Friday, May 10, 2013

Flying Pirate Half Marathon Recap

I spent all winter training for this half marathon. I easily talked  my running partner Randi into doing it with me. As much as I love to run, I had been feeling a bit burnt out about it. I really wanted to do just one more half and then take it easy with shorter races and obstacle course runs. My hope was to train correctly, put in enough miles and do enough speed work and tempo runs to get that sub 1:50 half. 3.5 months of training went into this run and here is how race weekend went down.

The race takes place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That's the OBX for those of you not fortunate to be from the mid-Atlantic ;) There was a large group of women from my Moms RUN This Town club doing the race, so we all headed down on Saturday afternoon and hit up the expo.

Being from VA Beach, we are kind of spoiled by the size of races this area draws. We have Shamrock Marathon weekend in the Spring and The Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in the late summer. Both expo's are huge and crowded with lots of stuff to buy and vendors giving away tons of stuff. I guess I was still coming down off my Shamrock induced high and was disappointed, no, not the right word, but snapped back to reality that most race expo's are not quit as big or packed with retail merchandise as those back in VB. Which was actually kind of nice, it was quick and painless getting my packet and although it was small and I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything....I did get a new iPhone holder.

There was also a contest for running in the best pirate costume and this magnificent thing was the 1st place prize. I almost went shopping for an eye patch and parrot after seeing this baby, but chose to run in my Lululemon and MRTT shirt instead. Obviously, I missed out.

After the expo we headed to the hotel and then out for some appetizers and a beer. I was without my family and even though I missed them, it was nice to not have to worry about getting the boys feed and ready for bed. I was actually going to be able to rest and concentrate on getting myself ready for the race. Yay me!

The course was a straight line south. We headed out early to catch the shuttle from the finish, where we parked our cars, to the starting area.  The race coordinators were very organized and had more than enough buses for everyone. We got to the starting area with plenty of time to take care of business, like the porta potty and pictures, you know important pre-race stuff!

Important pre-race stuff, getting pic's with my fellow MRTTers.

The race started after a failed attempt to get the crowd to the do the Harlem Shake and we were off. The course itself was really nice. It starts in Kitty Hawk and goes south to finish in Kill Devil Hills. The terrain varies from tree lined streets to bay views; onto a tour of the Wright Bothers Memorial (only around the base, thank Goodness!); and then into a park that starts as a packed dirt trail to actually running a hilly trail with pine straw under foot. You emerge from the forest at the top of a hill and sprint about a quarter mile to the the finish line down below. It was a really cool way to the end the race.

stock photo: Wright Brothers Memorial

So how did my race go? Well, it went. I felt great. I was well rested, well nourished and according to my Garmin, I was holding onto a 8:10 pace for the first 5 miles. At mile 4 there was a small hill  incline that I thought was not too bad, but somewhere around mile 6 then 7 I was slowing and I wasn't feeling so energetic. I wasn't too far behind Randi but somewhere around mile 7 she realized I wasn't with her and stopped for me to catch up. I have the bestest running partner, but I told her to go on and get her PR. We decided to shoot for a 1:49/48 and that is what we were on pace to do (knowing that we would slow once we got onto the trails). I didn't want to be the reason she didn't PR, so off she went and she got her 1:48! I think a 3 minute PR for her!

stock photo from flickr form 2012

When I got to the WB Memorial, my runners brain was in full on sabotage mode. I was still on pace for a sub 1:50, but I was shutting down mentally. I don't know where all this negative talk came from, but I was hating running. I was tired and my ITB started to hurt which just threw my mind into overdrive with stuff like.."why do I do this to myself"..."I still have 5 miles to go"...and "this sucks". Great positive self motivating stuff like that. (eye roll)

By mile 9 I had walked at least once and it wasn't even at a water stop. I decided to run and stop at the water stops and just keep moving. Well, that didn't happen. I think at mile 10  my friend Helen came up on me and was so sweet asking how I was. All I could do was give her a thumbs down and scowl. I was so mad that I was walking, my knee was hurting and I just threw the last 3.5 months of training out the window. (At least that is how I felt.) 

Once we were on the true trails, I was walking up them and running down them. I crossed the finish line at 1:55:10, 4 minutes off my PR and 6 minutes off my goal. Ugghhh. I can't lie, I was really pissed at first, not that that is a terrible time by any means, but that it just wasn't my day. I let my runners brain dictate my running. I was ready. I might not have run a 1:48 like Randi, but I knew I could do a sub 1:50. At least I think I am physically capable of it, but my stupid head keeps getting in the way!! It is very frustrating!!

After the race I got the courage to go and look at my Garmin split and compared them to the on course pacing. My 5 mile split had me at an 8:10 split. Their timing had me at a 7:41 split. Hmmm, I can't run a 7:41 pace for 13 miles. Maybe that is why I felt like death at mile 7? I was spent. Was it my Garmin that threw me off? Do I rely waaaayyy to much on it? Probably.

Even with my craptastic second half, I would totally do this race again. It was well organized and executed. The course was beautiful and the varied terrain was a plus. Also, my friends Cathy and Helen took second in the costume contest! I have to see what they come up with to take first!

Ahoy Matey's!
Unfortunately for them they didn't get to take home Captain Glitter Hooks skull, but they did score rum cake!


  1. I ran this half too. I was way slower than you but I had a blast. My goal was simply to finish which I did. I'll be back next year, planning on staying a few days and exploring the OBX.

    1. It was a great race! I swore off halfs for a while, but I would definitely do this one again. You should head down to Hatteras the next time you go and take the Ferry over to Ocacroke. It's a day trip, but worth it.