Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Race Report: Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon

Shiny new medal to add to the box under my bed.

On Sunday, I ran the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon. I'm going to throw suspense to the wind right now and tell you I had a great race. And now I will try to salvage that suspense and start from the beginning. 

I registered as Christine - so formal!

I meant to write weekly updates about my training, but that goal fell to the side right around the time my training did the same. Funny how that happens. This is not to say I wasn't running - I was getting in about three runs a week, I was doing a lot of yoga, and I was swinging my kettlebells. But speedwork? Not so much. Long runs? Often skipped or shortened. I topped out at ten miles, three weeks before race day. Not exactly ideal, but when you are an overworked and underpaid graduate student, you have to cut corners somewhere. 

So you can understand why, the day before the race, my goals were thus: run the whole thing, have a good attitude, and try to finish around 2:10. Basically, do everything I didn't do during the Battleship Half Marathon. All respectable and attainable goals, and I felt good about them. 

Then I showed up race morning. It was a dark (my wave started at 6:40am). It was warm (temps hovered around 60 degrees). There was loud music and lots of people and funny clothes (it was St. Patrick's Day! I had nearly forgotten!). I started getting excited. And then I saw that this race provided pacers for both the full and the half marathon, and it was settled. I made my way to the two hour pace group and swore to stick with them for as long as I could. 

Nathan only got photos of my backside.

And then I ran 13.1 miles. Highlights included: seeing Nathan at mile 11, when I most needed a friendly face, and then seeing my friend Lucy at mile 12, when I most needed a laugh. Dance-running to Gangnam Style while the crowd cheered. Making a mid-race friend who was exactly my speed. Listening to the banter of the pace group leader, Brenda, who was motivating and energetic and silly. All the funny and touching signs in the crowd, including my favorite: "Worst St. Pat's Parade Ever." A flat course. The sun rising around mile mile three as we ran over the Intracoastal Waterway. Keeping up with the pace group and running shockingly consistent miles. Smiling, laughing, and having a really good time. 

Post race glamour shot. 

I crossed the finish line at 1:59:31. Not quite a PR, but my second fastest half marathon to date. Considering my original goal of 2:10, I was more than happy with that time. I honestly didn't think I had a sub-two hour half in me that day, but I guess you never know. I think I was able to run so fast for so long (for me) due to all my cross training this last year (I cannot sing the praises of kettlebell enough) and due to the pace group. Having someone to follow and keep me on target was invaluable - I didn't have to think, I didn't have to watch my clock, and I could literally see my goal right in front of me (and, at the very end, behind me!) the entire time. 

My splits, for anyone who is interested in those sorts of things (the pace leader was aiming for a steady 9:09 pace - sometimes she strayed from that, sometimes I did, but overall we were right on target!): 

Mile 1: 9:04
Mile 2: 9:03
Mile 3: 9:09
Mile 4: 9:10
Mile 5: 9:04
Mile 6: 9:05
Mile 7: 9:07
Mile 8: 9:10
Mile 9: 9:03
Mile 10: 9:07
Mile 11: 9:06
Mile 12: 8:50 (this is where I pulled ahead of the group) 
Mile 13: 8:57
Mile .21: 7:56 (sprint to the finish line!) 

BREAKFAST. Thanks, chickens!

After the race, I said goodbye to Lucy, then Nathan and I headed home, where I took a few photos because I am a narcissistic blogger, showered, and then made an obscene amount of French toast. Then I graded papers, because a TA's work is never done, and THEN we went to a post-race barbecue at our friend Myra's house to celebrate with a few other people who had run the race. I ate more obscene amounts of food and remembered why I love distance running so much - refueling is delicious. Bring on the carbs. 

It's now been three days since the race and while my legs feel mostly fine, the outside and top of my left foot were killing me until this morning. I'm going to give it another day of rest, just to be safe. But I'm eager to get back to running and yoga and kettlebell, and I already have dreams of crushing my PR at next year's race. Also, if you're looking for a half marathon that's fun, flat, and well organized, and starts at the beach (but not in the sand) I can't recommend this race enough. Thanks to the organizers for a great time!