Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Race Recap & Review: Run Swim Run OBX/ Splash & Dash Aquathlon Series

As you might remember, last week Matthew and I were on vacation with Matthew's family in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Naturally, we had to find some races to run. We ran Storm the Beach last Sunday and there we met a really nice guy wearing a J & A Racing shirt- they put on the Shamrock Half Marathon that we did earlier this year. As it turns out, our new friend Mike is the race director/owner of racing company Outer Banks RunCations. He let us know that there would be an inaugural race and swim in Corolla on Friday, June 20th. Of course, we just had to participate!

When we originally looked at the website, the event was listed as a run, swim, and run. However, if you were intimidated by the swim portion, you could just do the 5k. So we signed up a few members of the family for just the 5k portion. Matthew's mom and two family friends were going to run with us on Friday- we were so excited to be doing this event together.

Right away, there were two major benefits to this race- it was only $20 and it was less than a mile from where we were staying. On Friday morning, Matthew and I got up and ran to the race. Yes, we've officially become "those people" that run to a race to get a few extra miles :-)

When we got there, we were each given a timing chip to be worn around our ankle and then we were marked with our number on our arm and calf. Even though we were just doing the run portion of the event, we were all marked like we would be for the swim portion.

Janet, Angie, Sally (Matthew's mom), Matthew and Me AKA The Dream Team.

As we were standing around waiting for the start, I looked at the 400 meters marked off in the ocean. Honestly, it didn't look that far. Even though it was the equivalent of one lap around the track, I started to think, "Hmmm, maybe I could do the swim AND the run." I decided to go for it. I told Matthew and he excitedly encouraged me to do it. I walked over to some race volunteers to ask a few questions- mainly, would there be people in the water available to help me if I needed to pull myself from the swim- and once I had my answers (yes), I walked back to the registration table to change my registration.

When I got there, the volunteers were already ready for me- Matthew had called from the start line to let them know I'd be coming back. He's the greatest! After paying the extra $20 for the swim, I was good to go. I got a towel out of the car and walked over to the swim exit to put down my stuff- towel, visor, and shoes. Then I put on my swim cap and started to freak out- what the heck did I just sign up for?!?! I mean, I CAN swim but I don't do it regularly!!!

It doesn't look so bad, right? Source

Getting some last minute advice from the triathlete :-)

And getting supportive hugs to calm my nerves.

After a few minutes of instruction from the race director, the countdown to the start was on. There were about 30 people doing the run/swim/run and another 20 or so just doing the run. The run/swimmers were going to start first with a quick kilometer run before getting into the ocean. Ten minutes after the run/swimmers started, the 5k runners would then start.

To pass the time, I chatted with some run/swimmers at the starting line. These folks looked legit- they had goggles, swim suits, fancy tri suits- again, what the heck was I doing?!? I came to this race prepared to run, not swim! Sooner than I realized, the race was starting! I began running out to the first turn-around and the entire time I was just trying to calm down. Matthew had told me not to panic when I got in the water and here I was panicking on the easier 1k run. I quickly became the last runner and subsequently the last person in the ocean. It was now or never.

Giving an enthusiastic thumbs up with a very hesitant expression. I'm scared to death.

Across the starting line- no turning back now!

Running to the first turn-around.

Heading into the water- notice my personal cheering section on my right :-)

Into the water I go.

Getting into the water wasn't a problem; getting past the waves to the first buoy was. I swear, it felt like the buoy kept moving farther and farther away from me. I started to panic- "I'm in trouble" kept running through my head. I was swimming as hard as I could and still felt like I couldn't get over the waves. I was scared. I couldn't touch the bottom and I couldn't turn around. This wasn't like running where you could just slow down or walk; I had to keep moving. Even though it felt like forever, I eventually made it to the first buoy. I was exhausted! I turned over onto my back and did the backstroke to rest a little as I made my way with the tide toward the next buoy. Somehow, I slowly made my way around the second buoy and headed toward the beach.

I could see Matthew on the shore waiting for me. I'd heard the 5k start- he'd started with the group and then stopped to wait to see me get out of the water. I mean really, could he be any more awesome?! I waved to him and used the waves to push me towards shore. I was really tired- I can't remember the last time I swam for that long.

I made it!

Um, yeah. That's the face of a non-swimmer.

All I wanted to do was lay down on the beach! But I had another race to run. After grabbing my visor and drying off my face, I started to run. Matthew stayed with me for a few minutes to make sure I was ok. He told me that he had been worried about me in the water and was relieved to see me back on dry land. Me. Too. :-)

Thanks for the great action shot, Matthew!

He ran up ahead to catch up to the others running the race. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Without headphones or shoes, I was worried that I would be bored or uncomfortable. Not at all- it was a beautiful morning. There's something very peaceful about running on the beach in the early morning.

I reached the water stop/turn-around point and then headed back to the finish line. In the meantime, Matthew had passed me on his way back. I also passed all the other run/swimmers who had got out of the water before me- some of them even high-fived me! Again, like Storm the Beach, the runners were really supportive and it was incredible to be part of the event.

As I approached the finish line, I could hear a lot of cheering- for me! There were volunteers, participants, race personnel- all cheering at the finish. It was awesome!! I finished the race, got my medal, and got to high-five and hug my supporters.

All smiles at the finish.

This woman was one hell of a cheerleader!

Awkward high-fives are our specialty!

After grabbing some water and orange slices, we joined the crowd to cheer on the rest of the finishers- including our family! We were so impressed- and proud!- that our family and friends had wanted to run the race while on vacation. It was a great day full of memories.

Sally crossing the finish line of her second 5k ever!

Angie and I sharing a "thank God it's over" moment.

Janet, basking in the glow of the finish line.

A great shot of all the finishers.

This race was fantastic from start to finish. Laid-back, great volunteers, super supportive- what more could you want from a vacation race? It was a truly enjoyable experience and if you're down in OBX this summer, you should really check out this race (they're doing two more times) or other races put on by Outer Banks RunCations. This company runs a great race, pun intended :-)

Personally, this race taught me two things: 1. I can swim. 2. I can swim much, much better. I will definitely be adding swimming to my cross-training schedule. It was really fun but also challenging in a way I haven't experienced with running. I might even add a few triathlons into my race schedule ;-)

I ran. I swan. I ran some more.

I never would have been able to complete this event without Matthew. He took TONS of pictures, gave me last minute tips, and just supported me as I made the extremely last minute decision to add the swim. Having him by my side makes nothing seem impossible.

Having our family and friends there was also really special. In addition to watching Sally, Janet, and Angie cross the finish line; we got to celebrate with Matthew's dad and Janet's husband and daughter (who also took TONS of pictures). All in all, it was a fantastic day and a wonderful event.

Great day.

QOTD: Would you ever run a race on vacation? Why or why not?


  1. 100swimmingworkouts.com.. lots of great workouts for beginner, intermediate, advanced and open water training. My swimming has improved a bit since I've been injured ;) Congrats on another finish in the books!

    1. Thank you for this!! I am totally lost as to how to start training for the swim :-)

  2. Congrats for going out of your comfort zone and what a great way to spend time as a family on vacation!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! It really was a fun day for the while family :-)

  3. Well done Sarah! That took alot of guts to do the ocean swim. Lots of my running group does tris, but that will never be this girl! Love the photos and the medal is pretty sweet too. Yes, we love racecations and I can't wait until August when we travel to Dublin for the Rock 'n ROll Half!

    1. Thank you! I can't wait to follow along with your Dublin adventure!!

  4. Congratulations, Sarah!!! That was awesome! Again you proved you can do more than you think you can!

    Rick Stiles

    1. Thanks, Rick! It was a great moment- a confidence builder for sure. :-)

  5. Great pictures! Congrats on going out of your comfort zone and finishing what you started! Well done :) I love racecations and am trying to plan more for the next year!

    1. Thanks!!! It was challenging in the best possible way. Good luck on your racecation schedule :-)