2013 Outer Banks Race Report

Nov 18, 2013 by

2013 Outer Banks Race Report

OBXBib On November 10, 2013, I ran the Gateway Bank Outer Banks Marathon.  This write up is a report on my performance.  I trained using the 3:25:00 Boston Qualifier plan outlined in the book Run Less Run Faster.  You can find summaries of those workouts here.

If I can find some time, I may do an additional report on the actual event.  Two thumbs up is the short version on the event, though.

Finally There

At 7:10am on Sunday, November 10, after 16 weeks of focused training and no less than 77 workouts, I was finally at the starting line for the Outer Banks Marathon.  Despite only four hours of sleep before the race and waking at 4am (had to eat and then catch the shuttle to the start), I actually felt good and ready to run.  The air temperature was about 50 degrees and the forecast was perfect.  I removed my “donation” pull over and laid it on the ground beside the starting corrals.  At 7:20am, the elites started and thirty seconds later, my corral was off and running (no elite corral for me :-)).

I’d trained to run the race at a 7:49 pace, and I really wanted to make sure I didn’t start too fast.  If there’s one lesson I keep learning the hard way over and over again, it is ‘Do not start too fast!‘.  If I could hold the target for the first twenty miles, I’d try to run the last six at a faster pace.  Thanks to my GPS watch, I could see I was too fast about the first half mile, so I slowed down.  I hit the first split at 7:47.

After a faster second mile at 7:42, I worked a little harder to slow it down.  Third mile, 8:00.  That put me right on 7:49, I see sawed up and down for a few miles, but through mile seven, I was right on track.

I had a problem, though.  This early in the race, I expected to still be feeling good having to dial it back as in my last few training runs, but I was struggling.  My heart rate was too high for this early, and I was having to push too hard to keep my goal pace.  This was not good.  We weren’t even to the off road section yet, where I expected to have to give extra effort.

The first trail hill

The first trail hill

As we entered the off road section at around mile ten, I was still hanging in there, right at a 7:50 pace.  The first two miles of the dirt road, didn’t seem too bad.  The ground was pretty firm, but fairly undulating.  The scenery was nice.  I managed 7:54 for mile eleven and 8:08 for mile twelve.  At about mile 12.5, we turned off the dirt road onto the real trail section.  It was straight up a short, steep hill, then up and down hills for about a half mile.  I didn’t think it was all that much different than the Harbison Forest trails I run occasionally.   We exited the woods and my mile thirteen split was 9:19.  Ouch.  Overall pace per mile had slipped to 7:58.

Doing the Math

Now, I’m not a math genius by any means, but I knew this meant I’d have to run around 7:40 miles the rest of the way to meet my goal.  I tried to ramp it up a bit.  Mile fourteen was 7:42.  OK, not bad.  Mile fifteen was 7:44.  Not horrible, but I still wasn’t finding a groove, though.  Mile sixteen proved to be a struggle at 8:15.  I gave one last super effort on mile seventeen for a 7:50, but that was the last I’d even come close to goal pace.

Mile eighteen was 8:15, and I officially hit the wall during mile nineteen, coming in with an 8:55.  After that, I just resorted to ‘just finish’ mode, running as much as possible but having to walk every so often.  I felt terrible.

The most brutal of the last six miles was mile 23, which included the bridge.  I had an awful 11:14 for this mile.  After that, I did manage to close with increasingly faster miles of 10:28, 10:20, and 9:28.

My official finishing time was 3:42:30, an 8:30/mile pace.  Believe it or not, this was a PR for me by 5 minutes and 10 minutes faster than my spring marathon this year.  I was 14th of 76 in my age group and 125th out of 1,112 overall.

Official results can be found here: http://www.precisionrace.com/outer-banks-marathon-results/

Here’s a chart of my split times.  The blue line is the actual times. The dotted line is the goal, and the red line is the pace average.  Unfortunately, this chart follows a similar pattern to my other marathons.

Splits Graph

Splits Graph


So what happened?  How did I end up 17 minutes off my goal.   That’s quite a miss.   I wish I knew. I did run less and did run faster.  After all, it was a PR.  Am I happy with that?  Honestly, no.  It is a character flaw, I guess.  Mr. Malcontent.

My training success seemed to indicate I’d be much closer to the goal.  I really expected to be on track the first twenty miles and then possibly struggle to a 9 minute pace over the last six miles, if I hit the wall.  That would be a 3:31-ish worst case.

My best explanation is the long trip up the day before (complete with broken down car and emergency car rental at the Fayetteville, NC airport) and lack of rest the night before really hurt more than I expected.  I suppose the extra effort required on the trail section didn’t help, but it wasn’t any worse than the hills around my house where I trained.  Everything else seemed to be on track – training, weather, nutrition.  Maybe I’m just slow.  Who knows.  I guess stuff does happen.

So what’s next?  Not sure about that, either.  I’m contemplating the next move.  I do know, however, I will NOT wear a Batman shirt for my next race.  What seemed like a fun idea at the time turned a bit annoying by the end of the day as I received way more than my share of Go, Batman!, along with chants of the old TV show theme song and one old guy pointing out his Chuckie T high tops with Batman logos.  It was fun high-fiving the little kids, though.

Batman at the Finish

Batman at the Finish


read more

Race Preview: 2013 Outer Banks Marathon

Nov 7, 2013 by

Race Preview: 2013 Outer Banks Marathon

OBXLogoHey, guess what?  I’m running the Outer Banks Marathon on Sunday, November 1oth.  If you’ve read my posts over the past four months, then you are probably tired of hearing about my preparation.  I understand. I am certainly tired of training!  Here’s some information on what I’ll be facing on Sunday.

Why Outer Banks?

After my disappointing second half on the killer hills of  last March’s Columbia Marathon, I decided I wanted to go back to the coast for a flat marathon.  My personal best was at Myrtle Beach in 2011.  I also wanted a fall race, where most training would be in the summer heat, but race day would be cooler.  This is the opposite of spring races where I’ve trained in the cold only to be hit with too warm conditions late in the race.

So, given those requirements, a few close races meet the mark.  There is Kiawah Island near Charleston, SC in December.  Also, there are two November races, Savannah (Georgia) Rock ‘n Roll and Outer Banks, North Carolina.  I decided Kiawah was too close to Christmas and, besides, I’d done it once.  So, that left the other two.  Despite not visiting Savannah in quite some time, I decided to go to Outer Banks, where I’ve never visited.

The Course

The course is a point to point layout, mostly north to south.  At least it is not a double loop. We’ll start in Kitty Hawk and end with trip over the Washington-Baum bridge into Manteo for the finish.  Here’s a picture, courtesy of TazRunning.com:


For a slideshow tour of the course, click here: http://obxrunners.appspot.com/route/agpvYnhydW5uZXJzcgsLEgVSb3V0ZRgBDA/play

For videos of the sections of the course by Village Realty, click here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC0DEB5774A8B363B

Elevation Changes

While the course is extremely flat compared to the Columbia Marathon and my usual training routes, there are two spots that will make it harder for me to reach my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  The first is around mile 10.  The course organizers decided to showcase some local trails and threw in about a 5K’s worth of cross country running.  The first 2 to 2.5 miles of this appears to be on hard packed dirt roads, but we take a turn about the 12.5 mark onto mulch covered sand dunes trails.  Hmmm.  Sounds like quicksand to me.

Mulch Trail

Mulch Trail
Image Courtesy of Thea Ganoe

The second point of concern is around the 22-23 mile mark, the Washington-Baum bridge over Roanoke Sound.  On the elevation map, it is barely a blip, but at mile 23 it will seem like Mount Everest.

Washington-Baum Bridge. Image Courtesy of Thea Ganoe

Washington-Baum Bridge.
Image Courtesy of Thea Ganoe


Here’s the elevation map for the entire course (courtesy of FindMyMarathon.com):

Elevation Map

Elevation Map – Courtesy of FindMyMarathon.com


Looks like my plan for perfect running weather is looking good.  I run best with temps in the 50’s. Here’s the forecast for Sunday:


OBX Forecast

OBX Forecast


Personal Goal

My goal for this race is to beat 3:25:00.  This is over 22 minutes faster than my previous marathon best and would qualify me for the Boston Marathon.  The goal may be quite a stretch, but my training has come together nicely over the last two months.  I’ve completed all my planned workouts and feel great.  It is gonna be close.  Click on the image below for more details on my training with the Run Less Run Faster program.

Workout Scorecard

Workout Scorecard


Now I just have to make it to the starting line.  I’ve made some planning and logistics mistakes, but that’s another story.

Now I’m off to complete my playlist…



read more

Related Posts

Share This

Race Review: Spinx Run Fest Marathon 2012 Part 1

Oct 30, 2012 by

Race Review: Spinx Run Fest Marathon 2012 Part 1

This is part one of my write up on the Spinx Run Fest Marathon in Greenville, South Carolina. In this part, I’ll cover pre race.

Three weeks ago, I considered not going to the Spinx Run Fest (SRF) marathon.  My last couple of scheduled long training runs before race day had not gone well, and I was doubting my fitness.  Since I had paid the early registration, I figured it wouldn’t be the first time I’d wasted $50.  Well, a turn in the weather and a decent 12K race two weeks prior changed my mind.

I am so glad I did.  The SRF was definitely worth the two hour drive to Greenville.

Short Version:  I really enjoyed my SRF experience.  I thought the course was excellent, especially the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  Finishing in the stadium is a nice touch.  If you are from out of town and can make a weekend of it and stay at one of the downtown hotels, I think you will really enjoy Greenville.  For the race results click here.

For the long version, read on.

Day Before

Packet Pickup/Expo

As you probably know, most marathons have an Expo the day before the race, where vendors and other race promoters gather to sell and advertise to the runners.  From what I could gather from articles about Run Fest, last year’s Expo was held outside at Fluor Field and the weather was iffy.  This year’s Expo and packet pickup was moved to the nearby Kroc Center, but vendor participation seemed small to me.  I did appreciate the candy corn handout from Pace Magazine.  A small bit of carb loading! I also found a sweet orange Saucony jacket at one vendor’s tent that almost made the trip back with me, but I refrained. The packet pickup went smoothly, and I headed out to scope out parking near the race start.

The main thing I care about for a race is the shirt.  The SRF did a great job on the shirt.  It is a two tone white and gray long sleeve technical shirt.  Seems to be better quality than some of the long sleeve tech shirts I’ve received from other races.  And it fits well.  Several of the poorer quality shirts didn’t fit well, and when I tried to trade for another size, they didn’t have that option.  SRF had that option on race day, but I didn’t need it.  As a swag bonus, the marathoners received a pair of socks with the race logo.

Shirt Front












One very nice surprise in the race packet was the official race magazine.  It had course maps (there were 3 other races in the SRF – a half marathon, a 5K and a kid’s fun run) and additional detail of complicated spots like Furman University.  I found it very helpful to study the night before.

Race Guide












Early to Bed

I left the Expo area with map in hand and drove the first 2 miles of the course.  Just after mile 2, the course hits the Swamp Rabbit Trail and cars are not allowed! I briefly entertained driving out to Furman to scope out that section, but since it was in the opposite direction of my Friday night lodging, I decided against it.

Trying to keep the expenses for this marathon as low as possible, I bummed a room off father-in-law for the night.  I arrived at his house, ate dinner, and studied the course map.  I pondered my target pace for a while, made the decision, and then went to bed early.

Coming soon…Part 2: SRF Race Day


read more

Race Preview: Spinx Run Fest Marathon 2012

Oct 24, 2012 by

Race Preview: Spinx Run Fest Marathon 2012

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

This quote hung as a poster on the wall of my 11th grade U.S. History class and has stuck with me ever since.  Unfortunately, that is about all I remember from that class. I guess I’m no good at remembering my marathon past, either, especially how much the last few miles hurt.  As a result of this memory loss/denial,  this weekend on  October 27th, I’ll run my 4th marathon, the Spinx Runfest, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Earlier this summer, I planned to run Kiawah Island as my next marathon.  Plans changed, and I had to switch to Greenville.  The early bird low price made it a good choice, too.    Unfortunately, the race is six weeks sooner than Kiawah, so my training cycle was a little shorter.  That’s OK.  I was tired of the long Saturday runs.

Switching to Greenville is going to have one disadvantage to Kiawah, though – the hills.  The race starts in downtown Greenville and make its way up the Swamp Rabbit Trail (a reclaimed railway path), over to Furman University, and then on to the town of Travelers Rest.  There, we’ll turn around and pretty much reverse the route back to the finish in the Greenville Drive’s stadium.  So, generally the first half is uphill and the second half is downhill.  Sounds like the perfect time for a negative split.  Here’s the elevevation map, courtesy of the Runfest web site & MapMyRun.com:

Spinx Runfest Marathon Elevation Map

Back to history.  Since this will be my fourth marathon, I suppose I should look back on the first three to identify some big mistakes and try not to repeat them.  Here are the biggest mistakes from each of my first three.

1. Kiawah Island, December 2009.   Mistimed my final pre-race trip to the port-a-johns and the lines were too long.  Not wanting to mis the race start, I decided to wait until I really had to go on the course.  This occurred about mile 15.  Unfortunately, my legs thought this 2 minute break was for good and really balked about restarting.

Kiawah Lesson: If you cannot take a last restroom break immediately before the race, at least stop in the first few miles.

Likelihood of remembering this on Saturday: Excellent.

2. Myrtle Beach, February 2011.  After training all winter in cold weather, the race day starting temperature was a balmy 55 degrees.  This was great running weather for a while.  As the sun climbed, though, so did the temperature.  By about mile 18, it was around 70 degrees and sunny, much hotter than anything I’d trained in for months.  Since the first part of the race felt so good, I did not do a good job of taking in fluids, and I was about to pay the price.  The last two miles were a big struggle as I was severely dehydrated.

Myrtle Beach lesson: Take in fluids early, even if you don’t feel like it you need it.

Likelihood of remembering this on Saturday: Very Good.  Weather forecast very similar to that day in Myrtle Beach.

3. Columbia, SC, March 2012.  Around mile 16, I was running all alone and my focus was starting to drift.  Then, the 3:45 pace group passed me. I hadn’t been too concerned with pace up to this point and was just enjoying the day.   As they passed, though, I had the crazy thought of ‘Hey, I’m feeling OK.  If I can keep up with these guys, I’ll set a PR on my toughest marathon course yet.’  That went well for about 6 miles.  I then crashed and burned on the Trenholm Road hill, watching the pacer pull away.

Columbia Lesson: Don’t make unrealistic pace decisions during the race.

Likelihood of remembering this on Saturday: Hmmm. Still pondering!



read more

Four Strategies for Vacation Workouts

Jun 27, 2012 by

Four Strategies for Vacation Workouts

Last year our family went on a week long beach vacation.  I wrote about my obsessive run plan for the trip in this old post: Vacation Running. I’m not taking a summer beach trip this year, but I think I’d do some things differently now, no matter where we go.  Here are some ideas for you.

Myrtle Beach State Park Pier

Four Strategies for Taking Your Workout With You on Vacation.

1. Don’t do any workouts at all.  Blasphemy, I know. This would definitely be the hardest for me, but I am improving (I think).  My problem is sitting still.  I don’t mind lounging by the pool for a bit, but after a while, I want to move around.  Just remember – it is a vacation after all.  Missing one week of workouts won’t set you back.  You may be surprised that nagging injuries may heal up.  Plus, if you’re vacationing at Disney World or the Grand Canyon, you’ll more than likely not feel like putting any extra miles on your feet.  Your body needs rest time, too.

2.Cross train.  No place to bike or swim at home? Why not try it on vacation?  If you are at a beach location, then try swimming in the ocean or find a pool with a lap lane.  Also, coastal locations can be perfect to try some cycling with the lack of hills.  Many resorts have bike rentals for riding on the beach.  Some resorts, like Hilton Head, have extensive bike paths inland.  These are often shady – a nice bonus during summer heat.

3. Cut mileage way down for the week.  Why not limit your self to one “Rave Run”?  Take a minimal amount of gear and plan a run around a must see location. This could be a plain beach run at sunrise or a  local State Park trail run (see post: Myrtle Beach State Park).  This way, you see something new and you compromise with the mental hurdle of a complete layoff .  If you are going to a cooler locale, there may be some local 5K or 10K’s going on.  Show up and register on race day. You may even get a shout out from the race awards announcer for coming a long way to the race.

4. Engage family members.  I hope that most people think a family vacation is about connecting with family.  Why not introduce them to your obsession?  They don’t have to do a long run or even run at all.  If you’re on the beach, just take a few long walks and throw in a light jog for 100 yards every now and then.  You could visit a local park and walk around.  How about a hike in the woods?  It is not hard.  Just ask them along.  Who knows where that might lead.

Any other suggestions?  Leave a comment below.




read more

Kiawah Island Marathon Change

Jun 8, 2012 by

Kiawah Island Marathon Change

My first marathon was the 2009 Kiawah Island Marathon.  I don’t remember exactly why I choose that one, but it fit my main criteria – flat.

Overall, it was a good experience, but I was little underwhelmed with the route.   It was a two-loop run that frankly got a little boring during the second loop.  After that race, I decided I would not repeat marathon locations.   My thinking was that since I may only do one marathon per year, why not see somewhere new each time?  So, far I have followed that thinking for my three marathons – Kiawah Island, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia, SC.

After the Columbia marathon, I started pondering my next locale.  I really want to complete all the South Carolina road marathons, so that meant Greenville and Charleston were still left.  However, while looking around, I saw that Kiawah was changing their route to be a single loop.  This had me intrigued.  For the last two months or so, the Kiawah website has mentioned that the new route is going to be published soon. Well, they finally published the route this week. It can be found here:


Calling it a ‘loop’ is a bit of a stretch – there are several out and back spokes and some overlap, but it definitely looks improved.  Wish I had downloaded the old map for a side by side comparison.   Still no hills. 🙂

So, right now, this is high on my list of next marathons.  I can technically say it is not a repeat since the route is new.

For more information on the marathon and the island, check out:



read more