Unfortunately, this race has bad luck with weather. I think it has rained in all by two years and been windy in all of them. This year we got a break from the rain. It was still cold and windy but the wind was a lot less than what we've had to deal with in the past. The temperature was in the upper 30s with a wind chill of 31 degrees when my Dad, Jamie, and I arrived at the Morehead City waterfront for the start. The wind was out of the North at 10-15mph. That meant runners going to have to fight a headwind once we turned right off Fort Macon Road and headed back over the Atlantic Beach Bridge to Morehead City.
The course is flat minus the bridge. The bridge is at miles 5 and 11. The bridge is 400m up and 1.5 miles over and back. The course makes a three mile loop around the Morehead City Waterfront on Evans and Arendell Streets. Runners then run down Shepard Street and go over the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge and make a left onto Fort Macon Road. Runners then take a left onto Bogue Sound Drive. After doing the loop on Bogue Sound Drive, runners stay on Fort Macon Road until the turnaround. On the way back, runners don't do the Bogue Sound loop and instead stay on Fort Macon Road until a right turn onto the Atlantic Beach Causeway which takes runners back over the bridge to Morehead City. Once back in Morehead City, you take a right back onto Arendell Street and head to the finish line on Evans Street.
My goal for this race was to break 1:20. I've been chasing sub 1:20 for awhile and felt like I would have gotten it already if it wasn't for some of the wind at this race in the past. I could have picked different half marathons but I like this race and wanted to break 1:20 in my hometown.
I started my pre-race warmup routine around 7:30 am. After doing my dynamic stretching I headed off on the race course for an easy 1.5 miles into the cold wind. Since it was cold and windy I opted to race in the 2XU compression shorts. I haven't raced in them before but I have done training runs in them. I figured they would be warmer and better in the wind than my usual Nike split short. I also had on my highlighter yellow Capital RunWalk singlet with matching arm-warmers, gloves, and my Indianapolis Monumental Marathon toboggan. I debated between the Adidas Adizero Adios and the Adidas Adizero Boston 3 shoes as my race shoe. I opted for the Boston 3 for the extra cushioning. The Boston 3 isn't as light as the Adios but it's still a fast feeling shoe. I love that shoe and ran my 2:50:43 marathon PR in them last November.
It was a little windy starting out but the houses were blocking some of it. I was all alone out front but wasn't sure by how much. I didn't hear or see anyone behind me the few times I took a glance back on the turns. I kept my focus on my goal of sub 1:20 as I ran the first mile in 6:02, right on goal pace with some seconds to spare. I felt a strong side wind on mile two as I ran down Arendell Street. Mile two was ran in 6:06. I made my way back to the starting area where the 5K was about to start. I thought they would have started by the time I got back but it hadn't. Butch yelled for them to start it and then he yelled at me to follow him. The 5K started just as I was coming through around 2.5 miles. I had to navigate my way through the 5K runners. Butch did a great job on his bike of creating a clear path through the 5K runners. Some runners did a great job moving to the far right so I didn't really lose any time dodging them. I kept running hard, following Butch and the lead police SUV ahead of him. I was feeling great and still all alone up front as I ran mile three in 5:45. It was a little too fast but it felt good and I knew I was going to lose some time going back over the AB bridge at 11 miles.
I was still leading with no signs of anyone close anyone was behind me. I stayed focused and kept clicking off the miles as I ran down Fort Macon Road towards Fort Macon State Park. The wind was at my side and I was still feeling good. I was just simply in the zone and not having anyone beside me pushing me or ahead of me for me to chase wasn't bothering me. I ran miles seven and eight in 5:57 and 6:02. I rounded the turn around shortly after eight miles and saw my competition. Second place wasn't as far back I as I thought he was. He must have picked up the pace a lot since the race started. This gave me a challenge because I still wanted to win the race especially after leading for as long as I had. I knew my pace was staying consistent but I didn't see the mile nine marker. My Garmin was accurate so far during the race because I turned the auto lap off and was hitting the lap button at the official mile markers, like I do in all my races. My current average pace was showing I was running 5:55 so I should have seen the mile marker around 6:00. I didn't see it until 0.16 over where it should have been. Several runners after the race mentioned they thought mile 9 was really long as well. The next mile marker, mile ten was in the right spot. Mile ten was the last mile before the course turned and headed down the Atlantic Beach causeway and back over the bridge directly into the headwind. I ran mile ten in 5:57. I split ten miles in under 1:01, which was faster than the only ten miles race I've ever ran.
I was still leading when I came off the bridge and made the right turn back onto Arendell Street. The pace on my Garmin was reflecting not being in the headwind anymore as I was back to under 6:00 min/mile pace. I ran mile 12 in 6:08, still leading but second place was closer. He gained a lot on me since we came off the bridge.
Robbie Bass finished 16th overall and 2nd in his age group in 1:38:02.
Despite the wind, Eric Rowe finished with a new PR!
I met the winner, Eric Rasmussen, after the race. Eric's winning time was 1:19:21, 15 seconds ahead of me. He's from Wilmington and has a 2:36 marathon PR. He owns a very cool company that takes people on active adventure trips all over the world including the Inca Trail Marathon, one of the hardest races in the world.
This was my ninth half marathon and all but two have been at this race. The two that weren't were the Run For The Booty Half in Greenville, NC which no longer exists, and the New Bern Bridge Run Half. I may be biased because it's my hometown but the Crystal Coast Half Marathon is better than those two and I think it's one of the best halfs around for the money.