Friday, June 7, 2013

Running in the Outer Banks

Greg and I were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week on vacation. We were supposed to be there from Sunday-Sunday, but a tropical storm came through and booted us out. It wasn't a mandatory evacuation, but we realized on Thursday evening that Friday and Saturday would not be suitable beach days with rain, thunderstorms, and high winds. So we left last night and beat the traffic and downpour that we would have undoubtedly faced today or tomorrow.

Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich
When we arrived on Sunday, the first order of business was lunch. I had read great reviews online about the Blue Moon Beach Grill, so when we passed it on the road, I suggested we stop. I loved this place. I normally shy away from fried food, but I had to make an exception in this case and get a soft-shell crab sandwich. It was huge, fried, and wonderful. Their fries are made fresh to order and were some of the best I ever had.

After lunch, we went to the grocery store and stocked up on food. We were renting a condo that had a full kitchen so we wanted to take advantage of that. We finally arrived at the condo, unpacked the car and were ready to relax.

We ate dinner on our balcony which faced the ocean. It was a spectacular view and the weather was beautiful.

Monday: 10 Miles Easy
My first order of business on Monday morning was to get my run in before the sun got too high in the sky. It was a rest day for Greg, who is coming back from injury, so I was alone for this run. Our condo was conveniently located at the start of a bike/walking path that ran next to the "Beach Road". It was pancake flat and far enough from the road to be safe.

The first half of this run was directly into a sustained headwind of about 15 miles per hour. Any fantasies I had about one day running the Outer Banks marathon quickly faded as I realized how windy it could get. It was also warm and humid, but the clouds gave me relief from any sun. I was so happy to turn around after five miles and have the wind at my back. It turned into a completely different run.

The Ship's Wheel "Hot Cakes"
Afterwards, Greg and I had breakfast at the Ship's Wheel restaurant, across the street from our condo. According to my father, they make "the world's greatest hot cakes". I hadn't had them in nearly 10 years, and it was nice to have them again. That's the great thing about logging high mileage on vacation-- you can eat as much of the yummy, unhealthy food as you want!

Unfortunately, it rained for the entire rest of the day, so we got no beach time. We walked around some shopping plazas, and I even built a zebra at one of those "Build-A-Bear" type places.

We bought fresh scallops from a local seafood market for dinner, and had dinner inside the condo, as it was still raining. I didn't mind the rain too much, I was just happy to be on vacation with Greg.

Tuesday: 7.2 miles, including 6 x 800m
Greg suggested that we look to see if there was a nearby track. I initially thought I would just skip intervals
The 6th 800m interval

this week, but when we found a track just three miles away, I was happy to get them in.

I warmed up for a mile and a half and then started the intervals. The first 3 intervals were hot and sunny. And then some clouds rolled in which cooled me down a little, but also brought winds. Even though I was a bit cooler, the wind prevented me from going any faster on the next 3 intervals. In cool, non-windy weather, I consistently run 800's between 3:15-3:20. On Tuesday, my times were 3:25-3:30, which I think is good given the weather.

It was Greg's first interval workout since his injury so he only did 3 of them, and then took photos of me afterwards. It felt awesome to have those intervals out of the way! I was pleased with my performance-- especially after having run 10 miles the day before.

Afterwards, we found a coffee shop where they had fancy coffee drinks, like "S'mores" and "The Somoan" (like the Girl Scout cookie). Why can't they have places like that around here? I decided on the S'mores and went back the next day for the Somoan.

Mutiny Bay Mini Golf
Finally, after having been in the Outer Banks for nearly 48 hours, it was time to go on the beach! It was a windy day, but sunny. I was insistent on getting a tan and I sprayed SPF 15 all over myself. Unfortunately, spray sunscreen doesn't work very well when it's windy outside so I ended up with a pretty nasty burn on my knee and upper shin, as well as parts of my back.

We went out for dinner that evening and then played miniature golf. It totally reminded me of my childhood when I just loved miniature golf. It was one of my most favorite things about the beach.

Wednesday: Rest Day!
Wednesday was National Running Day, and I didn't run. I don't think I have run on the past few National Running Days either. Wednesday is typically a rest day for me, so I think of it as proper recovery so that I can continue to run un-injured. Plus, one of my friends called me that afternoon looking for training advice for  her next half marathon and so I was able to help her with her running. Greg, however, got in a nice 5-miler while I relaxed inside the condo.

Wednesday was another nice day at the beach, although a bit windy. Greg stayed sheltered under the umbrella and I smothered myself in sunscreen (not the spray kind) in hopes of evening out my burn/tan. I put SPF 50 on the areas that were burned, and 15 on the areas that were not. This worked somewhat, but not entirely. We were out in the sun for about 4 hours, and spent the rest of the day relaxing inside.

Thursday: 8.8 miles, including 4 tempo
Thursday was tempo day. I woke up naturally at around 5:30 and was out the door at around 6:00. It was a rest day for Greg, so I was on my own again. The sun was strong and I was very glad that I got out when I did, while the oceanfront properties were shielding me from the sun. It was about 70 degrees and humid.

I ran on the same path as Monday-- 4.4 out and 4.4 back. I knew I had run 7.2 on Tuesday, so this was my way of rounding things out. The first 2.4 miles were a warm up and the last 2.4 miles were a cool down. The middle tempo miles were 7:44, 7:40, 7:44, 7:38. I focused on keeping my heart rate in the LT zone and everything felt great. I loved running on such a flat, straight surface with no turns. My typical tempo route has some inclines and turns, so this was a nice change. Thankfully, it wasn't windy. I definitely think I am acclimating to the warmer weather, because this is only about 20-25 seconds per mile slower than my "cool weather" tempo pace. A few weeks ago, I was about 45 seconds per mile slower.

It felt great to have the tempo run out of the way. I didn't waste any time post-run heading straight to the
beach. I knew that it was only going to be sunny in the morning hours and I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible while I could.

Thursday morning was the nicest beach weather we had. High 70's and not much wind. Greg finally wasn't cold underneath the shade of his umbrella. A good portion of our beach time was spent with me reading a book aloud to Greg. Yes, he knows how to read, but this was good bonding for us. Plus, I enjoy reading out loud. Remarkably, I have read him over 250 pages of a 900 page book. We plan to keep  it going until the book is finished.

Later in the day, it started to rain and reports of Tropical Storm Andrea were all over the news. They weren't evacuating, but we knew that Friday and Saturday wouldn't be beach-able. So we made an on-the-spot decision to leave and hopefully beat the traffic and weather.

Friday: 5.5 miles easy
This morning we were back running around our local streets. It was sad to have cut the vacation short, but we still took the day off work and spent it relaxing together.

All in all, it was a relaxing and fun vacation with some new running scenery to boot!


  1. Fun trip report and nice dedication while on vacation, but now I want a soft shell crab sandwich. :)

  2. That soft shell crab sandwich looks delicious. Believe it or not..I have lived in NC my entire life and still haven't made it out to the Outer Banks. Probably last on the list though. Thanks for a cool summary of your trip.

  3. Too bad about the tropical storm - tough timing. But it seems like you got a good majority of the week :) Great runs!!

    And hey, I have that same beach towel :)

  4. Looks like you still had a good week!!

  5. Nothing like running on a beach vacay! As hard as it seems running in the humidity and sand (from my experience in the SE, anyhow), there's something almost refreshing about it. And no offense, that is the weirdest looking sandwich I've ever seen;)!

  6. FIrst off. Can I just say that I LOVE that you read to your husband!!! I thought I was the only one who did that. However, we do it while road-tripping, and it is usually magazine articles. I'll read magazines to him while he drives. Ha, the best are fishing magazines where I have no clue what I'm reading about.

    Great job on the workouts, too! That's beach weather for ya (talking about wind and humidity). Just wait until August- OUCH!

    Keep up the good work, Elizabeth. Glad you guys had a fun trip!

  7. I love that you manage to stick to your training plans while on vacation. Most people don't! I'm going on vacation in a couple of weeks and fear the laziness than will ensue! Looks like you had a fabulous time, even if the weather was being difficult.

  8. Looks like a fantastic vacation! I am impressed you were able to keep up with your training. I love to run when on vacation or in new places so I get a better feel for the place, but I do not think I have ever found a track to use to do intervals. I usually make up the excuse that I am on vacation so I at least am doing all of my runs as easy runs. ha! maybe that is why I never get faster. I am glad the clouds came in and cooled you down. Last night my 12 x 400s were cut down to 8 x 400s because it was way too hot and my split times were miserable and just getting worse. I went and ran up a big hill to feel better about myself. Eeek.

    1. Usually I don't find a track on vacation and I am relegated to a treadmill. Although most cruise ships have tracks on the top level. That's fun. You can't actually do intervals on them because there are too many walkers, but it's great for an easy run. It's getting to be really hot for long interval sets. I have never done 12 x 400 and that sounds super intimidating to me! I think it's smart to cut workouts short when it's too hot or when you realize you are fading fast and doing more harm than good.

  9. I am late to the replies party but I just read this. So glad you had a great weekend despite the rain. Way to knock out those 800's!! Thanks for the heads up about the wind too. I really want to run the OBX marathon but I am very worried about running along into the wind for 12 miles.

    1. Yeah, I mean you never know. It could be completely calm with no wind, or really windy! Or a race in a typically non-windy location could occur on a windy day. I wish we were able to do accurate forecasts 4-5 months out! :-)

  10. Loved reading this and super jealous of the soft shell crab sandwich! That looked SO GOOD!

    I love finding new paths to run when I'm traveling. Sounds like you found a great one. :) Glad you had a nice (albeit short) trip.