lone ranger

lone ranger

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wilmington Half Marathon

Sometime in Decemeber, shortly after Ironman Cozumel, I received a calendar invitation from Ashley that said "Wilmington Marathon".  His favorite thing to do after an Ironman is to sign up for a race, think back to Frosty 50k post Ironman Wisconsin.  (A week before the 50k he switched to the 25k.)  Soon after a handful of friends also decided to race in Wilmington and we decided to make a long beach weekend out of the race. Since I was going to be there anyway, I decided I'd sign up for the Half Marathon.  Fast forward to March and hamstring strains, flu-bugs, bike crashes/broken bones and other illnesses prevented the entire crew from racing and I was suddenly the only one headed to Wilmington for this race that I hadn't even chosen. Ashley came down with the Flu the Wednesday before the race and was a trooper all weekend despite feeling horrible.  Luckily, there was a good DART crew also planning to race so I looked forward to seeing them on the course.

The week prior to the race the weather looked fantastic with mid 60's and sunshine Friday-Monday.  Then suddenly a few days prior the recent 3 day rain storm finally showed up on the weather forecast.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful Friday evening and Saturday at the beach and we washed away Sunday and Monday.

Friday Evening

In December I raced the hilly Huntersville Half marathon and was lucky enough to have a 5 minute PR with a relaxed effort.  My race plan was to stay with the 1:50 pace group as long as possible.  I had a great day and finished 30 seconds ahead of the 1:50 group.  I was now interested to see what I could do on a flat course.  I originally had some lofty goals, but wasn't able to aggressively train for the race.  I've been training a lot with my eye on the prize of #IMCHOO instead of half marathon PR's.  I asked James what he thought I could do and he said to attempt an 8:05 pace. I thought I'd be more comfortable starting with an 8:15 and hopefully speed up at the end.  During the race I could hear James saying "a flat half doesn't necessarily mean an easy half".  That was certainly a true statement!

Race morning we made the 40 mile drive from Ocean Isle Beach to Wrightsville Beach for the point to point start.  We parked across the bridge and would jog to the start line. Ashley said he'd take my gel, water bottle and ipod to the start. He said, "don't go left, go to the right, to the field".  That's exactly what I did.  Unfortunately, Ashley went to the left and I spent 30 minutes in panic mode looking for him before the start.  With 5 minutes before the gun would fire I decided to find my place several rows behind the 1:45 pace group.  Thank goodness I spotted Ashley within those 5 minutes and was able to grab my gel, drink some water and snag my trusty ipod.  I had a feeling this could be a lonely half, so the day before I spent hours uploading new music to my ipod.   I hadn't updated my music in a year and was really looking forward to jamming to my new tunes!

Race started at 6:45am just before Sunrise

The race started with a loop around Wrightsville Beach then headed over the bridge, down Military Cutoff and to a neighborhood for 5 or so miles before spitting us out back on Military Cutoff for the finish.  The miles clicked off easily and I made a point to slow in the beginning from what felt like an easy 8:00-8:05 to a more comfortable 8:10-8:15.  By my watch my miles were fairly consistent, my splits really only slowed by 10-15 seconds or so around the few water stops that I grabbed from.  I am terrible at drinking while running and actually accomplished this far better in this race than any prior races.  The entire race my watch showed 8:12 pace.  I was pleased and new this would have me finish around 1:47:30, a 2 minute PR.  Some mile splits occurred slightly ahead of the course and others were right on.  I had no reason to doubt my watch.

Heading out Military Cutoff Rd early in the race.

I enjoyed seeing Ashley just over the bridge in Wrightsville, again along Military Cuttoff, once back in the neighborhood and then again headed to the finish.  This is an extremely spectator friendly race.  The course was just as flat as expected.  I tried to keep my mile splits at 8:12 or better and decided I'd give it all I had for the last 5k.  I was surprised that by about 1/2 way I was growing tired of the flat terrain.  I was almost begging for an uphill so I could change up my stride and push the downhills.  No such luck.  I felt my hip flexors begin to fatigue and it required much more focus and effort to keep decent form.  As the final 5k approached I was eager to push the pace, but did not have much left in the tank.  

I was still showing an average of 8:12 pace on my watch and decided I would be more than happy with the 1:47:xx result.  Unfortunately, the finish line just couldn't come soon enough.  My watch registered the course at almost 13.3.  I maintained the 8:12 pace but had a finish time of 1:48:54.  Still a PR, but I couldn't help but feel some disappointment.  I made a conscious decision not to be disapointed for 3 reasons:

1.  I had a lot of fun! Goal #1 is always to have fun. If it's not fun, then what's the point?

2.  A PR is a PR!

3.  Progress! I'm in better shape than this time last year & I can't be disappointed with that.

Almost to the Finish.

After the race we jogged to the car where I did a quick change into warm clothes.  Conveniently Ashley was parked next to the Dunkin Donuts.  At one point during the race all I could think of was a warm cup of coffee.  Ashley was quick to inform me that I need to focus more when I'm racing rather than allow my mind to wander to things such as coffee.  Fortunately I did not also have a craving for a donut and passed it up pretty easily.  With my steaming hot latte in hand we crossed the street to spectate the marathon. We'd calculated that we were  at mile 17.5 and Johane and Joey should be cruising by in the next 15 minutes. They passed just when expected and looked happy and relaxed.  Shortly after Chas cruised by at mile 24.5.  He barely managed a smile and we knew he was focused on that finish line less than 2 miles away.

A huge shout out to the marathoners!  Johane Hirschfield had a fantastic day qualifying for Boston by over 6 minutes with a 3:48:49.  Joey Noto ran a perfectly paced first marathon, picking up the pace for the final 10k and finishing with a 3:44:51.  Chas Willimon came up slightly short of his goal, but ran an impressive 3:11:04, his 2nd fastest marathon time. (He proceeded to run Ellerbe Marathon just 6 days later and a sub 20 min 5k as a shake out run 7 days later. Ridiculous!!) Jennifer Senos who's been battling some injuries had a strong result with 3:48:03.  And finally Roberta Villneff raced the half at marathon pace as a Boston training run and impressively won her age group.  For a relatively small race, the finish line was a lot of fun.  The Finish Party was also quite impressive with a large heated tent, an assortment of good food and two beer tents.

Finished!
Luckily the heavy rain held off until we were already back in Ocean Isle.  It was a great weekend and a great race that I'd highly recommend.  I've already informed Ashley that I may have to return next year for a little revenge on that course.  He agreed since he was unable to race.

Next Up: Belews Olympic Triathlon in 3 weeks! Can't wait!


DART Crew!








1 comment:

  1. We are looking for people to Join the 15th Annual Team Spirit Long Beach 5k and 10K marathon and help put an end to breast and ovarian cancer today!. You can help distribute brochures and yard signs to local stores, offices, and restaurants! Are you a people person? We have many community events where Team Spirit needs a presence. Volunteer to work a table at one of these events to hand out brochures and spread information about Team Spirit, and recruit participants! Already attending the marathon? Then help volunteer the day of the event. We need groups to assist with set up, participant check-in, new registrations, and drive or co-pilot shuttle vans. We will also need people to man water stations, and course monitors to assure participants’ safety and morale.

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