"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

WBM Autopsy Reveals Self-Inflicted Wounds

The numbers don't lie - the last 78.6 marathon miles (click on chart for larger view)
The following Wrightsville Beach Marathon recap is being provided in a modified format, relative to previous races.  By now, most of you know that I am going to stick to my pre-race ritual, that fueling patterns will be similar and mid-race thoughts and tactics not that different.  Thus an abbreviated review, with race pros / cons and lessons learned, for those of you interested in running this Wilmington, NC event, is all that is required. I have started it off with a high level overview that pretty well sums up the day. I hope you enjoy. I hope you find it beneficial to your training. And I hope that you and I both look back and apply this insight for future runs.

Coming across from Wrightsville Beach early on
First off, Wilmington is a fantastic weekend get-away for a destination marathon. The family had a great time at the beach, the downtown waterfront and the shopping malls. The weather in March is absolutely perfect for those activities. Unfortunately, I was also interested in running a PR and the weather, as you might now imagine, was not ideal, at least for me. In fact, about 62° for the 6:40 a.m. start and approaching 70° by late morning. Add in a little beach humidity and you can see the sweat start to roll in the photo around mile 3!

Daughters provided course motivation throughout!
Cutting to the chase, I had trained to hit a 3:39:59 or better.  The plan I used was a 12 week program that emphasized speed workouts.  Training went great. However, as the blog title indicates, due to my failing to adjust for the weather, coupled with the more significant error of an over-aggressive start (goal pace was 8:20, you can see I was faster than that) the WBM became the first marathon for which I did not negative split.  I held an 8:15 overall pace through almost 23 miles, and then the wheels fell off.  I saw it / felt it coming from around mile 19 and couldn’t pull back enough to conserve.  In all honesty, I was fortunate to hobble away with a 3:48:02.

A tough and sweaty road was coming to an end!
Despite the results, I had a blast.  Having the family present was great and I had a lot of really encouraging interaction on the course. I’m not much of a talker during a race, but I really enjoy finding someone that is locked in on a similar pace and going a mile or two with them.  A few words every half mile to acknowledge the shared gratitude and then on to our own journey.

Below I have listed the my pros and cons for this race. One man's opinion for that particular day.  I encourage you to always do your homework and check with others that might have a different perspective of the race when you are making a decision on signing up. I think I have been fair and I would love to hear from others that have run Wrightsville Beach

In short, I was not blown away by this event.  As in most cases, the volunteers and race organizers were super friendly and did all that they could to host the best event possible.  Ultimately, the course itself just leaves too much to be desired. Billed as the Wrightsville “BEACH” Marathon, you actually never see the beach. The start is on the island and crosses a few small bridges over the ICW. But because they occur in the first few pre-dawn miles you are either trying to find a lane to run through or you are watching your step across the metal grates on the drawbridge, hoping not to slip.

Once you leave WB, just shy of mile 3, it is all Wilmington. Well, actually, a subdivision east of Wilmington. Marathoners run 3 loops through the Landfall Community, a gated golf course neighborhood burdened with the misfortune of a poor choice of names (there is apparently no "landfill" anywhere nearby). Mile 6 to mile 22 are several long, slightly changing loops through this subdivision, (see course map or check out link to watch route WBM Course Player).  Then to a shopping center finish.

Lar & K hold up their old dad at the finish line
A nice time, but think twice before making this your “must do” marathon.  That said, I really do think that it might be ideal for the first time half-marathoner. More of a straight, point-to-point route, with only one loop, and with the excitement of a marathon included. This is an especially strong recommendation if you can throw in a little vacation time around the race.

In only the 3rd year, keep at it Quintiles. If you can ever roll out a more scenic and creative course, we might just try it again someday.

WBM course route relative to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach
  • Fun weekend with plenty of good food, recreation and sights
  • Low key expo without large crowds
  • Transportation to starting line is great - we stayed in Hampton 1 mile away; I walked
  • Best race shirt yet
  • Great medal
  • Not as “flat” as advertised, especially in sub-division, but still flat
  • Affordable race entry
  • Easy departure from finish - shuttles running and parking lots provide an easy out without a long walk. 
  • Opportunity to speak with Bart Yasso at finish.
The Mayor of Running - Bart Yasso
  • Marathon course was created on the back of a napkin, requiring triple loops, armbands to verify which loop you are on and mixed pace running for greater congestion on main road
  • Few aid stations within the Landfall Community, especially between miles 12 and 22
  • For a warm day, (add to point above), disappointed in volume of water / Gatorade in small cups.  Often needed two and three cups. One key learning is to bring my own bottles for warmer days.
  • Logo tube socks for all runners (sea blue and yellow at that).  Really? Maybe running socks or a visor, but 1970’s NBA style socks?
  • Few spectators, with little to no on-course entertainment, especially through neighborhoods.  
The Bling! Socks, anyone?
To be honest, I realized that the smaller event would not compare to DC or Disney in terms of the total experience, and that was OK.  The people are great, the pacers were encouraging, although there were only four of them, and the hassle-free logistics of the event was a nice change of pace.  The only really downer was the course.  Other than that, it is a well organized race and a fun time. Let me know of any questions. 


  1. Nice work. That course does sound a little on the awful side though.

  2. Thanks for the great marathon review - enjoyed reading it. I was linked back over here from @EddieWooten and I've missed a lot of posts. An old colleague of mine ran the half at Wrightsville a couple years back and enjoyed, but I was turned off when I saw the looping full marathon route. Sounds rough. You still turned out an impressive time though! I love your mile pace chart - very interesting way to look at multiple races. And yes... those socks are one of the stranger race packet items I've ever seen!

  3. Hey Emily, glad you enjoyed the review. And yes, I really do think the half is a good one to plan on running. As to the pace charts, I can be a bit analytical. I created the first one to help explain the negative split effect. Then I figured that if I kept the scale the same, the miles would simply be a continuation of each race and assess both the improvement in pace and the in-race trend. It really highlighted the failed tactics in Wrightsville. Give it a shot, hope it helps. Thanks again for the comments. Have a great day.