This past weekend was the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. Of course, me being me, I signed up to do the Double Dare Challenge which is comprised of the Flight Flight 5k on Saturday followed up the half marathon on Sunday. I mean, if you are going to travel over 5 hours to go to an event you might as well participate in the whole event.
Wednesday, prior to the race, I was speaking with Bourbon’s Mom. I was musing how it was going to be nice to get some sun and beach time. She looked at me and said wryly; “Have you looked at the weather today?” Um, no. She pulled it up on her computer screen. What was sunny and 80 on Monday was now 50 and 40mph winds. Are you fu*%& KIDDING me? I’m sure the look that crossed my face was priceless. Sigh, oh well. Fiduciary incentivized exercise. I paid for it, therefore I shall run it. I guess I’ll just pack a few extra clothes.
Bourbon’s Mom and I drove down to Richmond where we picked up Luddite Runner. Then we all proceeded to the Outer Banks. When we finally arrived on Friday the weather guessers had gotten it right; it was WINDY. Not just any wind, but take your breath away kind of wind. The ocean was very angry. The waves were pounding something fierce. So much for a nice sunny, relaxing, beach weekend. It could have been worse, there was a poor couple who had their wedding scheduled….outdoors…..
Saturday was the First Flight 5k. There is a very good reason why those Wright boys picked that particular spot. It’s windy as all get out. We got to the start line and were freezing out behinds off. I was acting like a complete fool just to get my muscles warm. Hey, everyone is someone else’s weirdo.
We were all were doing the challenge, so the plan was to go out slow and just cruise around the 5k course. That was the plan anyway. We had elected Bourbon’s Mom to set the pace, we were just following her. Perhaps that was a bad idea. Her competitive streak came out. Luddite Runner and I knew the “easy peasy” day went right out the window. We cruised across the finish in under 35 minutes. Oops.
We spent the rest of the day playing mini golf, seeing the sights, and trying (as best we could) to minimize the amount of extra time we spent in the wind. It was gorgeous, right up until you got out of the nice sunny (protected) car and had to be out in it. We still managed to have a great time, even if it wasn’t sticking our toes in the sand and enjoying some sun. Again, at least we weren’t the poor couple who had planned a wedding.
Sunday morning; half marathon day. The three of us have done events together before. The plan was the same as it always was. Bourbon’s Mom and Luddite Runner would stay together running intervals. I was going to run on my own. The morning was practically a walking disaster. First, we got on the shuttle bus and Bourbon’s Mom sat on her hydration pack hose soaking her rear. When she jumped out of her seat and into Luddite Runner’s seat she smacked the cup of coffee thereby soaking Luddite Runner’s thighs. If that weren’t enough, we got all the way to the start line and I realized that I left my lucky tutu in the car. Crap….
We stood shivering together at the start line huddling between a truck and the tree line. It was in the low 40s and the wind was whipping already. A local had told us on Saturday that we would be shielded from the wind most of the course. We were all praying that was going to be the case.
We loaded into our corrals and I saw the 2:30 pacer. Mentally all I wanted to do was finish. I wasn’t expecting much with the wicked winds (and the cold). I had finished my last half in 2:28 so as long as I kept slightly ahead of the 2:30 pacer I would be ok. As our wave was released I was having some issues getting Coconut to get a signal. Apparently she didn’t like being that cold either. I wound up having to play catch up with the 2:30 pacer after convincing Coconut to get a GPS signal. At least it helped warm me up a bit. Now, I’m normally a warm runner. Even in the dead of winter I will wind up taking my gloves off because my hands get super hot. I didn’t actually warm up enough to take off my long sleeve shirt until after mile four.
I settled into a nice pace. Running with my Spirit Human has done wonders for me. She is so metronomic in her running. My goal was to try to stay on that cadence as long as I could. That being said, every runner has to have their own way of keeping pace. Mine just happened to be this very cute pack of boys running with 30 pound weight vests about a quarter of a mile in front of me. For six miles I kept up with them. Then starting at mile 7 I began to reel them in. As we rounded the corner for the Wright Memorial I passed them. I teased them a bit when I was running with them that they needed to run faster because I was using them as my carrot. They laughed. They were good humored about it.
The last few miles of the half are on dirt road and trail. Oh happy day! This is where I picked up a runner named Jenny. She had been shadowing me. As I stopped on one of the hills to mentally pull myself together she came up beside me and said, “Look you can’t quit I’m using you to pull me along.” I laughed only because hmmm, I wonder where I heard that before. For the next three miles Jenny and I stayed together(ish), pushing and pulling each other along. Don’t know where she came from, but man she was exactly what I needed.
As I rolled down the hill towards the finish line I was stunned at the clock. Wait, wha? I was so stunned that I didn’t even sprint through the finish after gaining the momentum from rolling down that hill. 2:21??? Seriously??? That’s nearly 7 minutes better than my LAST half. How is that even possible? I guess running with Spirit Animal and working my ass off at the gym (quite literally with all the glute and hip exercises I’ve been doing) really are doing me some good.
I gathered my medals and my hat I walked around to the finish to wait for my two amigas to come rolling through. I huddled together with a couple of other runners waiting for their respective friends. We were sharing mylar blanks in an attempt to stay warm. April in the Outer Banks and we were freezing, who would have thought.
Finally, the ladies came over the hill. I started shouting. I doubt they heard me but I was whooping and hollering and encouraging. I saw the clock. They shaved nearly 15 MINUTES off of their time from Disney. I was SO damn proud of them.
The post race party was right next door to the finish. They managed to grab some food (yet another race with no food options for me), and we all managed to snag a cider (yay! something I could consume).
We stood there shivering talking about the course (the supportive locals, the mimosas at mile 5.5, the cute pack of boys, etc) when out of the corner of my eye there they were. The cute pack of boys. I sheepishly asked them if I could get my picture with them. Hey, incentive is incentive. We stood there for a moment talking about Spartan races, which courses we liked which ones to avoid. It’s always nice to find common ground with strangers.
Overall, I’m exceptionally pleased with my results. I learned some valuable lessons between my last half and this one. I put Tailwind into my hydration pack (made a HUGE difference.) I packed a Picky Bar; you know, because otherwise I would miss second breakfast. I also learned some valuable lessons on course this time, but the most valuable lesson of all was just how much I really truly do love dirt. This is my second to last road race I am registered for. I don’t think I will be registering for any more. I run happiest both mentally and physically on dirt.
I am exceptionally pleased with my time. I’m exceptionally please with my pacing. I’m still slow, but I’m making progress every race.