Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wrightsville Beach ½ Marathon


Early Sunday morning, Laurie and I caught the same shuttle to the start. The wait to be driven over is actually longer than the ride itself, but it did give me the opportunity to meet a few of the other runners.

It just so happens that Paul Sherman and I were on the same shuttle. We ran the Frosty 25k a couple of years ago. A conversation ensued and we talked about working together since we both had similar time goals in mind.

We got to the start. Then Laurie and I headed out for a little 2 mile warm up. Most of the time, my warm-ups are solo so it was really nice to have someone along. After some strides, it was nearly time for the race to start.

The timing guys kept us well back of the starting line so we didn’t accidently trigger the timing system.  

Laurie had said that we wanted to run in the 1:16s. This is fast. I wish that I was in this kind of shape. 

The race starts at 6:45. Meaning the first 4 miles are in the dark. There is plenty of ambient street light but by a mile into the race Laurie was out of sight.

Paul and I had settled in with a group of guys. I missed the first and second miles splits due to the darkness and not being able to see my Garmin display.

But the pace felt good so I figured that I was okay.

A couple of guys came up to our group. One of them, I recognized as Tim Pierce from City of Oaks race last fall.  Tim was setting a little faster pace but after a mile, I finally settled in just off his shoulder.

Another young runner joined our group. When I looked back at 5 miles, I didn’t see Paul. Somewhere in the darkness, he had lost contact with our group.

Maybe it was just me, but Tim seemed to be throwing in these little surges and then backing off ever so slightly. They were never very long or very hard. They were just little accelerations.

The three of us continued this routine along Military Cut off and into Land Fall.

My legs felt okay along Military Cut off but they felt better going through Land Fall. The terrain isn’t hilly. There is enough of a change that I was switching between utilizing my hamstrings and my quads.

By nine miles legs were starting feel the strain. At ten miles, three thoughts crossed my mind. First, I had just run 10 miles in a little over 58 minutes. Two, there were only three miles left. And, three, I need to hang with these guys for as long as possible.

My tank was nearly empty but I managed to stay close on mile eleven. Mile, twelve, they started to open some space on me, and mile thirteen, they will clearly opening some space on me.

My Garmin flashed up the thirteen mile split a 6:06. My legs were starting tie up. They had given me everything that they had. My Garmin read 1:16:51. I went the thirteen mile mark on the road 1:17:17. Could I do a sub 1:18? I knew it would be close. I tried to “will” my legs to run faster. They tried to respond. People were cheering me on. The announcing was calling me. I pumped my arms and forgot about breathing. I could breathe after the finish line.

I stepped on the finish line and stopped my Garmin. Rolling my wrist over to see the display, it showed 1:18:01. Ugh, I was so close.

Really, I was both happy and disappointed at the same time. My goal coming into this race was a 1:18, but I was really expecting a high 1:18. Running 1:18:01 was great, and much better that I thought I could possibly run. Disappointment is probably a little strong for how I felt. It only stemmed achieving one goal and seeing the next goal right there in front of me and ready for the taking. Then, having it snatched away in my case literally at the “last second”.

Looking back at the race, the temperature was right around fifty degrees. There was a little wind but nothing terrible and nothing compared to either Charleston or Myrtle Beach. The skies were overcast, but the threat of rain held off until well after we had finished the ½ marathon.

After the race, I was looking back at my splits. When I run, I like consistency. I really like a very even pace. Running with Tim, our split for miles three through eleven were pretty much spanned a four second range. I could definitely work with him anytime.

Having run both Myrtle Beach half and the Wrightsville Beach halves, in opinion the Wrightsville Beach half is a better course. Because of the change in the terrain between miles six and eleven, runners have a better chance to do well. The shifting terrain gives them a chance to change the working muscle groups which is exactly what they need during this part of the race.

Lastly, I want to give a big shout to Chad C for his race, John M for his BQ effort in the marathon, Jason P for running a 1:21 half after training 14 hours this week, Tim M who is making his way back from an injury, Ulf who is also finding his way back into shape, Laurie, who took no prisoners by running just over 1:15.  

This is definitely a race that I would recommend to others.

 

Sharing one though at time,

The Cool Down Runners

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