So you guys have already heard how my race went on Saturday… PR CITY BABY! But I wanted to give you guys a quick review of the race too. As you know, I love to race but racing gets expensive. My expectations are high and I like to feel like I’m getting enough for my money. I also believe that, when offered correctly, constructive feedback can be really helpful. Races are hard events to put on and everyone can benefit from a little help! You can read examples of my other races reviews here, here, or here (just a sampling). Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler is put on by the racing company J&A Races. They put on a bunch of races in the VA Beach area including the Shamrock Marathon / Half, the Crawling Crab Half Marathon, the Wicked 10K, and the Virginia is for Lovers 14K. This was my second J&A race (I did the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2012) so I will refer to that often too in my review. Let’s jump right in shall we?
PRICE: $50 (but we registered early last Spring)
Packet Pick Up / Parking / Pre-Race Set Up (A) : So unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it down on Friday night in time for the expo (it closed at 8 pm which is really standard). We had to go over in the AM to pick up our packets. I normally avoid race-day packet pick up like the plague, so we got there right when it opened at 6:30 am. This was the line.
SWEET. We were in and out (numbers, Tshirts, ID check for beer bracelets) within 5 minutes. Everyone was super friendly and helpful… way to go volunteers! The VA Beach Convention Center had plenty of parking, and there was other parking available near by too. No big traffic jams getting into the parking lot or anything. Bag check looked really seamless (we didn’t check a bag) and there were PLENTY of bathrooms. The bathrooms in the convention center got really crowded because people seemed to want to hang out indoors. I ventured out to the start line and didn’t have to wait in line at all for the port-o-potties. Score!
Swag (A-): Some people don’t like race swag… but I DO. I want to feel like I’m getting something I’m going to actually use (Cotton T-shirt? Probably going straight to Goodwill). J&A always comes up BIG with the swag. This race included an awesome long sleeved half zip that rocks. You also got a Santa hat and jingle bells for your shoes 🙂 Mike was kind enough to model the hat for me. They also give an awesome race medal (this one has a beer bottle opener on the back!) and a finisher’s item (at Shamrock it was a hat and a hoodie, at Surf-n-Santa it was a pint glass that I used just this morning for my iced coffee)
So why the A-? Well… there’s usually some kind of problem with the sizing of things. The shirts are never gender sized and I always forget that. I wear a medium in women’s apparel, but a small in unisex apparel. I always order a medium and it’s always huge on me. My half-zip isn’t as much of a problem because I wear something under it. It’s still loose but I can handle it (I actually wore it out running on Monday morning). Also… my Santa hat didn’t really fit on my massive dome.
Post Race Festivities (A++): J&A consistently brings the party. All of their races are sponsored by good beer companies (Shamrock is sponsored by Yuengling, Surf-n-Santa – Sam Adams, Wicked 10K – Blue Moon, etc.) and they give each finisher a BUNCH of beers. At Shamrock, I was entitled to FOUR beers with my race bib (they just have someone marking off your bib with a marker at the beer tables). Surf-n-Santa… THREE! I can never drink more than two beers after a race though, or I turn into a human raisin. But I appreciate the multi-beer option. We had the option of either Sam Adams Lager, Winter Lager, or Angry Orchard hard cider. I went with the Winter Lager because it is delicious and hard cider is like a one way ticket to hangover-town for me. They also have good music and GOOD food. For some reason, they always serve soup and it ROCKS. Shamrock had this delicious Irish beef stew and Surf-n-Santa had chicken tortilla.
While I loved the race, I did have one thought on how it could be improved next year!
The Indoor Finish: The finish line for the course was actually inside, which was a really nice touch. You ran into the convention center and were then able to walk through the post-race stuff without freezing your behind off. Here’s my one concern. The floor of the convention center was a slick concrete and it was wet outside. The previous finishers had tracked a bunch of wet footprints in and I was really afraid I was going to slip / fall (I had like ZERO traction on the floor). I think it would’ve been fine if it was dry outside, but perhaps they could’ve put some non-slip mats / carpets down? Just a suggestion!
I honestly can’t say enough about J&A races. I have thoroughly enjoyed both I’ve done and want to try and do more in the future! It is well worth the price (especially if you register early). If you are in the Virginia area I seriously recommend checking out theses races!!
Yesterday ended up being just one of those days that got away from me! I feel like I blinked and it was 10:45 pm and I was crawling into bed exhausted. It also didn’t help that I had my eyes refracted at the eye doctor at 10:30 am and spent most of the middle of the day in a blurry fog trying to work without actually being able to see… that was funny! Anyways… here’s my recap of the Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler!
We arrived in Virginia Beach SUPER early on Saturday morning. Driving down after work on Friday night meant we missed the expo on Friday night (no new Hippie Runner headbands for me… wahh). We needed to get our numbers still so we arrived right when it opened at 6:30 am. We were done by 6:33 am… soooo we had lots of time to kill. Mike had not actually run at all since the Philly Marathon because first he hurt his foot and then he got horribly sick. Poor guy was not doing well! He still wanted to run, so we decided to just run together since my pace is very easy for him. We had decided to do 9:30 min / miles for a time of 1:35.
Look how cute our outfits were! (except my sneakers are orange… I didn’t have seasonal footwear!)
The weather was kinda yucky that day… very overcast and humid. But the temperature was really comfortable milling about at the starting line. Mike was assigned for corral 1, but he lined up with me in Corral 2. We were actually right at the front of our corral, which initially made me nervous. I kept thinking to myself “I don’t belong here in the front of the second corral… this is for real runners.” But then I realized that my number was right at the cut off for corral 1 and 2… I was ALMOST assigned to Corral 1… whhhaattt?? I decided to face my fear of being in the front of the pack. Also How cute are people’s costumes? The course bikers were all dressed up like the Grinch!
Before I knew it, we were off and running. I just wanted to run and have some fun. As I mentioned… I didn’t think this was going to be a PR day. Virginia Beach in December is a ghost town, so there wasn’t much to focus on but running with Mike, chatting, and taking in everyone’s funny costumes. The 5K and 10 Miler started together and basically did 3 miles together before the 10 milers went out for another 7. At the 10M and 5K split they had these adorable people in gingerbread suits… HOW CUTE.
Here’s how my race went.
Miles 0 – 3.1: We started out fast. We were hovering between 8:50 – 9:10 for the first 5K. I actually set a 5k PR of 28:43, which isn’t actually that impressive. I’ve only run 2 5Ks ever and both I was just running for fun with a friend. Mike wants me to try racing a 5K but I’m resisting. Perhaps…
Miles 3.1 – 5: I started getting this idea in my head that maybe a new PR wasn’t so impossible after all. My previous PR pace was 9:15 min / miles and I was well under that right now. But then I started doubting myself. I set my 10 Miler PR 6 days before I ran my first marathon. I was in phenomenal shape at that point (if I do say so myself). I was only at the beginning of my marathon training this time and had not been running / training to the same level. I decided to put the PR in the back of my mind and make a decision at mile 5.
Miles 5 – 6: I decided to go for it! I asked Mike to pace me in for time around the 1:31 range. He happily obliged! We made the turn to head down the boardwalk, which was a long (approx 2 miles) straight away. I also set a 10K PR of 57:15… where was this all coming from??? Maybe I need to seriously start thinking about shorter races more?
Miles 7-9: I really battled these. I was really pushing myself, but I was feeling good. My legs felt awesome, though I was starting to feel a dull ache in my left hip. That was pretty standard for me though… I knew I could push through that. Unfortunately, I started to doubt that I could pull this thing out. I was holding a 9:05 pace according to our watches and it was starting to hurt. I remember thinking to myself “I need to slow down I can’t hold this pace” but then I realized the only reason I thought that was because I was scared. Yeah I was working hard but I was more than capable of handling it. I was gonna do this… even if I killed me. I did have to slow down at one point to around 9:20 because I caught a huge whiff of cigarette smoke from a spectator and almost threw up all over my awesome orange sneakers! Mike was amazing during these miles. He just kept encouraging me and telling me how amazing I was doing. In the back of my mind were two thoughts 1) I need to do this because the pain of doing it will be nothing compared to how disappointed I will feel if I give up, and 2) Mike is going to be so proud of me when we do this together… that alone will be worth it!
Mile 10: Out of nowhere… I busted out an 8:30 mile. Um… I’m sorry, can you repeat that? Yes… an 8:30 FINAL mile in a 10 miler. I’ll be honest, I felt like hell during this mile. I barely said a word (and if you know me you know that is NOT normal) Mike would just be saying encouraging things and I would kind of grunt in agreement. Literally .1 miles from the finish line, I was just like I CANNOT DO THIS I WANT TO DIE. But Mike was there to push me over the finish line for a 1:31:51 (official) finishing time.
Ignore my “current speed” I clicked off my Garmin after I stopped … so it’s all high and not awesome like my race was!
I’ll be honest, right when I crossed the finish line I was not a happy camper. I wanted to curse and punch someone… I was SO exhausted. But after about 10 seconds, the elation set in. I just took 40 seconds off my 10 Miler PR!!! Mike and I had a super emotional sweaty hug, which was adorable. I love him ❤
I’ll say it over and over and over… I’m so grateful for Mike. I don’t know if I could’ve done this without him. He sacrificed his own race to help me achieve a new goal too, which is a perfect example of how selfless he is. He kept saying that he was having a hard time keeping up with me (so yay! I’m fast when Mike has rested for 3 weeks post-marathon and has the flu… SUPER RUNNER!) But he’s is amazing and I just wanted to melt into a puddle of loving goo because I was so happy.
Then my new bff Sam Adams was like “Yo Christina, I heard you ran a sweet race today… Congrats my dude!” and I said “OMG, that is so sweet of you Sam. Cheers to that! Also, way to go on the Winter Lager man… you totally nailed it!”
But in all seriousness… this race was not just a PR. I won a lot of mental battles here too. I don’t think I have ever really pushed myself that hard. I normally don’t like that feeling, but this race made me realize that it’s ok for it to hurt. I embraced the pain. I realized… I’ve been running scared for most of the last two years. How good could I get if I let go of my emotional and mental baggage, and just let the athlete in my come through? Mike uses this amazing race mantra I wanted to share. “The first third of the race, find your rhythm The second third of the race, sharpen your focus. The final third of the race, unleash the monster”.
Consider this monster unleashed.