Long Report: Heidi picked me up Saturday afternoon and drove us down to Wrightsville Beach. We picked up our packets, checked into our hotel (Blockade Runner – sketchy on the outside, great on the inside) and then got a beer at the Lighthouse Beer & Wine store before dinner. We were in bed early and both actually got a decent night’s sleep which doesn’t always happen the night before a race in a new bed. We were up
bright dark and early as
the race started at 6:45 am. Our hotel was about 1 mile from the start so we
jogged down there for our warmup.
Everything was really easy and smooth.
So. Goals. I had picked 1:30 way back in the fall because why not. My PR from the last time I tried to race a half marathon was from the Disney Half Marathon in Jan 2010 where I ran a 1:25:52. Prior to that, I had run a 1:31 at the end of a half Ironman and 1:33 in Sydney, Australia when we lived there for 4 months and I wasn’t even truly training for the distance. But a lot has changed since then and those times are in the past. 1:30 seemed like a really hard stretch goal for me at this point and it was. When I did pace work in my long runs I would sometimes hit that (6:52 per mile) but often I wouldn’t. Or I could hit it, but couldn’t sustain it for a many miles. Sometimes I was able to string together some miles that were under that pace. My training definitely didn’t indicate that I would be able to break that 1:30 barrier, but it wasn’t going to stop me from doing what I could during my workouts. I wasn’t frustrated or anything, it just wasn’t there. I average around 20-25miles a week – this is not a lot, and I think I do pretty good with what I can get in. Having a half marathon in the spring is a perfect goal for me because the distance scares me just enough. Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows I DO NOT like long distance races. I love 5Ks and the occasional 10ks. But those don’t scare me. Signing up for a half marathon would get me out of bed and out the door when it’s 30 degrees and raining. Or out the door for a 12 mile run with 6 of it at goal pace. It’s not easy to train through a winter but this was my way of keeping some semblance of shape.
I lined up with my athlete, Ali, who is a great runner and was also trying to break 1:30. At first we were right next to the 1:30 pacer, but he seemed a bit back so we moved up so weren’t feeling so claustrophobic. The race itself was pretty anti-climactic. We started off just under what would be 1:30 pace and I was able to hold on until mile 9. I knew I was pushing it a bit to keep that up and that’s when the wheels started falling off. I had a pretty low point at mile 10 but was able to mentally get myself out of it and rallied for the final 2 miles. Rallied meaning I didn’t slow down anymore, not that I actually picked it up :) The finish was one of those cruel ones where you are right there but then they make you run an little extra loop to actually cross the line. My feet were killing me by this time (I’m thinking I’m going to lose 2 toenails this time around) and my quads were also screaming. My calves, which were always on the verge of cramping the last 3 miles held out (thank you calves). My final time was right around 7:00 pace. This was not an easy 7min pace with how I ended up running it. I’m pretty sure had I gone out at that pace the whole thing would’ve been pretty comfortable, but where’s the fun in that? Races are supposed to hurt.
I was able to pretty quickly find some friends and catch a ride back to the hotel. I showered, ate a little, then drove Heidi’s car back to the finish so I could catch her when she finished the marathon (she qualified for Boston with over 10min to spare!). Everything about this race was easy, from logistics to the course – I have zero complaints. If you want a fast half or full marathon with plenty of spectators and a nice venue, here it is. I would say most will admit that the course itself is a bit boring, but most are also looking for a fast time. We both won beer growlers, which is quite a unique award. I doubt many people have their own growler that says 'Award Winner' on it!
After getting our awards, we packed up back at our hotel and then filled our new growlers with beer at the Lighthouse Beer & Wine Store. We were back in Raleigh just a little 24 hours after we had left, tired, happy, and glad to see our families.