April 9, 2014
Wells Fargo introduces the Flying Pirate Half Marathon and First Flight 5k. This year they are going big for their 5th Anniversary. Race weekend begins Friday May 2 at the Dare Coutry Youth Center, where the expo will be held. This is located right behind Outer Banks Brewing Station. There will be a variety of vendors there to help make race time as comfortable as possible. This is also where you pick up your bib numbers, free t-shirt, and free swag offered to all runners.
Saturday, bright and early, the First Flight 5k begins at 7:30AM. This is an out and back course that shows off the beauty of the Wright Brothers Memorial. You will start and finish at the Memorial with parking available at First Flight High School, Middle School, and Elementary School. Make sure to leave enough time to find parking and get to the starting line. There will be a medic station at the turn around, which also completes mile 2. After crossing the finish line you will be awarded with one of the infamous medals of the weekend.
Sunday brings in the big dogs. Start time is 7am at 5300 Woods Road in Kitty Hawk. This course takes you along some of the most beautiful views of the Outer Banks. Then again, what view isn’t beautiful when you’re on the Outer Banks? You run through historic Kitty Hawk, down alongside the beautiful Albemarle Sound. Around mile 8 your views will be set on the Wright Brothers Monument. After dreaming of taking flight, you will get to mile 10 where Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve awaits. This is a dirt road trail canopied with historic trees. The course is fairly flat, until you get to Nags Head Woods where you encounter a few hills. You end this 13.1 mile journey coming down a hill into a screaming crowd with their top of the line Southern Shores Realty Cowbells.
It’s best to sign up soon, both the 5K and the Half Marathon will fill up quick. You can visit the Flying Pirate Half Marathon website to register for both races. If you can’t make it to the Outer Banks the weekend of May 2-4, and are looking for a race to register in, here is the 2014 Outer Banks Race Schedule . For all spectators and supporters be sure to get to the start and finish line with plenty of time to spare, parking is fairly limited.
This race in particular hits a soft spot for me; This was my first half marathon of my running lifetime. Returning from a snowboarding trip in Colorado for 5 days, I flew back to the Outer Banks a week before the race with an injured knee. I knew what the Orthopedist was going to tell me if I scheduled an appointment. Don’t run! Fat chance! My mom will tell you… if the Orthopedist didn’t cast me, I removed the brace that was given and played on. I trained and looked forward to the completion of this race for months (let’s not forget the fee I paid to run it). By completion I mean having them place the medal around my neck moments after finishing. Medals are my favorite part!
Race morning comes. I got up about 2 hours before we had to leave the house. My mom and step-dad had driven up from Georgia for the race, and it also happened to be my birthday weekend. We parked at Kitty Hawk Elementary, walked to the starting line on Woods Road. I people watched and stretched, mainly people watched. It’s interesting to see all the runners wearing mass amounts of gear to help them “go faster” that they probable bought the day before at the expo. Not to mention the costume contest for runners. Arrrgh don’t forget to dress your best pirate, matey! The weather was perfect; high 50s, maybe low 60s at 7am. They started filing us in our corals. Of course I was in one of the last corals with a 2hr+ finish time. I didn’t want to set the bar too high on my first race.
We all herd in like cattle to the starting line, waiting for the countdown. Race started. Being in the back, I took baby steps for what seemed like a half mile until people were able to spread out. The course was absolutely beautiful. I had never taken the time, or knew a route existed like that along Bay Drive. It makes sense why my time was slower than I had hoped; I was too busy looking at all the sound views and homes.
Much to my surprise we were already at mile 4. No pain in my knee and my breathing was good. I was feeling great! We came up on mile 5, and I spotted my stepdad on the sidelines taking pictures. He directed me to the other side of the road where my mom is taking pictures also. I stopped, de-layered some clothing, gave her a big hug, and ran on. Seeing them not only gave me a boost of excitement, but felt great having someone I knew on the sidelines cheering me on.
I got to Mile 7. I was in pain, so much pain. Every time I stepped with my right leg, pain shot up from below my knee all the way up to my hip. My pace dropped drastically. By mile 10, I was practically dragging my right leg, barely able to bend my knee. This slowly caused pain in my back and hip flexor. I pulled off to the side before heading into Nags Head Woods for the last 3 miles to regroup. I laid on my back in the grass with my leg pulled to my chest. I began to wonder if I was going to be able to finish. As I came to my feet, I gently applied pressure on my right leg. It gave out immediately. I walked around, trying my best to gain mobility. I started a slow jog, it was so painful it was taking my breath away with every step I took. As I charged through Nags Head Woods, my left leg is beginning to throb with pain by having to make up for what my right leg is no longer doing.
Mile 11. I saw a familiar face about a tenth of a mile ahead. It’s my mom again. She found her way into Nags Head Woods to cheer me on and see me run. When I saw her, I was in so much pain that tears filled my eyes. She yelled and hooted-n-hollered for me. After I saw her, I revamped my thought process and energy, and ran on. I passed 2 people on my last two miles with medical bikes and staff around them. I thought about the pain I was enduring, how minor.
It was time to finish this thing! The last mile seemed to go by so quick. Before you knew it, we were running up a small hill through Nags Head Woods. I figured this was just another hill, thankfully I was wrong. This was the hill that takes you down the big hill to the finish line behind the YMCA. I got to the top and paused for a second and tears filled my eyes. I stood there, took in the screaming crowd down at the bottom of the hill; This is the moment I worked for and I wanted to savor every second. I had never been so happy to see the finish line. Running down the hill into the screaming crowd was probably the most pain and joy I had felt the whole race. Without even thinking I threw my arms up as I crossed the finish line. I spotted my mom right by the barriers and grabbed her hand in excitement. She shouted “KEEP RUNNING! YOU AREN’T DONE!”.
That was it. I did it. I ran a half marathon. I finished in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I couldn’t stop looking at my medal. I had always played team sports growing up, so this medal was something I earned, and only I had earned. My parents and I went to the Pirate After Party. I noticed people with 3 medals around their necks. Another person, and another person, and another. I finally stopped someone and asked how did they get 3 medals. He simply replied “I did the challenge”. “The challenge?” I asked. He replied “Yea, you run the 5k on Saturday, and then the half today”. I couldn’t believe it! Why didn’t I sign up for this “Challenge”? Three miles is a warm up run in comparison to a half marathon.
Well come to find out I had a very torn meniscus in my right knee. So this year, I’m healthy, my mom is coming away from the sidelines to be a participant, I signed up for “The Challenge”, and I have a year worth of long runs under my belt… it’s on!