10 pacer jump into some bushes to relieve himself, shortly after I see him sprint by us to catch up to his group. Props for being able to do that in the middle of a marathon.
Mile 7 – 6:55 – The 3:10 pace group was close enough to catch so I worked a little harder this mile to catch them. Air force guy was still right with me.
Mile 8 – 7:07- Caught the 3:10s and decided they were going at a reasonable pace, especially since I was a little tired. I needed the “group” to keep up with.
Mile 9 – 7:04 – Cruising right along, felt like a hard effort to maintain this pace though.
Mile 10 – 7:07- I remember thinking to myself, this is the pace I’d have to maintain to qualify for Boston, actually a little faster than this. Crazy.
Mile 11 – 7:07 – Consistency is the key. We start our turn back here and split off from the 3:10 pace group I wish them good luck. The 3:10 was also the fastest marathon pace group provided at the race, only a handful of people were staying with the pacer after I split off.
Mile 12- 7:07 – Finally catch up to Air Force guy, and say it was a battle to catch him. I said let’s do this.
Mile 13- 6:58 – Had to slow down and take in fluids at the water stop, It was too hot for my liking. Even though others didn’t seem to mind the 65 degree weather. It felt like a sauna, compared to what I have been running in the last few months. Air Force guy was waiting for me after the water station, and I told him, “You don’t have to wait for me, it’s okay you can!”. He explained he couldn’t leave me now, that I paced him the entire way and that we would finish together. I muttered thank you and grimaced as I was hurting a bit at this point, trying to stay cool.
As we turn the corner I see a familiar figure. A shirtless taller gentlemen. It’s Malcolm! One of the guys I run with during training is just ahead of me, visible by not passable since there was only about .3 miles left at this point. I realize he will probably beat me but I still try and fight for one last surge.
Last .22 – according to the watch – 6:23 – I put on the last surge, which didn’t feel strong at all. I thought the end of the race was around a corner, it ended up being around a corner and then another corner. Damn spectators lied to me!
Air Force guy and me finished together, like exactly together. I shook his hand and he did the “bro chest hug” thing and off he went. It was nice to be able to run with someone at the end and I needed the boost. I thanked him for it.
Final time: 1:33:59 — Avg pace 7:06 – New PR by a little over a minute.
I met up with Malcolm who PRed! And told him, I almost caught him. He ended up beating me by 3 seconds! And Kelly who also ran a great race, gradually so some of the people in our training group come in, grabbed some pizza and waited for the first marathon finisher to come in. I cheered as loud as I could for him as he came through the announcer didn’t even announce his name… lol Or acknowledge that he won the marathon. Note to self, NEVER do the full marathon here, this is more of a half marathon event, as the full literally loops the course twice.
All in all, a tough race. After doing Chicago and then this I think I can confirm I don’t do well on flat courses. I need the varied terrain to keep my mind engaged and my body using different muscle groups. That I LOVE going downhill. lol
But overall, this race was done well. The water stations were stocked and supported, the spectators were sparse but cheered as we went by. The logistics of the start line were messy but the finish line after party was good. I did like how I was able to print my name on the Bib at no extra charge. A nice touch to a smaller marathon.
I made sure to take some pictures of the beach for my Dad, when I was showered and ready to head back home. It sure was beautiful!
The flying pig marathon is in 5 weeks, it’s got a rolling course so hopefully i’ll do well. I have an A goal of 3:15 for it, nothing crazy, but very doable. I’ll have to monitor the knee and also my left hamstring, which became super tight after I got home. Probably too much sitting in the car. =/