RR: Crystal Coast HM

I forgot how awesome it is to do a big race with friends! I had a ton of people with me for my first half but since then it’s been just me. After finishing such a long race I had to walk to my car and drive away like it was no big deal so I was super excited when my friends Toni and Jamie, who are both in the Army, said they wanted to do it with me.
The drive to Atlantic Beach, NC is a horrible, boring drive on state roads so I drove to Fayetteville to ride with them to save myself to torture. Of course, traffic was horrible and the 1 hour drive there took 2 hours. We didn’t get on the road until 8 pm and it’s a 3 hour drive. Around 8:30, Toni realized she forgot to pack her shoes. Really, who does that? I think that’s out of one of my racing nightmares!! Rather than turn around, she decided to brave the race in brand new shoes and we stopped at the Nike outlet. We decided to have dinner near the outlets and between all our goofing off we didn’t check in to the hotel until almost 1 am.
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Toni trying to find the perfect shoes to run 13.1 miles less than 12 hours later
My pre-race rituals were totally shot. I stretched my hip flexers and quads before bed, since those tend to get a bit tight after sitting in the car so long but other that that I was trying to focus on getting the best 5 hours of sleep possible before our 6am wakeup call.
Way to go Sheraton for having the most comfortable beds ever! I woke up feeling like I got a lot more sleep. We got to packet pickup way early because Toni had to register and I was afraid race day pick up would be crowded or there’d be limited parking (there’s never good parking at the beach – reason #76876 I think I should just live there).
Luckily the line to the port-a-potties was longer than the registration/packet pickup…or it was unlucky because we ended up going across the street to a gas station to use the restroom and warm up?? Thanks Hess (or was it BP??) for letting us use your space!
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No, that’s not the line to register – those people are in line for the port-a-potties
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Toni, Jamie, and me. Toni has on her game face!
The start was around the corner and they announced they’d be starting “in 5 more minutes” about 3 times. The horn went off closer to 8:20. I had plenty of time to panic because I forgot to charge my ipod the night before…and I had the tiny red bar that told me I might be able to squeeze 2 hours out of it if I didn’t touch it and make it light up. I dont run well without music and I like for the Nike plus to tell me my pace (even though it’s off I’ve gotten used to the miscalibration). Less than 1 mile in my ipod froze. FML! It also did it in mile 1 of the RnR VA Beach. Really? Was I having a repeat of that horrible half? I went about a mile in silence before I slowed down to restart it. I didnt chance turning on the Nike, since I think that’s what makes it freeze. I also didnt set a playlist so I was at the mercy of the shuffle mode to pick out good songs. Luckily, The slow down caused me to hit my planned splits of 10 min miles…otherwise, I definitely would have been too fast.
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We crossed the 5 and 11 mile markers on the bridge. I felt the grade going down more than I did on the inclines.
I felt good and managed to power up the bridge, but I think it took a lot out of me because miles 6-8 were slow and heavy. Those miles were out and back and I kept waiting and looking for the turn around. It didnt help that 2 people directly behind me, who seemed to be from the area, kept saying that it was coming up. Of course then the turnaround seemed like a desert oasis because I’d see what looked like a turn around too, only to get closer and find out it was a mirage. I always run with one earphone in and one out so I can hear around me….but I was tempted to turn up the volume and put the other one in to drown out these party poopers! I finally lost them at the water station just before turn around – thank goodness!!
I hit the mile 9 marker at 1:34 and realized I was way off and I wasnt going to even be close to my PR unless I really picked it up. Luckily, it didnt require as much of an effort as I thought to go faster and I managed to kick butt going up the bridge, pick up speed going down, and coasted the rest of the way through. Gun time was 2:13:40. My previous time was 2:13:17 and I’ve given up on them posting chip time so who knows if I PR’d or not  All I know is I felt great and while I’ve typically been glad to see the finish line in previous halves, I know for a fact I could have kept moving at that pace. I guess that means I should have pushed myself more to get a better time, but I’m not sore at all and able to pick right back up on my marathon training.
I’m super proud of my girls. Toni ended up with a 1:55 and Jamie with a 2:02 – the first half for both of them (Toni in brand new shoes and Jamie after a surprise 10 mile ruck march on Thursday!). We went back to the hotel and hopped in the hot tub, followed by showers and naps!
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