This past Saturday the Surf N Santa 5 miler was held here in Virginia Beach. This has always been one of my favorite races even when it was a lengthly ten miler, so it was fitting to choose as my last 2016 race and, to be honest, that I ran it well. The race starts at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, heads to the oceanfront where you get to run on the gorgeous boardwalk decorated with Christmas lights along the beach….beautiful! The race starts at 4:30 pm making it a perfect time to view the holiday lights and setting sun. Hopefully my photos (some I asked to steal) will do it justice, I highly recommend this race.
There was no plan going into this race other than to “Run Strong and Have Fun!” After being sick in bed all day Thursday, I had no clue what to expect but with the let down of Philly still hanging over me, I knew I wanted to execute this one well. It was the perfect amount of no pressure, run well attitude. Arriving at the race, I quickly found my friends but our warm up communication was mixed up and I ended up running a .7 mile warm up solo along with some strides and stretching. The warm up was COLD! I had on my tiny singlet and several people told me I was crazy but I knew once the race started I’d feel perfect and I did. Lining up in the starting area, I couldn’t get close to the front line but found friends to laugh and chat with. We all did a bit of weaving that first mile but with the wind pushing at our back that was probably a great thing to keep us under control. Around .75 miles in I found myself as second female. I wasn’t looking to run a first mile in 5:42 but I didn’t want to let first female out of my sight either!
Mile 2 was my favorite because I knew there would be a Gingerbread man stop. So fun! You may be the coolest race director ever if you dress as a Christmas tree and hand out cookies during the race you are directing. I didn’t take a cookie but I laughed at how cute everyone looked passing out treats. Mile 2 was 5:49. There was wind this year but honestly it was not bad at all! Last year I remember hitting the boardwalk to a wall of heavy wind. This year it was a million times better. Weather was great!
At the Gingerbread stop I believe I was still in second place with 3rd and 4th not far behind. Normally I might be a little worried but I felt fantastic! Let me say that I LOVE reading running blogs. I love reading everyones journey and ups & downs in our sport. One thing that has always eluded me though is when people mention a big PR or breakthrough and say it felt effortless. I swear I’ve read this a dozen times from the casual runner to many elites and I’m always like, wtf…that doesn’t happen to me. I’ve never had a PR that didn’t hurt like heck. Today was different though. I was working hard but I felt strong and smooth, just perfect blissful running. Also, while I loved SurfNSanta when it was a 10 miler, it did feel pretty good to hit Mile 2 and think “Only 3 miles left, enjoy them!” My splits don’t show it but I felt stronger as I went along. Miles 3, 4, and 5 were 5:59, 5:57, 5:56. Here is my STRAVA DATA. That last mile was into the wind so I am proud of that one At mile 4.8 I saw my coach with a huge smile on his face and I know I was smiling huge too. I crossed the finish line and didn’t know what my time was because it took me a good 10 or so seconds to cross the start line and I was so happy that I never stopped my watch! I knew I just had the perfect race for me though and thats all that mattered, a race I could personally feel proud about.
All J&A Racing events this year have had the PR board and PR Bell. I’ve watched friends sign them and ring the bell but had never done so myself. This felt great guys! I didn’t know my time so I wrote 29:50 on the board. Later I was told my chip time was actually 29:35. My last 5 miler was in the middle of heavy training and was a 29:55, so 20 seconds faster after marathon recovery and with zero recent speed work shocked me. I finished as first female and 12th overall. On of my favorites, Teresa, finished just behind me and also killed her previous time. She’s been an awesome friend to train and chat with so we were both elated.
After the hard work comes the fun and the post race party was amazing. There is always beer and a catered soup for race participants plus a live band and costume contest. It’s also inside so you are nice and warm post race. Here are some photos. So much fun.
I have no immediate race plans but with 13 weeks until the Shamrock Marathon, this race was a fantastic start to a new training cycle. Thank you all for reading and wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!!