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