I rolled out of bed at 5:20AM, took care of business, and spent 10 minutes battling my contacts only to discover that I was fumbling with my wife’s (sorry for throwing them away, honey). Eventually the rest of the family awoke and readied, and we were out the door ~630AM; en route for the drop off point 10 miles away in Kitty Hawk.
I arrived, hit the head, then joined the rest of the marathoning cattle in Corral B. With 5 minutes to go some lady said a prayer. Amen. T-minus 3 and another gal sang the National Anthem. Hooah! Two to go. I turned on my Garmin 210 and waited for it to find a signal. 60 seconds. Searching. 30 seconds. COME ON! 15 seconds to go. FTLOG! 5…4…3… 2…finally you stupid piece of…BANG! The gun fired and I was off.
8 minutes and 25 seconds later my watch chimed to let me know that I had completed my first mile. A tenth of a mile later I passed the official Mile 1 marker. Wait, what?. Mile 2, same thing. Mile 3, same. I turned to a guy running alongside me and asked him if the miles were a little long. He and two others who heard me ask the question agreed. We were all running a longer race than planned.
Most of the course was on blacktop, though on occasion it went off road. Mile 10 took me down a rocky, hard-packed road (hence the decision for Vibrams over barefeet) and around 12 I was running through the Nags Head Woods trails.
Around Mile 18 my cortisoned hip started aching; like a needle being jabbed into my hip with every stride. Up to that point I had been running a steady 8:28 pace. But when my hip flared up that pace took a dive. By Mile 19 I was noticeably favoring my right leg, and my pace slowed to 9:30. By 22, just one mile before the bridge, I slowed to a wincing jog.
I looked down at my watch. At my current pace I was not going to hit my 3:50 goal. If I slowed any more I wouldn’t hit 3:56 (my PR). And if I walked I wouldn’t be able to keep it under 4 hours.
Not wanting to go above 4 hours I stopped at the medic station and lathered up with biofreeze hoping it would dull the pain. It did not. Same pain just mintier. I wasn’t about to stop. My legs felt way too strong. No, I just sucked it up and dealt with the pain the best I could. A couple minutes later I hit the bridge, gimped my way up the 4% grade at an 11:15 pace, and shuffled back down the other side to the final water station.
For the next mile and a half I stopped every quarter mile to stretch and massage my hip. Folks I had passed earlier were now passing me. Some words of encouragement. A few pats on the back. Just enough motivation to drag my gimpy self to the finish line in downtown Manteo. I arrived to the sound of my name being called over the loudspeaker and my wife and son waving me in.
Of all the races I’ve done the OBX Marathon is in my top 5. Not just because the weather was perfect, or because the scenery was straight out of a NatGeo special. No, the OBX is one of my favs because of the atmosphere. People (and pirates) cheering and ringing cowbells at almost every stretch of the race. From their porches and driveways, on the curb and sidewalks, and from their car, bikes, and skateboards, they cheered us on. Hats off to the OBX community! You made this marathon. I couldn’t think of a better race to end my two and a half year marathon drought. Sure I’m bummed about the hip, but I’m happy with the progress.