On Saturday April 26, 2014 I ran the Island to Island Half Marathon in Ocean City, Maryland along with 2700 other runners. We started the race this year backwards. Well, not backwards to those who haven’t run it before. This year for the 10th anniversary the race started on Assateague Island and ended at the Ocean City inlet and all years prior it was run starting in Ocean City. Most of the runners were bussed from the Ocean City inlet to the island start line. Since the race is growing, and this was the first year transporting around 2700 people we ended up starting the race 30 minutes late while we waited for all the busses to get everyone to the start.
I had a friend ask me what it was like to run with so many people. I will admit I felt a little claustrophobic at first, especially going over the bridge. At most races though, I feed off of the immense start line energy. Everyone is excited, and probably nervous hoping to have a good race day. I like feeding off that energy and it gets me really pumped at the beginning. A large part of race success is not starting off to fast, and this is really hard when you get caught up in a herd full of excited runners. This race I started out with the 2:00 pace group. My friend Corrinne was pacing, which was really cool because we stood at the start line and chatted. It was fun to see all her energy and how pumped she was to help the 2:00 hour group meet their time goals for the day. My friend Summer was also pacing a group and I was really excited for her too. Several friends were running their first half marathons, and others it was the first time they were running the OC half.
The night before the race I went through my ritual of laying out Flat Race Lisa. I was a little bit nervous wearing my super girl shirt considering the last I race wore this I completely blew up. But I don’t tend to be superstitious to much, and I figured with the weather short sleeves might be in order over a tank because of the high winds forecasted.
Race morning we hit the busses at about 5:30 and this worked out great because the lines weren’t to long, but getting on the bus was a little chaotic and it was something new for me. I wasn’t thrilled to find there were only 8 porto potties at the start and got inline immediately off the bus while the line wasn’t to long. I then headed to the tent to find some of my friends. It was really hard trying to find people for some reason. I knew at least 10 people running the race but only met up with Summer who was in the pacer area. We got a quick picture before we headed out to the start from the warmth of the tent.
After a moment of silence and finally starting a little late we were off. I was determined not to start to fast and stay with the 2:00 hour pace if I could. My goal was 2:00 hours or bust! My training volume hasn’t been the greatest but my ankle feels fully recovered so I was willing to give it a try. I also felt good and the weather was awesome so I had no excuse to not go for it! I pulled away from the group pretty early because it was a little crowded but I wasn’t to far ahead as we went through the first neighborhood I saw the pace group pretty close behind. I skipped the first water stop which was a little to early in the race in my opinion, at mile 1.5 Took my first gel around mile 3, and things were clicking along really well. Then about mile 4 I started feeling a blister under the ball of my right foot so I tried changing my foot strike to accommodate that. I had shoes I’ve never worn during a race, though they never bothered me during training runs I think they were to lightweight for a half marathon or they weren’t tied tight enough hence the extra friction in a weird spot. Once the caffeine from my gel kicked in I felt great till mile 8. That’s when I really had to keep myself on pace, I was getting tired. I kept replaying the same three songs to keep my pace. We went through a second neighborhood and I didn’t see anyone I knew which was a bummer. Then we get closer to mile 10-11 and my pace is on target and I still feel ok but not as good as I’d like and don’t have much left in the tank to speed up. I was so excited to see the Route 50 bridge because I knew we were so close to the finish. Happy, that is, until I had to run over it. At this point in the race I was cursing this bridge being at the finish. I felt like I was on it for an eternity. Running over the grates was complete torture on my blisters. I clicked my iPod onto Runnin Down A Dream by Tom Petty. This put some extra pep in my step, and I was so pumped and sped up a little bit and I could see the boardwalk and hear the angels singing I was almost done… then bam my right foot misstepped, and I screamed and went flying. I really don’t remember how I fell because it happened so fast but I’m pretty sure I rolled somehow and a couple of guys came up behind me at lifted me up under my arms. I was thanking them profusely for the help and I kept on moving, albeit much slower. Moving at this point was a super girl challenge because all my leg muscles decided to lock up on me, and my foot kept cramping as I made it onto the boardwalk. Then I started looking for my husband and friend Carrie who was there cheering for her husband. This took my mind off my legs for a bit. Although I didn’t see either of them, and was quite frankly riding the pain train by this point, the finish line was so close and I knew I’d hit my time goal with some cushion and I was so relieved to finish.
My official finish time is a little bit off my watch time. Most of the race my watch was clicking off about a tenth of a mile before the markers which was frustrating, but tends to happen quite often at races. My only goal was under 2 hours and I did that. I was so excited that after 2013’s year of not so great racing that I got to end the spring season on a high note. Another cherry on top was meeting some new running friends, and connecting with some friends I hadn’t seen since high school.
Me at the finish – (photo credit Joe Mitchell)
I think Joe said it best that even the best runners (haha thanks Joe) fall down sometimes, but when Tom Petty is telling you to run down your dream, you must listen! That song may be a new running favorite for me. Congrats to all the finishers and many thanks to the race directors and crowd supporters. Having people there to support you is really the icing on the cake. Next up will be Ragnar WV trail in June, and I can’t wait!