Having run this exact race last year I was debating for a while on whether I would even sign up for it or not. After talking with Anushree, she really wanted to go to the beach and she had the weekend available. So it was sort of a no brainer for me to sign up at that point. The race itself takes place near Wrightsville in the surrounding suburbs. I always found it funny they have a beach in their name, yet you never see it or the ocean during the entire race. But, because it is “near” the beach the course is super flat. Only a few little hills when you go up and down some bridges, but nothing to worry about.
The biggest concern I had going into the race was the weather. Last year the temps were in the low 50s at the start and upper 60s at the end. I tend to run far better in cooler weather so I was not looking forward to a possibly hot race day.
Training for this race was pretty solid, I decided to not run a full marathon this spring, but instead focus on speed, cross training, and weight training. I was pretty dedicated to my schedule doing yoga every Sunday, with weight lifting on Sunday and Tuesday morning. I even made it a point to go to a spin class on Tuesday mornings essentially making the day a double as we did group speed work at night. An addition I peaked in the upper 40s for miles for week, making sure to run as much as I could but not over do it.
Leading up the race Winston received a heat wave and it close to 80 degrees at one point. I sure to run in the dead of the heat during this period, to really push myself to acclimate to the heat. I hit my times, but felt like crap afterwards and during. Luckily the weather shifted and things started to cool down the morning of the race. Temps in the low 40s with a steady wind. I was stoked.
Drove east Saturday morning and got to walk along the beach that afternoon and had a fantastic Italian dinner with a thin crust pizza and a glass of wine. A perfect amount, and a great restaurant. Hit the sack around 10pm and tossed and turned most of the night, not getting much sleep.
Woke up at 3:45 in the morning to get ready for the race, since it started at 640 am and buses started departing at 5. Decided to walk around a bit and went to the gym in the hotel and ran a quarter mile on the treadmill to loosen up a bit. Ate a banana nut muffin, took a quick shower to wake up and headed off to the mall. Jumped on the bus and met up with some Brian, Kelly, and Buddy. Three of my training partners who have trained with me throughout the year. Buddy was goin for a 1:25, Kelly a 1:31 and Brian was playing it by ear. I had a goal of 1:30, a sub 1:30 would be nice, but I knew things would have to be perfect for that to happen.
We all huddled in a corner of a building trying to stay warm for about 40 minutes or so and then I did my 10 minute warm-up. Easing my way into race pace and ending back at the start line a couple minutes before the gun went off. Dropped my bag off with the Fleet Feet truck and lined up close to the start with Buddy, Kelly and Brian. I warned them the start was a cluster last year, and recommended they line up near the front unless they want to weave a lot. Gave them a few high fives… and off we went!
Mile 1: 6:58- It was all about easing into things this mile. Buddy took off fast and jumped ahead of the group. Kelly was passing me off and on And Brian was close to us. I wanted to try and conserve my energy, but also keep that 1:30 pace group in sight.
Mile 2: 6:46- I decided to wear my Kinavaras for this race. Which was sort of a shocker to most people as I almost exclusively run in Hokas, occasionally wearing the Ks for speed work. I felt light and fast in these shoes and could see Buddy right behind the 1:30 group.
Mile 3: 6:50- Gaining on Buddy, cruising right along, pass by a bridge and some beach houses. Everything feels okay. I decide to take my first blok here though as I was pushing the pace this race.. and figured it wouldn’t hurt having some nutrition sooner than later.
Mile 4: 6:48- Every water station, I took water, and made no exception this mile. I found a nice group to run with, 2 girls and a guy who both were pushing the pace, but also maintaining a constant 6:50ish per mile.
Mile 5: 6:48- Gaining on buddy with the group, we catch him this mile and I ask him how he is doing. He says he is feeling good and I encourage him to stay with this group as they are running a solid pace.
Mile 6: 6:52- Buddy trails off a bit here, but he is still close to us. Every water station the girls jump ahead of me and the other guy. and Every time they do this, we have to close the gap with a surge.
Mile 7: 6:52- It is getting a little harder to hold onto the girls and the last water stop took me close to a mile to catch them again. Take another blok here. No salt tabs this race.
Mile 8: 6:58 Around here is where I had to make the important decision. We were close to the 1:30 group still, but they were picking up the speed a bit. The girls decided to make a break for it and surged for the group. The other guy stayed a bit, and then decided he would try and catch them. Now it was my turn, do I surge and close the gap or stay behind and run my own race. I evaluated how I was feeling, tired, a little hot, and I knew we had a good amount of running left. I decided to let them go and hold onto my current pace.
Mile 9: 6:53- I run by a familiar runner here. Hernon, the runner who I paced last year’s Mistletoe with was running the full marathon and I briefly chat with him wishing him good luck. He says, I have to speed up a bit to catch that 1:30 group and I agree. I try and pick up the pace.
Mile 10: 6:44- And I did. picked up the pace for a mini surge. I can still see the 1:30 group and I closed the gap just a bit this mile.
Mile 11: 6:51- Hurting, but still running hard. I am surprised when I see my split time is still under a 7 min mile. A girl passes me and I encourage her and tell her good work. I tell her to get that 1:30 and she explains she is trying. We feed off each other and work together for a bit.
Mile 12: 6:55- As soon as I round the corner and see the straightaway the wind hits me hard, the girl got ahead so I was running solo at this point. No one to work with a no one to block the wind, i just put my head down and grinded. I could still see the 1:30 group and I knew It would be near impossible to catch them at this point, but I might still get my 1:30 if i work for it.
Mile 13: 7:05- The mile that never ends, just before the turn I make out the guy who was running with me earlier in the race. The one who followed the 2 girls to the 1:30 group. I know I can pass him and he is slowing down, so as I do I encourage him to stick with me and push out this last mile. We both pick it up and I start lifting my legs harder and faster. He asks if we will get it, and I say it will be close… Let’s go! A short while later he says, we can’t get it and slows down. I keep pushing as I want that 1:30 and change. I remember thinking to myself… man I feel like I am running hard with great form right now. But when I looked at my watch I still saw 6:50!
Last bit: Some more turns and then finally the last one, I go into a sprint looking at the race clock, it reads 1:30:50 something, I want in before it gets 1:31 and I barely make it.
Watch time 1:30:49 which i think is more accurate then the official time of 1:30:52 but whatever. =) — 76th overall with an average pace of 6:52
I was super happy with my time, yes it wasn’t my A goal of under 1:30 but I still achieved a 1:30 and change time which is pretty darn close. Looking back I realized I had one decided factor in the race… when the 2 girls surged ahead to catch the 1:30 group… I could of gone with them. Instead I evaluated where I was and how I felt. What would of happened if I went with them? You might of been reading a death march, maybe.Who knows…
Either way, a 3 minute PR from last year and closer and closer to my primary goal. If I want to qualify for Boston I would need to run this exact pace, for 26.2 miles…not just 13.1…. Is it doable? Perhaps, but the fact I was able to do it today was a huge confidence boost.
Of course, I couldn’t have done it with all the support I have in my coaches, runner partners, family and friends. Thank you to Stacie (her blog) from Fleet Feet for prepping us every week in our group runs and always pushing us with MORE HILLS! Thank you to Lauren from EFAST for writing a great 2 week taper and race prep. Thanks to Kelly, Buddy, and Brian for all running the race and training with me every week, it felt like another group run! Thanks to everyone else in the run group… Jake, Brandon, Jeremiah, Johnny to name just a few. And of course thank you to my lovely fiance for supporting me training and even coming down to the beach with me this time. And thanks to my parents and friends for all their good lucks and support along the way.
A few personal notes for my next races…
-I wore the Kinvara’s over the hokas for this one, they held up fine.
-No compression though it would have been better if I did wear it as my shins killed me!
-2 day taper with Thursday only being a 1.5 mile run. (Friday, Sat were off)
-Strict diet a month out from race — no beer, no deserts, cut back snacks and ate healthy (chicken and rice)
-Light meal the night before, not over doing it. But eating until full. Subway Sandwich for lunch.
-10 minute warm-up going into race pace for the last .4 miles pre-race.