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


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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…



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Madness and Methods

Jul 21, 2013 by

Madness and Methods

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Don’t Stop, Fleetwood Mac

It wasn’t long after my disappointing second half collapse in the 2013 Columbia Marathon, that I told my friend and training partner, Craig, that I was going to shoot for a Boston Marathon qualifying time (BQ) in my next marathon.  “You mean you haven’t been?” he replied.  Ha, ha.  Amateur night is Thursday down at the comedy club, my friend.

He was right, though.  I hadn’t been holding anything back in my marathon efforts.  However, my best wasn’t good enough.  As a matter of fact, it was not even been close.

If you don’t know, to run the  Boston marathon, you must qualify in your age group by beating a certain time in a certified marathon.  This year, I moved up an age group, shaving 10 minutes off my time needed just by getting older.  Still, the time to beat for my 45-49 age group is 3:25:00.  That’s three hours twenty-five minutes, a 7:49/mile pace.

How far away am I?  My best marathon so far was 3:47:40 at Myrtle Beach in 2011.  So, my best is twenty-two minutes short of where I need to be, about 40 seconds per mile too slow.  That may not sound like much, but over the course of 26.2 miles, it is.

How do I plan to do this? I am returning to the “method” or training plan/philosophy I used in that best time at Myrtle Beach in 2011.  For the next 16 weeks, I will be following the Run Less Run Faster (RLRF) plan for beating 3:25:00.  The authors of RLRF say 3:25:00 is realistic if your 5K time is 21:06 or better.  My best recently was 21:26. That puts me a bit short but I’m just dumb enough to try.

During the week, I will do three quality runs.  The first will be a speed work session at the track.  The second will be a tempo run, slightly slower and usually longer than the speed work.  The final will be a long run, ranging from 13-20 miles. The workouts are a bit more intense than I have done in a while.  I will have a tough time meeting the run workouts, especially in the summer heat.  That’s part of the plan, too, though.  Suffer in the heat, and hope a November race is nice and cool.  That is much better than training in the cold and having an unusually warm race.

How does one run less and yet run faster?   By substituting “junk” mile recovery runs with cross training that works the aerobic system while resting the legs.  My cross training will consist of swim and cycling workouts, and I will do these between run days, not running two days in a row.  When I first attempted to follow this plan in 2011, I did no swimming, and my cycling was done on a low end exercise bike I bought for the house.  This time, I have access to a gym pool, and I plan on doing mostly swim cross training.  I also have a road bicycle now, so I may add an additional sixth workout on days after my long run, an easy recovery bike ride.

So, can I accomplish 3:24:59 or better?  We’ll see. Another source, The Runner’s World race predictor calculator, says I can do 3:25:34 with a 5K time of 21:26.  Should be interesting.

Final Puzzle Piece

In addition to following a more structured plan again, I have one other strategy for this race.   Since my last three road marathons were fairly hilly courses, I plan to return to the coast for this effort.   I have signed up for the Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina on November 10, 2013.  Apparently there is only one hill, a bridge about the 23 mile mark.

That’s it for now.  Each week leading up to the marathon, I will post my scorecard for the week.  In the scorecard, I will list what the workouts were and how close I came to completing them in the appropriate time.





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