Sunday, November 9, 2008

OBX Redux

The genesis for this marathon began year ago after I heard my friend Michele had run the relatively new OBX Marathon and qualified for Boston. She told me about the house she stayed at so I contacted the owner and put my name down for next year. And so the year passed...

After my first Ironman in 2007, 83 days later I went to DC for the Marine Corps Marathon and ran my worst standalone marathon to date - four hours and sixteen minutes. I managed to put in 183 miles "in preparation" (2.23 miles per day). For the 30 times I went out, I averaged 6.16 miles per effort, but at least I had one twenty mile run.

In a way, my hope for 2008 was to atone for my "comeback" marathon event. The window was much narrower though - 61 days would separate OBX between Ironman Wisconsin. This period was infinitely more frustrating, dogged by my swelling left foot, teaching, and my hamstrings. In the end I went out 28 times and logged 149 miles (2.44 miles per day), with an average distance of 5.31 miles. The really scary part is that I did only ONE long run at 13.1 miles!

Folks, let me be clear on this. I had no business putting my body through this marathon. Or expecting anything decent. There was a whole lot of anxiety shaking down Wexford Court.

For those not certain was OBX means, it is essentially a very successful marketing slogan for The Outer Banks, a stunningly beautiful expanse of nearly 200 miles of narrow seashore in North Carolina. Reaching the Outer Banks from Charlotte is not easy, as one must travel through Raleigh then east across a state that is rather long. For this reason I have visited only once before, in late October of 2001 when my parents were in town.

2001: Mom and Winston on ferry crossing from Cedar Island to Ocracoke

2001: The year Dad and Winston make contact with Ocracoke Beach

Here is another 2001 OBX experience with my brother near Cape Lookout
This picture is infamous within the family for quite a few reasons!

When Friday morning came around I hoisted Winston's bed in the back of Audrey, my trusty Volvo 850, and began the journey by picking up Julie. Our first stop was Salisbury for a "pop-in" on the staff of the Salisbury area land trust. Yes, this is the same Salisbury that's the home of Food Lion and the recently vanquished Elizabeth Dole. Over the years I have come to know virtually everyone in the office and am happy to call each my friend. The visit ended up being a delightful one, and I took in a lot of happiness in introducing Julie to them. I was especially interested in seeing (the very same) Michele, who I went to Duke with and now is unfortunately moving to my home state in a few weeks. Winston even got to come in to hang out with Lucy for one last time. Sniff... After a nice cup of tea I showed Julie downtown then had a quick look at Andrew's beautiful old home before hitting Spencer and once again on I-85.

It was hard not to be hit with many memories as we passed by Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh. The last being my infamous wrong turn on to I-440 for the one class I did TA while at Duke. Sorry guys. I think you'll still turn out okay. Our first pit stop off of Hwy 64 was in Zebulon where Audrey got to rub shoulders with some genuine plaza drift.

Plaza drift is a fact of life, even outside the big city

Shortly afterward we drove through Rocky Mount in search of a local eatery, but there was nothing to be found. It was a very eye-opening experience; the North Carolina we know as Charlotte was quickly dissipating. We then had to settle on a Tarboro exit where Subway sandwiches were purchased at the local Wal-Mart. While waiting for Julie to buy a book I noticed there were more security cameras on the roof than Fort Knox! Wow. After satisfying Audrey's need for some lunch we then pushed on, eventually making our way to the first expanse of water on the Alexander River.

Stopped for boat traffic, we suddenly realized we were on vacation!

Thinking the directions to Duck were through this route, we eventually made our way to Manteo then over to Nags Head. The drive north through Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk is some of the worst development beach strip out there. Yuck. The worst part (beyond the realization I had to run down most of it on Sunday!) was each time we had to go up and down Hwy 158. Our first stop was at the Expo, where packet pickup was executed with little delay. We then hit Route 12, only to realize we had to go back down and pick up food, ironically from Food Lion. By then it was dark and I realized we had actually taken the wrong route to Duck, but it really didn't matter all that much. Since I am not equipped with these fancy-schmancy car GPS units it was a slow crawl north to find Bias Shores.

Our home for the weekend, 120 Bias Lane - "Spinster Village"

It was apparent right quick this was a delightful place to call home! For supper Julie was in charge of an equally delightful fish dinner. The post dinner entertainment consisted of the next disc in the bizarre Danish TV series Riget or "The Kingdom". Shortly following the healthy dose of weirdness for the day, our companions, Ben and Monica, arrived with their two dogs. Following the passing of his greatness Otto the Weimaraner, they had recently adopted a Blue Weimaraner Brogan and a somewhat shy German Shorthaired Pointer Belle.

That morning I was up and out of the house first for a very short run. I followed Bias Lane across Route 12 and on to the beach. The tide, angle of the beach, and sand made for less than desirable beach running, but hey, it was the beach and a lot better than running through a sketchy neighborhood in Charlotte! Right before hitting the stairs I spotted Ben and Monica on the beach with all three dogs. I let them go and finished up my three mile experience with a walk to the sound side of Bias Shores, which was equally pretty.

The mushroom and cheese omelets, along with hashbrowns made for a smashing breakfast; and the whole crew had a chance to sun themselves on the front porch. The weather was turning out to be fantastic for early November, but definitely too warm for the impending marathon which was now less than 24 hours away.

As Monty Python said from Holy Grail - "it's a very nice, a"

With the two Calhoun "brownian motion" quadrapeds left behind, we all journeyed north through the town of Duck and all the way north towards Corolla.

Winston liked the new Tahoe but didn't like being separated!

Our first stop was the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. One million bricks.

One of the few lighthouses you can currently climb - if you have $7 and no dog

Since I had Winston, the three made the journey to the top. I took the opportunity for some cool shots of them at the top.

Ben, Monica, and Julie at the top

Apparently it was a bit windy up there (in the atmosphere, where the air is clear)

From there it was on to the "end of the road." There we did a little driving on the beach (which apparently is quite mandatory). As we were leaving I spotted fellow Charlottean/old Sharksbite runner Sarah walking out towards the beach. Quite a random encounter I hopped out and talked to her some before we all went on quite a lovely walk in the Corolla lowland forests.

Oh where are our ponies?

Our goal was to spot some of the famous wild horses found here, but they got the memo we were coming and apparently hid. I personally have seen many of the wild horses at Shackleford so I wasn't too disappointed. Then on our way back we stopped at a bit of a tackely-painted restaurant that Monica and I mused reminded us of the Windjammer. At least the food and company were nice!

That afternoon Ben and Monica went off for packet pickup - Julie and I sped south through the "dregs" to the utter gem of OBX - the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Our first stop was the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Yes, the location that made me even more famous than Boudin San Francisco Sourdough or Bodien Hall at Bethel University. Actually, I take that back because the residence hall is actually named after one of my ancestors.

Julie took this amazing shot of Bodie Island Lighthouse while I was up to no good!

I formally declare this island Bodien property!

This is a classic - Winston became quite agitated over the brash young fawn

The car then hurled south in order to beat the sunset over the granddaddy of them all, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. We first stopped at Milepost 34 (no, I didn't take Audrey on the beach) so Julie could relive a childhood desire to roll down a sand dune!

There she rolls - there she rolls again!

After visiting the lighthouse in the fleeting light of day, we watched some amazing kite surfer in action. The journey north towards Oregon Inlet was a little sketchy with all the sand and water on the road whilst draped in darkness. Thankfully we were back to the Bias Home Station around seven, and the pasta dinner was nearly complete. Once again an utter delight to the tastebuds! All of us were in bed quite early.

Since Ben was running the half marathon, he had to be up first and leave by 6AM. The start location was further down the beach and started at 7AM. I was up shortly after that to begin my prep - anxious as hell whether I had any shot of finishing the nearly 140,000 feet I would be traveling. Julie was our lovely driver for the day and took the two nervous marathoners to the drop off station. Monica and I then made the short walk to the start area. The weather was clear and probably in the low 50s. After dropping off my gear I found my old co-worker Rich and met some of his family. Even better Julie was able to find a parking spot in order to see us off.

Monica and Scott in the 7-9 minute mile corral - one of us did not belong there

After a razzle-dazzle prayer the elite runners went off at 7:20 - minutes later we were across the start line heading south.

I had no idea what awaited following this moment

Here is an interactive route of the OBX Marathon. Besides finishing, my major goal for the day was to complete the distance in less than 4 hours, or in a less desired scenario, less than the MCM miserable fest. Before hitching my star to Monica, I thought the best way to do this was to run an even 8:45 minute mile pace. My major mistake for the day was NOT realizing what Monica's real (and unstated) goal was - she was out to qualify for Boston (3:40), and it NEVER crossed my mind. The first four miles was a relative delight in some very real neighborhoods - mostly in the shade and obviously quite flight. After some action on a walkway there was one jump up. The spectators were quite lively and even coaxed one dude into chugging down a Yuengling. Uh, no thanks! We were hitting splits in the low 8s. I voiced some of my concerns but she did not slow. These splits were slower than Boise, but still in danger land and I did nothing to jettison because I made the further mistake of starting to believe.

One of the showcase moments for the course is after Mile 8 and the big circle around the Wright Brothers National Memorial. By then the sun was out in full force and I was so glad I had my sunglasses and hat. Monica was continuing to push the low 8s and I began to force myself behind her.

2001: Dad at the top of the Memorial in Kill Devil Hills

2008: Monica and Scott rounding the Memorial after Mile 8

Arguably the best part of the marathon were in The Nature Conservancy's Nags Head Preserve. It was a hard sand road, virtually all shaded, and quite rolling for being on the coast. This was from about Mile 10 to Mile 13. I knew Monica would eat up this "trail" atmosphere. I felt myself exerting more energy to hang on. The last part is a hard turn and up a hill with woodchips. From there on narrower trail were some tough little rollers.

About the point where one hits the pavement was the halfway point. We went through at 1:48:39, an 8:18 minute mile pace (3:38 estimated finish). It was there I had my Kara Goucher moment and dropped the gel I snatched from the aid station. I had taken my only gel I brought with me around Mile 6, and the situation was one where I felt compelled to not stop. This proved to be another tactical error. By this time my whole left leg (the part I still have, that is) was swollen up like a Christmas Ham and barely even aware of sensation.

The second half of the marathon was quite uninteresting, with the obvious exception of crossing the bridge. I believe it was after Mile 14 and more towards Mile 16 where Monica slowly edged away. Or put more correctly, I began to slow down. At Mile 16 I dropped to a 8:32 pace and it was all "downhill" from there. Here I was pushing a body than had not even trained for the distance and now came the punishment. Yet I labored on, patiently waiting for each water station and taking what I could. After a half of constantly passing people, I started to pass those that had to start with the walking breaks, and then of course being passed by folks who actually were probably running an even pace. It was the same mistake I made at Boise now being made in the Outer Banks. The parts that stunk the most were actually on Highway 158, the main strip. I figured my options were to hold as best I could or stop and cry. Hmm, what to do...

Julie took this photo of the Half Marathoners crossing the Washington Bridge

Several hours later this was me coming off the bridge
I came down no faster than I went up.

Going up and over the bridge was really no big deal for me. I was running at a 10:25 pace by that point, and I sure as hell wasn't going to stop. Most of the marathoners around me at that point were actually alternating walking and running. Interesting. I was going so slow it didn't matter. Oh, the journey west towards Manteo took FOREVER. And then going north towards the finish and town FOREVER AGAIN. By this time the half marathoners that were walking were quite the obstacle to get around.

Very close to the finish now; the cheering by Julie and Jocelyn was most appreciated!

By the time I begun north I knew I would shave in under my four hour goal - now the shame I faced was the realization that a 3:56 would result in a pace in the 9 minute mile category. But that's what it was going to be. I picked it up some, but I was just thinking about the nice breakfast I would cook myself the next day. So I crossed at 3:56:29, which is a 9:02 minute mile pace. For the second half I clocked in a 2:07, which representated the same 17% slowdown that I had at the Famous Potato Marathon. How interesting. It was still a Festivus Miracle!

Coming to the finish line thinking of eggs and hashbrowns for breakfast tomorrow
Also hoping I'm not one of those people that finishes then has a fatal heart attack

At the finish I was very careful to keep my body in motion, and it wasn't long before I ran into Ben and Monica (Ben is easy to spot in the crowd). It was shortly afterwards that Monica talked about her time (3:38) and the fact she had qualified for Boston! I felt so stupid for not even considering that. She placed 38th out of 527 female finishers. Wow. Even a bigger wow to Sarah who smashed in at 3:24, finishing 9th! Both are Boston-bound, which is very exciting!

Monica, Sarah, and Jocelyn all had a banner day at OBX!

Over on the half marathon side Ben did much better than he had hoped, taking in a 1:46 (8:08 minute mile pace). Not surprisingly Jocelyn was in the top tier of female runners, finishing 9th overall with a time of 1:23:51 (6:24 minute mile pace). She took third in her age category. The finish line area was quite festive, somewhat of a shame we didn't stay all that long!

The vacationers all smiles in Manteo after their running adventures!

The runners temporarily residing at 120 Bias Lane were even more happy and appreciative of the wonderful Julie who ferryed them in absolute comfort back on to the main island. Ben and Monica were dropped off to pick up the car at the Y, then we went back to the store to pick up some pizza and calzones for lunch. Because yes, we would be hungry, and quite soon!

The residents preparing for their beach walk

After some resting and lunch, the whole clan went back to the beach for a very lovely walk. All three of the dogs went totally ape**** over being on the beach. Perhaps the most fanatical was Winston, who believed the waves were living entities to be attacked. This strategy shortly backfired on him as he began to throw up all the salt water he had ingested!

Scott and Julie enjoying some beach time
Note the soon-to-be very sick Winston pouncing in the background!

Monica, Ben, and their Brownian Motion children

Once back at the ranch we were rather quickly summoned to dinner back down in Nags Head. After meeting Jocelyn and Sarah at the wrong brewery, we found the right one just south of the Wright Memorial. it looked to be crowded, but they had an upstairs area and most importantly sat us promptly! Yeah! Speedy "wolverine" Lamperski (ran a 1:14 in the half, finishing 11th) was at another table with some other friends. By then I was having a massive sneezing attack, which unfortunately dampened the enjoyment of the evening, but it was still a great dinner shared by good friends! I savored the Dragon's Milk and paired it with a great plate of sausages!

That night was not as peaceful as I hoped it would be - Winston was acting very needy then started puking everywhere. Oh dear. I did get the breakfast I had been hoping for though! We took our time cleaning up then Ben and Monica took one last walk on the beach while we hit the road. This time we went through Elizabeth City, scoring some sub $2/gallon gas for Audrey. The journey back had two major high points. The first was our stop at the rural Foy-Mart, where Julie procured a tasty bowl of boiled peanuts and experienced quite the local flavor. And then of course when Chariots of Fire came on Julie also enjoyed my artistic dance intrepretation as choreographed to my recent running experience!

In conclusion another fabulous 2008 trip - I was so happy Julie was able to make the journey!

This was the third major car trip for Audrey - who chalked up another 992 miles of trouble-free motoring.

And now I have to ask - where can I find Bon Bons?

Public Facebook Photo Album

Geeky Stats

first half 1:48:39 (8:18 minute mile)
second half 2:07:50 (9:45 minute mile) [17.7% slowdown]

326/1309 overall [0.249]
249/779 gender [0.320]
36/103 age group (M30-34) [0.350]

Adjusted Splits (my Garmin measured 26.48 miles)
Mile 1 - 8:19
Mile 2 - 8:11
Mile 3 - 8:25
Mile 4 - 8:17
Mile 5 - 8:16
Mile 6 - 8:25
Mile 7 - 8:10
Mile 8 - 8:20
Mile 9 - 8:13
Mile 10 - 8:16
Mile 11 - 8:26
Mile 12 - 8:13
Mile 13 - 8:37
Mile 14 - 8:16
Mile 15 - 8:16
Mile 16 - 8:32
Mile 17 - 8:53
Mile 18 - 9:19
Mile 19 - 9:40
Mile 20 - 9:40
Mile 21 - 10:10
Mile 22 - 10:26
Mile 23 - 10:23
Mile 24 - 10:05
Mile 25 - 10:46
Mile 26 - 10:53
Final - 10:01

Unadjusted Splits (as read from the Garmin unit)
Mile 1 - 8:14
Mile 2 - 8:06
Mile 3 - 8:19
Mile 4 - 8:12
Mile 5 - 8:11
Mile 6 - 8:20
Mile 7 - 8:05
Mile 8 - 8:15
Mile 9 - 8:08
Mile 10 - 8:11
Mile 11 - 8:21
Mile 12 - 8:08
Mile 13 - 8:31
Mile 14 - 8:11
Mile 15 - 8:11
Mile 16 - 8:27
Mile 17 - 8:47
Mile 18 - 9:13
Mile 19 - 9:34
Mile 20 - 9:34
Mile 21 - 10:03
Mile 22 - 10:19
Mile 23 - 10:16
Mile 24 - 10:41
Mile 25 - 10:39
Mile 26 - 10:46
Final - 9:55


Anne said...

Hi Scott, Congratulations on all your athletic accomplishments. Have you ever heard of the Hoyt family? Their website is Very inspiring!
On another note, unfortunately "Dogville" was horrible. We didn't realize it was totally shot on a sound stage with minimal props. It was like watching a play on TV. We ended up turning it off after 30 minutes and reading wikipedia to find out what happens in the end. Bummer!

Anonymous said...

My name is Sarah and I'm with Dwellable. I was looking for blog posts about the Outer Banks to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, drop me a line at Sarah(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you :)