Back in late April, Kathleen, Kristy and myself talked about going down together to run a North Carolina race. We all needed the state in our 50 state quest. I really had not looked at any races in NC yet as I didn’t think I’d be able to get there, but those two obviously had. I remember we had a group chat going and at some point we decided on what now is the Charlotte Half Marathon. Then, I had to step away from the chat for awhile and the race changed to the Battleship Half Marathon and Kristy had already booked flights.
Personally it didn’t matter one way or another to me, but I did love the fact that this race was military related. They registered right away, but I for some reason (probably financial) had put it off. It didn’t mean I wasn’t not doing it, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Finally at the Pirates game we all went to during Pittsburgh Marathon weekend, they literally pressured me into registering while we were at the game. Go ahead, twist my arm.
The plan was that we would travel down on Saturday. Now, I hate traveling down the day before because it usually means an early flight at a time that shouldn’t exist to humans. I really get thrown off with these flights, so I prefer to go in two nights before even if that means a late night flight. I just do better. Well, flights were pretty expensive to go in Friday night, so to save money, I took the crack of dawn flight on Saturday and hated every minute of it.
Once Kristy and I got to Wilmington, our hotel room wasn’t ready so we just walked around town. The downtown area was amazing. I loved going in and out of the local shops and the river walk was gorgeous. I almost wish I had more time to enjoy the city. I loved everything about it. Finally in the afternoon our hotel room was ready and I passed out for an awesome nap. I woke up in time to throw on clothes and meet up for dinner. The race offered a pre-race dinner on the Battleship North Carolina so we all had purchased tickets for that.
The Battleship was mostly open during dinner, so I quickly took a peak around in some areas. The dinner was your basic pasta party with 2 types of pasta, green beans, salad, brownies and of course southern sweet tea. I won’t say it was the best food, but I have had worse. It was certainly worth the experience to eat on the ship. If you do this race, do the dinner, it’s an experience you probably won’t get otherwise.
We were all exhausted so we called it an early night on Saturday and hung out watching TV in the hotel room. Even though I had barely any sleep on Friday, I was looking forward to that extra hour since we turned our clocks back.
Race morning was absolutely gorgeous! There was a definite chill in the air, so I was glad to have some throw away shirt and a nice blanket (thanks American Airlines for that one). In order to get to the start line area which was in the Battleship North Carolina park, they recommend taking a water taxi. I was excited for this as there wasn’t any other races you get to take a water taxi to the start line. It’s usually a yellow school bus if there is transportation provided.
We left our hotel room (the downtown Courtyard Marriott) at 7am and was at the start line area by 7:20am. Waiting on the water taxi was very easy and the actual ride took no more than 5 minutes. It also gave us a great chance to see the Battleship from the water.
While we were waiting for the start of the race, we easily hit the port-o-potties. For the first time ever, I waited in no lines and went right in. The 3 of us waited near the start line as Kathleen and Kristy wanted to try and get a sneak peak of the medals. Unfortunately for them, they were boxed up. While we hung out, we noticed the race director getting interviewed for TV. Well, then Kathleen went up that reporter and basically told her she should interview us. Needless to say, it happened, I said the wrong number of states (well, I mean technically it was right, but wrong if you count DC) and I sounded like an idiot. But, hey, I had my minute of fame in Wilmington media.
After some more waiting around, we all huddled in the start corral and we’re ready to go. There were no corrals but they did have a few pacers. I did not want to go before the 2:20 pacer, so I waited until they passed and then headed off. The first mile of the race is coming out of the park area and up the first bridge. I thought this race was pretty flat, but there were a few ups and downs.
I planned to do my 4:1 ratio but didn’t get into that groove until almost mile 2. It was a little congested in the first mile since the roads were not closed (for any of the race) and I didn’t want to come to a halt in a tight area. I also then tried to take advantage of the downhill of the bridges. Both the first and second mile mainly consisted of bridges, so it just took awhile to get into a groove. However, once I did by mile 2, I stayed to my 4:1 the entire rest of the race.
After the first two bridges, you headed into the downtown Wilmington. It was nice to have some people out there cheering on the runners. Overall though this was not an overwhelming supported race. The spectators who were out there were great, but the course wasn’t lined with people. The temp was warming up quickly so the shade from the buildings downtown was actually nice. The one thing that wasn’t that great was the small bit of running done on cobblestone and brick roads. I actually hit the sidewalk. I just don’t trust myself on these roads as I am always afraid I will trip and fall.
At mile 4, the 10k runners headed straight to go over the bridge toward the finish line while the half marathons went right. There were plenty of volunteers out there the entire race directing runners at the turns. I remembered from the course map that miles 5-10 went around some lake. I was really looking forward to these miles and they certainly did not disappoint.
The views as you came into the park were great. The trees had the Spanish moss hanging from them and the shade was nice. I kept thinking that if lived here, I’d love taking advantage of this park, the lake, etc. Well, then I saw this sign that said alligators live in this lake and to not mess with them or wade in the water. From that point on, I wanted nothing to do with the lake. Luckily I didn’t see any alligators.
Toward the end of mile 5, I came up to these 2 runners. I literally was next to them and the gentleman asked if I wanted to race. It just happened that my watch buzzed to a walk break and I told him not this time. Well, from that point until about middle of mile 8, I played cat and mouse with them. I know run/walk can be annoying but this guy was legit just pissed. The woman was struggling I could see but she was doing amazing.
Sometime around mile 7.5, I heard the guy say something along the lines of “we finally out paced her”, meaning me the run/walker. That actually pissed me off. Like I said, I understand we can be annoying sometimes, but no need to actually get pissed about it. Well, finally I actually out paced them and after mile 8, I never saw them again.
It was also about this time that I was just getting tired. My legs were getting heavier and heavier and my 4 minute run segments were feeling longer and longer. However, the one thing I noticed was that I did keep passing people. I remember hitting mile 9 and getting ready excited that I only had 4.1 miles left. Then about 2 minutes after being excited I had an oh crap moment that I still had 4.1 miles left. Needless to say, I was just tired by this point.
Finally we excited Greenfield Park and were headed for the bridge. I really was not looking forward to mile 11 as it meant the third bridge of this race and the on ramp was probably the worst hill of the entire race. It also meant going over another grated bridge. We did go over one in the 2nd mile, but knowing I was more tired, I was a little freaked out to go over this. I actually did well on the first one and ran it straight through. This time I decided to walk it and by walk it I mean I really just pranced on my tip toes. There were cars going by and shaking the bridge and I was too afraid to put my full weight down each step. Luckily I made it across and enjoyed the nice hill to the exit point toward the Battleship.
I thought the bridge would be the last hill, but as we were about .7 away from the finish line, we had one more small hill before turning right into the park toward the finish line. Those hills are so sneaky and always the worst. Even though I was close to the finish line, I stuck to my 4:1’s. I would prefer to stick to them so close so I could try and have a last kick into the finish line area.
And finally with that last kick, I was across the finish line and receiving my medal from one of the Marines. That was actually a little confusing since the race is for the Battleship which is Navy related. Either way, it is a fantastic feature of the race. Of course I made him take a picture with me.
I hung around for a bit as I wanted to see what beer was available. Unfortunately it was Bud Light, so I decided to pass. In order to get back to the hotel though I had to wait for the water ferry again. Waiting in line, I ended up meeting some awesome ladies from the area. The wait to get over wasn’t terrible, but it was nice to share it with my new friends.
Overall, this race was fantastic. Very small race feel and certainly things could be improved, but it’s one I would honestly go back and do again. It’s certainly a PR course as well if you’re looking for that. The medal is fabulous! They put a lot of thought into the design and it certainly follows the theme of the race. If you’re looking for a well priced race to just add to your race list or use to cross off North Carolina on your 50 state quest, I’d say give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed.
Official Finish Time:
55/80, F 30-34