Last Saturday I had the privilege of running in the Run Oak Island event, the first of four events in the Big Ass Medal series that I wrote about last week.

Let me first clarify why I say privilege. The ability to run is not something that is granted to everyone. There are many out there that for whatever reason are limited in the activity that they can participate in. As someone who has the disease of obesity, there was a time that my disease prevented me from being able to run.

Now, as someone who is in recovery from obesity every time I am out there running at event I remember a day when my body was physically incapable of doing so and for that reason alone any running event I participate in is a privilege to me.

So let’s talk about this event. The most important thing first…I broke a personal record and ran my fastest half marathon ever by completing the 13.1 miles in 2 hours 24 minutes and 18 seconds. As a runner, achieving a new personal record is always an accomplishment and the best part is that to achieve one the only person you ever have to compete with is yourself.

I attribute this personal record to a few things. First of all the race route itself was extremely flat. There were not a lot of hills to deal with and that always makes for a much faster time. The one or two hills we did have were not monumental. The only time I saw my time coming down due to a hill was when we were coming up and over a bridge just in time to come down, turn around and go up and over the bridge again between mile nine and mile ten. Those two inclines did cause me to pull one of the slowest split times I got that day with an 11 minute and 59 second mile.

The overall environment of the route was pretty. It was a gorgeous beach town run through Oak Island and I definitely want to go back and see more of the town in the summer. The mile markers were consistent and visible and that’s always a big plus because you want to know each mile that you accomplish.

As scenic and beautiful as it was it was, nothing was going to distract from the fact that it was 29 degrees outside and one of the coldest races I have ever ran. I was wearing a top and bottom base layer, my favorite RawThreads bamboo hoodie, a long sports jacket over that and I had on a pair of gloves and three, yes three, layers on my head: a base layer, a knit hoodie and a ball cap. Until mile 5 I carried 2 hand warmers in each of my hands trying to keep my fingers from hurting and feeling numb.

BigAssMedalMoral of the story: I am not really a cold weather runner but there is little I won’t do for a really bad ass big ass medal.

The medal by far made the event worth it. It is one of the coolest and biggest medals I have added to my collection and I really hope that I will be able to collect all four of them.

When I stopped by to see Johnna Terragna with Coast Race Productions after the race and introduce myself she told me that they had also decided that since there might have been some people who couldn’t make it to this event that would regret missing the first medal they were going to open up the option of doing a virtual run to get it.

This is a great opportunity! Whether you hadn’t heard about the series or you are someone like me who really wasn’t made to run in temperatures below 50 and opted to stay in bed that day instead, you can still get the first medal in the series by running 13.1 miles on your own another day and submitting your time. That means it’s not too late to start your #BigAssMedal collection! You can do this first race virtually if you missed it and then run the other three later this year.

Because my dear running friend Ronda Rhodes owns a construction company and is familiar with the costs involved in dumping the porta-potties that they have to put on job sites, it was a little disheartening to see all of the runners using job site porta-potties that day. I’ll say two things about that – first, as runners we are not entitled to just use whatever we run across. If it’s not intended for us to use we shouldn’t use it. Second, I think that for a 13.1 mile distance the race event needs to make sure that a couple of the water stations have porta-potties for those that need to use them.

Ronda and I made it through the entire race without having to stop to use a porta-john, which is a first for me. I am confident that is one of the reasons that I was able to shave so much time off my personal record.

I can’t really say much about the after party other than I was grateful for a cold beer and a piece of warm pizza to pick the cheese and pepperoni off when I got there because and both tasted better than words can describe. The first thing I eat after running a long distance always tastes like the most amazing thing I have ever had. “Oh my gosh this is the best pizza EVER.” 

I didn’t stay at the after party long because it was still cold enough that more than anything I wanted to get in the car and turn the heated seats on.

I’m really grateful for a nice flat terrain run that allowed me to push for a personal record, for the beautiful scenery that I got to take in and for the exposure to a town I never would have known I wanted to spend more time in.  


But if I had to thank Coast Race Production for just one thing it would definitely be the medal. The medal alone inspires me to want to run the other three races and knowing that it will be a lot warmer in June has me really excited about participating in Run Sunset Beach on May 21!


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.