BADWATER Cape Fear 51.4 Miler Personal Highlights and Having a Blast 03/17/2018


51.4 miles.

Beach community roads; single track trail; beach sand (40 miles).

Race gear:

AltraLP Neoshell (wind and waterproof); The North Face Gor-tex jacket; Ultimate Direction vest (carry a handheld bottle, supplements, clothes).

Food, beverages, supplements:

Tailwind; 4 GU Gels; SCaps; Tylenol; aid station food and Coke.

Bald Head Island is a (large) vehicle-free community. Riding around in the golf carts on the tree-lined roads is a fun way to travel.

Stephen and I. [Photo credit: Chris Kostman]

Runner check-in.

Mug shot. [Photo credit: Chris Kostman]

The race:

A huge PR for me (from 2017). My goal was to finish in the daylight. My official time was 11:37:00. Last year it was 13:09:00.

Everyone involved in the race planning and preparation did a great job. The day went smoothly and everyone was helpful.

I stopped to take selfies with friends that I’ve only talked with and followed their adventures and training online.

Watching the elites lap everyone was impressive. They wave, smile and cheer on other runners.

Other course entertainment came from the Sand Pipers. They are tiny white and black birds that have these stick-like legs, which they can move incredibly fast as they catch food while dodging incoming waves. I was jealous of their ability to move so quickly.

“Old Baldy” is the oldest standing lighthouse in NC. It was first illuminated in 1817.

Ready to BADWATER!

Hanging loose at the start.

[Photo credit: Robert E. Lee, Beamcatchers]

Road portion.

Picture with Eric.

Picture with Bernadette.

Picture with Dr. Bethany.

Stephen, my husband, was battling a foot injury on race day. He ran with me on the road and trail portion, we were moving around a 9:30 min/mi. Once we began running on the sand, I slowed my pace and added mixed tempos of faster running. I continued this for the next 20 miles. Stephen was feeling good and wanted to run fast. He got minutes ahead of me. The volunteers at the next aid station (center of the beach) remembered us from last year and teased Stephen that we weren’t running together.

I caught up with Stephen at the Fort Fisher aid station, he was just leaving and mentioned that he was going to drop to the 50k distance because of his foot injury. We stayed together, running the next 10 miles on the beach until we reached the finish. The headwinds were strong, making it tougher to run. I watched Stephen finish his race and he helped me gather any food or things I needed to go do another out and back on the beach. Congrats Stephen!

I ran and listened to music, talked to other runners, and tried to enjoy every moment. I felt wonderful mentally and physically, I was loving the challenge. There were the usual expected struggles.

With Stephen. It was Saint Patrick’s Day, Stephen wore a kilt and I wore a Guinness tee.

[Photo credit: Robert E. Lee, Beamcatchers]

[Photo credit: Robert E. Lee, Beamcatchers]

The buff kept my hat on my head. Not a good look, but effective.

I met Matt and Mark at the Fort Fisher aid station on my last time through. Matt walked over to me as we were grabbing food and drinks and said something like, “hey, it looks like you run the same pace as us, do you want to join us? We need a third person.” I said sure! The last 7-ish miles of the race the three of us alternated leading and we ran in a wind line, as we had strong headwinds. Our timing method, using our watches, was to walk for 30 seconds to 1 minute and run for 3 minutes. This really helped us tick down the remaining miles (10 left!). We chatted, but not much. We were all business in wanting to get to the finish at a good pace. Mark eventually needed to stay back a little because he was feeling sluggish and something began physically bothering him. Mark told us to run up ahead, he didn’t mind. Matt and I continued what we were doing. Our pace might have increased, even with the headwinds because we fed off of each other’s energy. Matt shared about running the BADWATER Salton Sea the past two years and described the mixture of terrain and sort of season-like weather you experience. Later, Matt told me about how our pace, against the headwinds, might have been faster than his pace with the wind against his back. I thought that was cool because the wind was no joke (10-20 mph?).

As we turned the corner of the cape, there was only about half a mile left until we exited the beach for the road. The headwind slammed against me from coming around the corner (20+ mph)! What didn’t help was that the sand was much softer in that section, so it was hard to get a good push. My run pace died, but I decreased step length and aimed for a higher cadence, pumped my arms more and put my head down, so the wind blew over my hat rim and out of my eyes. This section of beach was eroded (different from 2017), we ended up having less and less sand to run on with high tide. We occasionally ran through rippling waves that came up about ankle deep. At one point, I ran in the ocean a few steps for fun. The water flooded my Altra LP Neoshell shoes made them heavy, they are wind and waterproof, so the water does not drain. The sunset was beautiful and I knew that I was going to reach my goal and finish in the daylight. Seeing that final BADWATER flag sticking out of the sand signaling to turn towards the finish was the best thing ever.

As we were several feet away from the finish, running downhill on a paved road, Matt told me to go ahead and finish first. I thanked him and he said that I deserved it, that I helped them, and that I’m a strong runner. I really appreciated that complement, he doesn’t know how much. I’ll remember it forever, especially when I’m doubting myself.

Matt and Mark were cool guys. They were experienced, strong runners. Besides running with my husband at points, Matt and Mark were the only other people I actually ran with. I ran a lot of solo miles, but did well with that.

Well earned view on the way to the finish line.

[Photo credit: Matt]

Finish line:

At the finish, Chris Kostman presented me with my buckle and shook my hand. He then adjusted my hat and messy hair and took my finisher photo.

Final thoughts:

Way too fun, killer experience!

The buckle is pretty sweet.

Stephen’s finish. [Photo credit: Chris Kostman]

[Photo credit: Chris Kostman]

[Photo credit: Chris Kostman]

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