Wrightsville Beach Marathon Relay Recap

The recap… finally…. after four days. Sheesh.  The weekend was a good kind of nuts. It started with working the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon (otherwise known as “Marathon Madness” since it’s a marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 5k and 1 mile run AND it’s in March) expo on Friday evening for a few hours. I was giving the full marathon runners their bibs, and since we were the first table, many of the half marathon runners came to our table first. I really tried to get them to switch from the half to the full, but I was met with several comments like “NO ONE DOES IT THAT WAY”, “Hell NO”, “HAHAHAHAHA!”, and “Yeah right!”.  It was fun to give some first time marathoners their bibs and wish everyone a good race.

I had a short shake out run on Saturday. My leg was feeling better and I was hopeful I wouldn’t have any issues with it on race day. When I got all cleaned up, my family and I headed back to the expo so my 11 year old son, Tyler, could get his 5k race packet. He was pretty cool and calm about his FIRST 5k, which made me very happy. The expo was amazing! They even had free beer and huge TVs set up so the men could watch the basketball tourney.  Cool points for sure. It was nice to see so many people from my running group, Without Limits. I talked and talked and talked and the kids played with the equipment Play It Again Sports had there. The weather was windy but warm, and we were all concerned about when the rain would come on Sunday.

We headed back home for a bit and then got back for the 5k that started at 5 pm. My husband decided to run it too and sort of “shadow” Tyler, so he was ready to run. They were off! I knew Tyler wanted to run the 5k in about 30 minutes, so at about 25, I started watching for him. I saw so many people I knew, including Gary, my running friend who was running in a boot because he broke his metatarsal during a trail race. Gary, you are a hard core runner!!!

I got all choked up when I saw my son zooming towards the finish line.  He crossed right at 29 minutes and my husband soon followed. They did run together for most of it until Tyler started to “kick it” the last quarter mile. Good boy, just like your momma taught ya! He learned that he needs to practice more for it to feel better and that he wants to continue running… music to my ears! It was great to include him in “my” race weekend.

Gunnin' to the finish!

Gunnin’ to the finish!

Now to race day.  In order to eat, get stretched, then get to the start line by 5:45, I got up at 3:30 am Sunday morning. It looked like the rain was going to hold off, thankfully, but sometimes you just can never trust that weather! My husband is a Clemson alum so he and the kids were part of the team that would man the first water station at mile 2.  I was worried the kids would complain they were tired or just get bored, but they wanted to help the minute he asked them, and they were still excited at 5 am.

I didn’t do a pre-race jog but walked quite a bit, saw lots of familiar faces, and then happened upon a fellow blogger Paul from Running Wild, only recognized because of his bib number. He was running his 3rd marathon this year and we were hoping to be able to catch up and meet. We chatted a bit and then I hit the port-a-cans one last time.  My goal was to run the full 16 miles (my part of the marathon relay) at 8:05-8:15 pace, which is the pace I’m hoping for in Boston to re-qualify by at least 5 minutes, and I was nervous.  The weather was around 50 degrees and mostly cloudy – perfect.  The wait for the bathrooms was taking FOREVER so I got more and more irritated the longer I had to wait. I missed seeing the anthem and the rest of my friends before the start, but at least I made it in time and wasn’t stuck IN the jon when the gun went off (to hear THAT story, click HERE).  When the race started, it took a while for Corral 2 to get going, and I was in the back of the pack. I had to run on the side of the road, which was fine, since I was able to easily pass people. The miles quickly went by and when I passed my husband and kids at the first water station, they were too busy doing their jobs to see me.  Oh well, next loop! We crossed over the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge where I was able to get on the sidewalk.  There were many volunteers warning the runners of the medal grade on the floor of the bridge, but I saw one who had been injured as she ran. That’s always horrible to see.

It started getting light out and we were able to see the scenery a little better. Landfall is a private community that I never get to see because there’s guarded gates and I’d get in trouble, so it was nice to be able to run there.  There were many people watching and cheering, and the college team aid station themes were a lot of fun. We looped through there and then headed back towards the beach for loop two. I was getting that feeling that I needed some fuel and had already taken my Gu at mile 8, so I took one at mile 11.  I knew my pre-race meal experiment was a big fat failure and I will now count on a ginormous burger the night before the Boston Marathon. It was so pretty out! The sun was peeking behind the thin clouds and I could see the birds just swimming along in the waterway. It was nice and calm.

I was getting tired and I got mad that I was getting tired at the half marathon mark. I knew I only had three miles to go, so I channeled the saying on a guy’s shirt I saw that morning, “SUCK IT UP”.  I worried that I would never be able to hold that pace in a hilly marathon, I worried that I would crash and burn, I worried about everything. But I kept going and knew that I could make myself keep going if I had to.  The thing is, I’ve never made myself do that.  It’s a totally new territory for me.  It’s scary, but I’m ready.

I saw mile 16 go by and then saw the exchange tent where I was to give my race bib to my relay partner, Sherman, who stepped in when my sister injured herself and couldn’t run, even when the team name was Twisted Sisters. Heh heh. Anyway, I got the bib unpinned before I got to him so he could put it on his race belt. I detested the thought of a belt, plus it didn’t fit the race number, so I just pinned mine on. No big.

Me and Sherman at the exchange. I do not know why I was laughing but it makes me laugh to see the picture of me laughing when I did not have funny thoughts in my head at the time. It was more like "*^%@#$".

Me and Sherman at the exchange. I do not know why I was laughing but it makes me laugh to see the picture of me laughing when I did not have funny thoughts in my head at the time. It was more like “*^%@#$”.

I stopped my watch at 16.1 miles with 2:09.  I figured that to be around an 8:04 mile, so I was pretty happy with that since it more than met my pace goal. And like I mentioned above, it gave me so many doubts, scary thoughts, and misgivings about being able to run the hilly Boston course at an 8:15 pace, which is what I really want to do. THEN I had to channel my coach who would probably tell me that 1) I didn’t taper and 2) I didn’t carb load and 3) no Negative Nellies. So I stopped whining to myself, turned up my good playlist, and jogged the mile or so back to my car and my warm clothes so I could wait for Sherman at the finish. I thought that I had done good. I learned a little about my pre-marathon meal and what I must do. I learned that I could take a Gu and drink water at an 8:10 pace (even though I did get some up my nose but I just came right back out). I learned that I can push myself and am able to meet my goals.

It started to lightly rain as I headed to the finish line. I felt bad for the full marathoners because no one likes to run a race in the rain. Thankfully, it wasn’t too heavy and ended up stopping.  Thankfully! I met up with my sister and then my boys to watch people finish.  It was great to see fellow team members pace each other, support each other, to see people lining up and cheering finishers. I love running and what it can do for people.

Just past the finish line - full marathon in 3:31:34, 3rd Place Relay Team.

Just past the finish line – full marathon in 3:31:34, 3rd Place Relay Team.

The Twisted Sisters Marathon Relay Team finished in 3rd place in the full marathon with 3:31:34. I would highly suggest this race to anyone who is looking for a PR. It’s flat, fast, and the course is a good one. I’ll be back next year.  I’m not sure in what capacity, but I WILL be back!

Any other Boston runners out there who are just OBSESSED with the race? Yeah, I totally am. It’s almost consuming.  Just over 4 weeks until the Boston Marathon. And I’ll be ready.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Wrightsville Beach Marathon Relay Recap

  1. Congrats to both you and your son on awesome races!! It’s great that your whole family was able to get involved with the race – just makes it so much more fun!

  2. Congrats on the awesome experience and race!! You will ROCK Boston 😉

  3. Nice job on a fantastic weekend and a great warmup for Boston (I write that last word enviously, as a hopeful BQer in training)… even better that you were able to get the whole family running. I live in L.A. and often run along the beach, and there’s just something about running next to the water that makes a run (and especially a race) that much more motivating. I’ve not yet visited North Carolina, but Wrightsville Beach sounds like a keeper.

    Sixteen miles at an 8:04 pace and with no leg troubles… sounds like you’re ready to line up in Hopkinton today. Best of luck with the taper, and now begins the most difficult part of your Boston training as you referenced… not allowing yourself to get completely consumed over the next month. No doubt I’ll be consumed by it, and I’m not even running!

    • Thank you! I honestly don’t know how to NOT let the whole Boston thing take over my life! But I’ll just enjoy the moments, experiences, and accompanying feelings as they come. Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful area and Wilmington is a great quaint vacation spot (quite different than LA!). I’ve never been to California so I wouldn’t know how to compare the two, but I’m guessing they’re both pretty nice places to run. And just keep going toward that BQ dream – my journey was four years long but has been so worth it! Thanks again!

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