Happy Sunday, everyone, today I’m sharing a recap of the 2018 Ocean City Island to Island Half Marathon! I first heard about this race three years ago while I was in Philadelphia for the 2016 Broad Street 10-Miler. Bob in Ocean City, Maryland searching for a fixer-upper condo or house to buy on the same weekend as the half and he called me to say, “Why are you in Pennsylvania, you could be running here!”
The race sounded like a lot of fun, so I put it on my to-run list. Because of my injury, last year’s race was a no go, although it was nice having most of the renovation work in our extreme fixer-upper complete. Things were looking good for 2018, though and I was happy when my son’s girlfriend, Kimberly, agreed to run it with me!
It was Kimberly’s first half marathon, something we chatted about in our last Joyful Miles podcast. You can also watch out adventure in this video recap. I loved being able to film her big finish!
As for me, I had just ran the Star Wars Half Marathon the week prior, (and I was running the Frederick Half the next weekend,) so I kept my expectations low for this race. If I managed to get a PR, great. If not, no biggie. Things had shaped up to be a great family weekend, since my husband, Bob, was also there and Cooper missed his last club tennis match at Towson University in order to cheer Kimberly and me on. So sweet!
We arrived in Ocean City on Friday and headed to the inlet for our race packets and swag. They had various large tents set up plus a couple of fun photo opportunities that, of course, we had to take advantage of!
I couldn’t help but be excited for Kimberly. I remember how excited, (terrified, nervous, thrilled,) I was at my very first half marathon so it was great being a part of her experience!
For dinner, we ate pizza at Dough Roller on the Boardwalk with me enjoying a beer since like mentioned before, my expectations were low and I was just looking forward to having some fun. I did, however, have some concerns about the weather. The predicted temps were low 50’s at race start, but winds from the waters can make things feel chilly. So I went with a long sleeve shirt, sparkle athletic skirt, and compression socks, which ended up being a mistake.
I also made another mistake by setting my alarm for 3:45pm rather than am. Yikes! Thank goodness Bob is an early riser. He woke me up at 4:30 with coffee and calmness, offering to drive us so I wouldn’t have to worry about parking. Whew!
All runners were to meet at the inlet parking area where buses would then take us to the Assateague Island Ranger Station for the race start. They had scheduled various bus departure times according to last names in an effort to ease congestion. My “B” bus was supposed to leave at 5:15, but we didn’t get there until around 6:15! It wasn’t a problem, however, since there were no lines, but as we headed to Assateague, I realized that the farther the bus drove out, the farther we’d have to run back. Yikes!
Leaving later was a good thing, however, since it was very cold and we had less time standing around the chill. Once at Assateague, we headed for the real bathrooms where there was quite a line but it was warm inside, so we didn’t mind the wait! Plus they had changing rooms where I could get myself together, put on my bib and race belt, etc.Race Recap for the 2018 Ocean City Island to Island Half Marathon! @octrirunning #runchat #joyfulmiles #oceancitymd Click To Tweet
By 6:45, we checked my bag in a school bus, (quite clever,) and headed to the start line. I did remember to pack a few Gu gels but I had forgotten my salt tabs. Dang! Plus I was regretting my long-sleeve and Kimberly had second thoughts about the long black capris she had worn. You’d think that I’d learn how to dress by now! But it was great seeing a fellow Joyful Miler, Seth, before the race!
Kimberly was calm but I was feeling nervous since doing a race for the first time always makes me a tad anxious plus I worried about my conditioning. Ready or not, it was go time at 7:00!
Kimberly was hoping to do a sub-2:00, so she went on ahead with my blessing and about a quarter of a mile in, I was seriously regretting wearing a long sleeve. Thank goodness there were many shady areas along Route 611. I knew I’d be burning up later, though, so while on the run, I unsnapped my runDisney BibBoards, (that I love,) put them in my pocket and attached my bib to my race belt. Then, to the horror of all around me, I hiked up my long sleeve to above my boobs so my back and stomach could breathe.
Thank goodness they didn’t have any Photopass photographers out.
But honestly, I didn’t care how ridiculous I looked. I would have taken my long-sleeve off, but I worried about being later chilled once a breeze from the bay hit me.
I was also running at a faster pace than expected, averaging between 8:45 and 9:10. For some insane reason, I got the notion to go for a sub 2:00 and I even caught up with Kimberly at around the six-mile mark support station. It would have been great running with her but they had port-o-pots there and my urge to go to the bathroom won out. I was able to catch up with her again in about two miles but from the way we were both fading, we knew a sub 2:00 was out of the question.
I was also starting to feel some major knee pain from the grade on the shoulder, despite my efforts to stay to the left as much as possible. There were a few times when I actually worried about being able to finish since the pain was that bad, but thankfully, it subsided once we neared the bridge and the road flattened out. Up until then, the course was pleasant but quiet and it was exciting coming into Ocean City! Especially the bridge.
I love the bridge and every time we near this, if feels like coming home. I even used this as inspiration for one of my favorite sections of Beauty Shop for Rent: (Affiliate link.)
Traffic inched onto the drawbridge, where we could finally see Ocean City’s skyline bordering Chesapeake Bay. I remember how, when I was eight, the panoramic view took my breath away as Dad drove Mom and me over this bridge, on our first and last vacation as a family. It felt like we were entering a magical kingdom, with roller coasters, people parasailing, and brightly colored kites dancing in the sky.
But now the town didn’t cast the same spell. Instead of enchanting, it seemed noisy and cheap, almost tacky, like I was no longer childlike enough to see its beauty.
Sigh. I love that story and miss writing about those characters!
By the time we neared the inlet and started the loop on the Boardwalk, I was feeling seriously tired and wiped. Usually I always get a second wind during the last mile of a race, but not this time. I wanted to FINISH and FINISH NOW.
It was lovely seeing Cooper and Bob out on the Boardwalk, however! I had to text them beforehand since their runner tracking wasn’t working and they slammed their Bloody Mary’s in order to greet us. (We did learn a lesson about communication, though, since none of us thought to talk about where to meet up afterward.)
After one quick loop around the amusement park area, HALLELUJAH, the FINISH LINE!! Kimberly ran with a sudden burst of gusto, but I was quite content to watch her finish instead since I was clean out of gusto.
Oh, and have I mentioned yet that it was my 49th birthday? I must admit that if someone told my teenage self back in the 80’s that she’d one day be running marathons at this age, she probably wouldn’t believe it. But then again, she did use a lot of aerosol hairspray.
It was such a great relief to finish with a respectable time of 02:07:28 and get our gorgeous medals! They also had a ton of snacks out … I’m talking bananas, cookies, Scooby snacks, granola bars, water, Gatorade, and more! Quite the spread. Runners also got a free slice of pizza from Dough Roller and a beer which I was more than ready for! But first, I had to get out of that hot long sleeve and put on my birthday tank with some sleeves since my sunblock was long gone by then.
We also got to chat some more with Seth and his wife, Ashley, who had gotten a PR at the 5k that morning. Seth also crushed a 01:38, major congrats to you both!
We then headed back to the townhouse since Kimberly and I were in desperate need of a shower and a nap. Our plan was to tape a podcast before dinner while Bob and Cooper went on a bike ride but, nope, that didn’t happen. I was exhausted and couldn’t snap out of a fog!
Later on, Bob let me choose where to go for dinner. He knew I’d pick Barn 34 since it’s my favorite restaurant in Ocean City, (love the owners, love the staff, love Rodney – a bartender, and it’s also the best breakfast in town!) It’s a good thing, because he had already stopped by and made arrangements with Rodney for me to have some birthday cake!
The owner, Marianne, also sent over a round of rum shots for us! I did hold mine up for the photo, but had to respectfully decline drinking since I’d have my head in a toilet for the next three days. My college kid, Cooper, was happy to help his mom out by drinking it instead.
So here’s my overall thoughts about the Ocean City Island to Island Half Marathon:
I really loved it and it makes for quite a lovely weekend! It was very well-organized and they had apparently made many improvements with the course, transportation, and communication. We loved the medals and race shirts and while the course might have seemed boring to some, I thought it was peaceful and scenic, especially when you neared the bridge. Of course, running on the Boardwalk is always energizing! They also put on a great after party with music and a festive atmosphere. I would have like to have stayed longer, but everyone was getting tired!
The sloped areas of the course did wreck havoc on my knees but I can’t see any way around that. So I would do this race again and next time, I’d know to really take it easy along those areas. We did see that Ocean City is going to soon have full marathon again!
From what I could gather online, the last full marathon was in 2007. No word yet on when this will be … most likely not until 2019, I’m guessing, but my credit card is ready! Just say when.
Thanks for reading and if you ran the 2018 Ocean City Island to Island Half Marathon, congratulations, I hope you had a blast! Feel free to share you thoughts in the comments below and as always, happy running!