For some of the Cruiser ladies, the OBX Half Marathon was a race eleven months in the making. I started our race story with my post, But First, We Had To Have A Birthday Party, last week when I explained that the idea of running this particular race first came about at a Christmas party when the subject of my 60th birthday came up. I suggested inviting some of my running friends to our family beach house for the long weekend coinciding with the race, which just happened to be two days before my big day.
After almost a year of planning and months in training, the big weekend was upon us. Having arrived a day before the race expo, my friends picked up my race packet on their way into town. I was bummed to miss the fun of an expo, but didn’t mind not having to make the almost hour-long drive from our beach house down the island to the Kitty Hawk/Nags Head area.
While I appreciate the women’s fit, the gray is a bit drab for my winter pasty skin so I doubt I’ll be wearing it out and about. In fact, I’ve decided that the soft and comfy fabric will make it a great base layer shirt. Sorry race officials, but sadly, I won’t be advertising your race.
Along with the shirt and bib, we each received a cloth tote and cowbell as part of our packet. One can never have too much cowbell. 😉
We had agreed early on that we would come up with some sort of team shirt. I knew that I would most likely want to run in a tank, but was afraid tanks wouldn’t be warm enough for some of the other ladies who tend to get cold more easily than I do. Everyone agree that they wanted matching shirts and since I was the birthday girl, they insisted I pick the shirt I wanted. I went with this coral tank which Amanda decorated for us – didn’t she do an amazing job? Everyone else wore arm sleeves so it all worked out! Just for fun on Saturday, we created a giant flat runner team.
After an amazing pre-race dinner on Saturday night, we were all in bed by 9:30 for 4 AM and earlier alarms. After some bathroom shuffling and working the toaster overtime, we were all dressed, fed, and ready to make the trip to Nags Head.
It’s not everyday that you have to stop to fill up your tires with air before proceeding on to a race… For optimal traction, we drop our tire pressure from 36 to 18 PSI while driving on the sand, so at zero dark thirty we pulled into Winks to pump up the air in the tires of both SUV’s.
Sadly, our friend Kathy was injured, and couldn’t run the race, but she’s not one to turn down a fun weekend and joined us anyway! Since we were all running the half marathon, Bill and Kathy dropped us off at Nags Head, the halfway mark of the point-to-point full marathon which had started thirteen miles farther north in Kitty Hawk.
Once we arrived in Nags Head, drop off was easy peasy and we said goodbye to our race crew before walking the short distance to the race start. Bill and Kathy drove on to Manteo to the finish line to await our arrival.
Shortly after arriving in the athlete’s village, we asked someone to take our picture. Since I was wearing baggy black throwaway pants to stay warm in the crisp 46°, I slipped my pants down to my ankles for the picture, which explains the black pile around my legs.
Next we turned around for a picture of the backs of our shirts. My shirt said,” Birthday Girl” and everyone else’s said, “Birthday Girl’s Posse.” Just as we turned, a race photographer approached us for a picture capturing one similar to the photo above, but without the beautiful sunrise (you’ll see it later in the post).
Since we were scattered in different corrals, we parted ways; however, Angela and I were both assigned to corral B so we got to stay together. After the singing of the National Anthem and a short prayer, runners in corral A were off! We were told that we’d be heading out in exactly two minutes and so on for the corrals behind us.
While waiting for our start, Angela and I snapped a selfie, and a couple of guys wished me a happy birthday. Interestingly, no one mentioned my birthday again until I approached the finish line, even though I had Birthday Girl on both my bib and the back of my shirt. Later my friends behind me said that when people saw Birthday Girl’s Posse on the backs of their shirts they asked where the Birthday Girl was.
I planned to use Angela as my rabbit, and even though we didn’t plan to run together, we were looking at a similar finish time. Remember, I had set a lofty goal of running a birthday PR of 1:54:33 or faster, an easy pace for Angela.
My goal was to hold back during the first three miles as I warmed up, and then hopefully pick up the pace. The first two miles were on the highway and then we ran though a neighborhood for a little over a mile. I kept a close eye on my Garmin (affiliate link) pleased that I wasn’t pushing the pace…
- Mile 1 – 8:50
- Mile 2 – 8:53
- Mile 3 – 8:51
After feeling adequately warmed up, I relaxed and hoped to fall into a comfortable, yet slightly faster pace. Unfortunately, my iPhone had other plans and my music stopped causing me to get distracted as I tried to figure out what was wrong. Apparently my phone had rubbed against my SPIbelt (affiliate link) randomly typing in the wrong code enough times to disable it, and I had to run without music for about a mile until I was able to finally get my phone and music back up and running. As a result, mile 4 was a little slower than I’d planned, but I gradually got into a groove and felt really good.
- Mile 4 – 8:54
By the time I’d gotten my phone and music problem fixed, we were back off the highway and running in a really lovely neighborhood for a couple of miles, often near the water. I tried to stay in my grove and not be distracted by the scenery.
- Mile 5 – 8:42
- Mile 6 – 8:47
- Mile 7 – 8:38
Back on the highway, I tried to keep up my pace, but felt that I was having to work much harder without the reward of the pace I wanted.
- Mile 8 – 8:56
- Mile 9 – 9:17
It was just after mile 9 that the 2-hour pace group passed me (someone told me they finished around 1:57:00) and I could see Angela in the distance slowly slipping out out my sight. That combination demoralized me, and to add insult to injury, my GI tract started complaining bitterly right as I got onto the bridge. Seriously, where do you go when you have to go and you’re on a bridge that’s over a mile long?
- Mile 10 – 9:48
Luckily for me, my body and the race director cooperated – my body was able to hold out and the race crew had two porta potties placed at the far end of bridge. Both were in use when I stopped, but I only had to wait ten seconds or so until someone stepped out and I rushed in. Things didn’t go as quickly as I expected and I spent over two minutes (I looked at my watch) in the porta potty and then another thirty seconds refueling after I got out… I suppose I could have multitasked and taken a gel in the porta potty. Ewww…
- Mile 11 – 11.55
The view to the right of the picture above was stunning and I wish I’d stopped to capture its beauty. The water was a deep blue and the homes located along the water’s edge looked like the perfect place to relax and soak in the scenery on Roanoke Sound.
Kim and Erin stopped long enough to capture this picture!
Here’s a better view from the bridge that I snagged from an add from a previous year.
When I started back up after my porta potty and refueling stop, I felt much better and picked up my pace slightly.
- Mile 12 – 9:01
- Mile 13 – 9:09
During those miles I watched as a woman tossed her Nathan hand-held water bottle (affiliate link) with only a mile and a half to go. I told her that was the best throwaway item I’d ever seen tossed and that I was tempted to retrieve it in case I ever lost mine.
I gave a shark a high five and totally missed seeing the crab standing beside him which is sort of hidden in the picture below.
As I turned my next to last corner, I could see Kathy standing ahead cheering. She shouted for me to watch for Bill as I approached the finish line. I kicked up my pace to a 7:35 and rounded that final corner where I could see the glorious finish line up ahead. I scanned the crowd looking for Bill, but never saw him. Luckily he picked me out and snapped this picture.
I finished with at time of 2:01:13 (9:15 pace) and 4th out of 94 women in my age group. I was okay with not setting a PR, but extremely disappointed that I didn’t break a two-hour half. Those two plus minutes in the porta potty not only cost me a sub-two, but also kept me off the podium – I missed 3rd place by only 29 seconds…
I found Angela almost immediately after I crossed the finish line and she told me where Bill was standing. We commented on getting a picture taken in front of the Outer Banks Finisher backdrop and then completely forgot to go back over there…
I paused long enough to take a picture of the goodies that were handed to me shortly after I crossed the finish line, and even though I had no appetite, I thought this seemed like a really small amount of food for after a half marathon and marathon – I hadn’t ventured deeper into the finish line festivity area yet…
Shortly after turning to go find Bill, Erin and Kim found me and we got a picture. I was still feeling quite cranky about my time, but managed a smile for the camera. I’m not one to stay down for long and just seeing more of my friends perked me up.
Bill stayed where he was, watching and snapping pictures until all of our team had crossed the finish line, a wonderful perk considering the official race photos were rather expensive.
Once everyone had finished, Bill and I found each other and I suggested he take this silly picture of me pretending I had found one of the Outer Banks wild horses. Next we went out in search of the rest of our group.
Once we were all together, we headed toward the porta potties before walking over to the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse for post-race pictures. On our way, we found the real food tent where they were serving Carolina barbecue sandwiches and sweet potato fries. A combination of still not being hungry and incredibly long lines kept me from giving it a try.
Earlier, Bill and Kathy had scouted out the lighthouse in the quaint little town of Manteo as a pretty place to take pictures of our group. It was a short hike away from the festivities so it wasn’t at all crowded and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The first item on my list was to get a picture of my medal with the water in the background. Other pictures I forgot to take were a group jump shot and a muscle shot of me in my tank. 😉
Once Bill got his camera ready, he got a team picture…
And then a picture with our injured teammate Kathy…
Next I grabbed the camera to get a picture of our two amazing team support members who dropped us off and then cheered us in…
And finally, I asked Kathy to take a picture with Bill’s camera of the two of us. Without his support and willingness to put up with seven women for a long weekend in a little beach cottage, the trip wouldn’t have happened. He made my 60th birthday one for the books and one that will be hard to top!
The stories he could tell…
And remember the picture I mentioned the race photographer captured before the race? It showed up in the thank you email we received a few days later!
Overall, I’d have to give the OBX Half Marathon an A+. The weather was close to perfect for racing – 46° at the start and warming up to only 50° by the finish. The athlete’s village at the start was well organized, the porta potty lines were relatively short, and the announcer was giving clear information on what to expect. The race was well run, aid stations were every couple of miles, and the volunteers were friendly. Crowd support was pretty good for a non-urban race and as we approached the finish line, the crowd was very enthusiastic.
And the biggest thing I learned from my birthday getaway? It’s a lot of fun to have a girls’ weekend tied to a race!
- Have you visited the Outer Banks? If so, have you run one of the OBX races?
- What’s the funniest costumed character you’ve seen cheering you on from the side of a race course?
- If you could celebrate your birthday any way possible, what would you do?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.