For Veteran's Day weekend, a group of running friends and Michelle and I finally made the long awaited trip to Nags Head, NC to stay in the Outer Banks and run the 3rd annual OBX Mara½thon. We had all been anxious for this weekend since we started planning and training for it earlier this year; even prior to Michelle and my wedding. Unfortunately, the week leading up to the OBX weekend took a sad twist for me as my Uncle David Shayt of Gaithersburg, MD passed away suddenly after a summer long fight with multiple myeloma - an incurable cancer that affects the plasma cells. Michelle and I spent time with family and attended services for my uncle in Baltimore, MD before making the drive into the OBX from Virginia on Saturday.
Back in 2006, when I ran my first full marathon in Washington DC, my uncle and aunt joined Michelle to cheer me through to the finish of the Marine Corp Marathon. It was special to me that my uncle, a former US Marine and long time DC resident, was there than for me on one of the biggest days of my life. As I was now preparing for the OBX ½, I knew my uncle's memory would help me push through this race.
Just as it was in Baltimore, the weather in Nags Head was beautiful and perfect for running. Blue skies and mid to upper 50's. I was really looking forward to the run, regardless of my time. I knew this would have to be a better weekend than the Rock N Roll run of misery that I had completed back on Labor Day weekend in Va. Beach.
Race day came and our group was pumped and ready to head out at 6 AM. I guess I had a decent sleep the night before but it still took a cup of joe to get me going and awake enough to get ready for the start line. Everyone has their own methods, tools and tricks for race morning. For some, a shirt, shorts, shoes and socks is it. For me, a former coastie and Boy Scout, I tend to be a bit more (or overly) prepared. I have found what seems to work for me and after casting it aside for Va. Beach, I decided to stick with what I knew worked this day. So, that includes running shorts that are close to the knee, a tech t-shirt, running socks, Asics shoes, an Ipod Nano loaded with hard rocking tunes, Sony dry earphones, Nip Guards, Nike dry hat, a Fuel Belt with 4 bottles of GU20 and 2 gel packs and my flip phone. I also use BodyGlide on my feet and legs and Sportslick on my toes to prevent blistering and rash. I have found this combo of gear serves me well and doesn't slow me down. To an elite runner, this would be way overkill but I am not an elite runner. Also, for the first time, I decided to wear my name on the front of my shirt in block letters. I had always heard that wearing your name encourages people to cheer for you by name and I thought it would be something fun to try.
The race start is in Nags Head with the finish being in Manteo on Roanoke Island. Pulling from the history of the area, this year's race had a pirate theme so there were runners in costumes and a post-race pirate party in downtown Manteo on the waterfront, a former pirate cove. I was looking forward to the finish and the challenge of climbing and crossing the Washington-Baum Bridge into Roanoke Island. Shortly after 7 AM, the guns sounded and we were on our way. I had to keep reminding myself not to start too fast and save my energy for later in the race. Despite this, I still ran a 7:50 first mile and a 8:00 min second mile. I felt good, the temperature was nice and I just settled in a pace and jammed out to some tunes. As the race started, my Ipod shuffled from song to song and for the start of the race, I was pacing to Cake - Going the Distance which is a great running song.
This was the first time I came to the finish in pain and slow at a race. I had the energy I had needed to run a 7:30 pace the final mile as I did at Va. Beach in 2007 but my leg was so sore, I could bairly run, arrrgghh! Anyways, I made it to the finish in 1:54:25 and Michelle and Krista were there as I arrived. Not only that but for the first time at a race, I heard my name announced as I crossed the line. What a relief!
For our group, Dave led the pack with a strong 1:41, Mike and Andi were right behind me with a 1:55 and Jennefer with a 1:57. This was Andi's first ever half marathon and she did the best in class by finishing 19 out of 280 ladies in her age group. My time was good enough for 54 out 143 in class and 477 out of 2773 total finishers. I was happy as this was about normal for me. There was no PR but it was a step back to the norm after Va. Beach.
We hung around beautiful downtown Manteo for several hours, maybe longer enjoying the sun, the crowds, the tasty sandwiches and the free beer. As far as post-race parties go, this was one of the best. There was a great band, dancing pirates and plenty of people watching. I definitely recommend this race to anyone who wants to do a fun full or half marathon next fall.
The group and I also did some other site seeing in the area before and after the race. Michelle and I added a few additional stops on our way into and out of Nags Head. If you are in the area, I definitely recommend checking out the Wright Brothers Memorial (site of first flights), Fort Raleigh which is the site of The Lost Colony, The Weeping Radish Farm and Brewery where beer is made in the original Bavarian style from the 1500's, downtown Manteo, the Manteo Lighthouse and the OBX Brewing Station (the first wind powered brew pub in America).
For Michelle's blog on the weekend, go to mac1995.blogspot.com and for more photos, check out my site at smugmug.com.
In 2009, I am undecided on any race commitments yet but I have the urge to run another full marathon. I am considering a return to Washington DC for the Marine Corp Marathon :)