We drove to the Outer Banks on Friday, stopping to meet one of my imaginary friends (this is a term my kids gave to my internet friends a long time ago). I try not to pass up a chance to meet some of these special people who have been so important to and supportive of me for the past several years! The race directors had asked that runners bring food donations for the food bank because it was recently emptied due to Hurricane Sandy and my friend offered to send some with us... thank you, Sara!
Then lunch out and a beautiful drive to one of our favorite places :-) We visit the Outer Banks several times a year – it’s like home away from home. This time we found our favorite hotel chain (more home away from home) – brand new in Corolla. We LOVED staying in that area! SO much more peaceful and wooded.... much more our style :-) Anyway, I digress!
We headed to pick up our race packets first... so some locating and driving around... and then wandering around the crowded EXPO to see what was there. I am proud of us that we didn’t buy anything that first night.. except Body Glide because I was OUT. We just wandered and looked and noted a few things to think about and maybe purchase the next day. Once we were finished, we headed out to find where we would be starting the next morning... and then off to locate the hotel. The Hampton Inn in Corolla is gorgeous! A little difficult to locate but, in my book, that can be a plus!
It was dark already by the time we checked in and we weren’t sure which restaurants were still open in this post-Hurricane Sandy off-season.... so we headed for a grocery store to pick up salads, celebration wine coolers and snack-type items to enjoy back in the room. After we left, we headed back to the hotel and almost missed it – it was SO DARK. We located a parking space and noticed that there were no lights on in the hotel either, except dim ones in the lobby. Obviously a power failure but we went in to see what was going on – and, at that time, no one knew.... so we went back to the car and had a picnic :-) An adventure! And the night was crispy cool.... so we couldn’t stay outside too long – but the stars were magnificent! Serendipity – a few hours to chat and plan and just be together. It turns out that the entire Outer Banks was plunged into darkness for several hours that night... it happened just AFTER we bought our goodies. Thank heavens we weren’t in a restaurant or anywhere else.... What a blessing to be right where we were :-)
We finally thought that the emergency battery lights inside looked like they were dimming and we figured we’d better get back inside before they failed too – so made our way in and up the stairs to our room. Propped the door open with the coffee table since there were no lights inside at all.... and began to locate our possessions. About that time, the lights were restored and this part of our adventure was over :-)
Saturday morning was beautiful and kind of lazy for us. The start of the 5K was not until 10am so we had a leisurely breakfast and headed out when we were ready. Just a 3 mile walk, right? We do that all the time.... for Don, yes! For me, NO! I was a wreck.. I have no idea why. Maybe jitters for the half the next day? I’m not sure yet – but I know that I should have paid more attention to my fueling and hydrating! The whole event was set up as a family weekend so there were lots of activities for kids of all ages – including a climbing wall. Of course, I wanted to try it but we decided to deal with it AFTER the race. We wandered around a bit until it was time to line up. Don, of course, is all ZEN... no worries, unflappable... never mind that it is his first race. It is ME that has the butterflies.. so we start! And he is walking faster than ever.... and I, never one to be left behind and keeping right up with him. (If he ever decides to train to run, he is going to leave me in his dust :-) We were fine until the end.... he decides to run the last bit on the school track.... and he is off! I try to jog and keep up but my stomach said NO WAY! I felt it seizing up right away.... I do have to say though – that these legs never stopped. I made my way over to the side (just in case) and kept going. Fortunately the heaves were dry so I didn’t embarrass myself too badly.... and I was only a minute behind him :-)
After that, I was way too shaky to even think about a climbing wall. We walked it off.. rested, drank and ate a little of the food provided. Then we went back to the EXPO to purchase some items we decided we needed... and then headed off for lunch and a wandering kind of afternoon – especially locating the start for the next morning.
Up Sunday early... well, early for Don.... I have a hard time sleeping the night before an event. I just make my body lie there until at least 4:30 before I give it up :-) We had packed up the night before and loaded the car so we prepared pretty quickly and headed out. The start was at 7am and I was there and ready to go a good bit earlier. I am always the calmest right before the start... when I am where I am supposed to be and lined up. At that point – for me – there are no more worries... there just is a task to be completed. Before then I die a thousand deaths in the throes of WHY OH WHY did I make this choice... but at the line? Nope, it’s a done deal so I go forward...
Anyway, he dropped me off and headed out to find coffee and wi-fi, knowing that he had 3-4 hours to read and surf and chill out while I walked! And walk, I did :-) Mile 1 & 2 are always a bit hard for me while I wonder why I am here... especially when my muscles were already talking to me.... especially when I don’t feel like I have been serious about my training! But here I was – and here I was going to stay until I got to the end – or at least THE BRIDGE. According to the website, Miles 6-8 were pretty flat and Mile 9 was THE BRIDGE. I know that bridge and it is TALL! It gives me the creeps when I have to drive it.... but I had already decided that it would be an opportunity to be there on foot.
The weather was glorious! Sunny and bright but so early in the morning that it was still a little chill. I really loved walking by all the places that we drive by regularly.... it was just fun! I took a lot of photos.... one bonus of walking instead of running! Of course I can’t see the screen anyway so it might not matter :-)
By Mile 4 I had met a friend that stayed with me to the finish. And I was glad! I was starting to hurt a lot by Mile 7..... and I was close to quitting by the time we got to the bridge.... but I had promised myself THE BRIDGE and my new friend really wanted a picture on the top of it... so I knew I had to go that far :-) Of course, once you are on top of a bridge.... well, you HAVE to go down it, right? We stopped an stretched at the bottom and moved on. And she kept saying – it’s only a 5K and a fun run from here, right? She was right – and I knew I would keep going at this point.
And I got a lot of new information about half marathons because it seems like my new friend is a half-marathon fanatic. She does them every few weeks somewhere. Good incentive for me, I think!
I felt better after that but close to the end? Yikes! The last Mile point 1 was pretty rough. By that time my knees and ankles had started to complain and I was visibly limping (but still keeping the 15ish minute pace :-). We got to where we could see the end... and sprinted for it! But oh wow.... once I crossed the line, I was bent over and winded! The medical people checked on me but I really felt that some liquid and walking it out would be enough. And, for the most part, I was right. My friend met up with her people and I sat down to try and contact Don. Two things then... my legs seized up tight AND I found that my cellphone had lost all power. Uh-oh.
Not knowing about the layout of the end.... we had not made plans to meet, exactly – but I knew that if I stayed somewhere visible at the end, he would find me. Unfortunately that was all sunny. I got more drink, wandered a little.... then hunted down a little shade, hoping to find someone I recognized that I could borrow a phone from. By then, I was starting to feel a little dizzy, the cramps weren’t leaving... and my swollen Minnie Mouse hands were starting to cramp too. I sent a quick prayer that Don would find me and decided to go find a Race Crew person to get me to medical. I figured at least I could rest and they could re-assure me that I was fine.
So I located a person to help – and Don found me at the same time. So I went off with him to rest and re-hydrate. The biggest problem was that I felt dizzy.... and every time I tried to rest or put my head down, the rest of my body would seize up in a great big full-body charley horse. He decided that medical would still be a good idea so we went back and got some attention. Ultimately I was right that I needed to cool down and rehydrate.. but it was good to get it checked out. By resting with them – and they did make me eat a banana (YUK!) – and an ice bag to the carotid... everything settled back down and was fine.
We wandered back to the van... and went to eat lunch.. and then headed back home! Both of us are a little sore but that is to be expected.... but let’s see... what did I take away?
a) Training starts tomorrow (with a rest day :-). I have a recovery plan but I do need to find a good ‘regular plan’ that will keep me in a good condition to race.
b) I will eat a stupid banana after every race. I might even have to learn to like the things. I was shocked at how quickly the cramps subsided after I ate half of it.
c) I will work more on drinking FEWER dehydrating drinks (coffee specifically) or making sure that I drink water in a 2:1 ratio instead of the 1:1 that I drink now.
d) LOVE the ice bag to the carotid tip! Cooled me down quickly.... I usually put it on the back of my neck – but no more.
e) And, I need to be willing to stretch more DURING the race. I get so caught up in my time that I don’t take care of myself. When I already know I will spend hours on a course, it doesn’t make sense to NOT take a few minutes every hour and stretch out the legs!
MOST of all.... what I take away is that Don and I need more weekends away for just the two of us :-) So I will work with him to make this happen again soon!
Don's chip time was 42:56; mine was 43:57
My chip time was 3:33
and,of course since I did both (the Rum Runner's Challenge), my total time was 4:17 and I get an extra medal.... it IS all about the bling, after all, isn't it? Or maybe the shirts... I got 2 shirts out of the deal...