Monday, November 20, 2017

Outer Banks Marathon 2017

As you may recall from previous posts, I was torn between the Richmond Marathon and the Outer Banks Marathon as my fall race. Ultimately, I decided on Outer Banks due to a few different factors, like the date and the course (specifically elevation!). The moment we'd all been waiting for (ok... I had been waiting for) was finally here! November 12: RACE DAY!!!!!

But let's back up a couple days. Let’s do a RUN through of the weekend of events, shall we?

On Friday, November 10, we hit the road after work to make it to the OBX that night. We were fortunate enough to be able to stay with a friend at his family’s beach house down there! We got in kind of late, but we were rested and ready for the expo and other preparations on Saturday.

On Saturday, we got to sleep in and relax a bit, then we hit up the expo and got our swag. After the expo, we went to check out a couple of spots on the course. We wanted to see the trail section of the course that we were warned about, which was at the Nags Head Nature Preserve. We checked it out, and were only mildly intimidated. But it allowed us to make a plan of attack for race day. After we checked out the area, we went to a local park to do a shakeout run. We only did about 2 miles, plus the distance to and from the park. When we finished our shakeout, we took some downtime. We rested/napped for a little while before it was time for dinner. Fortunately for me, I had won a gift card to a local restaurant at the expo, so we got to hit up the Tomato Patch in Corrolla Beach for a cheaper dinner!!! So that was nice. We loaded up with spaghetti (me) and a calzone (him). After dinner we went back to the house, got ready for the morning, and hit the hay.

Post-shakeout run

Shirt + bibs

Sunday morning! Race day! I woke up (too) early and started my pre-race rituals to be ready for the 7:20 AM start. We were fairly close to the start line (like 10 mins!) so we had plenty of time to get ready. We ate our oatmeal and bagels and bananas and headed over to Kitty Hawk for the start. He got in a 1.5 mile warm up, and I got only enough warmup to get me from the car to the porta-potty.... anyway.... then we made our way to the actual start and got in our corrals, ready to start!

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for race day! Or something!

Alfredo was very unsure of how he would perform at this race. He has been working very hard for his college cross country season in training for the 8K (spoiler alert: he did very well, post to come!). But he hasn’t been training distance as much as he would have liked. He got in two 20 milers with me at my pace, one 20 miler by himself at his own pace mostly, and a few 15 milers. These runs were all for the sole purpose of building endurance to hold a fast pace for shorter distance, which really affects the way he was running them. So with this, he didn’t know what to expect. He was telling people he felt like he could do sub-3 all the way 3:15, or anything in between. So stepping up to the start was a crapshoot. His goal was to stay at a comfortable pace of 6:40-6:50, and if the pace felt too hard to maintain he would slow up. The mindset was to go in, have fun, enjoy the race, and do his best.

When the gun went off, he immediately settled into his pace, and as runners, we know how hard it is to maintain pace and hold back when people are passing you with the adrenaline of race day pulsing through your veins. But, he was able to restrain himself and let people go do their thang. He kept telling himself, Run your own race. Despite him feeling like he could have gone faster in the beginning, he stuck to his plan. Mile by mile, his body was still feeling great. It also helped that he made a running friend who was pacing with him until mile 9, so it made those first miles feel effortless. After that, his new running friend convinced him to stay on pace and go on ahead. And so he did. This was the section through the Nags Head Nature Preserve with the trails. After getting out of the woods and getting to the half marathon checkpoint, he noticed that the clock said 1:29 and some change. So this was the part that got to him the most because he knew that in order to beat his first goal, he needed to run that again, and that was very stressful. His body was still feeling good, so he still continued persevering. At this point he began passing other people who had begun slowing down, because he was sticking to his target pace, just like he had been throughout the whole race.

Fast forward to mile 19. He started feeling like he had to actually push to maintain target pace, which was ok still. Around this time he was able to see the first place woman, which made him realize he was maintaining a very good pace, and his plan was actually working. Then, mile 22 came along and the bridge came into view: the bridge that everybody was talking about. This was going to be the hardest point on the whole course. He knew that he needed to slow down going up the bridge, but not too much, since he knew he could pick the pace up going back down. After that, it was only 2.2 miles left. And he found out that these miles were the hardest. Mile 24 seemed to be pretty hard on him, but he got through it. Mile 25 was a challenge since he was so close to finishing, and he was having a hard time holding the pace. Even after seeing mile 26 and being able to hear the announcer at the finish line, it was still difficult to pick the pace up, until he saw the finishing chute, that is. When he saw the clock in the finishing chute, it read 2:58:20, and the first thing that came to his mind was, I have to make it under 2:59! His body was able to give him an extra kick to run as fast as he could at this point. He was very surprised that he was able to dig a little deep and pull a little extra energy out of nowhere and cross the finish line with a time of 2:58:50, which gave him a PR of less than 30 seconds but he was super excited because he was not expecting that.

I started out feeling fine, and I had a goal pace set for me to stick to. I wanted to hit 10:45 min/mile average for the first part before going into the trail section between miles 10-13. I totally did this (no thanks to the fact that I dropped one of my Humas and almost had an anxiety attack because of it) but when I hit the trail I kind of forgot everything I had set out to do. I tried too hard to keep my pace through the trails and so that definitely wore me out. I also had irritated my foot sprain from last month, probably from running on different terrain than I’m used to. Anyway I popped out of the woods and hit the half checkpoint, right on target! I slowed a bit, but I managed to keep my overall goal pace until about mile 18 or 19. When I hit the 19.3 checkpoint I was already slower than my goal pace, but I kept on trucking. I knew I just had to keep on running, tackle the bridge and I would be at the home stretch. So I did. I kept going with any other goals in mind besides my ultimate goal of 4:45. I wanted to finish the darn thing first of all, and I wanted to go under 5 hours again like I did at the Marshall University Marathon, and I wanted to PR (under 4:56). I was still on pace for all of those things, so that kept me motivated. After going over the bridge, I found my hubby waiting for me, ready to help me run in the last 2 ish miles. And I managed to keep on going to cross the finish line in 4:54:53 which met all my other goals! I PR’d by 2 minutes!

All in all, we really enjoyed this race. The fact it was point to point was nice because we didn't have to repeat any portion of the course. There were plenty of water stops, and tons of "party stops" along the way (official and unofficial stops) that had sugary options and other race staples. We really liked it, and it still had that small town race feel even though it was a decent size. It was well organized and well sponsored too. We highly recommend it for any future marathoners that want a warmer fall race late in the season. As for what's next, we're not sure. We are already scouring the race calendars to figure out where to go from here. But don't worry, we'll keep ya posted!

Now for the miscellaneous pictures!

Driving around on Saturday-
we got a sneak peak of the Wright Brothers Memorial

After CRUSHING the bridge! (approx mile 24)

My boo came back for me! Like always!

Alfredo and Joel-
11th and 10th place marathon finishers!


He loves his Honey Stingers!
Especially now that he is an Elite Sponsored Athlete for them!

We had a photo shoot on the beach on the way back from the finish line!

Joel had to get in the ridiculously cold water
because he bet that Alfredo couldn't PR! YIKES!

Alfredo's medal with his 3rd place age group pin!

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