Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Race report: OBX Half Marathon

Long story short: This wasn't the race I thought I would run; therefore, it's not the race recap I thought I would write.

I told myself (and you) that my goal was just to get across the finish line this time. I said that it didn't matter how slow my time was, that this was the beginning of my comeback after having the twins. I said that I was grateful just to be able to do the race, given that I had to sit out of my last half-marathon because of complications with the twin pregnancy.

I believed those things were true.

It turns out that I wasn't being completely honest with myself (though I believed I was being honest with you!).

So, how did it go? 

Not the way I hoped. I struggled nearly the entire time. It might have been my worst race ever.

Because of horrible, unprecedented stomach upset that attacked around mile 2, I ended up walking a big chunk of the second half and visiting a higher percentage of the porta-potties on the course than in any previous race. I have never been so sick on a run. Even now, as I'm sitting here telling you about it, the mere thought of lemon lime Gatorade is making me nauseous. I ended up finishing over 3 hours, which is the longest (by far) that I have ever taken to complete this distance.

Does my time matter? Maybe it shouldn't, but it bothers me.

I know. I should give myself a break. Three different people have been in residence in my body in the last four years. With the double occupancy of The Sisters, I ended up with 12 weeks of bed rest, which erased all the hard work I had done in 2010 to train for my last marathon. This race is like starting over for me- a reset button for everything.

Writing about the race has been harder than I expected. I really left everything I had on the course. It was the most difficult, most demanding race I have ever run, and although it's been over a week since I ran it, I still can't manage to rehash the whole thing.

I do want you to know two things:

1. This is an outstanding race. It's well organized, the course support is great, the scenery is amazing. It has the warmth and charm of a small-town race, but every detail has been handled with total professionalism. Even with a hurricane blowing through just a week and a half beforehand, the race organizers managed to pull off a smooth race. Not only that, they used the event to entirely restock the Outer Banks Food Pantry (which was wiped out by the storm) by coordinating a food drive at the race expo. Additionally, 100% of the net proceeds from their race events go to charity. If you have never done a race run by Outer Banks Sporting Events, you definitely should consider it. They are a class act.

2. I have already started looking at my training plan for another half marathon. This race (which felt like a failure in some ways and a victory in others) is a beginning, not an end. I will be back, stronger than ever...and I'm going to do more of my long training runs with lemon lime gatorade (or whatever they will have on the course for Shamrock) so my stomach can adjust.

Random race highlights:
  • I started the race with a good friend, and it was her first distance race. I remembered my first half-marathon (Rock 'n' Roll in Virginia Beach in 2005) and how nervous I was. She was as calm as I've ever seen her.
  • In the first mile, my friend and I ran behind someone with a shirt that said "Mormons on the Run." I've seen a lot of race t-shirts, but this was the first time I've ever seen one of those.
  • In the second mile, the sound was blending into the sky in an unbroken band of shimmery was impossible to tell where the water ended and the sky began. It was incredibly beautiful. The bridge up ahead was hidden by the fog that obscured the horizon, but I loved this part of the course more than ever before.
  • In the fifth mile, I passed a sign that read "Run like Gerald is chasing you." I have no idea what it was for, but I thought of the only Gerald I know, my children's godfather, running along with me as I went. Also, someone (seeing my "Virginia is for Runners" shirt) yelled out, "Good show, Virginia!"
  • Going up the bridge over the sound toward Manteo, I looked out over the water. It gave me chills to look back over to Jockey's Ridge, where we had started, and see how far away it was.
  • They had coconut water at the finish instead of sports drink. Since I kind of never wanted to see sports drink again, this was a delightful surprise.
  • The best part of the whole thing was when George showed up, having just finished a hard-fought 26.2 himself, and handed me my discarded striped knee sock arm warmers. He had seen them on the roadside and picked them up to bring to me, even though they were covered with sandspurs. What a guy.

So, am I glad I did it? Yes. Mostly, though, I just want another shot at it. I wasn't expecting my time to be fast, but I wasn't expecting it to be so slow. I'm working on processing things and seeing this one as a success. 

I did it. I did okay. And I feel okay about telling you that I'm not totally okay with the whole thing yet but expect to be more okay as time goes on. I'm working on it, and I'll get there.

Thanks for all your support and for the race playlist ideas...the music was one of the best parts!