Lucky #13! Wrightsville Beach Half weekend recap

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 really2013-03-16 14.50.58 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. 2013-03-16 16.34.23 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, 2013-03-17 05.26.47fearing 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.

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Waiting for mom…my heart! 🙂

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”). 2013-03-17 21.29.38

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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.

2013-03-17 08.53.19After 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 2013-03-17 09.44.20sunshine..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 2013-03-17 14.27.24place 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.

2013-03-18 11.55.40When 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 92013-03-18 11.55.50 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. 2013-03-18 12.42.05

What just happened?! Somebody pinch me.

I started this Friday like any normal Friday.  I headed to work, looking forward to the weekend, but by mid-afternoon, I was registered for the Nike Women’s half marathon in DC this April.  What just happened?!

Back in November of last year, I threw my name into the lottery for the race, hoping that I would be one of the lucky 15,000 to run the inaugural race in DC.  I’ve had the Nike Women’s half in San Francisco on my ultimate “races to run” list.  Several things drew me to the race itself: it is a women centered half marathon, the charity it benefits is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), which has special meaning for my family, and  the Tiffany “finisher’s medal” necklace. I love my bling!  So when I found out Nike was bringing the race  to DC, the chance to run it was within reach.  I just had to be picked.

I waited for the week of December 10th to arrive and checked the NWM 26.2 Facebook page and my email daily, hoping for some insider’s information on when the drawing would happen.  On Dec. 11th, I started seeing comments from women on the Nike FB page, excited about finding out they were selected to run the race via email. Others posted that they were checking their bank accounts and found that Nike had drafted the money for the race fee.  By the end of the week, I received the email that I was not one of the chosen runners.  I was disappointed.  I’m sure everyone feels the same way when they want something so badly.  I think it was made worse too by not having a great marathon just days before.  I was looking for a redemption of some sorts to reconfirm my faith in my running and to make me love running again.  That would come later in retrospect, at the Myrtle Beach half.  Whether or not I got into this race wasn’t going to do that.

The new year started and a group of us vowed to make this (as Christie puts it) the year of the FRUN (fun run).  We started the year off with some fun races and made plans for others throughout the Spring.  I forgot about the lottery, the disappointment and knew that I would try again next year.

Fast forward to Friday

On Friday, our 7th grade students were going on a field trip to the ACC Women’s tournament and I was staying back at the school with the students who were not going on the trip.  I looked forward to an easy day and enjoyed the time with the kiddos.  During the morning, we were in the computer lab and I logged onto my personal email and saw an nikeemail from Nike that mentioned a second chance to run the half.  I opened it reluctantly knowing I didn’t want to get my hopes up if it was a hoax or the requirements for entrance were too much.  I read through the email and it all seemed legit.  I also checked their Facebook page to find other women also received the same email.  I quickly contacted Nick, and told him that there was a chance I could run the race still!  I couldn’t seriously believe it.  The whole thing just dropped out of the sky and landed in my lap, but the question was, could we pull it off?

Nick emailed our close friends who live near DC to see if we might be able to stay with them a night while I made sure that I wasn’t going to be needed on the bus ride home from DC the Friday before the race.  Here’s the funny thing, our 8th graders will be up in DC the days before the half for our yearly trip and I would already be in the city.  It was meant to be!

Everything has come together.  We’re headed to DC in April!  Nick and Hayden will head up to DC on Friday to meet me.  Our friends are more than happy to let us stay with them while we are up there.  We secured a hotel just blocks from the start for Saturday night AND I am officially one of the 15,000 runners to take to the streets of DC on a spring Sunday.  I’m still in complete awe and I thoroughly appreciate Nick and Hayden for going along with all my craziness when it comes to running.

As part of the requirements to run the half, I had to participate this weekend in a virtual 10K, by using the Nike+ app (iPhone) and syncing my run.  In addition to that, posting pics on twitter with #letsturnitup.  In return, all participants are receiving a Nike 10K shirt. I have a Garmin watch that I run with so carrying my phone on a run was new for me.  The app itself is really good.  I was pleasantly surprised with the accuracy (I still wore my watch) and the amount of info provided by the app.  The graphics are awesome and cool looking.  There is also ways to earn badges the more you run and you can share your runs across most social media sites.  I would actually use the app again in the event I ever forget my watch or even if I didn’t. It’s pretty great. Since I was running with my phone, it also meant I was taking pictures.  I grabbed shots of my running group, The Woo Hoo Crew, while we ran our long run yesterday.

nike10KcollageI also want to quickly add I’m still working at the March Running Streak, I completed day 9 yesterday, as well as my 14th consecutive day of working out.  I have a CXWorx class planned for today and my daily mile to run, so going for 15 days!  I’m going to have to assess how I feel as the week goes on with the Wrightsville half this Sunday, something might have to change.  We’ll see…

In case you never get a second chance: don’t be afraid!  And what if you do get a second chance?  You take it!

                                                                    ~ C. JoyBell C.




“Birchbox” for Runners?! Awesome!

I love my monthly Birchbox shipment.  What girls wouldn’t love a beautifully wrapped box of beauty samples and other fun goodies!  Don’t worry, guys, theybirchbox-homepage-600x298-dec didn’t forget about you, they also have Birchbox Man.  In any given box, there are usually 6-8 high end samples for face cream to shampoo and nail polish to lip gloss.  Each box is based on your own personal beauty profile which you can update at any time. Some boxes have even had some cute goodies such as headphones, hair ties and chocolate covered potato chips!  The ability to try products first without spending hefty price tags is also a huge benefit.  I’ve purchased full size items of some of the samples I tried and found out others didn’t really live up to the promises.  Stupid stretch marks, I had such high hopes for that cream too!  Every month is a surprise and I love Birchbox delivery day!

While I was looking at details about #Runchat’s I love Running challenge, I saw one of the prizes listed was a monthly subscription for Strideboxsb-three-samplesThey described it as a monthly box of assorted running products (apparel, nutrition, accessories, etc.).  I had to check that out, it sounded just like Birchbox, but for runners! What a brilliant idea!  I clicked on their site and immediately signed up for the first month once I read the details.  At $15 a box, I felt like that was really reasonable and what a great way to try out new products.  Just like Birchbox, you can cancel your subscription at any time.  They just sent out the February boxes, so I’m anxiously awaiting the March delivery.  Once the box arrives, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts about it.

Now, I’ll have two days to look forward to each month, Birchbox and Stridebox days!

Life is full of challenges and surprises.

~Jill Sander