Monday, November 14, 2011

Race Report - Outer Banks Half Marathon

This was the race that got me back into "getting fit" a couple of years ago and, therefore, is indirectly responsible for getting me into this ridiculous triathlon thing!   Two years ago, when it was the first half marathon I had done for well over 20 years, I was happy to just finish in 2:19:39 - or 10:39 pace.  
Last year I finished in 2:11:33 - or 10:02 pace (I was coming off a pretty nasty cold for this one, and wasn't feeling my best)

Things have changed and I'm happy with my progression and that my aging legs are still up to the task....

This year my objective was to break the 2 hour mark (having run 2:02:xx at the Tobacco Trail Half Marathon back in March) and I'm pleased to be able to report that I ran a new personal best (at least, the best since I was in my twenties!) of 1:57:37 - or 8:59 pace.   I'm very happy!

At this rate if I keep running for another ten years I'll be running olympic qualifying times...  OK, maybe not!  :-)

SWMBO and the kids were tied-up this weekend with all sorts of "stuff" this weekend, so I drove to the coast on my own on Saturday morning and headed straight to the expo. and packet pick-up (I'm a bit paranoid about this stuff).  After spending an hour or so looking around and chatting I headed to some friends' house to watch some football and chill out for the afternoon.   Despite a nice offer to join them for a dinner out, I opted to stay in and cook for myself and was happy to be in bed and reading my book by around 9:30 pm.  I slept well!

The alarm went off at 4:10 am and, after getting dressed (remembered the Body Glide this time!) and gathering my stuff together, I had my now traditional race morning breakfast of 2 coffees; bagel with cream cheese; banana and one bottle of Ensure.   This seems to work, so I'm not changing it.

The OBX course is point-to-point and I elected to leave my car at the finish and catch the shuttle to the start.  I was soon parked at Manteo high school and enjoyed the sun rise over the ocean as we drove back over the causeway and in to Nags Head.

It was a mild morning (perhaps 50 degrees?) so I quickly dropped my gear bag off (to be collected at the finish); did some dynamic warm-ups and then went for an easy jog up and down the beach road to get loosened up.  Sometimes this feels like a bit of a chore, but this time I felt very good - no creaks!

I ran into my friends Liz and Michelle and chatted a while and also into Jon, an ex-collegue, and his wife.   Lots of pre-race banter!  OBX is a staggered start and, based on estimated finishig time provided when I registered I was placed in corral B, along with Jon and Liz.   The A corral went off promptly at 7:00 and two minutes later we were underway.

My race plan was to try to run even splits of around 8:45 to 9:00 pace and not to worry if the first mile was a bit slow based on the scrum at the start and getting my legs under me.   As it happened, I shouldn't have worried as my legs felt good and there was plenty of room.   I ran the first two miles with Liz (who was going to race using Jeff Galloway type run/walk intervals) and the splits were:   8:24    8:32

Definitely a little too fast, but I felt good that I had already got a minute or so "in the bank". 

Liz slowed to do her intervals and Jon joined me for about a mile and we deliberately slowed the pace before he left me at around mile 3.5.  The next three splits were:  8:43   8:47   8:47

Much better and nicely "on pace".

Form here on out I didn't run with or see anyone I knew.   I felt good as we ran through the Village at Nags Head and knew that I was still holding a sub 9 minute pace (you need to average 9:10 to break two hours).  I glanced at my Garmin occasionally but tried not to worry about it too much and to just enjoy myself.  the next three splits were:  8:56   8:51   8:59 - again, nicely even and within the target zone.   Took a gel at  mile five and would take another at mile ten.

Around mile nine I could feel myself tiring a bit and this is the point at which you cross the causeway and bridge on to Roanoke Island.  There was a reasonable wind from the SW, but it wasn't too much of an issue.  When I hit the bridge (the only significant hill on the course) I focused on keeping a fast cadence and was soon enjoying the view from the top.  The splits here were (as would be expected) a bit slower:  9:05  9:07  9:08, but I knew now that if I could keep the pace at sub 10:00 for the last few miles that I would break two hours.  Legs were tired by now, but I still felt good.  The last two full miles into the town of Manteo were 9:11 and 9:05 and I pushed a little of course at the finish line to 8:42.

Yeah!  I did it.   My Garmin said 01:57:37 and this was confirmed to the second in the official race results that were published later.   8:59 average pace for the race.

After chugging a Gatorade and some water and eating a protein bar, I enjoyed the finish line festivities and spent a while hanging out with Casey, Liz, Michelle and a bunch of other ladies while enjoying the free beer.   It was great to see downtown Manteo looking so good after it was hit so hard by Hurricane Irene recently.  A special shout out to Liz, who also broke the 2:00 barrier and to Meg, who rocked a 1:45 to finish third in her age group.  

Celebrating with Casey and Meg at the finish....   (Meg on beer seven out of about thirty!)

A fun day and a really well organised race as always.  A shout out to Jim Snyder and the guys at Outer Banks Sporting Events and a big thanks to the many volunteers.

....and a couple more photos (thanks Casey!)

Hanging with the Raleigh ladies

With Liz, Casey and Meg


  1. Hi Roger,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about the Village of Nags Head to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you!

  2. Hi Jane. Just sent you a message.