I was a little worried about the weather for this race as race day approached because it kept calling for rain. Race day got here and it was overcast and foggy… and I just kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain when the race started. It started sprinkling as I rode with my friend Rachael to go get our other running buddy, Rebecca, and I just kept looking out the windshield saying, “NO! Stop raining!” Fortunately, it stopped by the time we got dropped off at the convention center where the race would start.
We didn’t really get a chance to warm up very well since the traffic to park was crazy, and we literally had to roll out of the car while we were waiting in line to park to go use the bathroom, again!, before we lined up to start the race. The weather really threw me off as to what to expect, and I definitely over-dressed for the race. I was expecting cold and wet weather since the forecast said 55 and rainy. I was wearing a long sleeve compression top, my racing tank that said “Ultra marathoner in training… this is my short run!,” running shorts, and knee-high candy cane striped socks. I was roasting in all this gear, and am honestly debating what I will wear for the ultra next weekend because it’s supposed to be the exact same weather.
At the expo on Friday, I had my bib changed so that I would start in Corral 1 with all the rest of my friends… I really question how they determine the corrals sometimes because I have noticed that lately I am consistently being placed in a corral that is supposed to be for a finishing time that is a lot slower than I know I would finish. Regardless, I began in Corral 1 alongside several of my friends, and anxiously awaited for the announcer to let us cross the start line.
Shortly after lining up, we were off, and I hit the start button on my watch. My friends took off ahead of me, and I was kind of sad because I knew I had to hold back today. I couldn’t go all out since I have the ultra next weekend, and I didn’t want to get hurt, overdo it, and be spent by the time the 50k gets here. My mp3 player seemed to know what kind of music I wanted to listen to as I ran along, which is unusual, because the rare times I do listen to music when I run, I am constantly hitting the forward button for the next song. Sometimes the music doesn’t match my pace or my mood, and I just have to move on to whatever is next on the playlist.
I’ve traveled the route of the Surf N Santa 10 miler a number of times before because I am fortunate enough to live at the beach and run these routes almost daily. So as I made my way along the first 5k, the miles seemed to just cruise by as my legs warmed up. At the first mile marker, I looked down and realized I had finished the first mile in about 7:33. I decided that I really needed to slow up, and take it easy before I pushed too hard, and was spent. I finally settled into a 9:00ish minute per mile pace, and stuck with it throughout the race.
I really am not a fan of the fact that the course involves a loop coming back to the convention center to essentially drop off the 5k people off, and let us 10 milers continue to run the remaining 6.9 miles of the race. It’s less confusing than it was the first year that I ran this race, but I do think there are better options of re-routing the course. I do love that most of the course is on Atlantic Avenue and the boardwalk because who doesn’t want to see the ocean when they run?! Luckily, the clouds gave way to a little sunshine, and there was no wind coming at us from any direction- it was perfect running weather!
I was just cruising along, feeling pretty good, and trying to give high 5’s to the little kids and others who were handing them out as we ran past. After all, I was supposed to be having fun with this race, and not going all out. One of the older women on the boardwalk really made me laugh because she was cheering everyone on, and I held out my hand for a high five, and she shouted, “You go baby!” as I ran past. Too funny! I loved all the quirky jokes and signs along the race course that J & A always provide at the races.. it’s nice to be able to laugh when you are being so serious about goals in running.
About mile 6, I met a girl from the OBX who was running this race for fun. She and I had been taking turns passing each other, and I finally just asked her what her goal was for the race. Her pace was pretty close to mine, so I stuck with her for the next 3.5 miles, and we chatted away about running as we moved along. It’s amazing how in the midst of running, you can talk to anyone about anything. I encouraged her to keep moving along at a steady pace, but went ahead as we turned the corner of the convention center to go in the back truck entrance to the finish.
The finish line was honestly a fiasco. Because of the humidity in the air, the rain from the night before, and a number of the runners going through the puddles, we tracked in a bunch of water on the convention center floor which made it super slick. As I came up the truck ramp and into the convention center, my first step on the floor made me slide several feet, and it seemed like every step after that I was sliding and not really have a hold on where I was going. I slid into the last mile marker thing we had to cross, and was thankful I didn’t bite it!
As I crossed the finish line at 1:33:45, I realized that I knocked nearly 13 minutes off the time that I had completed this same race in 2010. That’s most definitely a PR, AND it was with me taking it easy! I can only imagine how much I can improve next year when I go all out! And the great part about finishing was that I didn’t feel like I was exhausted, but rather that I could have kept going for so much longer. I sincerely think that I am ready for the ultra next weekend. I’m excited that it’s right around the corner- 6 days! Live. Love. Run. Passionately!