Wrightsville Beach Marathon – Race Recap


It’s the day before the big race, the marathon, the day I’ve been waiting for for months. I was looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. I got up, ran my shake out run, the weather was good. It was cold and cloudy. Could tomrrow be a PR-making day?

My son came home from a sleepover Saturday, and ironic enough, he didn’t sleep much. We went to his soccer game, came home, and got ready to go out to the race festivities, all while I’m stuffing my face with carbs.

Food. I ate A LOT. It's like, the more I ate, the hungrier I got.

Food. I ate A LOT. It’s like, the more I ate, the hungrier I got.

Friday evening and Saturday were packet pickup, and on Saturday, there’s a 1-mile fun run and a 5k race. The full and half marathons were on Sunday morning.  I have to say, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon is relatively small, but it’s getting bigger and better.  I easily got my race packet and then my son’s packet for the 1-mile run that was Saturday evening.  The expo was nothing new, and I didn’t see anything I wanted wanted it all, but didn’t buy anything.

A beautiful day for the expo, 1 mile and 5k races!

A beautiful day for the expo, 1 mile and 5k races!

My husband is the head of the Cape Fear Clemson Club’s aid station for the race, so he was in charge of meeting The Tiger, the only “real” mascot who came to the college team themed race. It was cool to meet a real mascot. He started with the 1-mile and 5k races and was at the Clemson aid station during the marathons.

My boys and The Tiger

My boys and The Tiger

Then it was time for my son’s 1-mile race. Evidently I signed him up early last year, and thankfully the race emails all participants, because I had no recollection that I had signed him up until I got the confirmation email. Oops. The race does keep you informed well in advance, so there should be no question as to when or where events were taking place. Pretty awesome. It was time for my little one to run. I was slightly nervous, but he’s been running A LOT lately, so I figured he’d be just fine.

It's not often you can say you ran with a leprechaun.

It’s not often you can say you ran with a leprechaun. My guy is in the orange shirt just right of Mr. Leprechaun.

Momma was right. That little bugger came in 2nd overall with a freaking 6:21 mile time. He’s NINE. Yeah.

Post race.

Post race. Complete with his hand in the bag of chips.

By the time The Tiger was done with his duties at the races, I was more than ready to go home. I was so happy to see tons of familiar faces. So many people I know where there, whether it was to volunteer or race in one of the four races. What a great family event!!

We headed home so I could eat more carbs and put my feet up, because, yes, it IS all about me. Bedtime was early.

My typical pre-race burger. It never fails. Kitty wanted one too.

My typical pre-race burger. It never fails. Kitty wanted one too.


I normally eat four hours before big races. I’ve been doing it since I started learning more about marathons, and it’s never failed me. I’ve bonked ONCE during a race, and I knew exactly what I had done to mess it up. It’s never happened to me since. I got up at 2:30 to stuff my face once more.

That was an early morning.

I don’t see that time very often.

I tried to get back to sleep, but my mind wouldn’t let me. At 4:something, I got back out of bed to get ready for the marathon. Would I be happy when I got home? Would I be sad? Angry, thrilled? You just never know with these things.

We dropped my car off at the finish line and headed to the aid station where my boys would be working, which is conveniently located right by the start line.  I got my Gu situated, used the port-a-jons about ten times, and I was ready to go.


Pre-race. Looks like I have to pee.

I remember having some “oh shit” feelings because the weather forecast was off. It was already warm and the race hadn’t even started. It was 57 degrees and 90% humidity. Gulp. I do not run long distances well with temps above 50-55, especially with the humidity. Well, here goes!


The race started at 6:40. It was crowded, but it wasn’t where you’re stumbling and having to weave in and out of people. I think people actually seeded themselves according to the pacers, probably a first in any race I’ve done. At mile 2-3, I passed my boys’ aid station and called out to them. They had their music blaring, Clemson gear out in arms, and it was fun. There were a LOT of runners, which is something that I really like when racing. We headed off the island, and I noticed that I was soaked with sweat.  Grrrr. Of all the &(*%& days to be warm and humid. The course is a loop course, but it’s not even loops, so it’s hard to explain. We would be heading back to the island again, but first, a nice stretch of road with a lot of spectators and cool, funky aid stations, all college themed. You know, because it’s March Madness, the theme of the race. The NC State station had my friend, Alecia, dressed as Ms. Wolf, and the three times I passed her, she was dancing away. I hear her calves are strong as steel. I thought to myself, “I’m doing it”. (Thanks for the reminder, Judith!!!)

We went into the gated community of Landfall, a place I’ve only seen when visiting one friend and running through for this race. I had my times at certain intervals marked on my arm so I would know if I was on pace or not. Things were going according to plan, and at mile 10, I had 30 seconds on my goal time, 3:43. I met with a friend who would end up running almost the entire rest of the race with me, when I exited Landfall the first time. It was back to the beach.

I wasn’t feeling on my A game, and I wasn’t sure why. I knew it would be a test and that I was going to have to dig really deep to get my BQ that day. At the half point, I was one minute ahead of my goal time. Whew. I was sweaty. I was ready to do it.

Runnin' my race

Runnin’ my race. You just can’t keep those thumbs down.

As you’ve heard me complain before, my Garmin does not like the clouds, so the readings for mine and my friend’s were all over the place. I could only run based on feel. I picked up a little goody bag at my boys’ aid station at mile 14-15. It had ibuprofen, salt pills, gu, a mini water bottle, and a new gum in it. I really struggled with getting my stuff out, so I asked my friend to get them out for me. There was a lot of swearing.  As I passed mile 16, I used some more colorful words and basically said that I was going to make this marathon my bitch. I had ten miles to go. Let’s do it.



I have to mention that along the way, I came upon this group. The woman in the chair was paralyzed 26 years ago. She was a very young and extremely active girl at the time and was hit by a car. She and a friend decided the best way to celebrate life was to participate in a marathon. I had heard the story, and when I passed them, I told them they were amazing and blew them a kiss. Some good perspective. Because of chair issues, they were only able to complete 13.1 miles, but anyway, 13.1 is a LONG way.

Feeling good. Still have hitchhiker thumbs.

Feeling good. Still have hitchhiker thumbs.

We were coming upon mile 18, which is close to where you go back into Landfall. I had my goal time written on my arm. When I saw my time, fully expecting to still be a minute or more ahead of goal time, I



Then I realized that I was one minute BEHIND my goal time. I lost TWO MINUTES in those five miles.


Yeah. Needless to say, I sort of freaked. I was definitely feeling the weather. I FELT like I had been running a really good pace. My legs felt strong, but my breathing, eh, it was just not regular. When I brought my pace down, my heart rate skyrocketed and my breathing went with it. WTF?

Herein lies the confusing part. Maybe I spent too much energy trying to figure out what happened. But I felt defeated. I tried to speed it up. It wasn’t working. My body was like all

Heeeellll NO.

Heeeellll NO.

I knew I would not be able to pick up and get a negative split marathon, the one thing I was really counting on  and planning for the entire training time. My legs felt good though. I wasn’t sore. They weren’t tired. WTF? Honestly, I knew my goal time was out. I felt like I was running in pudding, or soup, or water, or something other than air. I FELT like I was running at a good pace, but the fastest I was actually going was too slow.

I didn’t give up. I really thought about what was going on. And I didn’t understand what was going on. Is it the humidity? I kept going until I just felt like….


And I walked some. I adjusted my goal to be a sub-4:00 marathon. Nope. Gotta beat stomach flu marathon of 3:56, so my new goal became a sub-3:56. And I was REALLY upset. How could this happen? How could I lose two minutes in 5 miles? How could our watches be off? How could I LET this happen? How could I waste this opportunity and sacrifice all the sacrifices that my family and I have made for this dream of mine. Then there’s the other side of me. I am freaking running a marathon. Ain’t no shame in that. So it’s the Libra side of me that pulls me on either side, the one that divides the happiness with “you didn’t try hard enough”. And I kinda wanted to punch it in the face that morning.

Almost to the finish.

Almost to the finish.

And I saw my family, my boys, the ones who are always there for me. I saw so many of my friends who yelled my name. And strangers were yelling my name too. It was confusing earlier since I was like, “how the heck do they know my name” and dur, it was on my bib.

And I finished.

Marathon #8. Done.

Marathon #8. Done.

Official time is 3:52:28.With all the walking I did, it ended up being an 8:53 pace. An 8:50-effing-3 pace. So with that, come mixed emotions. I really needed to sit and think for a day, let the weekend digest and see where it went. Yes, I’m REALLY disappointed. I’m confused.

IMG_7525 wb5

I’m also very proud, I’m happy. That’s a REAL smile. I ran a marathon. Sure, it wasn’t the pace I wanted, but I sure gave it a hell of a try. So I let my disappointment marinate for a day, and now I’ve moved on. I loved this marathon. I love having goals to shoot for. I loved that my friend ran with me. I love that I saw TONS of people I knew out on the course, that my boys were a part of it too. I loved that my friend made sure I had food, even though I didn’t want to eat. I LOVE the fact that my friend, Amanda, who I met because of this race,  KILLED her race and got her BQ by almost SEVEN minutes. It’s about family, friends, goals, energy, and living life. Next year, I’ll be back.

But first, I got me some Ironman to do.

Hugs, anyone?

Hugs, anyone?

What do you think about marathons? Love/hate? Time goal/no time goal? Do you like all my new animated gifs?

Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, ironman, ironman florida, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, running with friends, training for marathon, training for marathon hal higdon training plan, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Wrightsville Beach Marathon – Race Recap

  1. Randee

    I’m so proud of you! That’s weird about your Garmin being off. Our pacer suddenly lost 4 minutes in landfall about midway through the race. our pace with one thing and then suddenly it was something else very different. I think something was off with satellites.

    • My Garmin is off all the time. It doesn’t like clouds and it doesn’t like the island, soooooo….. I knew it could’ve been a problem, so I wasn’t relying on it, but I guess I should have had more times written down so I didn’t get so far behind. And I’m proud of you too 🙂

  2. I don’t do thons. I was training for a half and decided not to do it. My highest mileage week was 46 and I really just don’t think I can run enough weekly miles to do another thon (I have run one and it was u-g-l-y).

    Congratulations on your finish time though!! You finished a marathon injury-free and smiling and even if you didn’t get the time you wanted, that is kind of a victory because so many people start training for them and never make it to the starting line. Plus, you had your whole family there to support you which is so neat. I’m a USC fan (sorry) but it’s so cool that Tiger was on the course because in a marathon, seeing little things like that make you smile and just build you up mentally. You ran a very respectable time and this race looks really fun. My coach ran the half last year and I had a friend run the half this year too. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

    • There’s something about “thons” that I just love. Evidently I love to torture myself too 🙂 I loved the fun on the course (part of it was not fun and I felt all alone (cue “All by Myself”)) and seeing SO MANY people I knew. That gets a lot of points. Thanks for your compliments…sometimes it’s hard to let go when you know you could have done better on another day. On to the next! 🙂

  3. Kelli, my heart was broken for you on Sunday, but what thing I learned after Marine Corps is that the things out of my control should not ruin the fact that I ran a strong marathon. You did the best you could on the day and have alot to be proud of. And yes, you will be back at Boston and I will cheer for you in Wellesley when you are running!

    • Thanks for all your kind words here and on Facebook – it means a lot to me. I do feel good about the race. It took me a few days, but I’m there and I’m happy. It is what it is and there’s nothing I can do, so there’s nothing to be upset. It was definitely better than my Boston experience in a different way (obvs nothing is better than Boston) and I’m ready to move forward. Thanks again and I will look forward to the Wellesley tunnel! You will have so much fun in Boston – I cannot wait to hear all about it!

  4. Melissa

    I think you did a great job. Marathons take so much time and effort, months of hard work and commitment, which all boil down to one day. Anything can happen on that one day, GI issues, weather, headwind, tired legs, etc. For some that one day comes into fruition flawlessly and for others it takes numerous attempts. You know you can do it, on Sunday there were other factors at play. You finished and will go forward. I promised myself a two year break from running marathons last year after Boston because for me it’s a huge let down if things don’t go like I want them to. I’m just enjoying running right now with no time goals or pressure. The half was awesome this year. Being able to pace a friend to a PR and encourage her to a new goal. It was fun and I enjoyed it. It’s okay to be upset about a race that didn’t go your way, grieve it as long as you need to, learn from it, and you will definitely move forward 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your kind words – I know we’ve both had some “interesting” experiences where you just wonder what the heck happened! I think I’m done being upset – needed just a few days, but I’m ready to move on and forward! Looking forward to running more with you!

  5. Awesome job!! A marathon is a marathon!! Good for you for adjusting your goals and you still finished! You may have walked a little but you didn’t walk the entire last half!! Congrats!!!
    Marathons for me are totally mentally!! I love them and hate them!! I usually have goal times or at least loose goal times!!
    I liked your eating food gif the best!! 🙂

    • I was totally being that eating food gif!! Haha! It’s crazy, but it really works for me. The whole marathon thing is frustrating when you have a time goal. It comes down to so many few seconds per mile that can really make or break it. I’ll never give up on my goal to get back to Boston, but I’ll have fun along the way, until I get there. That’s all you can do, really! And thank you 🙂

  6. You and your hitchhiker thumbs did AMAZING. I love the idea of the marathon more than I actually like running it. And I have goals, but anything can change while you’re out there. I learned that my first time out and for this next race I know I need to be flexible. Just like you were when you changed up your goal. I love all these pics. You are awesome. And now on to the next! So excited for your Ironman!

    xo, your sister in hitchhiker thumbs.

    • What IS it with the thumb thing??? And wait’ll you see what I did with one of them later during the race that I didn’t notice until the next day. Weird. Anyway, thank you, it was a bitter pill to swallow that stupid humidity could come between me and the PR I was seeking, but hey, I’m over it now and moving on. I already went to the pool, and from what happened there, I think I’ll be going back A LOT 🙂 A good distraction, that’s for sure! Thanks 🙂

  7. Mom and Dad

    KJ: You are the best! Mom and I are so very proud of you and your running accomplishments. Your blog is very well written and we do understand your disappointment in not beating the 3:45 thingy! Love always! M&D

    • 3:45 thingy. You guys are the best. If you’re ever taken hostage, the only code I would need is “whachy”, “thingy”, “anything-ma-bob”, or “dealy” – then I would FOR SURE know it was you. Thanks for your support along the way, texts and phone calls. They mean a lot to me. I wish I would’ve had a better result, but it is what it is, and it’s time to move on to my next thing.

  8. Still awesome! Huge props!

  9. You ran an awesome marathon and are super inspiring!! Sometimes I find that I run the best races when I don’t have my Garmin to refer to…that’s when I start to play mind games with myself. I can’t wait to see how your Ironman training and racing goes!! I personally prefer running (and racing it) only when it is attached to a triathlon. I feel like my recovery is SO much faster!! While I have run 10 stand alone marathons and 2 at the end of Ironman, I would prefer to run a marathon in an Ironman over a stand alone marathon any day 😉

    • Thank you. The Garmin usually helps keep me on track but it was just out of whack – no surprise in the clouds. I made it to the pool today to reacquaint myself with the water. It was “interesting”, but I’m ready to tackle this thing. I’ve heard from my tri friends who have both IM and racing marathons (which isn’t the same as running one), they all say that an IM is actually easier when it comes down to it. They did not say the training was though 😉 I’ll just have to see for myself. It’s time to move on! I’ll get my PR some day!

  10. I feel your Garmin pain since that was an issue for me in NYC a few weeks ago (Garmin thinks I ran right up a skyscraper. Bet you didn’t know I’m Spiderwoman.)

    You still rocked your race with a super time considering you ran through soup. You did it!

    • Don’t knock your Garmin, remember, you beat Meb!!! Haha! And no, I didn’t know you were Spiderwoman. Good to know, good to know. And it WAS like running through soup, but I didn’t think it would bother me as much as it did. I knew I was a cold weather runner, but jeez, come on already, it was less than 60 when it started! Anyway, time to move on. Another day, another lesson, right? Did you catch my shout out about the “I’m doing it”? That really helped until I had to change it to “I’m not doing it any more and I don’t really care”. Haha! 🙂 Hope you’re doing well!

      • I did catch the shout out 😉

        Maybe we should switch places and you can run here in the Northeast. It was snowing again about 5 minutes ago. Although NC in the summer is rough. I don’t miss it.

  11. Awesome job! And I love your animated gifs, haha.

  12. You will be back to Boston. You ran a great race, although not to your goal. With your determination and work ethic, you’ll be back. And now on to the next EPIC adventure, Ironman. We love you and support you all the way.

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  15. Way to go! Sounds like a tough day. Humidity always kills my runs. I hate that – train for months for a marathon only to show up on race day to awful humidity. Way to push through it! And congrats to your boy!

  16. chasingoprah

    Wow. Still a great pace!

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