OK, so I'm doing these out of order. The previous blog was about the Country Music 1/2 in Nashville. A week earlier, I headed for the Outer Banks
to do the First Flight 5k and then the Flying Pirate Half Marathon.
I hadn't been in North Carolina since 2010, and as much as I had enjoyed flirting with the exceptionally handsome honey-voiced state trooper who'd pulled me over for speeding, I tried to obey all traffic rules this time around.
I juuuuust made the expo before it closed and grabbed my bib numbers and swag before jaunting up to Duck, NC to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
(That's Nags Head, on the way to Duck.)
Saturday was warm and sunny - not a cloud in the sky. I cheerfully sauntered my way to a shiny medal in the 5K and then returned to my hotel to shower, change and enjoy the sites. A word about the "hotel" ...
I knew I was getting a deal on hotels.com, but there's usually a reason when a place is cheap.
At first, I was psyched to discover that it's actually a time share, and I had a one-bedroom flat. However, the "kitchen" was missing a stove and a refrigerator! I could have lived without the former, but the latter rather defeats the purpose. So when I returned from the 5K, I rang the font office and mentioned that there was a gaping hole where there ought to have been a fridge and could they please fix it.
WELL -- the woman tartly informed me that a kitchen doesn't necessarily guarantee a fridge.
Umm .. sure. If you're AMISH! Of COURSE a kitchen has a fridge! Doy. She also informed me that I was going to have to pack up and move the next morning because it was week to week, and people had reserved that place. She seemed to think I was odd to find her request peculiar and somewhat offensive. Why couldn't they have told me that up front? It was 2 in the afternoon. Had I not called them, when were they planning to let me know??
I told her I was racing the next morning, so I was going to need to move a day early. It worked in my favor, because I was on the third floor (walk up, no lifts) and the new place was on the ground level, so fewer stairs after the race. Also, the new place was much bigger AND had a jacuzzi tub in the bedroom. SWEET!
I packed, moved, and unpacked. Then I went out for "linner" to get to bed early for the race. I found a seafood buffet and was up to my elbows in fake butter, sucking with unseemly enthusiasm on a crab leg when the nice waitress, who had already showed me - twice - how to crack the blasted things open, conversationally said it was a shame the big storm was coming in.
It was?! The sky looked fine to me.
Oh yes, she assured me. It was rolling in overnight, and it was going to be miserable the next day.
She wasn't kidding. It came down in thick sheets. It looked like that Hollywood rain you see in movies that's so heavy, you think it looks fake. I had my wipers on high the whole way. I drove past the start to the finish and parked there, queuing to shuttle back to the start. I was drenched to saturation just waiting for the shuttles, and I assumed that it couldn't get worse.
I'm kidding. It didn't get that bad.
But it did get THIS bad:
I knew the course had been changed somewhat from previous years, but I did not realize that much of it was going to be trails ... which became muddy and pot-holed. I gamely plodded along. My sneakers squelched with each step. They said that they would call the race if there was lightning, and about halfway through the ordeal, I did find myself wishing ....
What! You weren't there! It was bloody miserable!
I was (of course) near the back of this soggy parade. Some of the (smarter) people dropped out and presumably caught rides to the party in Pirates Quay at the end. For a time, I was dead last, and this incredibly annoying man motored along in the LOUDEST buggy I've ever heard. I mean, c'mon - if I'm going to be last, at least let me trudge along in peace and QUIET! I finally turned on him and faux politely waved him on. Oh no, he explained. He wasn't allowed to pass me. I told him to turn off his buggy, chill a few minutes and then come check on me. He wasn't happy, but thankfully (schadenfreude, anyone?) a poor man fell behind (Don't feel too sorry for him - stay tuned) lagged quite a ways back, and then a few others did, too, and pretty soon, I could no longer hear Mr. Chinese Motor Torture.
The volunteers were strangely enthusiastic during the ordeal, God love them. I tried to muster up the same, not always succeeding, but at least I remembered to thank them. I formed a nasty set of blisters, which I cheekily took photos of later, but I haven't uploaded my photos from that card yet, so you're spared the unpleasant sight. I pretty much minced along a muddy, sometimes flooded trail in the woods for the final three miles.
Do I look happy?
I was super annoyed when I saw the chap who'd fallen so far behind get driven up to where I was and dropped off. Hello? Cheat much? (See, that's why you oughtn't have had any sympathy for him earlier!)
I finished. I was hypothermic and a little disoriented. I knew I had parked one lot over form the finish, but the finish was supposed to be a shopping center, and this was the YMCA, which, by the way, wouldn't even let us in! I was so sodding wet that I almost sat down in their parking lot and relieved myself, but thankfully, someone opened the door, and I scooted in past the astonished receptionist. I think she wanted to say something, but I looked so wretched and fierce that I frightened her, and she let me pass without comment. Trailing water, I found the ladies, where my sweatpants puddled pools of water on the floor as I made a puddle of a different nature in the appropriate place.
I decided I'd live .... but just barely.
There wasn't much of an after-race affair, but the nice folks offered us eggs on biscuits, wrapped in foil to keep warm. Mine was tepid, but it was heavenly! I ate it standing on theYMCA porch with another woman who looked as bedraggled and forlorn as I did. Once I ate, I felt reason returning and realised that I needed to get out of my wet clothes. I asked the woman if she was ok, as she had the same glazed look in her eyes that I'd had before wolfing down the biscuit.
She was waiting for her husband, but he hadn't come, and she didn't have a phone. I handed her mine. She couldn't reach him. I offered her a ride, but she seemed a little nervous about accepting, even though she lived in Duck, where I was heading.
I limped across the parking lot and then across the next parking lot to get to the one in which I'd parked some six hours earlier. The lot had flooded, and I had to wade through ankle deep water to reach my car. The phone rang. It was the missing hubby,who politely identified himself in a way I found utterly charming, and I told him where to locate his poor wife. I put my thermal wrap on the seat to keep it dry and began working my way back to the hotel.
Right before I got "home", I saw Duck Donuts and without even thinking, I pulled in. When I got out of the car, I emptied the pool of water that had formed on the wrap, limped inside the shop, and was greeted by a divine aroma.
I bought two doughnuts, drove back to the flat, limped in, stripped off, and ran the jacuzzi.
And panicked. The handles disintegrated in my hands! It was crazy. I couldn't turn off the water!! I tried several things and then pulled the plug so at least it wouldn't overflow, called the front desk, and pulled on enough clothes to be decent for the (very nice and very nice looking) maintenance man who showed up.
He eventually fixed it. The whole time we were chatting, we could hear the piercingly loud alarm clock next door. Mr. Handsome Fix-It looked at me questioningly, and I commented to him that I was glad I was only there to race and not for anything romantic because the walls were way too thin. He stopped what he was doing and gave me a funny look. Then I added that I had clearly heard the folks next door fighting the night before, and I sure hoped there wasn't a body lying over there.
"Great" he responded. "Now I have to go over there and look."
"Would you mind turning off the alarm while you're there?"
He laughed. And he did! Thanks, Mr. Handsome Fix-It!
I ate the doughnuts while lounging in the jacuzzi. Does it get any better?
I ended up with three (count 'em!) medals: one for the 5k, one for the Flying Pirate, and a third one for doing them both in the same weekend!