Friday, December 6, 2013

Race recap: OBX Half Marathon

This is a bit delayed, but..... Spoiler alert: I finished my third half-marathon!

HM#3 was the OBX Half in Outer Banks, North Carolina, over Veteran’s Day weekend. I prefaced the race with this post, in which I detailed how tough running has been for me since HM #2, and how my goal for this race was purely to have a good time and do the best I could. Butterflies and rainbows, right? Right.

My friend Lauren Lush (permanent nickname!) picked this race out for her birthday (race day was her actual birthday), and convinced a bunch of us girls to run it with her. Lush’s family has a beach house at OBX, so it was a nice perk to not have to pay for lodging and have somewhere nice and comfy to cook dinner the night before and all hang out together. We got down to the beach on Saturday afternoon, and went to the expo to pick up numbers and packets. It was there that I realized just how small this race was – only a few thousand participants between the half and the whole marathons, combined! Way different from the Rock & Roll race in Nashville.

I like smallish races, but they are also the ones that tend to be a little disorganized – and this was no exception. We figured that out on the morning of the race, when GPS took us to the address that was listed as the “start” of the race and it was an empty parking lot…. Fail. Luckily, it wasn’t too hard to figure out where we were supposed to be, and we ended up parked right by the starting line.

Birthday girl! And tired eyes.
The weather report for the race looked great – mid-50s and sunny – but let me tell you, when we first got out of the cars, it was cold & windy! Kind of hard to prepare that way… there was a lot of putting-on and then taking-off of layers while we tried to decide how to dress. I’m not sure why I forgot about the wind at the beach, but I definitely did – not a very nice surprise!

The whole group!
The race started at 7 AM (so early! not my fave), and we were a few corrals back. Slowly but surely, we moved toward the start as a bunch, and then we crossed the starting line & we were off! There were several of us doing the half together, but we were all kind of on our own – I think that by mile 2, I was running by myself, which was alright. The first few miles went by quickly. We were weaving in and out of the neighborhoods and side streets down the main stretch of OBX, and there were tons of people out cheering for the racers. There were also water & Gatorade stations almost constantly. I was very well hydrated!

Unfortunately, I decided wrong on what to wear – by mile 5, I had to stop and pull off my top layer and re-pin my bib. I tied my jacket around my waist, which was not ideal for running the next 8 miles. That is probably the only thing I would have changed about this race – I wish I would have skipped the pull-over and just braved the cold for the first few miles. I was comfortable in what I was wearing in the end, but the jacket at my waist was definitely awkward.

I paced myself pretty well for the middle miles with the people around me – I made several silent running friends, which I always like. Even if I don’t know the person and we’re not talking, it’s nice to have someone to be running beside. Always gives me that little extra push!

The worst part of this race was the bridge to Manteo. I thought I was prepared for it, but I was not, in any way, shape, or form. That thing it crazy! Not only is it a huge vertical climb (around mile 10, when legs are very tired!), but it is insanely windy – to the point that big warning signs are posted to warn drivers about the strong winds. Not ideal for running! I barely made my way up the bridge, stopping to walk several times, because my knees were just not having it. Luckily, the views were gorgeous – it had turned out to be a sunny, clear day, and you could see for miles in either direction while on the bridge (I was very glad I’d put on sunscreen before we left the house – I would have had a massive sunburn without it!!) It felt like it took an hour to finish that mile, though – the god-forsaken bridge was easily the hardest part of the race.

 I embraced the down-hill (which was MUCH shorter than the uphill!) and ran my way into Manteo. Around that time, my sister came driving by with Lush’s family, on their way to the finish line to cheer us on, and she leaned out the car window and yelled for me. It was just the push I needed right then – perfect timing for a pick-me-up! I found another one of the girls running the race right around that time, too, and it was nice to have a teammate, even though we didn’t really stay together. It was right when I needed some encouragement, and seeing people I knew did the trick.

My knees were starting to really hurt at that point, and I was checking my Garmin every few seconds, trying to calculate. I had just a few miles left, and I was thinking that if I really, really pushed it, I could get a PR. However, I might also miss the PR by just a few seconds, and I knew that would make me really unhappy. At mile 11 ½ or so, I had a serious pep talk with myself. I reminded myself about the goals for this race – not to PR, not to kill myself, not to injure myself, but rather, just to have a good race and a nice morning and to have FUN. Right then and there, I let go of the PR and the clock, and I focused more on enjoying what I was doing. I smiled and waved at the spectators, I encouraged the runners around me, and I pushed forward, slowly but surely.

Right when I felt like the finish line would never come into sight, there it was, right around the next bend. I did as I always do, and gathered every last ounce of strength, and broke into a sprint – every second I can shave off the end counts! Just as I was about to cross the finish line, though, the two girls in front of me SLOWED DOWN (why, oh why would you do that?!) and I almost ran straight into them. I couldn’t believe it! I had to zig-zag my way around them, and then finally crossed under the banner. A woman handed me my medal, and I bee-lined for the water. I actually felt great – my knees hurt, but this was the first half where I felt good at the end. I had a good idea of my finishing time from my Garmin, and I was pleased to see that it was almost smack in the middle of my previous two finishing times: a little slower than my PR, but a little faster than Nashville. Also, I was happy, I was dry, I was proud of myself – everything that was wrong with Nashville was gone from my mind. Mission: accomplished!
My personal cheerleader :)
Within a few minutes, all of us girls had finished and found each other, and my sister and Lush’s family found us, as well. It was quickly determined that showers and beers were in order, so we headed back to the beach house. Once everyone was cleaned up, we went for lunch at a Mexican restaurant nearby, and there was no shortage of chips, salsa, and enchiladas consumed… as well as a cerveza or two! Perfect post-race meal, in my opinion. I left the Outer Banks that afternoon feeling about as good as I possibly could – minus the ice on my knees and mighty tired legs!

This seems like the perfect time for some "outtakes" pictures... because racing makes everyone a little delirious!
Just a little post-race stretching...
 The end.


Stephanie @ My Freckled Life said...

The pictures at the end are so fun! haha. I'm so glad to hear that you had a good race though!!! I know that you were really worried about it! It looks like you had a great time though!

Lisa said...

I'm actually planning to run this next year. And the wind on the bridge to Roanoke Island is ridiculous. I can't imagine trying to run through it.

Anna said...

Great job Lindsay, you are rockin' it!! I'm doing a 5k this weekend and it's going to be freeeeeezing. Didn't think about that way back when I signed up!

Tammy Jo said...

Way to go!!!!