Sunday morning, I was standing at the starting line of the OBX marathon. This would be the sixth consecutive year that I would be making the trek from Kitty Hawk, NC to Manteo, NC.
I wish I could say that I was brimming with confidence before the race, but this would be a lie. I had run 2:46 at Wine Glass 5 weeks ago, and thought possibly with a great day, I could run a 2:45 marathon. Thus, I set my goal for the race to be a sub 2:46.
All week, the weather man called for temps to be the upper 40s, but race morning dawned with a temperature around 51 degrees. 51 degrees is not perfect for marathon but decent.
What made it feel even colder were the winds out of the south west. I had chosen to skip wearing cloths so my hands were shaking as I stood at the starting line.
One would think with a six hour drive to the Outer Banks, there would not be any familiar faces in the crowd. They would be wrong. Both Dalena and Philip were running this race. Blair also from Charlotte was running. There was also a huge group of fast masters’ runners in the field.
Right from the start runners were forming in to packs. Michael and I soon settled in to a group of two. The first mile clicked off in 6:19 and then 6:01. Then, for the next 8 miles we ran 5:50 miles. At first it felt comfortable, but around 9 miles, I could tell that the pace was starting to wear on me.
We entered the Nags Head woods, and I decided it was time to let him go.
Through the woods, I went 6:25, 6:33, and 7:03 on the trail section.
Through the first half the race, we were met with a strong head every time the course ventured near the Intracoastal Waterway.
Coming out of the woods, I was running completely solo along 158 and enjoying a steady head wind. I also realized that the temperature was rising as well. A few times, my sweat would get into my eyes and start burning. Wiping it away seemed to help.
I made the first of two neighbor loops which took me over by the Intracoastal Waterway to catch an extra blast of the head winds coming off the sound.
By this point, I had all but given up checking my splits. I knew I was starting to pay for the early pace and OBX was throwing in a big head to make sure that I paid for my early friskiness big time.
Back on 158, I passed the 20 mile point and was grudgingly having to accept the wind head on. This is the part of the island where it opens up and the race heads out and over the big bridge.
I could feel my hip flexors and quads tightening as they were chilled by the wind. I reached mile 23 just before the crest of the bridge, and then looked to the right to see Manteo.
Coming off the bridge, my hamstrings were begining to show some wear and tear. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I was expecting Dalena and Philip to come flying by me.
Dalena had told me at the start that she was shooting for 2:48, and I saw on FaceBook that Philip was looking for 2:50. I just knew that they were right behind me.
Finally, I reached Shell Service station and turned right. I don’t think that I have ever been happy during an OBX race. I finally had the wind at my back even if it was just for the final mile.
My legs were hurting. Actually, they were totally spent. Those early miles spent running 5:50s were reallly starting to take their toll on me. I ran a study and painful 7:36 those last 3 miles.
The last half mile, I find the energy and the strength to push to the finish. After crossing the finish, I looked around to see another Masters runner right behind me.
To be honest, I don’t know what told me to keep pushing when every fiber in my body was telling me to coast to the finish line.
2:51:35 was my chip official time which placed me as the 3rd Masters Runner and 2nd USAT&F Masters runner.
After the race, I was disappointed in my effort and my finish time, but as I thought more about it, I realized that I was being too hard on myself.
I should not be critical of my race tactics by examining them too closely after the race. After all, hindsight is easy to judge. Looking forward and making decisions is a lot tougher.
Setting here now, running 5:50 miles was probably more than I was ready to do. However, given the options, I felt running in a group was better than running solo. From past OBX experience, I knew how hard it is to negative split the OBX course. The neighbors during the first half shield a lot of the wind. For 95% of the second half I ran exposed to it. Miles 19.5 to 24.75 were directly into the wind.
In wrapping things up, I have to give a shout out to the OBX race committee. Once again, they did an awesome job pulling off this marathon.
I also want to say thanks to the people of the Outer Banks area. I have run several marathons in recent years. OBX is the only marathon were the people standing alongside the course say “thank you for running our marathon”. It is the little things like this that keep me coming back year after year.
On the race front, Blair and Dalena also get a shout out for bringing back to Charlotte the men and women’s open titles. They both ran awesome times. Congratulations to the both of you. Congrats to Philip for running a solid sub 3 marathon.
Sharing on thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner