Oak Island is about an hour south of Wilmington, NC, and is home to Fort Caswell. Here, the Oak Island 10K/5K finished after coursing along the flat, windswept beach roads just a few hundred feet from the waves. Our connection to the place is familial - my aunt has a house down here, so Carla and I have fond memories of ridiculous sunburns and boogie boards.
At the start, I eyed the competition. Carla helped scan for shaved legs, fluffy running shorts and lightweight shoes. We eyed a few likely subjects, so I lined up near them. After a 15 minute start delay (the organizers starting the 10K up the road couldn't find the start line), we took off in a rush. Immediately, I tucked in behind a young guy, maybe 15, running pretty hard. You never know about the young ones, but unless they are experienced they often burn out before 3.1 miles. I felt like I was in a paceline, as I was sitting on this guy big time waiting to see if someone would pass us or if he would pick it up. He looked back often, but held a 6min/mi pace for 2 miles.
At the 2mi water stop, the young speedster took a drink (I did not) and then his body language just shifted, looking almost tired. I decided to go around without waiting. We exchanged quick, breathless encouragements (I do this from time to time to see how others are managing) and I pulled in front. Within 30 seconds I could no longer hear his footsteps and it occurred to me that there was no one else in front of me. 1.1 miles to go.
A few folks lined the sandblown, bleached road, clapping and cheering. As I neared the entrance to Fort Caswell, all I could think about was how bad it would suck to get passed within sight of the line. I pushed hard but could not sprint. I spied the finish clock as I rounded the corner into the chute and it read 19:21, 19:22, 19:23...I had never run under 20:10 in a race, so this was a big surprse.
Jill had a great run on the 10K course and set a new PR by 3 minutes. She credits her killer iPod playlist and her smooth LIVESTRONG visor. My sis set her first time down at 41:01 and was really impressive. She isn't quite ready for full-on PVS action just yet, but as we get her into more and more races, you never know.