RR: Ocean Isle Beach HM

After nearly losing an arm to frostbite during 12/12’s Thunder Road (not really, I’m just a pansy), I had a stoke of genius and decided I needed to run another Half at Ocean Isle Beach less than a month later. The temperature at the NC beaches in January typically aren’t too bad and I was excited for a flat course.
Geez….did I pick the wrong week for a winter race! Lows were in the teens overnight. When I checked out of my hotel, the guy at the desk told me it was a good day to leave because it was so cold. I smiled my “it’s too early to talk but that’s nice” smile. It was probably too early for him to notice I was checking at at 6:30 am in running clothes. The morning temp was around 26 but the windchill said 21. Is this really my idea of fun?
Packet pickup went very smoothly but I was in for a shock: NO TIMING CHIP. Huh? I’d never ran a half without a chip. Heck, I haven’t ran a race without a chip since before I started racing (someday I will share the tale of the hungover 5k). I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to PR but it was a $35 race and seemed really well organized. Plus, with less than a half hour until guntime, I was only one of 30 cars in the lot.
The start wasn’t crowded at all. I was maybe 10-15 seconds off so no big deal about chip time vs clock time. The only inclines of the race were right at the beginning: over the Intercoastal Waterway and back. The half and the 5k started at the same time and used the same route for the first 2 miles so it was a bit congested compared to the rest of the course. People passed me pretty consistently for the first mile, which I hit at 9:43 and decided to slow down. At that point I was really hoping most people were doing the 5k to make myself feel better about being smoked 
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The view from the top was amazing – the wind was not
After the 5k course dropped out it was a pretty solid run. The race was organized by the Wilmington Roadrunners and I could tell that these experienced runners were very strong and controlled. I stayed about 30 yards behind a couple for almost 3 more miles, finally passing them at mile 5. I was running very steady and very consistent. Mile 4 at 41, 5 at 51, etc all the way up to mile 12 at 2:02. It wasnt a very exciting race – hardly any spectators but they cheered for everyone, which makes all the difference. Thunder Road had tons of spectators but the majority of them stood there looking at you – might as well have been cardboard cutouts. I tried to thank everyone for being out in the freezing temps, and each one of them thanked me for running. It’s not often I get genuinely thanked for running a race by cold volunteers. After the race, I found out the fundraiser benefited a local church who used it for their food kitchen. Most of the volunteers and spectators were church members.
After mile 6 I was consistently passing people and I felt strong the whole time, which is always a victory for me. The wind only bothered we when we ran into it, which was more than I would have liked. It’s odd how the wind felt so strong while running into it and I swear it wasnt blowing when when I wasn’t. It must have been Mother Nature having a laugh at my expense – what a prankster.
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The rest of the course was pancake flat
Sorry to report, there was no dramatic finish. There was barely a crowd. No mat. You know the detachable part of the bib no one ever takes but you’re not supposed to pin? Yeah, someone was in the finishing chute to rip it off. I think this was how races were in the 70s. No medal (good thing I got 2 at Thunder Road!!). Clock time was 2:13:15 – a PR by 3 min 50 seconds. In all, it was a good race and made me feel like a real runner. None of the fluff that seems to accompany so many races. One of the reviews said it had everything you needed and nothing you didnt, which was so true (although I would have liked timing chip and medal – this race had charm). I felt good after this race and I’m def feeling more confident about doing a full. CMM here I come!
Good people, good cause, good run. I will put this one on the list for next year.
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