Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OBX Marathon 2014: The Pit of Fire

Whew.  Well, excuse the ramble in advance - I want to write this report while its fresh, but A) its long, and B) Im still on vacation.  I walked away with alot of lessons learned I can't wait to apply to the next marathon, and now that I've had a chance to reflect....thats what I'm calling this race.  A big ole lesson.  We'll talk about that in the next post, but for now, here's the 411 for OBX 2014.  Spoiler alert - I missed sub 4.  You probably figured that one out :-)

Backin it up - we arrived in OBX Friday morning after driving through the night.  We got settled in, picked up race packets, and headed to the beach.  Such a gorgeous place.  After an early night, we headed to Kill Devil Hills for Greg's race - a 10k.  He did really well- a PR! and Rob and I hung out at the festival and had a blast - pics to come.  Greg was happy with his result, but bitched about a sand trail with ping pong ball sized rocks that went on for half the race.  I kidded with him about the fire pit, as he is known to um....stretch the truth post race.  (I ate some crow later for that one :-P)  Post race, we grabbed some grub, headed again to the beach, and I did a shake out 2 miler for Sunday's race - my right leg still felt tight, but not too bad.  Saturday night Rob decided to get up at 1am....so it nixed pre race jitters sleep - I only got 4 hours anyways :-P

Pre Race - I grabbed some coffee, applesauce oats and a pb flat.  Taped my gu's to my tights (I am so high class) and Greg and Rob dropped me at the start.  This was a point to point race, so the boys headed home (at mile 21) and took a nap, planning to rendezvous at mile 21 and then the finish. I hopped in a potty line, took care of business, then had the rest of my powerade, did a few stretches, then headed for the start line.  After a quick prayer (welcome to the south, y'all), they started the elites.  I was in corral 2, so we had 90 seconds then....GO TIME!!

Miles 1-8:  These miles were awesome.  I started out averaging 8:40 miles, which was about 30 seconds above race goal, which I know was a big no no.  But I felt great, effort felt minimal, and I just felt so happy to be alive and running.  The miles seem to tick by effortlessly, and I began to dream of.....a 3 on the clock at the finish.  Dangerous but exciting stuff. At mile 9, we rounded the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk and then moved onto part 2....

Miles 9-13:  $hit.  The first thing I thought of as I saw the woods ahead.  I saw some trail, which I knew was no big deal, but I knew my 8:30-8:40 pace was history.  Headed into Mile 9 at 1:18:xx....and into another world.  The trail, I soon realized, was alot like Mendon Ponds.  Hilly, and beautiful.  But, um, with rocks.  All across the path.  And North carolina....doesn't have dirt.  That have sand.  As in, beach sand.  And these sadistic people put 4 miles of sand in the middle of the damn course!  Yikes!  I sorta laughed about it and did a mental apology to my not so hyperbolic husband (yes, I really apologized later!) and trekked on.  I was saving some of my time in the bank for when miles got tough later, but $hit happens.  Took my first walk break at mile 11 - the water stops were every other mile, with gu at miles 7, 17 and 21.  Perfect hydration for me, and I took a gu at mile 5 and 10 to date.  Exited the hilly, sandy, crap at mile 13, and hit mile 13.1 halfway mark at 1:56:xx, an 8:55 pace.

Miles 14-21:  I was so excited for the road, I almost kissed it.  I tried to chat up the woman next to me to kid about how bad the course was swept for the last 4 miles and how awesome it was now, and...nothing.  It was a recurring theme - seems as if southern hospitality just did not apply to these runners.  Oh well.  I run for me time, so I was fine with it.  I had a healthy diet of Ed Sheeran, Pitbull, Lil John and other bad pop rock to indulge in, and miles to go.  Except...my feet hurt.  The rocks in teh trail certainly took a beating on my foosas, and it seemed as if the last 13 miles would indeed be willpower driven.  Nevermind.  I still clocked off 9:00 miles pretty consistently - miles 14 on in 2:06, 2:15, 2:24, 2:32, 2:41, feelin good.  I saw a familiar SUV pass at mile 17 and I fist bumped - I was so happy.  Only 8 miles to go....oh I can taste that sub 4!  We turned into a development at that point, and my music died.  ^;#!@%%^.  I spent a minute fixing it, and hit mile 19 late in 2:52, which was a little weird to me...was I slowing that rapidly?  Hmm.  I was thrown a bit, but I did my mental math (as all you racers know, it keeps you (in)sane but occupied...I could still do it if I hit mile 21 by 3:01.  Hit mile 20 in 2:59....wait.  There's no way I pulled a sub 8 minute mile....maybe mile 19 was off?  COOL!  Mile 20-21 dragged a bit - I knew my boys were at mile 21 with a go go squeeze, nuun and hugs, so I trotted on.  Saw my world at mile 21 as promised - Rob gave me a sqeeeee! And Greg filled me up with noms.  I didnt stop - I was on a quest.  Blew them a kiss (he gets it) and I moved on.  Ahh, those happy miles.  Then came mile 21.  3:12.

Miles 22-26.2?  or 27? or..... - WAIT.  3:12?  There is no way I ran a 13 minute mile.  I realized that this fact meant I needed exactly a 9 minute mile to finish in 3:59.  Fu$k.  I did a little pep talk - I knew there was a hill coming at mile 23, but I figured maybe, just maybe, they were a little late with the mile.  Mile 22.  3:23.  At this point, I saw the 4 hour pacer come up next to me with his crew, and I joined the crowd.  One woman asked him if they were going to make it.  He said for sure - his garmin had them at 22.4, not 22, so maybe the mile markers were off.  Ok, cool.  But then I saw another mile 22 on the road.  WTF.  And a huge bridge ahead.  My confidence flagged.  I walked more of that bridge than I should have, but it was a Mendon x2 hill at mile 23, and I was so confused about where we were in tha race (I race with a $30 timex - no garmin for me.)  No mile 23.  At the end of the bridge, I saw mile 24 in 3:44, which I thought was decent for the amount of walking I did on the bridge.  SCORE!  I knew at this point a sub 4 was out of range, but I figured I could pull off a 4:04.  Still decent, especially after driving 700 miles less than 48 hours ago and on 4 hours of sleep.  I can do this.  I would run for 2 minutes, then walk for 30 seconds.  Then run for....wait, is that a crab and a shark ahead?  It was!  A cheer station with costumed people, welcoming us to mile 24.  WTF???  And with that, my race fell apart.  I stood stock still for a second, wanting to cry, and then stalked off, unable to run at the moment.  A cheer sign right after the incident told me I only had 2.7 miles to go- and at that point, I realized that NC must have a new torture method for marathoners.  I hated the race, the state, and everyone.  I jogged halfheartedly for a minute, then walked.  Repeat 5 times.  Mile 25? appeared at 3:56, and the girl I was running with muttered "really?" under her breath.  A guy on the sidelines cheered us on..."One mile to go!" and we grunted.  Onward.  I was so mad at the race, and myself.  I let it get to my head, and I didn't care about a PR, or any damn thing anymore.  Just fuc%ing get me out of here.  Mile 26 in 4:06.   No finish line in sight.  A  guy right ahead of me that I halfheartedly passed asked...when will this be OVER?  And I had no response.  I kept jogging and finally saw the finish....grimacing (cant wait to see those pics) through the finish line in 4:09:04, no sub 4, no PR, and a broken runner.

Race Bling
I collected my medal, visor and some water, decided not to wait in the food line (yep, you had to wait to get your bbq or fries) and went to find my boys.  I collapsed into Greg, sobbing about how damn mad I was at the mile markers, the race, and mostly myself for letting it freakin get to me.  He hadnt seen the finish (traffic killed him) so I clued him in, and at that point, the 4 hour pacer came by, chatting with racers.  Turned out they missed their mark by 3 minutes, which sucks.  A racer with a garmin clocked the course in 26.84 miles, which wouldnt have mattered time wise for me, but its the second long marathon Ive raced (I understand tangents, but a marathon true to form probably would have been 26.3 or 4).  Meh.  I left the race dispirited, not gonna lie.

In the hours after the race, I decided I could be a brat for 24 hours.  It took less to come out of it.  I'm still dissapointed in myself mostly - I should have tossed those mile markers away and raced my race to my best effort.  I wouldnt have come in under 4, but I probably could have hit a 4:04.  My legs were shot, but my heart and mind gave up.  Its the second course Ive done this on, and it annoys the hell out of me because THAT ISNT ME.  But we all have our bad days, and even though I threw a friggin temper tantrum on the course, I finished.  As I looked up the results later, I realized that everyone struggled.  I finished in the top third overall - top 20% women and top 25% AG.  That's pretty cool.  And according to the garmin dude, my race results put me at a 9:16 mile, which is pretty awesome.  Still- for 21 miles that sub 4 was mine.  But as a wise woman said to me....3rd times the charm.  I'll be back for that sub 4.  And I have learned from this race - more on that one later.  For now, it's 8pm on a Tuesday evening and I'm on a beach.  My kiddo is in bed, and my husband is waiting for me with a glass of wine and a bubbling hot tub.  And that's what life is about right now.  I think I'll focus on that :-)

Night, friends.  Thank you for listening!

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