This weekend was just fantastic! The family (Nick, H, and I) and our close friends, Carole, Henry, Bekah and Kirsten hit the NC coast for the Wrightsville Beach half marathon weekend. It was a total spur of the moment race for me, having signed up in January just because Henry and Bekah were running it (having both ran it last year) and it seemed like a great idea for a March half and my 13th half marathon, our family’s lucky number. Seemed kind of appropriate for a Wright to run Wrightsville for the 13th one?
My family and the McMurray’s headed down to Wrightsville Beach early Saturday morning and arrived around lunch time jut in time to hit the EXPO. We snagged our bibs and really nice race tees (one of my new favs!). Carole and I even scored super cute tech tanks for $10 from How Far is the Bar. We found a great restaurant, Dockside, nearby on the water. The grilled mahi mahi tacos were delish! The weather was absolutely perfect for sitting outside, sun shining and a slight breeze.
After lunch, we checked into the hotel and headed to Wilmington to check out the St. Patty’s day Festival and to walk along the Riverwalk. We opted for an early dinner, which was Mexican fare, for my traditional pre-race meal. Black beans and rice always seem to do me well! The chips and salsa probably help some too, putting all that sodium into my body. Whatever it is, it works for me! We topped it off with a visit to Boombalatti’s for some yummy ice cream. I enjoyed the Caramel Macchiato, coffee ice cream with caramel and whipped topping swirled together, in a waffle cone. I was a little worried I may have overstuffed myself, but I went to bed full and happy.
4:30am came a little too soon Sunday morning. I slept well, but woke up several times, fearing that I wouldn’t hear my alarm. I hate that feeling! I had already laid out my clothes the night before so I quickly got dressed and ate breakfast, going downstairs to the lobby for a much needed cup of joe. I was ready to go by 5:30am and headed down to the lobby to meet Bekah who was coming to meet Henry and me at the hotel so we could all head to the finish line together to catch the shuttle to the starting line.
We arrived to the finish line, hit the port-a-potties and jumped in line just in time to catch the last shuttle heading to the starting line. We didn’t exactly time it too well, but none of us were really stressed about it. We ended up realizing that we could have just walked to the starting line (maybe 3/4 of a mile). We would definitely go that route next year. We got to the starting line with 15 minutes to spare. We hurried to the bathroom again and found ourselves caught with our pants down (literally) as our wave started. We headed to the starting line, yelling “wave 2” as we went along, as they were making the “last call” announcement. The 3 of us crossed the starting line by ourselves and Henry bid farewell to Bekah and me and sped off. Bekah and I took off, realizing that we were running a little too quick from all the excitement and slowed up just a bit.
We ran the first two miles around Wrightsville Beach, making a loop through the small town, before crossing the Intercoastal Waterway, heading back up Eastwood towards Military Cutoff and Landfall, a huge resort. We ran really well the first 3 miles, averaging a 9:02 pace. We were hoping to catch up with the 2 hour pacer so that we could settle in for an easier pace for a few miles and just let some miles pass by us. Knowing that we were behind them at the start meant that we could hang for a few miles and still be under 2 hours overall. We picked up our pace for the next 3 miles, averaging an 8:48 pace. It was at mile 6, shortly after entering Landfall, when we finally caught up to the 2 hour group.
We were pretty excited to finally catch them, only to be a bit disappointed that the pacer was singing “99 bottle of beer on the wall” once we caught them. It wasn’t exactly the vibe we thought we’d find once we found them. After hanging around for a mile, we made a decision at that point to push just a bit and we pulled ahead of the group. By doing so, we caught up with the 4 hour marathon pacer who was a bit more chill and we hung with her group for a mile.
By now, we were starting mile 9 and the real work started for us. I held our pace around an 8:56 for the next few miles, hoping that by mile 11.5-12 we could start picking our pace up again. Bekah and I hung together until the water station around mile 11-11.5. I opted not to take water. I was still working on my chomp from mile 9, so I was waiting until mile 12 to take water. I kept going like I had at all the other stations knowing that Bekah would catch up to me, but we just didn’t hook back up the last few miles. The sun was definitely out in full force now, which I knew would be my downfall if I started getting too hot, so I continued on, staying around an 8:45 pace through mile 12. I took water quickly right past mile 12 and pushed through to the end, finishing the last .1 (.2 on my Garmin) at an 8:22 pace.
I came through the finish line chute, finishing under 2 hours (1:59:46) on the gun clock and with a new PR time of 1:57:07, Garmin time! (Unfortunately, at this point, my chip did not work at the finish line and my tag time was not recorded. I am working with the race directors/timing company for the “proof”).
I was greeted by Nick and H right after finishing and turned around to look for Bekah who came in right after me. I was so happy to see her! She saw her family and we all jumped the “fence” to get away from the crowd that was leading towards the food tent. We weren’t ready to have food just yet.
After a round of pictures, we grabbed some snacks and drinks and caught Carole and Nick up on our running adventure. Our friend, Cindy, was also there, running with her tennis girls. We found her and chatted with her for a bit about her race. She did amazingly well, finishing in 1:32! She’s a true badass, ran with an uncooperative leg and still killed it. She’s awesome!
We stayed at the post race party for some time, just enjoying the warmth and sunshine..ok, and free beer. It was so nice! We grabbed some sandwiches for lunch and went back to the hotel to shower and rest for a bit. We decided to hit the beach. H is a beach girl at heart and she was playing in the cold water and building animals in the sand within minutes. We opted for a late afternoon movie, OZ in 3D and IMAX. Go see this movie, seriously. Absolutely fantastic. I rarely want to see movies again, but I would see this one in a hot minute. As soon as it finished, H looked at me and said, “Can we buy it?!” It is THAT good! After dinner at Fox and Hound and another round of ice cream, we headed back to the hotel for the night.
On Monday morning, we all took our time getting up. It was nice to be leisurely. We met up for breakfast and finally checked out by 11am. We weren’t quite ready to head home just yet, so we took another trip to the beach, heading towards the Shell Island Resort, a place that Nick and I had stayed at several times, years before we had H. It was nice to see how much work they had done to save the beach on the north end of the island. The last time we were there, the beach was slowly washing away and we were always fearful the resort would be go with it. The beach expands 1/2 mile past the resort now. We ventured down to the end to look across the water to Figure 8 island.
When we came to the end of the island, we saw the most peculiar thing, a mailbox sitting on a post in the sand. At first we kind of ignored it, but then curiosity got the best of us and we went to check it out. Written on the outside of the box was “Leave a note” and inside the box were pens and 2 small notebook journals. Each journal was just started this past weekend and several notes had been written in both. Some were just simple reminders of great weekends; other entries had quotes. H sat on the nearby bench and wrote something in one of the books. She didn’t want anyone to see what she wrote so we respected her privacy. I totally wonder what she wrote about?! What would a 9 year old want to say in a journal post? It was pretty sweet to see her taking her time, going back a second time to add more to her note. Henry, Carole and I all wrote in the other journal, leaving our thoughts in the mailbox.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend. Something so surprising as a mailbox on a beach, just sitting there, asking us to leave a note. It was exactly the thing I needed to see. It gave me the time to reflect on this past weekend and more importantly, my family and friends, and to leave a little note, a small token of my gratitude.