Monday, March 21, 2016

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Recap

With the temperature forecast fluctuating all week and the chance of rain looming, I had mixed emotions about what might be.

Yet, on race morning, the temperature settled in at a nice 46 degrees. The gusting wind took it down a few more degrees.

Would the rain old off?

Well, yes and no. Minutes before the start showers rolled across the area. Being cold is no fun, and then the rain started falling and no one knew for how long. Forecast said the rain wouldn’t arrive until around 11 AM. Personally, I was ready to get this race started.

The race was practically a home town event for me. Carolyn, Matt, Sharon, Rob, Jamey, Jason, Stephen, Adrian, Anne, Lisa, Rodolfo and Alice had made the trip out to the beach. And, special shout out goes to Chad. Chad has the enthusiasm of 100 people. Each time, we slapped hands as we passed.

Leaving the starting line at 6:40, there is just enough ambient light for the runners to see the road. Our first mile was spent getting warm. My legs were still cold and tight. After the beach loop, we headed across the bridge and turned up military cutoff. This right hand turn took is directly into the wind. Fortunately, there were 5 or 6 people in my pack of runners to share busting through the wind.  Turnning into Land Fall, the wind was at our backs. I felt better but within a mile, I noticed the sweat running down my forehead.

Land Fall is a private gated community so my only experience with the roads has been during my other previous two races. There were usually a few people out cheering but mostly it is a lot of quiet neighborhoods streets. There is also the occasional car zipping by us at 30 mph. Why they were going so fast, I have no idea. Leaves me to question how much common sense they really had.

Soon, I was out on the main drag again and headed back to the Wrightsville Beach. Crossing the bridge, the wind was coming at us from the side. Matt caught me going over the bridge. We talked for maybe mile. Then, the pace was a little too rich for my blood so I had to let him go. We both caught the guy in front of us in the next two miles.

Finally, after a quick peek at the ocean we were headed away from Wrightsville Beach, across the bridge, and by my hotel for the 3rd time. From 14 miles to about 18 miles it is a straight shot and into the wind. While I slowed a bit during these miles, I actually felt my best.

Then, we made the left on to the Cross City Trail which lead us over to the UNC-W campus. This is the new section of the course.  Much of which, I had run during my 13.1 race last year.

It is pretty much flat and decently shielded from the wind. We ran the long stretch into the campus before making a loop and returning the way by the same route. The fatigue was growing in my legs. I kept reminding myself to use my arms. Pumping my arms will force my legs to follow.

To illustrate how tired that I was, we were running long and they had cones ever so often with an arrow pointed to either the right or to the left. However, there were no turns off the greenway at these points. I keep wondering why they didn’t point up meeting straight ahead. It was only after the race that surmised they were indicators the runners to run on the left side or right side of the cones. Like I said, when I am super tired, thinking clearly isn’t easy.

At 22 miles, I looked at my Garmin and attempted to gauge what my time would be if I ran 7 minute miles over the last 4 miles. Up this point, my splits hovered between 6:35 and 6:48. At 5k to go, I gave myself a “pep” talk. At 24 miles, I pictured the last 2 miles of my daily run – downhill and flat to the finish.

My 25 was my least favorite of the race. We moved to the side walk which was narrow and lots of twist and turns. My body was tightening up so every one of these turns was super painful.  In fact, mile 25 was slowest of the entire at 6:54. Mile 26, we were back out on the neighborhood streets. I glanced at my Garmin to see how much was left. Rounding the corner, Adrian was yelling encouragement to me. I wanted to yell back but I couldn’t muster the energy. My Garmin beeped at mile 26. 200 yards later, I passed the 26 mile sign.

Coming around the building, there were the ½ marathoners going to the finish. Someone yelled 400 meters left.  May be I was just in the zone, but it didn’t seem like 400 meters.

What I could see was the clock just turning over 2 hours and 52 minutes. I charged across the line 9 seconds later.

Stopping felt good but then it suddenly felt cold. The rain had steadily picked up from about 5k to the finish. The water running through the streets had a green tint to from the pollen. Actually, this might be appropriate since it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Some woman came up and wrapped me with a space blank. Oh, did it feel good. I was walking gingerly, but otherwise, I felt good.

While the weather was not perfect, it was pretty decent for running. Once my body warmed up, the only chilly points were during my trips over to Wrightsville beach and back. Otherwise, the wind wasn’t a major factor.

Once we separated from the ½ marathoners, I ran the last 16 miles pretty much solo. There was the small bit where Matt and I ran together, and when I caught a couple of other runners in the final miles.

With Jamey finishing in second overall, I got elevated to the first male masters. Ironically, the top masters’ finishers in the marathon were over the age of 50. Although, I looked back the results. A 40 something master had been breathing down my neck sense 20 miles. Luckily, my closing 6:32 final mile was enough to hold him off.

I give the race organizers some credit. They put on a pretty darn good race. If they could do something about the traffic in Land Fall and may be change up a few of those tight neighborhood sidewalks in mile 25. My only other suggestion would be to move one of those huge tents that they have at the finish to the start. There is nowhere to hang out if it had actually been raining, it would have been absolutely miserable.

For me, I am now resting up for a few weeks. This 2:52:09 and 8th place finish worked my body hard, and it needs recovery time. Then, there is a plethora of races on the horizon and the possibility of a fall marathon.

So there is plenty to keep me busy.
The Cool Down Runner

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