Runcation = “running” meets “vacation”; I mean, who doesn’t want to combine the best two parts of living together?
I’ve had my ear on the OBX Marathon for a few years and this was the perfect year to call it to action. I was riding high on my focus marathon training and thought why not have a second trip to the Outer Banks this year, this time for a marathon? This runcation was an easy sell to my mom, Diane, and my sister, Chelsea as something we should do in November. My mom has picked up running and has loved the Outer Banks for as long as I’ve been alive, and it would be the first time we’ve had a vacation together in year.
Why do a “runcation”? If you’re like me an are an endurance aficionado (such as marathons and up), you don’t get too many races back home during the year. Pack up the bags and choose your favorite destination (I would love to run the Munich Marathon in Bavaria one day). A runcation is simply a vacation revolving around a race, usually less than a week.
Originally I only planned on a marathon, but I had noticed they have “Challenges”, such as 5K/Marathon, 8K/Half Marathon 8K/Marathon, and so forth as the 5K and 8K are run on Saturday and the half and full marathon on Sunday. For the full prime of both races and $10 for a third medal, you could
race run two races. There were more “challengers” than what I thought for the OBX Race Weekend. I only saw a few 8K/Marathoners — the BAMFs of the challengers. I figured the 5K would triple as a shakeout/speedwork/race run. Triple win!
For this not in the know, I ran a 3:16 marathon three weeks prior. You can find lots of information about back-to-back marathon training, assuming you have months to prepare. Months. For BTBM three weeks later, you don’t have much, if any. And most people will question your sanity and tell you to not get injured, as if you were legitimately trying.
By Tuesday eve of post-Columbus, I had the urge for a short run. I ran 2.5 miles. By the third mile I felt like my body was definitely loosening up. The following day, Wednesday, I braved a five mile run. I took the next three days off because I had a knot in my right hammie — something I haven’t had before. By Sunday I had a case of the fuck its and decided on a run. I yogaed a few times and I thought that it was a knot that needed to work itself out. It turned out I was right. My 8-mile run ended with 6:53 and 6:29 miles. I just ran that bitch out.
My training/tapering/recovery week – the one sandwiched between my true recovery and taper weeks – consisted of 41 miles, just under 8:00 miles, as that left like a moderate, easy pace for me. I wanted to get some runs in, but had no time to train and saw no real purpose as I’d do more harm than good as I did just run a marathon. I kind of throw out my 2014 Marathon because it was a clusterfuck from head to toes, in regards to everything except what not to do.
I ran Monday and Tuesday before my race week. Two six milers.
The funny thing about this runcation was the small house friend the runpack lodged sat a block away from my partycation in July. Right next door. The weather was very moderate, even warm for my 5K, and cheap. November is definitely not peak season, so you may obtain lodging at your location OBX palace on the cheap. You may find some establishments closed for the season, however.
An hour into our runcation, and by that I mean driving there, we ran over a fresh deer carcass. The bone punctured the tire, causing us to call AAA and drive to a garage to repair it. The deer facilitated a 2:15 pit stop. The expo closed at 1900, and we arrived by 1845. We were all in la-la land from traveling the entire day, but needed to pick up our packets, especially me since my race was the next morning and I didn’t want to dick around getting my bib at the youth center before my first 5K in over two years. Since I insanely registered for a challenged I was given a challenge bib — one that I would wear during both races. I also received two shirts – one for each race and a couple glass and plastic cup. I love shit like that. I can fill up my pantry and closet while exercising. Boom!
The runpack embarked toward the 0930 starts around 0830. I hadn’t run such a race since JULY2013. Needless to say, I attacked it like a dog that caught a tire — without a clue in the world. Looking at previous years’ race results, I ascertained that it didn’t have a Kenyan field of runners (or all of the Kenyas ran the 8K that started before my speedworkout) or that it had a slow course. Yes was the answered.
I had friends say various things when I went batshit crazy registering for races a month or so ago, and one was definitely this. Not because of its distance, but its intensity. For a person who’s covered 80+ miles several times in a week 3.1 miles isn’t anything, but it’s a fast race. You don’t get 10+ miles to ease into it like you can with a marathon. Newbs generally positive splits 5Ks because we don’t know how the race them. You have to go out fast, but not two fast because you have two more miles after your first.
My first leg of my runcation would be run based on competition and how I felt. If I was close to the podium I would keep on my jets; if the 5K was faster I would let off a little. I warmed up with a 1.3 mile (that’s where a street stopped and I turned out; that number isn’t a superstition or anything) and didn’t felt like I “had it” that day. I ran about a 9:00 pace with a 30-foot sprint every so often. That got the blood flowing a little, but my V-8 legs felt like only half were firing and my breath was much too labored. It was probably a combination of travel fatigue and too much time off. My body often responds better when I’m running more often and with more gusto. But, it was only 3.1 miles I told myself.
I found the rest of the runpack just outside of the track. The 8K awards were going on. I tried to act like I was stretching, striding, and other shenanigans that “serious” runners do. Eventually I went potty and made my way to the starting line.
There was a kid run or something. How do I know this? There was a flock of young children with
adult runners chaperones. Many of the 5Kers had the WFT face on. Eventually said the runners who are racing come to the front. I got a kick out of some guy saying that the people who actually want to race will get in the front. All guys and one woman in a jogger bra. Ladies: if you want to intimidate runners, wear a jogger bra. Instant cred.
And the race director asked us about five times if we’re ready, we were off to the finish. We started on a track, with my Garmin 620 reading 5:25 for my pace at some point. That was the single fastest reading I’ve ever read on a GPS device. There were probably a dozen or so runners out in the front for the first half mile. After which, the adrenaline runs out and me, in my “hot pink” pink shirt my mom bought the runpack continued on record-breaking pace. (My mom bought the runpack custom pink shirts without names on the back; it was a tech shirt, but not breathable and certainly not made for marathon, so I decided to wear it for 5 kilometers, not 42.2K.)
I quickly learned this would not be a fast course. Parts of it were on a gravel/hard mud course with muddles and a turnaround on the out-and-back course on a two-way street. I definitely did not want to nearly, completely stop to turn around on my bald ASICS Hyperspeeds. My first mile: 5:52, a individual mile PR for Christian.
Mile 2 was more reality for me. I still had a ways to go, and I definitely wasn’t going to continue to run a sub-6:00 mile, with or without that marathon. The turnaround slowed me down. I took a cup of water and immediately splashed my face with its glory. The date was November 7, but it was 75F, 90% humidity, and sunny — basically the perfect day for vacation, but not a runcation.
I dropped a young kid right around the end of Mile 2, of which I had a course-assisted slow-down to 6:42. He ran topless and wreckless (well, more like someone else who had no idea how to run a 5K). As I motorboated around the end of the course my only goal was to maintain speed. I was running around 6:20 at this point, which more than satisfied me. A volunteer on a bicycle followed me back into the stadium continuously shouting “lead, or first, female”. Not for me, but presumably jogger bra closely followed. The last time I ran a 5K I finished just before the first female and I didn’t want to break tradition.
I was third. How great, I’d podium! I was convinced that no one was within striking distance because I heard nothing but the crowd of spectators. Less than thirty feet from the finish the kid DARTED out of no where to take third. He finished 19:36 and myself,
19:37. I won my Age Group, but missed the overall podium by a few feet. And you better believe your ass I struck around to pick up my AG 1st Place pin and to stand on top of the podium. And a 3-minute PR!
After I regrouped from my disappointing fourth-place finish, I learned that I need to work on a kick, speed, and strength. More immediately, I needed to loosen my legs. I went on a cooldown run of 3.2 miles; yes, I know, that’s longer than my race. I could have had a shorter run and saved my legs more for my marathon, which apparently isn’t a big deal in terms of distance in my mind anymore, or I could run more, loosen them legs, and perhaps be ready for a sub-3:20 attempt. Seeing how I wasn’t running for Boston, I thought I’d go with the high-risk, high-reward of running more the day before a marathon. This runcation was also to see what I was made of. And apparently mom and sis thought I was running to the mall crawler, not the beach house, so eventually mom went to the house and sis stayed at parking lot. That can be problematic when the runner could literally run anywhere. Miscommunication — they were cool when I arrived at the house.
I didn’t do dick for the rest of the day other than a pit stop at the expo to buy stuff (the runpack just basically got our packets the previous day) and went to the Food Lion for post race adult beverages. (Bordeaux.) I tried to take a nap, but I couldn’t relax myself enough, so I ended up drinking water like a fish and eating carbs every five minutes. I saw Okie State slaughter TCU in a game of high school secondaries. Of course, so the second marathon in a row, Ohio State played at night so I only watched a few minutes. We won 28-14 with Barrett out from an OVI. Dad, if you’re reading this, 2241 is hours late for any text. Thanks!
Um, I woke up really early. Early enough that one friend and I were messaging on Strava why I was up. Apparently, me peeing like an old man and her in a different time zone partying coincide on Strava. I tried to shut my eyes for a little bit more, but I ended up getting out of bed early. It’s one of those situations in which if you fell asleep you’d be more tired when you woke up. I got out of bed before 3AM. I turned the coffee on and made my daily fruit smoothie. Mmm, smoothie.
Eventually I realized I could have probably went back to bed because mom and sis were in no hurry to wake up and mill around. I need my time to get my juiced flowing around. There are three races going on this morning: the marathon, half marathon, and 6-mile untimed fun run. They all would end at Manteo, but we’d started as north as our race dictated. To make a long story short, I was dropped off first and I was the first runner at the marathon! Appropriately, UPS was in charge of collecting and delivering our gear check drop bags. Again, I wore my Camelback. Yeah, yeah, it weighs me down. But I’m so adapt to running with it, it doesn’t seem to notably hold me back.
It is fun talking with people waiting for a race to start. One couple, the husband running, came from northern Pennsylvania to run; although they, or he rather, usually run trail races. Another guy was running his 7th OBX marathon; this was the 10th anniversary. I spoke with a girl who’s “trying to like” Altra, and “I’m all about [getting bloody marys from the crowds]”. I hear ya. After another port-a-potty break I started stretching by a couple of pacers. We started shooting the shit. They were surprised I could run as fast as I do with a hydration pack. One asked what I’m pacing. I said I’m not and was just there; I should have said I’m pacing myself, haha.
The DJ was a fan of ’80s rock.
The weather was starkly different than my 5K. Mid-50s and WINDY. We ran north-to-south on the sound end of the island, so we didn’t hit wind during the entire race, but at time it was horrible, at others, it guided us up a bridge. I don’t think the sun ever came out. Fine by me.
I’m spoiled by the Columbus Marathon. Although far from the largest (although including half runners is just south of 20,000), it puts on a show. A band, fireworks, and shit to start! The OBX had a very fast ten second countdown and off we go!
My rough plan to run the marathon was to run it about the same way as Columbus. Going out at 7:50, to 7:40, then to 7:30 and see where my legs take me. Real results: 7:47, then within a few seconds of 7:35 until Mile 12. I felt like I might have been pressing a little bit, but I’m a negative splitter on long runs so I had the marathon right here I wanted it.
The OBXM featured 870 finishers. It was about as crowded as August’s Emerald City Half Marathon, which is to say not very. The start had a crowd, but I didn’t see a lot of people gosling for position, but that may have been because I started up closer to the front, in my appropriate place. There was a mile, more on that later, that didn’t allow much for passing.
The first eight mile we ran by the back roads of the OBX — very cool! This is where residents live, many of whom were outside cheering us on! I wore my iPod Shuffle (it’s a proven fact only Garmin owners buy them), but I waved at everyone I could during the race. The 3:25 pacer also decided to pass me while I was running a 7:40 mile — which is 3:20 pace. That, dear pacer, is why you finished the marathon by yourself. A couple of miles in I took off my arm sleeves as it was too warm for me to run with those on. During the instances it wasn’t windy I started to sweat a little.
You never ran by the ocean. You saw lots of the sound, but you never saw the ocean; I found that interesting.
The wind was around 20MPH, but NNE, so it usually blew against your back. Thank the Lord Jesus it wasn’t SSW.
We approached the Wright Brothers Memorial during the end of the 8th mile. Winds, lots of wind as we wind around the Memorial base. I didn’t know when exactly the trail was coming, but I knew it was.
It was worse than what I was expecting. Miles 11-13 featured the Nags Head Woods Preserve, which proved itself to be a real motherfucker. The first two miles sported rolling, patchy, gravel hills. They weren’t too bad, but you killed a lot of energy going up and down and avoiding shit on the ground. Then you took a Larry at the start of the third trail mile. I was warned about the single track. That means it really only has enough space for one person; although I did pass one person. Did I mention it was sand and dirt? My shoes: ASICS racing flats. Yay! I had on my two medals after the race in Manteo when a guy asked me if I won (apparently I look a lot faster than what I am; read into that as you like). He ran a 3:02, and the trail miles killed his hope of a sub-3:00.
I had the “are we there, yet?” mentality as soon as we hit pavement. Although I ran the next two miles at 7:37 and 7:39 I was hoping my gel would continue to do its magic. It did not. I started to run mid-7:50s and although the wind was at my back, I knew the 5K and trail killed my 3:20 shot. At this point I would be happy as long as I didn’t crash and burn. Miles 17-21 were mid 7:50s with Mile 22 at 8:01. This part of the race wasn’t as picturesque as the first half, as you ran on the main “highway” and resort neighborhoods, not residential and national parks. Again, although the wind was at your back, it had taken its toll. I was struggling to run 8:15 pace into the wind. That took a lot of residual energy. My mom enjoined the scenery from it, however.
I saw a lot of the generic marathon signs. I remember seeing lots of Kanye, but I didn’t know the back story. I remember one table handing out Mimosas (not from the official volunteers). Lots of shitters. About every mile had a port-a-jon or two. I think I thought about using one during the first third of the race, but I think that was about as mental for a break as me actually needing to take a piss. Again, I never stopped during this race.
Mile 23 featured the big ass bridge going to Manteo from the Big Island. But, the wind was at my back! At this point, my legs thought 8:30 was a decent pace. I wasn’t put up an argument.
You would think that after the bridge you’re done, but surprise! Two-and-a-half more miles to go! At this point I’m thinking about not running any slower. I’m almost there and indubitably have the capability to run a couple more, although with not sub-7:00 surge as Columbus. I tried to get fellow marathoners to push through the last mile as I was passing them.
As foreshadowed, the 3:25 pacer finished by himself and actually passed me. And he actually was trying to talk to me and give me advice and instruction, all while we were on mile 26 and I had my iPod Shuffle jamming. That’s why you don’t trust pacers!
I finished my marathon a couple of minutes after the rest of the runpack finished their races on our first runcation; mom and sis crossed the finish line holding
each other’s hand! I saw the video of my finishing at 8:21 pace: I looked like I was galloping with no power. I need more speed work and stuff.
I got water, Gatorade, a nice tech hat, a marathon finisher’s medal, a 5K/marathon challenge medal pretzels, and a chocolate peanut butter cracker thing. I walked around like time didn’t matter after that. It didn’t. Mom and sister decided to sit down on a curb; after my mom got up to find more water I decided to follow her, to an actual bench where I could actually sit down. I enjoyed my water and Gatorade. At this point my ass was getting cold and I started the dirge to
Santa Claus the UPS truck for my bag. I spoke with the 3:02 runner on the way there. I packed a long sleeved shirt, which was the smartest move of the day.
Walking back a runner, with whom I was running next to down the stretch, chatted me up. He asked about Strava, my Camelback, and how I did. Nice guy. I found the runpack and were were once again the runpack. They found free food; by free I mean the registration fee paid for it. I can’t imbibe anything more water or sports drink after a long, hard race. I didn’t test that.
We located the shuttle bus to take us to the mothership, so mother could drive us home.
So, I hit the shower for a nice, long hot soak. After imbibing more water, I changed to beer, Blue Moon Pumpkin. Not bad, but not as bold as I’d have liked. You
live and learn. Surprising, I wasn’t as sore as the Columbus Marathon. Maybe it was because I didn’t run as fast, maybe I was fitter, or maybe I’m making it up. I don’t know. I taught my mom what a foam roller is later on that day.
We went to the Jolly Roger, a local joint for dinner. Mom of course made mention that we ran the marathon, and I of course mentioned only I ran the marathon. The server asked what I ran and he was as impressed as if I ran a 2:30 (I didn’t mentioned Columbus or the 5K as he was legitimately impressed). Cool dude, and I got pasta. Mmm, tasty.
I really can’t complain running a 3:26.31 marathon the day after racing a 5K. One of the pacers before the marathon asked if I had raced the 5K (meaning you went balls to the walls); he was surprised by my answer. And then I ran a 3:16 three weeks prior. I definitely trailed off, especially the last 10K. I was disappointed because this year that’s been my strongest part of the race, but I guess you can’t win them, or come in third, in all of them.
- 8:21 pace
First race of the year not PRed.
Outer Banks Marathon Impressions
If you look at race results, you don’t see too many fast times. Perhaps fast runners pick faster marathons during this time of the year, and also because it is a real rocker of the course. A bridge during Mile 23 and three miles of trail, including one of single track. The Outer Banks Marathon is a well-run machine and I have no complains regarding that. I wish we could see the ocean, however! That would be really, really cool! I understand that they probably don’t because it’d be hard to get NCDOT to approve of that with too many two lane roads. It’s a fun course, and of course, a great location for a runcation!
Most establishments are still open during the time of the marathon. We went places that looks fairly deserted. Some people may like that, others may think they’re in a zombie movie. Your mileage may vary. Oh, and Lighthouses!
Post Race Runcation
Originally, we wanted to visit Cape Hatteras, but because of the chance of rain, and storms, we decided to stay more local. We shopped and did a little sight-seeing Monday and Tuesday. By Manteo, and presumably Hatteras, the sky became clear in the afternoon. The weather does the opposite of what you think it will do, right?
The runpack had a lot of fun. The brief experience of my 5K, of as my sister so eloquently said, “you won’t be running that long,” to the full family outing on Sunday. It makes you appreciate life more getting away and doing stuff. I get caught up in what I’m doing every week and the next week that I forget to enjoy life. It’s a great recharge.
Oh, and Tuesday night mother and I saw a shooting star whilst shooting photos on the beach. BOOM, MOTHERFUCKERS!
I’m running the Hot Chocolate 5K this weekend, in a preferred corral. That’s of note because HC5K required me to verify my approximate finishing time. A sub-20 5K requires proof, apparently. In December I run a 50K, which will qualify me for Marathon Maniacs. Why I are about that, I don’t know, but it’s a cool group. Runners are cool people.
It was abundantly obvious during my 5K I don’t have the speed or power to be very fast right now. I’m very fit with good endurance, but I need to work my speed game. Instead of getting good at shorter races, I kind of skipped to the long ones. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it will keep me from reaching potential. I bought a Trek road ride, which will help me for power. In addition, I’ll do speed work during my next marathon cycle. I all but abandoned speed at the end of the summer. I have the running base for distance and speed. Exciting times ahead!