A Simple Running Log

November 10, 2015

Outer Banks Marathon (and 8K) recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:21 pm

The Outer Banks Marathon this weekend placed itself firmly near the top of the list of Marathons I Would Definitely Do Again. I didn’t quite hit my goal to go sub-4 (4:01!) but that didn’t take away from everything that was so great about this event. I can’t say enough about it, but I’ll try. Here goes.

Friday, we left Seaford just after noon. The drive wasn’t too bad, and we arrived at the expo at the Dare County Youth Center in Kill Devil Hills around 5:30 p.m. I picked up the bib I’d wear in both races, an event shirt for both races (long-sleeved cotton for the 8K, long-sleeved tech fabric for the marathon) and a swag bag, which included a pint glass. That’s the first time I’ve received a free pint glass. This race was already scoring points in my book.

We stayed at the John Yancey Oceanfront Inn, very close to both the expo and the 8K site the next morning. It wasn’t anything fancy, but they allowed dogs and it was, as the name suggests, right on the ocean, so Clark could go surfing.

Pepper settled right in for his first night in a hotel:

pepper on hotel bed

Since we had him with us, we couldn’t go out for dinner, so we got a Chicago-style deep dish pizza from Slice, a pizzeria my brother highly recommended. We added so many toppings the thing cost more than $40 haha. It was more than enough though — I could only eat one slice before I was full!

We went to bed pretty early Friday night, since I had the first leg of my challenge in the morning, the 8K. Pepper made it hard to sleep. He’s used to our nice quiet house. The sound of shutting hotel room doors and car doors kept setting him off, and once he got started, it was really hard to get him to shut up. I was worried someone was going to complain to the hotel management about the boofing, especially the extended session at 4 a.m., but we never heard anything.

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. Saturday. It was warm and humid out, in the low 70s. Much warmer than I’d expected it to be when I signed up for this race back in April! I put on shorts and a tank top and wasn’t even a little chilly when I stepped outside.

I had a very short drive to the race start/finish, on the track at First Flight High School, near the memorial where the Wright brothers conducted their historic flight. I had plenty of time to clear out my digestive system before the race started, which is always a big plus.

The 8K I run in Virginia Beach on Shamrock weekend is enormous, almost 10,000 runners strong. It’s not hard to take the race easy, as a pre-marathon shakeout, since there are so many people.

This 8K, on the other hand, had less than 400 runners! I found myself not too far from the front of the starting pack when we got the gun to take off.

I wanted to take it easy, but my legs wanted to GO after hardly running all week, and there weren’t all that many people in front of me. Slowing down would have meant getting passed! It was a struggle haha.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the race course — the website had provided no map or even a description — so I was surprised when, not long after the first mile marker, we ran onto a dirt path through the woods. I knew the marathon course included about three miles of dirt trail (which, it turned out, was the same trail we were now running) but I wasn’t expecting it in the 8K.

It was a little hilly and rocky, but beautiful. A little bit after my watch beeped the end of the second mile, I saw a course marshal on a bike coming at me, yelling “Stay to the left! Lead runner coming through!” with the leader running right behind her. Dammit, it’s an OUT AND BACK! Nooooooo!!!

I made the U-turn a little while later and headed back. At least I knew exactly what to expect for the rest of the course, since I’d just run it!

I'm high on running! Or something.

I’m high on running! Or something.

I was running about an 8:00/mile pace, which felt harder than it should have because of the soft dirt, the hills and the humidity. I later found out the humidity level was 90 percent. No wonder I was completely soaked in sweat!

About a half-mile from the end of the race, I was running a bit behind two guys, when we passed a course marshal. He yelled at me to “Pass those boys!” I didn’t feel like I really had a shot at that, but to my surprise, I got one as we were getting back on the track and the other as we were coming around to the finish. That course marshal would have been so proud of me!

Coming to the finish.

Coming to the finish.

I crossed the line in 39:47.

I didn’t hang around for the awards because, No. 1, I’d told Clark I’d be back by 9 a.m., and No. 2, I’d finished fourth in my age group anyway, but it turned out the overall women’s winner was in my age group, which moved me up to third and in the awards. I can mail a form to the race organizers to request the pins they gave the age group winners.

When I got back to the hotel, I ate a big ol’ waffle and a hard boiled egg in the hotel’s breakfast room, and then Pepper and I sat on the beach while Clark surfed.

watching clark surf

Clark is the little speck out in the water.

The beach.

The beach.

It was more than 80 degrees Saturday! Beautiful beach weather, but I was really glad it was supposed to cool off before the marathon the next morning.

All day I kept checking the weather app on my phone, to see when this storm that was supposed to get rid of all this heat was going to arrive. It sure didn’t look like it was going to storm! The last thing I wanted was to have to run a marathon in 80 degrees.

For lunch, we went to Mulligan’s in Nags Head, which let us sit outside in the “doggy dining” area since it was so unseasonably warm.

Pepper kept an eye on everyone coming in and out of the restaurant.

Pepper kept an eye on everyone coming in and out of the restaurant.

I had a bison burger with avocado. It was so good!

After lunch, the skies were still blue, so we took Pepper to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home of the largest natural sand dunes on the East Coast. Where was this damn storm?

Pepper and I ran out ahead of Clark to get to the dunes. The skies to the south, past the dunes, were still clear. I turned around to see where Clark was, and saw this:

clark with storm coming

Clark’s saying “Do you see this?”

THERE’S the storm! It really did roll in that quickly.

Well I wanted to run to the top of one of these dunes as long as we were there, so that’s what Pepper and I did. You could really see the leading edge of the storm from up there.

storm from top of ridge

storm coming

The wind was really picking up too, which is why I was able to get this perfectly-timed shot of Pepper, one of my favorites I’ve ever gotten:

“Speak into my good ear!”

We sprinted back down that dune and back to the truck. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Brew-Thru, to get beer for Clark, and for me after the marathon, and then a 7-11 for two 1.5-liter bottles of water, for me before the marathon.

We got back before the rain started. It cooled down a lot, and the wind started to howl. It was blowing against our hotel door. Luckily, that meant it was blowing the same direction much of the race course would be pointed the next day, or I probably would have gotten really worried about it for the marathon. I hate running against wind!

Around 5 p.m., the rain had let up, so I drove back to the expo to exchange my race shirt for the next size up; it seemed a little tight in the shoulders and I was worried it would shrink.

I couldn’t believe this deal I found there:

vibrams

Those things used to be more than $100! I guess having to pay out millions to injured people in a class action lawsuit really puts a dent in the demand for your product.

That night, we got carry out from a little diner right across the street from the hotel. I still wasn’t that hungry after that burger I’d had for lunch, but I managed to put away my entire order of angel hair pasta and grilled shrimp.

After I ate, I laid out all my stuff for the next morning, did some stretching and went to bed. Pepper did better with the boofing his second night in the hotel, and I slept fine.

The alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. Sunday. I dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved T-shirt, with arm warmers. I actually needed a jacket when I went outside! Except for the steady strong wind, it was a much better day for running than the day before had been.

The marathon is a point-to-point course, starting in Kitty Hawk, passing through Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, and ending in Manteo.

Course-Map

I took a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and a black coffee from the hotel breakfast room, which they had opened early Sunday just for runners, and we drove to the start line in Kitty Hawk. Traffic was light — one of the perks of a smaller race — and we were parked at an elementary school close to the start in no time.

I took my time getting ready to go. I ate all my breakfast, drank some of the coffee, took two Imodium and put two more Imodium and five salt caps in a little pouch I could clip to my shorts. The pouch is kind of a pain in the ass, but I didn’t want everything to disintegrate in my shorts’ back pocket like in Baltimore. They were handing out GUs in four places on the course (four!!) so I didn’t have to carry any of those. The most I’ve ever seen a race give away is two. More bonus points for this race!

About 20 minutes before the 7:20 a.m. gun, I kissed Clark and Pepper goodbye and walked to the start, where I had just enough time to pee and get in the start pack just ahead of the 4:00 pace group.

The wind wasn’t too bad at the start line, a paved road lined on either side by woods. We listened to the national anthem, got the gun and we were off!

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.07.09 PM

I am NOT in this picture!

As soon as we started running, one of the 4:00 pacers started loudly telling a story about how drunk he’d gotten at the post-race party last year, because he’d paced the 1:45 half marathon group (the half starts 20 minutes before the full, at the full’s halfway point) and he’d had to wait for his girlfriend to finish the full, who was really sick and took more than six hours. I pulled ahead far enough I couldn’t hear it anymore. As if he could read my thoughts, this older guy ran up right next to me and said “I was thinking about running with that pace group, but I don’t think I can take four hours of that guy’s talking!” I laughed out loud. My thoughts exactly!

The first three miles went through some quiet residential areas. I felt OK, but my legs had no life. I wasn’t worried though; a lot of times it takes them a few miles to wake up, and then I feel good. My splits were 8:50, 8:33 and 8:52.

Just before mile 4, we crossed a little foot bridge, and then the course wound down along the banks of Kitty Hawk Bay. I really liked this part. The views were gorgeous and a lot of the residents were out cheering, either on the street or on their porches. Someone had posted a bunch of signs that made me laugh, including one that had a picture of a grumpy-looking bulldog that said “I ran once. It sucked” and another with a picture of Gary Busey (I think; I didn’t get a real good look) that said “If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.” It reminded me of when my brother lived in Virginia Beach and sometimes he would see a woman out running, who might have been in my age group, and he’d ask me if I wanted him to break my competition’s glutes haha.

Anyway, miles 4 and 5 were 8:34 and 8:47. I was feeling a little peppier, but I really had to pee! And my arm warmers were getting hot, and it was time to take my first salt cap. So just past mile 5, at the aid station, I stopped to pee, remove my arm warmers and dig out a salt cap from the pouch clipped to my shorts. Thanks to all that, mile 6 was 10:06.

Sometime in the next mile, as we were still running through a residential area, this guy told me I had a very light stride. He said “I bet you never get injured!” That, of course, set off a long conversation about all my stupid little injuries and all his stupid little injuries. Runners love to talk about injuries — in the past tense, that is.

Miles 7 and 8 were back on track, 8:53 and 8:58. In the next mile, we came out to the circle around the Wright brothers memorial, surrounded by open fields, and got our first taste of running head-on into the wind. It was brutal! I leaned into it and plowed along, but it felt like I was barely moving for a little bit. No wonder they chose this hill to launch their plane!

Soon we’d completed most of the circle around the memorial. Reading a few other people’s race reports from previous years, I knew there’d be a race photographer waiting for us there, to get a shot with the memorial in the background. As soon as I spotted him, I held out my arms like an airplane. Seemed appropriate!

OBX marathon flight memorial vertical

I’m flying!

We ran across a field (like 30 yards, nothing big) and then we were back on pavement and at the mile 9 aid station. My watch beeped an 8:37 mile, and I heard Jethro Tull blasting from some speakers! That’s not the kind of music they usually play to pump up runners.

I recognized much of the next mile, as it was on the same road as the first and last miles of the 8K, and knew the trail was coming up. We hit the mile 10 marker just as we got on the trail. I’d run an 8:44.

I knew we had about three miles on the trail, also from reading other people’s race reports, and I knew the first part of the trail was a little hilly, having run it the day before. I slowed my pace on the uphills and ran mile 11 in 9:17, which also included a brief pause to get out my second salt cap. Mile 12 was a bit flatter and I ran it in 8:46. Somewhere in that mile, we passed two people who’d set up lawn chairs right off the trail to compliment everyone who ran by. They told the girl in front of me they liked her socks, and they told me I was prancing like a horse haha. I tell Pepper he prances all the time! I guess it’s true, dog owners start to look like their dogs.

We were now on a part of the trail I hadn’t seen the day before. I heard cheering ahead and ran up on an unofficial aid station, where some spectators had sliced oranges, halved bananas and brownies laid out, “for energy to get up that hill!” What hill? The course made a 90-degree left turn right there — straight up a huge hill!

This was definitely unexpected! I won’t lie, I power walked up that thing, it was so steep. Fortunately it wasn’t too long. I started running again at the top, but the rest of the trail to the halfway point was super hilly. I was pretty happy to come out of the woods and get back on pavement.

Mile 13 was 9:32 and I crossed the halfway timing mat in 1:58:18, on track for a sub-4. Just past there, I took the second GU of the race and stopped to dig out the teeny tiny Imodium caplets from my clip-on pouch. I lost some time looking for those little pills, but I figured I’d lose a lot more if I had to poop later in the race, so it was worth it.

I really don't remember where this was taken.

I really don’t remember where this was taken.

And I was running again. Now we were almost to Nags Head, and the course ran down the shoulder of Highway 158, the main four-lane divided highway down the coast. If it’d been a sunnier or warmer day, it would have been miserable, but it really wasn’t too bad. The wind was mostly at our backs too.

But my legs were feeling disappointingly dead for only being halfway through a marathon. I tried to just concentrate on running the mile I was in, and looking forward to the next aid station, which were posted every two miles.

No clue where this was taken either.

No clue where this was taken either.

Mile 14, which included that longish stop right after the halfway point to get the Imodium, was a 9:47. I needed to pick it back up if I was going to run sub-4.

I passed the mile 15 marker when we were still on the highway. It was 8:44. That’s better! At the aid station, I took another salt cap.

Then we turned off the highway into a neighborhood. The next mile, the wind was pretty much directly at our backs. I tried to take advantage of it, and passed mile 16 in 8:53. Then we had to run back out to the highway, which meant we had to run head-on into the wind. I pushed through it and ran mile 17 in 8:59.

OBX marathon mile 16

I think this was in one of those neighborhoods off 158, but I don’t remember.

The course turned off the highway again, for another spur through a neighborhood, and once again we had to run part of it directly into the wind. Mile 18 was 8:56 and 19 was 9:02, but when I took a cup of water at the mile 19 aid station, I walked a little more than I had been as I drank it. My legs were fried! They felt worse at this point than they had at the finish of Baltimore. I didn’t get it. Baltimore was so hilly, and I’d run so many miles in the week leading up to it. It made no sense, but there I was, seven miles from the end of a marathon and hating life.

I was forcing myself to run from aid station to aid station. Coming up on mile 20, we were back on Highway 158. I ran past a small group of spectators and heard a teenaged girl say, “I want to run a marathon!” All I could think was NO YOU DON’T haha.

I took another salt cap with my water in mile 20, which was 9:20. Mile 21 was 9:02.

Now we were running toward The Bridge, the Washington Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound, connecting Nags Head to Manteo — home of the finish line! But we had to get over that bridge first.

Mile 22 was 9:43 (more walking after the aid station… and probably some other than after the aid station) and then we got to the bridge, the one with the uphill climb right in the middle. Obviously that bump is there to allow boats under, but in mile 23 of a marathon, it feels like it was added just to piss off runners.

Best shot of the hill in the middle I could find on Google.

Best shot of the hill in the middle I could find on Google.

The race organizers this year added a “Beast of the Bridge” award, for the male and female runners in each race (half and full) who passed the timing mats before and after the bridge in the fastest time. The results claim it was a 2-mile stretch between the mats, which I covered in 16:01, an 8:00/mile. That bridge wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, but I am 100 percent positive I was not running an 8:00 mile pace!

Coming down the bridge.

Coming down the bridge.

Anyway, mile 23 was 9:26, and we passed the mile 24 marker not long after getting off the bridge. Just a couple more miles to go!

Trying to look happy for the camera but not feeling it!

Trying to look happy for the camera but not feeling it!

The next stretch was still on the shoulder of a highway. It was pretty boring, and my legs were killing me, and I kept having to stop for short walk breaks. Then the 4:00 pace group trotted by. It was much smaller than it had been at the beginning, and much quieter. There was only one pacer left, and he wasn’t telling stories.

I trotted along with the handful of runners in the pace group until my legs screamed at me to walk again. Then the highway made a turn, and I knew we were in the homestretch. The end is near!

Mile 25 was 9:36. I really wanted to run the entire last mile, but my legs just weren’t having it. I had to walk some more. But then I could hear the finish line announcer, and the cheering, and I made myself go. Mile 26 was 9:47 and then I could see the finish line.

OBX marathon finish

The announcer said my name and hometown as I came up to the finish, and I heard someone yell “YEAH DELAWARE!” haha.

Laughing at whoever yelled

Laughing at whoever yelled that.

The finish line!

The finish line!

And I was done! In 4:01:15, officially.

I was disappointed I’d fallen apart in the last 10K like that and missed sub-4, but it’s hard to feel bad at the finish line of a marathon! This was my 10th marathon finish, and it still amazes me that not only is there an end to 26.2 miles, I can actually reach it.

I was grinning like a loon at all the volunteers in the chute as they gave me my marathon finisher’s medal, my challenge finisher’s medal, food, water, Gatorade and a finisher’s hat.

As soon as I left the chute, I started looking for Clark, who should have been easy to spot, as he would have a hyperactive weimaraner with him. I couldn’t find him so I kept walking.

I’d reached the edge of the post-race party area, with no sign of him. I’d left my phone with him, so I borrowed one from someone else to call him. He was still trying to get to Manteo; the only direct road to the finish line was only open to traffic leaving, as half the road was closed down for the runners. So anyone trying to get to the finish line had to take a much longer roundabout way in.

I told him where I’d be and sat down and waited. And waited, and waited! I probably sat on a curb for 45 minutes. Now that I wasn’t running, I was shivering my ass off in my sweaty shorts and T-shirt.

Finally, I spotted Pepper coming toward me. Sort of, haha. He was sniffing every little spot. I figured that had been part of the reason it’d taken them so long to get to me.

Clark had about had it with Pepper. On the walk to the post-race party, the dog had taken a massive shit right in someone’s pristine front yard! So Clark had dug through my bag for something to scoop it up with. Luckily, I always pack Band-Aids in case of blisters, so he emptied out the box and used that to clean up after Pepper. As he was telling me the story, a girl walked by and said “Your dog is so pretty! Can I have him?” Clark held out the leash and said “Take him!”

As soon as I’d changed into the dry clothes I’d packed, I felt much better. I was also glad to find out I had no blisters or chafing! I got a beer, pulled pork, coleslaw and sweet potato fries — all free to runners. More points!

Pepper and me after the marathon.

Pepper and me after the marathon.

We didn’t hang around the post-race party too long. My hands were still shaking from being cold and I really wanted some hot coffee and a shower. I got a pumpkin coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way back to the hotel, and then, after an awesome shower, I drank my coffee while watching the first part of the NASCAR race from Texas. When the coffee was gone, I switched to the Dogfish Head Punkin Ales I’d gotten from the Brew-Thru the day before — in my race pint glass, of course.

It's bad juju to use the race pint glass before the race!

It’s bad juju to use the race pint glass before the race!

Pepper did some begging for food, which is cute if you’re not the one he’s bothering:

Excuse me...

Excuse me.

EXCUSE ME.

EXCUSE ME.

What a jerk.

After Jimmie stupid Johnson won the race (who cares, he’s not in the Chase!), we went to the Outer Banks Brewing Station for dinner. Pepper had to stay in the truck alone for a little while, but I didn’t feel too guilty, because my salmon was delicious and my flight of beers was great too.

outer banks brewing station

I think I was asleep by 9:30 p.m. I was beat!

Monday morning, I woke up to six words I never wanted to hear:

“There’s a spider in this bed.”

Usually, the morning after a marathon, I get out of bed very slowly, what with the sore legs and all. I have never moved so fast in my life as I did the morning after this marathon! Clark had already flicked away the offending spider, which he’d found crawling up through his chest hair (!!!!), but still! I wasn’t taking any chances.

We loaded up the truck and checked out of the hotel, but instead of going straight home, we went to Cape Hatteras, which has the tallest lighthouse in the U.S. I’d been to the Outer Banks twice before this weekend, but I’d never seen the lighthouse.

It was a long drive, completely out of our way, but it was cool to see it. At first I was a little disappointed the lighthouse wasn’t open to climb to the top, but it turns out getting to the top is equivalent to climbing 12 flights of stairs — not ideal the day after a marathon!

cape hatteras lighthouse

Clark and Pepper.

Clark and Pepper.

Pepper and me.

Pepper and me.

We also looked at the original site of the lighthouse, where it was first built in 1870. They had to move it in 1999 because of shoreline erosion.

clark and pepper at old lighthouse site

lighthouse from old location

Then we made the long drive back home. Pepper was very happy to be back on his couch, where no one is slamming shut car doors and making him boof.

So! Final thoughts on the Outer Banks Marathon:

  • Beautiful course! The boring highway sections were broken up by diversions into pretty neighborhoods, and all the highway miles were in the second half when you’re already hating yourself for signing up for a marathon anyway.
  • The three trail miles (miles 11 to 13) were a little hilly and definitely took a toll on my pace, but they were also really pretty and a nice reprieve from the pavement.
  • On-course support was top notch: Port-o-potties at every aid station, water and Gatorade every two miles, GUs at miles 7, 13, 17 and 21. A few unofficial aid stations were also sprinkled throughout, thanks to spectators.
  • Post-race party was decent — two free beers (Pacifico or Corona Light), pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw and sweet potato fries for runners, in addition to the banana, pretzels and graham crackers they gave us right after finishing. I’m a little spoiled by Rehoboth’s post-race party though.
  • Swag was great. For the price of race registration only (8K+marathon challenge), I got a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt, long-sleeved tech shirt, pint glass and finisher’s hat.
  • Finisher’s medals are nothing special, but nice.
  • Organization was on point. Expo, race start/finish areas and race courses were all well-managed. OBSE knows what they’re doing.
Finisher's hat, medals and race bib.

Finisher’s hat, medals and race bib.

Race shirts.

Race shirts.

My final results:

Outer Banks 8K

  • Chip time: 39:47 (8:01/mile average)
  • 4th of 30 in the F 30-34 AG
  • 10th of 227 women
  • 34th of 396 total runners

Outer Banks Marathon

  • Chip time: 4:01:15 (9:13/mile average)
  • 9th of 68 in the F 30-34 AG
  • 62nd of 402 women
  • 237th of 868 overall

8K + Marathon Challenge

  • Total time: 4:41:00
  • 3rd of 38 women
  • 11th of 71 total finishers

And my takeaway from all this: Basically, I need to train correctly for marathons again! I’m not sore today, two days later, even though I swore my legs felt like they were going to fall off by the second half of the race Sunday. I need to do the long runs and speed work (ugh) that trains the body to recognize the difference between “I am going to die, stop this now” and “This is uncomfortable but doable.” I used to be much better at that!

But, even though the marathons I ran this year weren’t as fast as the ones I ran before I got that string of injuries, I am very happy with myself for successfully getting three more under my belt. For a while there, it felt like I’d never be physically able to run that far without hurting myself again.

So what’s next? I’m taking it easy this week, and then getting into a very abbreviated training plan for the Rehoboth half marathon in less than five weeks.

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