The end of spring always makes me a little sad because it’s the end of racing season. I love racing. I love racing more than I love running in fact… so I race a lot. I thought Broad Street would be my last race this Spring but, oh what the hell, let’s do two more. I’m keeping them simple and short… it’s the theme of the Spring!
I will be running the North Face Endurance Challenge 10K Trail Race in Sterling, VA on June 2nd
Aannnddd the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in Washington, DC on June 9th (I am not a lawyer, but I too have a heart)
I talked Mike into the trail race but I doubt he will get on board with Lawyers have Heart. He doesn’t like summer racing because he’s basically a human popsicle (he melts in the sun).
Questions for you guys:
- What’s left on the your spring racing calendar?
- Thoughts on summer races?
- Sun lover or sun hater?
Totally tried to get this up yesterday but it just didn’t happen for me. Too much fun this weekend made for a SLEEPY Monday. Also, it’s raining and cold here which doesn’t facilitate getting pumped up for a Monday. This weekend Mike and I participated in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. I jump at the chance to run races in Philly because that is where my best-friend and lady-life partner Sarah lives. Over the past three years of her living in Philly and me in DC, we’ve gotten really good at making the trip and I feel like her friends in Philly are my friends now too! Friday night, we made the trip up I-95N. Saturday included breakfast at Schlesinger’s, a good stretch out at Philly Power Yoga (post coming later this week), a trip down to Lincoln Financial Field to get our race packets, watching the Derby on South Street, and dinner on Rittenhouse Square. Also, Juno was on TV. Whoot whoot! Sunday was, of course, RACE DAY. Here’s how it went.
The race didn’t start until 8:30 pm but you had to take the Broad Street Line subway to get to the start. Races that involve taking public transportation make me nervous (I had an almost calamity at the Baltimore Half Marathon) so we were up and on a train at 6:15 am. We arrived at about 6:40 and then just waited around for almost two hours, which was not my favorite part. Add to that… it was FREEZING and WINDY. Also, they claimed that bag check closed at 8:00 am so I had to part with my warm layers (I should have just done throwaway clothes) for a whole 30 minutes before race start.
The starting area was CROWDED. Huge lines everywhere, massive crowds trying to move around, and people were getting restless / feisty. It wasn’t my most pleasant pre-race experience. At one point, I was trying to get to my corral and I just stood, stuck in a massive, unmoving crowd for legitimately 15 minutes. I never actually made it to my corral. I saw a break in the fence and just hopped in. The corrals were not being strictly enforced at all anyways, and I was getting cranky so I needed to RUN.
Mercifully, I finally crossed the starting line and got going. However, at that exact moment the clouds broke and the sun starting beating down hard. By mile one, I was baking in my long sleeved jacket. I knew I was going to be miserable if I kept it on so I pulled over for a quick minute to remove my layer (I was wearing a tank top underneath), quickly re situate, and get back on the road. I ended up losing about a minute and a half of time, which is fine but kind of annoying. The race course and the crowd support was EXCELLENT. You start all the way up Broad street in North Philly and run a straight shot down Broad, around City Hall, through Center City, and down to the Navy Yard in South Philly.
You know how some days are just great running days? This was not one of those days. My legs just felt tired pretty much the whole race. I was holding a great pace but it felt tough. By mile 5, I was getting tired and I thought to myself “Uh oh, I still have 5 miles to go and I’m already tired.” When I start getting tired during a race, I try and use my ego to my own advantage. I stuck to the outside of the course, so I wouldn’t be tempted to walk in front of all the spectators. Hey, whatever you gotta do right? Coming around City Hall was awesome and I knew that my friends would be on Broad between City Hall and South Street. I saw Sarah (and gave her a high five) but missed Kristy (womp womp). Then it was another ~ 4 miles to go. I was on pace to meet my 10 mile PR from December and, even though I was tired and my knee was starting to hurt a little, I was not going to let up. I kicked it into high gear for the last half a mile and flew to the finish line.
Unfortunately, there was a HUGE backup of people at the finish line, so I was forced to stop completely 1 step across the finish line. Not ideal. I clicked off my watch and didn’t even look at it while I tried to navigate this massive clog of people. When I finally got funneled into the finish area and looked at my watch, I realized that I set a new PR by 4 seconds! 1:31:47 by my clock. However, this is an unofficial PR since my chip time was a 90 seconds longer thanks to my stop to change my shirt. Irritating, but that’s ok. I’ll keep my PR from December for now but I am gunning for a sub 1:30 10 miler this Fall.
I picked up my medal and my finisher food (which was BALLER by the way. Major points for this Broad Street Run. Soft pretzels and a bag of delicious goodies) and made my way into the finish area. If the start area was crowded, the finish area was worse. Mike and I had decided to meet up at the Dunkin Donuts tent. I realized immediately this was a huge mistake, because they were giving out free drink and donut samples. It was mobbed. It took us over 30 minutes to find each other because apparently our bag check bus was late and Mike had to wait for a while to get his cell phone back. After we met up, we took a couple pictures and high tailed it to the subway. Thankfully, that was not as bad as I thought it would be. We got on a train easily and were back in Center City by noon. [As a note, many runners at Broad Street wore Red Socks as a tribute to Boston. It was a really nice touch! And for interested parties, Mike ran approx 1:10. He’s really coming back from his injury and doing great!]
In summation: Broad Street was super fun and energetic! You really get a taste of Philly and that rocks. Logistically, this race is challenging because of the huge crowds and small start / finish areas. I’m so glad we did it and maybe we will in a few years, but not next year.
After bagels and showers back at Sarah’s, we cabbed up to the Northern Liberties for a post race celebration of beer, jenga, and ping pong at Frankford Hall. I wasn’t feeling 100% (I got an exercise induced headache after the race) so I stuck to soda and agreed to be our designated driver. I didn’t mind at all, we had so much fun! By 7 pm, Mike and I were on the road back to DC. We hated to leave Philly (and Sarah) but we’ll be back again VERY soon!
Questions for you guys:
- Have you ever run Broad Street? What did you think?
- Did you race this weekend?
- Favorite beer?
I had this post scheduled for yesterday but elected to cancel it in light of the tragic events that occurred in Boston. I am a person first, runner second and I am, as we all are, heart broken over these events. Julie at PB Fingers wrote a post this morning about ways to help for those who are interested. Amid the confusion and sadness yesterday, I was so relieved to hear my friends at Lavender Parking and South Harlem Runner were uninjured (though certainly frightened and upset). My support and love are with the people of Boston, runners, spectators, first responders, and volunteers. The strength and resiliency of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me, and I have already seen some truly amazing examples in the wake of this senseless tragedy. That is where I find solace today.
I declared this spring was… THE SPRING OF SPEED! I set a goal to get a new PR in the 5K and 10K distances and after this weekend… I’ve done it! I set my new 5K pr in Crystal City and now my new 10K Pr of 55:00 belongs to the Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond. I would link you to my official results but sadly I did not get chipped in at the starting line so my race time is 14-15 minutes off. I’m working with racing officials to get this corrected.
Friday afternoon, Mike and I took off for Richmond. Under normal circumstances, it should take 2 hours tops. But this is DC and the traffic is like the worst in the country so we sat in this for hours and it took us like 4 hours to get there.
After finally arriving and picking up our packets, we headed to Carytown where were staying (courtesy of AirBnB… if you haven’t tried it but consider yourself a more “adventurous traveler” I’d seriously recommend it. Especially for runners traveling to major races. A hotel would’ve EASILY cost us $200 and be miles from the start line. This was $50 for a night and we were less than two miles from the start). And it came with some quality time spent with the family dog… Squeaker!
The remainder of the evening consisted of pizza at Mary Angela’s, frozen yogurt from Sweet Frog, and being asleep by 11:15.
Since the race didn’t start until 8:30 it made for a rather leisurely race morning. We left the house at 7 am and leisurely walked down to the start line. We arrived around 7:40, checked our bag, used the bathroom, posed for a quick pic by the fountain, and made our way to the corrals.
Confession time… I snuck into a different corral than the one I was assigned! They were like actually checking too so this was more difficult than I was expecting. I do not advocate changing corrals BUT I was going for a PR and I knew I could hold the pace, so I jumped in a couple corrals ahead of my own. And before I knew it… we were off! Mike ran with me again and we were aiming for 8:45 – 8:50 min / mile.
It was challenging but I held the pace. My legs felt kind of heavy at the beginning of the race but thankfully they loosened up after a couple of miles. The course was awesome… a straight out and back on Monument Avenue complete with beautiful houses, basically pancake flat road, tons of crowd support, and live music EVERY block. Right at mile 6, I realized that I might be able to break 55 minutes if I really hauled it in to the finish line. I managed a really decent kick (in fact, my pace for that .2 miles was 7:40 min/miles) but ended up finishing at exactly 55 minutes. KIND OF wish I had gotten 54:59 instead but that’s ok. I’m taking this 4 minutes PR and cherishing it!
Mike is, as always, the best racing buddy. I’m really not looking forward to him recovering from this injury… who is going to pace me in for new PRs now???
The post race festivities were really great! Very family friendly for my racing buddies with kiddos. There were inflatables and characters roaming around!
We went picked up our bags and let me just say… this is by far the best bag check solution I’ve EVER seen. It was so quick and easy for pick up and drop off. You dropped off in one big group, then the bags were placed around the perimeter of a large fenced area. You just went to the fence that corresponded with your number. No lines AT ALL.
Quick race review – for such a HUGE race, this was so amazingly well organized it’s ridiculous. The corrals were excellent, the course didn’t feel THAT crowded, aid stations were perfectly stocked, and it was AWESOME. I would HIGHLY recommend this race. It is very first-timer and walker friendly as well. You won’t feel alone no matter where you are in the race.
Questions for you guys:
- Did you race this weekend? Where?
- What is your favorite race you’ve ever run?
In honor of the Spring of Speed… I ACTUALLY raced my very first 5K this weekend. I’ve done it a number of times in training (a 5K “time trial” of sorts), but I’ve never raced an actual 5K race. To be honest, last week kinda stunk just for a number of silly little reasons. It wasn’t “my” week and I was VERY grateful when it was after 5 on Friday. I didn’t have high hopes for this 5K even though I really wanted to do well. I was having a crappy week, I accidentally brought long pants thinking they were capris (it was kind of warm) and my hair tie broke as I was putting my hair in a race ponytail. I also neglected to charge or pack my Garmin. I didn’t really feel ready.
But luckily, Mike agreed to run with me since he isn’t really in racing shape right now (Mike’s 5K PR is like 19 minutes and change, so we’re not really in the same league usually). I showed up, picked up my number, ditched my bag, and I even went for a warm up jog (which I don’t normally do… but now I’m thinking perhaps I should?). We saw / chatted with a couple people, including my brother’s roommate (who is like super hardcore / in the military so we definitely weren’t running with him).
I decided to shoot for a pace of 8:45 min / mile, but had to rely on Mike b/c he was wearing the Garmin. I took off at what I thought / hoped was a hard but maintainable pace. I had to work hard to think about this race differently than I normally do my longer distance races. Even if I went out “too fast”, I wasn’t going to totally bonk / not finish a 5K. I ended up clocking 8:25 for the first mile and I felt good. My legs felt great and could definitely hold that pace. I figured I’d try and hold it for as long as I could and just see how things went!
Around mile 1.8 I started getting this weird burning sensation in my stomach. Normally, I would back off if I felt something like that, but I tried to remember that this was a 5K. According to Mike… the “hurt” of a 5K is different than the “hurt” of a half marathon. I pushed on despite the feeling in my stomach. We clocked mile 2 at 8:25 as well. The final mile was definitely the most challenging, but I did everything I could to dig deep and pull this out. I almost bulldozed a little kid on the course by accident… sorry kid!
Mile 3 clocked in slightly slower at about 8:30, but overall I was really pleased with my ability to hold a steady pace over the course of the race. Mike was, as always, an amazing racing partner because he pushed me when I needed it but also backed off and let me run my race (I can be kind of mean when I’m really focused but he knows it comes from a place of love haha). My legs felt perfect but I was definitely feeling that burning sensation in my stomach / chest. My breathing was hard but not strained or shallow, which was good! (Apparently, these are all feelings you should have while racing a 5K? I dunno I just repeat what people say to me). I was able to muster up a little surge to the finish line, which is always nice.
As you can see, I raced with my hair down (thank god I had a headband at least!) and I rolled my ankle length tights up to my knees to create makeshift capris. These things were like a vice on my legs though. I’m shocked I didn’t have to amputate both of my legs below the knees to get them off.
My official finish time was 26:45! Considering before this race the other 5Ks I’ve run were all over 30 minutes, I feel pretty good about that 🙂 New PR to start the weekend!! As always, thank you Pacers for putting on an AWESOME event.
After the race, I enjoyed some Corner Bakery cookies, Vita Coco water, and caught up with a few friends before heading home. It was a lovely night of homemade pizza, beer, and falling asleep by 10:15 pm 🙂
Questions for you guys:
– Do you prefer shorter or longer races? I think I still prefer longer races, but I’m enjoying the new challenge of short.
– Have you ever done a night / evening race before? Thoughts?
– What is your favorite cookie?? I have a weakness for black and white cookies, but other than that I think my favorite is the snicker doodle!
This weekend I D.N.S.ed (Did Not Start) my first race ever. There… now it’s out there. It’s Tuesday and I’m still not 100% “over it”. You guys know that my knee injury has had a flare up this winter and I made the decision back in January to defer down to the half marathon from the full for the Rock’n’Roll USA race. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do the half. But that’s exactly what happened.
Friday, I was certain I was running this race. I picked up my packet, chatted about running with other coworkers who were racing, and even enjoyed some pasta for dinner in preparation. But slowly over the course of the evening the doubt started creeping in. My knees were hurting. Now, for some unknown reason, my right ankle has also started hurting. Was I really ready to run 13.1 miles? As much as, in my mind, the half marathon isn’t an intimidating distance for me (I’ve run like 10 before… not exactly new), it’s still a lot of miles for your body.
A year and a half ago, I pushed myself to run the Rock’n’Roll Savannah half marathon injured and it was freakin’ miserable (not to mention it took me like 2.5 hrs to finish, felt like a very painful eternity). Did I want to do that again? Cue… the… FREAKOUT.
Thankfully my bff Sarah was there with me (she is my lady life-partner) to talk me down off. I set my alarm, laid out some clothes, and got into bed still thinking I was going to run. But I laid there… and laid there… and laid there. I couldn’t sleep. My mind my racing, my joints were throbbing, and suddenly my stomach was hurting (just nerves I think). At 5:30 am my eyes were wide open again (even before my alarm, which NEVER happens) and I knew I shouldn’t run this race. I crawled back into bed in miserable defeat and lay there in a pathetic pile of self pity.
Intellectually, I know I did the right thing. Could I have finished? Definitely. Would it have been fun? Probably not. Would it have been the kindest thing I could do to my body? Definitely not. Could I have potentially injured myself? Extremely likely. I run a bajillion races … what is one race in the grand scheme of things? Even though I intellectually knew all of this… emotionally, I was still super bummed. I was SO embarrassed at the thought of telling people I hadn’t raced (which let’s be honest… no one actually cares except me). I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I had “given up”.
But I remind myself that holding back is a sign of running maturity. I remind myself that running for many years to come is more important than running one race. I remind myself that I am human, I am imperfect, and that is absolutely fine.
So that is my sad, melancholy eulogy for the race that just wasn’t meant to be. I am shifting my focus to healing my knees and getting back in the game. Everyone loves a good comeback story right?
Questions for you guys:
– Have you ever D.N.S.ed a race before? Tell me about it!
– How do you show kindness to your body?
Woohoo racing season is upon us!!! The St. Patrick’s Day 8K has now kicked off my spring racing season for the past three years. It’s a fun race (great excuse to wear green) and 8K is such a manageable distance to wade into the season. However, I’ve never actually “raced” this race before. For whatever reason, there’s always something that makes me do this race “just for fun” and take it really really easy. In some ways I like that about it. Keep this fun race… well… fun! But this is really the only 8K I ever run, so my 8K “PR” is really out of whack for my other race times. But that’s ok 🙂 This year was no exception…
Mike and I met up with my friend Sarah at about 8:30 am (the race started at 9 – major plus of this fun race… doesn’t start too early!). For the second time with this race, I’ve almost overslept / missed it because of daylight savings time. Will I ever learn? Everyone was decked out in their green and fun gear. I always end up wishing I actually took the time to go buy something fun to wear but alas my go to green / white striped arm sleeves will have to do.
We lined up at the balloon arch and before we knew it we were off! Mike went ahead of us and Sarah and I stuck together. Mike has been having major IT band issues, Sarah hasn’t been training much, and I was having some weird ankle pain so needless to say all of us were a little down for the count on this race.
I love the scenery in this race though. It was super sunny or else I would’ve had a PERFECT picture running down Pennsylvania towards the Capitol building. Alas, the sun was too bright so I settled for a distant pic of the Washington Monument. Nothing like a clear DC morning 🙂
Sarah and I stuck together through the majority of the race (4 miles out of 4.98) I haven’t really mastered the art of the self portrait while running. Or really pictures while running I just kind of snap at random and hope for the best.
As we rounded the corner to head back towards the finish line, I was able to snap a decent picture of the Capitol building. My composition could use work but that’s ok 🙂 We caught a glimpse of Mike during on the of the out / back sections and he seemed to be doing pretty well. I was super nervous about his knee injury (his complete refusal to wear green to this race ended up making him SUPER easy to find). I left Sarah at mile 4 and took off for the finish line. I had been keeping a very easy pace so I wanted to really push the last mile just for good measure 😉
As I turned into the final out / back section of the race right before the final stretch of Pennsylvania Ave to the finish line, I saw Mike again. This time he was walking so I knew he wasn’t doing well. Mike is a huge competitor. There is no way he would walk at all (let alone this close to the finish line) unless he was really hurting. I ran harder to catch up with him. I caught him literally a minute before finishing, and made him try to run it in with me. He ended up finishing a few steps behind me and was definitely in a lot of pain… poor guy!
My “official” time was 53:09 which is totally fine by me 🙂 I just love to race, so I definitely don’t make each one a “have to push it to the max” mentality. Eventually the stars will align though and I will actually race an 8K just to see what I am capable of! The spring racing season is officially open and I can’t wait for what this year is going to bring 😀
I was super proud of Sarah for pushing it out on this race and reignited her running flame a bit. I’m so glad I was able to be with her during the race!! I don’t have many friends who run / race so it’s so much when I have a buddy.
My armpit sweat is clearly why I never race in cotton shirts, but it was the only clean green shirt I could find!! I turned my arm warming into leg sleeves for a little variety which was definitely fun. There’s Mike in his non-St.Patty’s day gear.
Quick Race Review! The wonderful folks at Pacers put on this event, and I have expressed my love my pacers in the past. I think they are a great local group that puts on very well organized races. They even upped their game this year with the race shirt (used to be a cotton t-shirt, now its a technical blend t-shirt. Definite improvement). Packet pick up is always exceptionally easy at their stores and this year it happened to coincide with a huge sale (which I totally scored BIG on). Water stops were well stocked, course well marked, and there were plenty of bathrooms. These are very important for a good race 🙂
After we finished they were handing out bottles of water, which was awesome. My one complaint was the lines were RIDICULOUS for the food tent. I didn’t even bother because I wasn’t hungry but I was slightly bummed to not even have a chance to grab a banana or granola bar for later. What was up with these lines??? (in the pic below… we were at the end of the line and the food was in the white tent WAY down the street… definitely did not wait in that line)
My favorite part was the Irish dancers by the bag check (which was very smooth as always). I studied abroad in Ireland so I have a soft spot for Irish folk music and dancing 🙂
Questions for You Guys:
– Have you ever run at St. Patty’s Day race before?? What did you wear??
– Do you always “race” or do you ever go out just for fun to take it easy? Have you ever raced injured?
If you’ve never had the pleasure of Fund Racing… I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re already a runner, why not put all your hard work and effort towards something good? If you’re not a runner, maybe this is the motivation you need to get started? I wrote this post back in November for my friend David who was fund racing for Covenant House in the Philadelphia Marathon. Today, I thought I’d share just a couple tips and tricks for getting started with Fund Racing and then share a little incentive at the end!
1. Pick a cause you care about. Nothing is more transparent than asking someone to donate to a cause you A. know nothing about or B. don’t actually care about. There’s something that ALL of us can get behind out there and nothing comes through better than genuine interest.
2. Work with staff at the organization. Get materials, attend an orientation, or just ask a bunch of questions. People may have questions and, again, if you’re asking them to donate money to your cause you should be informed about it.
3. Start with a simple ask email. Craft an email to friends and family who you feel comfortable asking for a donation and make it really personal. Explain what the organization is and how their money will be used. Then make it clear why YOU are running for this cause. Include relevant links to the organization and a clear link to your fundraising page.
4. Talk to your employer. Many organizations match charitable donations. This is a SUPER easy way to up your fundraising numbers.
5. Get creative. If your company doesn’t match funds, would they let you sell baked goods or little trinkets? Do you have a community service club at your job or school? Get them involved! It never hurts to ask and explore every avenue. Talk to your running club too, maybe you can do a team effort!
Now for a little incentive! I am fund racing for Back On My Feet (The DC / Baltimore Chapter) in the Rock’n’Roll USA Half Marathon. I would like to sponsor one person completely, which means I need to raise $1,800. I am committed to making that happen! SO… in the interest of shameless self-promotion please consider making a donation on my behalf:
And to sweeten the deal… I am going to host my VERY FIRST giveaway on Pennies on the Run!!
If you make a donation (regardless of size) to my cause by March 1st, PLEASE leave a comment below.
I will randomly select one reader (from the comments on this post) on March 2nd, and you will receive a special gift of gratitude from me!!
I believe in this organization and this cause. Together you and I could change the life of one homeless man or woman in the DC / Baltimore area. Let’s give them this chance!
I swear that I was planning this post for today on my own. Then Amy put up the EXACT same post today (and hers is WAY more awesome and hardcore than mine b/c she rocks and is running Boston this year). Sooo great minds think alike? 🙂
So there’s this weird thing that I notice almost every runner loves to do… make their race calendar for an upcoming season! I love to run… but more than I love to run… I love to RACE! Mike and I ran 10 races each last spring. We’re all about it! Though we decided that was a few too many for our schedule / budget / desire to still have friends and family who talk to us, and we scaled it back a lot this Fall. I’ve been thinking ahead to my Spring 2013 racing calendar! PS – you can keep up with my race schedule and see all my race recaps / reviews on my Race Calendar Page!
Obviously the big one is Rock’n’Roll USA Marathon on March 16th! Things will kind of be revolving around that. I’d like to do a tune up race prior to the marathon. Ideally I’d do that 4 weeks out, but that is President’s Day Weekend and I will be in NC celebrating my Dad’s 60th birthday. So I’m looking at 3 weeks out right now. I’m planning on the Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA. Purely out of convenience and February races aren’t the easiest to come by. I also want to do the Love the Run You’re With 5K for Valentine’s Day because it’s cute… sue me.
Last Spring I did my marathon late in the season (I had a knee injury up through Christmas last year so I couldn’t train in time for a March / Early April race). I was pretty dead after it (even though I did a half marathon and a 10K within a month of the marathon… my body was NOT pleased with that).
I’d like to take some time off from distance after the marathon, so right now we’re thinking Monument Ave 10K in Richmond and Pike’s Peek 10K in Maryland for the month of April. That’ll keep me running / in the racing game, but also allow me to back off training / rest up. Plus maybe I’ll just blow my speed game out of the water! Who knows 🙂
I’m planning to up my distance again in May. I will be entering the lottery for the Broad Street Run in Philly (which is a ten miler). If I don’t get in there is also the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg, VA. I really like doing a “travel race” once a season, but I don’t know if that’s in the cards this Spring. I’m planning a decent amount of other travel (both of my parents are turning 60, I want to visit a close friend who moved away to Boston, visits to Philly obviously, and other fun events).
I’m also going to try and con Mike into a June race. He HATES summer racing, but I’m afraid if I don’t have a June race I’m going to lose stamina for training. I always struggle in the summer b/c there are NO races (and its hot… duh)! Right now I’m thinking the Lawyers Have Heart 10K here in DC. Alternatively, the Baltimore 10 Miler.
I just realized that is 7 races… which is still a lot of races. But they’re shorter races so it’s different? I dunno we’ll see what we end up actually doing 🙂 Who’s racing this Spring?? What’s on your calendar??
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.