I Like Medals, Okay?

2 years ago today, I ran my first half marathon.

This past weekend, I ran my 9th. Both in the same place, and both a crazy experience. So let’s take a little look back at the whirlwind that was this weekend.

I was originally scheduled to do the 8K and Full Marathon challenge. However, after suffering through 26.2 miles at Marine Corps, I wasn’t too fond of doing that again so soon. So I transferred down to the 8K and Half Marathon Challenge. Why the challenge? I like medals.

So when Outer Banks Sporting Events posted this photo on Wednesday, I had a change in plans:

Source

I immediately sent the picture to my mom and said, “Look at that Fun Run medal! We have to do it!”

After some quick searching to see if I had to be under a certain age (all ages welcome!) we signed up. Then I looked at the schedule of events and noticed that the 5K was in the middle of the two, perfectly timed to do all 3. And so a weekend of bling was born.

Friday (Expo Day)

I don’t normally write about race expos, but I felt like this one needed to be written about. This is my third time running with Outer Banks Sporting Events (OBXSE) and I found this expo to be extremely unorganized. Since I hadn’t registered for the Fun Run and 5K in time for my name to be on my bib, I wasn’t assigned a number prior to the expo. I was sent around to 3 tables before someone could help me and everyone seemed like they were already tired of answering questions (the expo hadn’t even been open an hour). So after being tossed around and assigned a number on the spot (which felt a little sketchy), I went to pick up my shirts.

Normally, OBXSE shirts run super huge. I rarely wear my 2013 OBX Half shirt because it looks like it’s eating me. They tend to stick to unisex tech shirts. This year, I had seen Women’s XS as an option and picked it thinking, “Oh boy! Finally a shirt that will fit me!” Well, that was a wrong assumption. This year they went for a long sleeve cotton blend. That XS was way too small! I eventually got to trade it for a Medium, but I had to wait until the next day to do so. Apparently it was a wide-spread problem and they were going to rush print some more. Working in that world, I know there was a very stressed out race director somewhere trying to solve this problem and I commend them for trying to make it right with everyone.

After the chaos that was the expo, I got to lay on the beach. That’s right, the beach. In North Carolina. In November. The weather was apparently very confused, but hey I’ll take it.

 

Saturday

The schedule for the morning was the 8K at 7:30, 5K at 9:30, and Fun Run at 11:15. The weather at 7:30 was gorgeous. The forecast the day before had called for rain but it was warm, and sunny, and actually pretty humid. I felt like I was lining up for a June race instead of one in November!

8K
All 3 races were pretty uneventful, and they all followed the same course, just cut shorter and shorter each time. The 8K took us pretty far into Nags Head Woods, which I had ran during Flying Pirate back in the Spring. I was glad to see they had sprayed the dirt parts down because they can get really dusty with so many people running on them! I was pretty nauseous this whole race so I had to stop and walk more than I would have liked. I’m pretty proud of never having thrown up during a race and I wanted to keep it that way!

5K
I must have sweated out all the bad things that were making me nauseous because this one felt great! The heat was disgusting since it was getting later in the morning. It was almost 80! We didn’t go into the Woods as far, so a lot of the course wasn’t shaded. Since it was so hot, I ran slower but still managed to run the whole thing. I also finished fast enough to land 4th in my age group!

Fun Run
Mom and I stuck together for this one, and by that point the sun was boiling. I really wanted that cute stingray medal, though.

At the end of the day, I got my first 3 medals for the weekend!

 

Of course I had to a) wear my medals to lunch (I was not the only one in Barefoot Bernie’s doing so) and b) get a picture with the tiki!

The weather was so nice that we even got to lay out for another few hours after we got back! There was a surf competition taking place right in front of our house and we had prime seating for it. I might have fallen asleep though…

Sunday

Overnight, a huge storm moved in, making the weather turn a complete 180. It really wasn’t that cold (mid-50s when I woke up) but man, the wind gusts were bad. They were approaching 30mph at some points and made it feel a lot colder. Like the cold natured person I am, I put a quarter zip shirt on over my t-shirt thinking I would be fine the whole time and I pinned my bib to it.

Well, that lasted all of about a mile. The wind was at our back about 90% of the entire race (which was amazing, by the way) so the true temperature was really taking effect. I awkwardly had to stop and take off my jacket and re-pin my bib to my shirt. I’m kicking myself for not just tying it to my front with the bib facing out, because I can almost guarantee I would have PRed the entire race! But, it’s too late to fuss over that now.

Sometimes, I have races where I feel great the first couple of miles and then bomb about halfway through. This was (thankfully) the complete opposite. I felt awful the first 4 miles and just mentally switched gears to “just finishing”. I was running without a watch and had no clue what my pace was, and there were no clock on the entire course so I was just running by how I felt. Then, around 4.5 I started to feel good. Really good. That tailwind was making my life easy! The weather was great! Life was fantastic!

The first time I ran this race, the bridge killed me. But I went up over the “hill” easily (while mentally chanting “This is not as bad as Farm Basket hill” over and over… it really wasn’t even comparable) and on the other side, I got a shark selfie, something I had done in my first race!

The shark was totally flattered that I wanted a pic with him. He was really into it.

After the bridge (and shark) was mile marker 11. At this point I felt really good and kicked it into gear. At this point I was actually passing more people than were passing me (which lets be honest, rarely happens to me).

The last stretch to the finish line was right into the wind and it made me extremely happy that we weren’t running into it the whole time. I crossed the clock and it read 2:25, but I was in the 3rd wave to start so I know it had to be faster than that.

I did a really bad job of centering my bib when I moved it!

My official time was 2:19. My current PR is 2:15, so if I would have pushed a little harder and not adjusted my stupid bib, I probably could have beaten it. But the important part here is that my first half time on that course 2 years ago was 2:43. I’ve got a special blog post for when I hit #10 but let me say so much has changed in those 2 years, and I’ve loved every step of the journey.

And now for the really important part. The final haul!

Overall, I LOVE this race, and am already considering doing it again next year. It kind of helps that it’s in my favorite place in the world, but it’s a high quality race with great swag (once they got the shirt situation fixed) that included a finisher hat and a pint glass!

So until next time, I leave you with this fantastic shirt I found in a gift shop later that day:

 

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One thought on “I Like Medals, Okay?

  1. Leah, Thank you so much for your kind words! Glad you had a good experience at this weekend's races and that you love the bling this year! WE got really lucky with the weather. The wind gods were working with us!
    We are truly very sorry about the ladies cut Half Marathon shirts and we are working on a resolution right now. The Full marathon shirts seemed fine. Just so you know – we ordered a sample early on and the Ladies Half shirts ran at least a size smaller than the sample. We just met with the shirt vendor and if you signed up to replace your shirt, you will be receiving a shirt from us asa we can get them here, printed and shipped to you.
    Please know that your race experience and that of every one of our participants is very important to us at OBSE. We appreciate your support and encouragement as we strive to make the Outer Banks Marathon Weekend events, as well as all of Outer Banks Sporting Events other races and events, of the highest quality! We Truly care about your experience at all of OBSE's events. It's also a matter of community pride and responsibility. Our entire small community of 35,000 (population) comes together to give you a quality experience and it is important to all of us, not just the race committee! We are all striving to give each one of you a stellar race experience. From the Outer Banks community to you, thanks for smiling and choosing to run with us. May the wind always be at your back!

    Like

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