The series used to have a competitive points system for as long as I can remember. My mentor Sonny Hyman won overall championships in the mile, 5K, and won ten 10K championships. I was the overall mile champion and won the 10K Championship seven times in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Participants had to compete in four of the first six races to qualify for awards in the points system. If you did all six, your best four finishing places counted. Winning four races clinched an overall or age group award. For reasons I still do not understand, the Parks and Recreation staff chose to do away with the points system and awards last year. The former director of the series passed away and it's my opinion the current staff is just too lazy to do it and didn't want the extra work. Several area runners voiced their concerns last year about the change but the staff chose to stand ground and continue last year and this year with no awards. I offered to do the points system for them but they were not interested. Needless to say the change has hurt the total number of runners coming out for the races and especially hurt drawing the faster runners to the series.
I missed doing the races last year so I decided to do at least one this year and possibly more even if there are no awards at the end of the series. I still like to support the local races in my hometown and love my local running community. This was the first Beach Run without Sonny Hyman, who passed away on April 16th. He's going to be missed by the running community and he's the reason the running community is so big in Carteret County. The first race this year was held on May 6th. I did not expect to be fast following the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21st. I had taken the rest of the week of Boston off and only ran 24.93 miles, all easy, the week before this first beach run.
I went to the race with my Dad. Jamie couldn't make it because she's a kindergarten teacher and is finishing up the school year. My cousin, ultra marathoner Josh Lyle, met me there. He signed up for the 5K and I signed up for the 10K. We warmed up together in the sand for an easy mile or so before lining up for the start. We knew on the warmup the wind was going to be rough finishing because it was a tailwind going out and a strong headwind coming back. I met up with my friend Katherine Price and Eric Rowe as well before the start. Both of them were doing the 5K.
I opted to wear my new 2014 Boston Marathon singlet and shorts that Jamie got me. The singlet is bright orange and much better quality than the 2012 Boston singlet. For shoes, I chose the Brooks Green Silence road flats that I still only have 69.8 miles on them. I had no goal time in mind really but I did want to break 40 if the conditions were good. I just wanted to run the race and win. The gun went off and I was out fast with Katherine and Josh with me. Several kids were ahead of me but they were in the 5K. I was feeling good, surprisingly fast and it didn't feel like we were running as fast as we were thanks to the tailwind. Katherine and I were side by side as we ran the first mile in 6:01. It didn't feel that fast and it surprised me and Katherine. I slowed it down some after that to save some for the return trip into the wind.
After the first mile, Katherine and I started catching and passing some of the 5K guys that went out too fast. There was just one ahead of us when we hit the 5K turnaround. I kept going and hoped Katherine would pass the 5K leader and win the whole thing on her way back. I was all by myself now in the 10K with no clue how close second place was to me or how many was in the 10K. With no points system, numbers in the 10K have really suffered and I understand that. Why run 6.2 miles in the sand and wind if there isn't anything for it? I do it because I love it.
I kept going past the Sheraton Pier heading towards the 10K turnaround. The sand was packed in well, the tide was falling making for a good running surface. It was 73 degrees with 79% humidity but was feeling warmer running with the tailwind. I ran miles two and three in 6:16 and 6:26.
I rounded the 10K turnaround and didn't see anyone near me. I thought I could have possibly been the only one in the 10K until I saw Gary Davis and Shannon Adams. I encouraged them as we met going opposite directions. The headwind coming back was indeed tough. I felt like I was still running sub 6:30 min/mile pace but my Garmin was showing over 7:00 min/mile pace. The wind sucked. Thoughts of breaking 40 minutes were fading fast into the wind but I kept pushing it to see what I could do in the wind.
My cousin Josh picked off a lot of runners finishing into the wind in the 5K but was out kicked by a step at the line for the overall win. Josh finished in 20:22. If he hadn't ran in the morning he might have had enough kick to win it. Katherine won the women's 5K in 20:31. Another friend of mine, Eric Rowe, ran the 5K in 27:11 and his son ran his first 5K in 30:08, not bad for a first time for a 9-10 years old age group in the sand.
It was still a fun race and seeing friends and local runners there makes it even better. I'll probably do one or two more beach runs this summer. I hope the staff will re-consider adding a points system back in the future.