Last weekend, I took a road trip to North Carolina for Coastal Race Productions Run Oak Island.
Run Oak Island is the first event in the 2018 BAM (Big Ass Medals) race series. Each race in the series features beautiful views of North Carolina beaches, tri-blend shirts, a top-notch after party with pizza and beer, and of course, gorgeous medals.
Coming off a running injury and still unable to do workouts or much “fast” running, I decided to just enjoy the experience and not focus on the race so much. My cousins Sue and Chris, along with their daughter Ashley, her husband Patrick, and their son Tanner live in Little River, which is less than an hour from Oak Island. I don’t get to see family very often and had never even met little Tanner (who is two now), so it was a great reason to visit.
We went out to dinner at The Boundary House in Calabash, then settled in for a night of catching up, Olympic watching, and rest. I had to get up at 4:30 to leave Little River and be at the race before packet pick up closed, so it was an early night.
After my dark thirty wake up and drive, I picked up my packet and checked out the swag and awards. Knowing my limits, I was signed up for the 5K, which also offered a beautiful medal, even if it wasn’t Big Ass (or my G-rated version… Big As My Head). The 5K finisher’s medal is even nicer than some full marathon medals I’ve seen and is pretty large for a 5K medal.
Next, I drove to a gas station to get coffee since my 5K didn’t start until 7:15. I hated leaving and giving up my parking spot, but that gas station was closed when I passed by on the way into town- and I needed coffee! I got my coffee, drank it in the car, drove back to the race start, and immediately hit the porta potty line because… coffee.
Even though I’m not in shape to “race”, I was thankful to be healthy enough to earn my finisher’s medal and support friends who were running the longer races. My friends Lisa and Dan drove from Charleston to run the half marathon, and I had a ton of Grand Strand Running Club friends running, pacing, and volunteering. I even saw Jesse, the race director for the Lexington Half Marathon and Run Hard Columbia marathons- he had several athletes and friends racing and was there to support.
The race started, and I had no clue how my body would respond- I just hoped to finish without any injuries besides the grumpy glute I started with. Two ladies were ahead immediately and we ran into a headwind, around a tight corner, then onto a straight road where we had a tailwind. Tailwind = Good. I didn’t look at my watch until after the race, but I hit the first mile in 7:22.
I wasn’t trying to run the tangents, and I weaved around some of the half marathon walkers- who were cordial and cheered for us. A lady passed me during Mile 2, and I knew I wouldn’t catch up. 5Ks aren’t my strong point, and she was running a smart race. We had a nice tailwind for Mile 2 (7:28), and pretty soon, hit the turnaround for the 5K.
The third mile (7:38) was almost entirely headwind, fueled by the sea breeze. You could certainly tell you were running near the beach. I was thankful to only be running the 5K and dealing with that headwind for a mile. I was gassed out and ready to be done, and since the finish is on a straight road, the view of the finish line taunted me. I ran the last .18 in 1:22 (Like I said, I made NO effort to run the tangents) and crossed in 23:47.
After I finished, I immediately put on more clothes and ran a quick cooldown around the main street of Oak Island so I could explore a little more of the town, then came back to work the beer tent. As an ambassador, I also signed up to volunteer at the beer tent post-race and was glad to be volunBEERing in memory of Cindy.
VolunBEERing was a lot of fun, as I got to congratulate so many runners and meet people from all over the US, according to their IDs. I even met another running blogger, Larz, who was the 2nd overall male winner in the half marathon and set a PR. Larz was the first half marathoner to get a post-race beer, so I told him that he was the REAL winner.
Even though my finish time was one of my slowest 5Ks in years, I managed to win my age group. One of the other ambassadors, Kailyn, was second female overall in the 5K as well- it was her first race back from an injury too. We both earned these sweet plaques.
Kaitlyn put her finisher’s medal around her dog’s neck, and he looks so proud. I vote Kailyn’s dog for the official mascot of the BAM race series.
I had a wonderful time at Run Oak Island. The race went on without any issues, and the after party was wonderful, although a bit chilly since the temperature dropped. The organizers and volunteers worked very hard and made the day a success.
Your next chance to earn a Big Ass Medal is Run Sunset Beach on May 19. With almost three months to train, you’ve got plenty of time for long runs, track sessions, and tune-up races, plus one last chance to race before the summer heat fully kicks in. If you prefer Fall races, Run Holden Beach and Run Ocean Isle Beach are in September and October. All of the remaining races include both 5K and half marathon options.
To save 15% on your registration fee, use the code AmyS when you sign up. I hope to see you there!
Race Name: Run Oak Island Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K
Location: Oak Island, NC
Date and Time: February 17, 2018, 6:30-7:15 AM
Course: Road, USATF Certified. The 5K is completely flat. The half and full courses include a bridge, but otherwise very flat.
Swag: Soft cotton shirt with race design (men’s cut, short sleeved), finisher’s medals for all runners.
Post-race Food: Pizza, BBQ, Beer (two per runner), Pork Skins, Bananas, Water
Weather: 52 degrees, 76% humidity, 10 mph ENE wind.
As a Coastal Race Productions Ambassador, I received a complimentary entry into the Big Ass Medals (BAM) race series. However, I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.