Monday, February 19, 2007

OBX Marathon

My 97th Marathon
Or…What’s a Day at the Beach Without a Little Rain?

What is the key to a successful marathon? Speed work? Hills? Power Gel? No, it’s signing up on time!

As probably half of the universe has heard, I’m trying to finish running a marathon in all 50 states by the end of the year. For months I’ve been planning to run the OBX (Outer Banks) Marathon in North Carolina as my 48th state; so imagine my panic and dismay when I finally decided to fill out the entry and found that the race was closed.

Not a problem, was my first thought. I’d call the race director and explain my situation and surely they would make an exception for me, after all –it’s worked before in a couple races.
I made the call and spoke to a very unpleasant woman who said she was the registrar. I explained my plight to her and she said no way. She didn't care that I was completing my 50 states and 100 marathons, or that I had nonrefundable airline tickets.
I told her I didn't need a bus to the start, a medal or a shirt. She didn't care, in fact she very bluntly told me that this wasn’t her problem and she had wasted 10 minutes talking to me when she had a race to coordinate for 4000 people who DID register on time.
The only hope she gave me was that if I could find someone who had registered that was not running she would transfer their number to me.

The fact that I’m in Las Vegas and this race is taking place across the country didn’t faze me a bit. I knew I’d be able to find someone. After a few calls to running clubs and stores, I enlisted the help of the 50 States Club and the Marathon Maniacs. They both posted messages on their web sites asking for someone entered but not running to contact me.
Within a day I had 3 responses! Not only was I able to get in, but I also got one of my friends into the half and another fellow I met into the marathon too.

You would think that this “close call” would be enough. Not a chance!

Friday night, before the race I was scheduled to take an America West red-eye flight to Norfolk, VA-the closest airport to Kitty Hawk-about 2 hours away. Because of the merger between America West and USAir ways, the flight was actually ticketed as USAir ways.
I should have suspected a problem when I couldn’t print my boarding passes at home, however I went to the airport (un-boarding passed) and found that I couldn’t even check in there. The agents at the airport told me the wrong information and I ended up wasting so much time before they finally resolved the issue that I missed my flight.

Fortunately -they were able to rebook me on to another USAir ways flight, which even got me in earlier and worked out even better than my original flight with a 3 hour layover. I met my friend Mark, in Norfolk and was able to get an earlier start on the 2 hour drive from the airport to Kitty Hawk.
When we arrived in Kitty Hawk, our first stop was the expo, where I easily transferred my cancelled runner’s number to me and of course, I shopped. Next, we paid a visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial. The day went by quickly and not long after that we met friends from the 50 State Club for dinner.

About The Race-
The day before the race the weather forecast was suddenly predicting rain!
I had been checking all week and not once was there a mention of rain – in fact I purposely left my umbrella home!
We spent the evening before the marathon watching the radar on the weather channel. My friend Mark, a fellow 50 States runner and Las Vegas Track Club member, is like an amateur meteorologist. After a final check of the weather Saturday night, he deducted that we would be fine for the 7am start, however the front would move in about 9am. We could expect a downpour by then.

For anyone as unfamiliar with the area, this is the description of the race from the web site:
“The OBX®Marathon is a point to point course. The Marathon will start in Kitty Hawk, providing breathtaking views of the Albemarle Sound; traverse the famous Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills; meander through the lush Nags Head Woods Maritime Forest; take you through some of our finest neighborhoods with cheering throngs; pass the largest sand dune on the East Coast at Jockey’s Ridge State Park; cross the beautiful Washington-Baum Bridge; and finish on Roanoke Island near where the first English colonists landed in 1587.
The Outer Banks reminded me a lot of the Jersey Shore; therefore, I thought their course would be similar to their marathon-along the road aside of the beach and near the water. NO, we started out inland!
Fortunately, there were shuttles from our hotel to the starting line otherwise we would never have found it!

The race began well. The first few miles went through some neighborhoods complete with actual spectators, a rarity in some of these smaller races! The sun had just come up, it was a comfortable 65 degrees and there was just a hint of rain in the air. A perfect day to drink your coffee outside wrapped in an old quilt and while watching 2000 runners pass by your door.
Next stop was the Nag Head Woods. This was actually a one person trail! If you’re ready for a cross country run you were set. Between the tree roots, leaves and hills; I was thankful that it wasn’t raining!

When I got to the half way point the wind picked up and it started to rain! Although the temperature dropped to about 55, it still wasn’t cold. All I could think about was how Angie described the 40 degree temperature at the start of the Las Vegas marathon as refreshing!
The rain lasted until about mile 20. Between mile 21 and 22 there was a HUGE bridge, I was thrilled that I didn’t have to stop to walk. I ran the entire way when I got to the top, the rain started again.

I finished in 4 hours, 25 minutes, an okay time for me considering the weather and the woods. I was feeling good for the entire race-some how I would have imagined that I would have been faster.

In any case, crossing the finish line is what really counts-unless it’s a really fabulous or disastrous time, I really don’t remember much about my finish times.
The seashell shaped finisher’s medal-- probably my favorite out of all the races I’ve run this year-was a great beach souvenir.

It was a long wait to pick up my bag from the baggage check—actually a UPS truck that they drove from the starting line. I didn’t mind at all. At least the clothes were kept dry inside the truck; not laying out on the rain like in most races!
The race provided shuttles to take the runners back to several hotels and parking lots. Surprisingly enough they seemed to run often and smoothly.

All’s well that ends well right? Wrong again! After all of the screwing around with my outbound reservation—somehow my America West return was cancelled!!

Sunday night after the race, I checked in Norfolk on USAirways without a problem however, when I went to check in for my connecting flight in Reagan airport I was told that my flight to Vegas cancelled and my upgraded seat was gone!!

After being upgraded 3 days before I ended up in coach. To put it mildly - I was really UNHAPPY! I had been up since 5am (2am Pacific Time), ran 26.2 miles, hurried to get ready, drove 2 hours in the pouring rain and was still facing a 5 hour flight home..

No comments: