Sunday, November 20, 2016
Boom ! Nailed it ! OBX Half Marathon
The race is along the beautiful Outer Banks and was started in 2006 to bring tourist into the area during the off season. I was there for that first race running the full marathon and returned on 6 other occasions. I couldn't go to the 10th anniversary for personal reasons but made up my mind I was going back but do the half for a change. After all, this was the year of running shorter distances anyway.
In my mind I had set a goal of running 1:40 and hoping that would be enough to get me on the podium and as I like to put my goals out there, I made that prediciton in my January looking ahead blogpost. But I knew it wouldn't be easy. Last Fall I was running in the 1:44 range but felt I had faster in me if things went well.
But, things sure didn't start off well this year as I missed almost all of January with a recurrence of my nagging hamstring/hip/glute injury. I slowly returned and was happy to see a quick recovery but in March at Myrtle Beach I woke up with a fever of 101.2 and an upper respiratory infection. I ran like an idiot anyway and somehow ran 1:50 and then felt like I had a truck parked on my chest.
Two weeks later after antibiotics and pracically no running in between I ran a 1:47 at Wrightsville Beach. Finally after that everything began to fall into place. My injuries were finally gone in part thanks to beginning yoga at the first of the year and I was finally able to train with confidence. But I had my work cut out for me if I was going to drop my time that much. I had some pretty amazing things happen after that and achieved every goal I had set for myself over the Summer and early Fall.
After having a great race at the NCRC event, ATT 10 miler in late October, three weeks before OBX, I felt in my heart that I could do what I had set in motion last Winter. I messaged my training partner Laura and told her 1:40. It's going to happen.
So finally the weekend of the race arrived and I had a plan. The course is about pancake flat other than going over the Baum Bridge over the sound into Manteo at mile 10. I just needed to run smart and stay within a few seconds of goal pace so I could get to the bridge feeling strong and once I hit the top then throw myself off the bridge ! Ha, thats a joke from one of our training runs. Not literally jump off but use the downside to start the push to the finish with a strong fast last 5k.
The weather on Sunday morning was near perfect. 44f at the start and only reaching a high of 50F and only a slight wind of 6-7 mph, mostly a tailwind ! Everything was falling right into place. I did the usual warmup routine and then lined up near the front, eager to be underway.
At the gun I fell into a comfortable pace ignoring those around me as always and hoping my sense of pace was strong today. Goal was to maintain between 7:35-7:45 and I hit mile one in 7:31 so I eased off just a little bit. I felt good but did not want to get too excited. About that time Charles Akers passed by and we spoke for a bit before he moved on ahead.
The mile 2 marker was off and had me a bit angry but I just kept going and hoped that things would even out at mile 3. It seemed to and I had slowed down too much at just over 8 mp for those two miles. By now I was really feeling relaxed and smooth so I picked up the effort just a little and hit 4 in 7:41. After that it was almost too easy and I began to roll off a series of 7:33 and 7:34 miles. By mile 6 I just knew that I was going to have a great day. Just stick to the plan and don't get greedy.
The spectators and volunteers were all saying I looked great and I was feeling it. My stride which I have worked on the past couple of years felt long and strong and I was just on cruise control. By mile 8 I began to steadily pass people and then I hit mile 9 with the bridge looming ahead. I wanted to run about 8 flat to mile 10 and just keep the effort steady.
The recent weeks of hitting the hills in Umstead were paying off and I hit mile 10 in 7:58 ! Right on schedule and then it was hammer time. I did throw myself off the bridge and in my mind I was starting a 5k race. Trying to redline as close as possible, I could feel the effort but still relaxing and already excited for the celebration to come. 2 miles to go and its really starting to hurt now and soon I turn into the bit of headwind but I just dig deeper. 1 mile to go. Lungs are starting to burn and I'm starting to make my death noises but I keep pushing. I got this ! And then finally there is the finish line and I know the goal is waiting for me. 1:40:35 ! Boom ! Nailed it ! Just as if I'd had a premonition of the day. And the last 5k? 23:11, exactly 7:30 pace and the fastest 3 miles of the race !
As I passed through the chute a volunteer said I was the first of the "young guys" but I know a lot of people don't look their age but it was encouraging. Although they had my results up quickly there was nothing on placement yet so I went to change into dry warm clothes. Yes, even at 50 degrees I was sweating a lot at that effort. I got changed and then I pulled out my phone and went online to check the results. Woohoo ! Yes !! 1st in age group out of 40 finishers and 66th overall out of 1954. I did it !
After that I walked back to the finish and found Charles so we talked while waiting for Blanca to finish. Then I went to enjoy some post race food and wait for the awards ceremony. The finish line amosphere in downtown Manteo is about the best of any road race I have particiated in so it was worth waiting around for.
So there it is Boom ! Nailed it !
A goal, a plan and a lot of hard work and smart training all came together to make a dream come true. On to the next one !