Saturday, March 17, 2012

Virginia Is For Lovers 14K Race Recap

Finally, my first Race Recap for 2012! I'm notorious for not posting race recaps or for posting them super late. I figured I'd get this one done before my Rock N Roll USA half this Saturday TODAY. So, here it is...

The BLING!  That small dangling heart can be removed & worn as a charm for bracelet/necklace!
Virginia Is For Lovers 14K, Virginia Beach, VA, February 11, 2012.
The Hubs and I have been wanting to run a race together and what better race to run together than this one for Valentine's Day! VIFL 14K fit in really nicely in my half marathon training schedule for Rock 'N Roll USA in DC in March. I had to do 9 miles that weekend and with this race being around 8.7 miles, it was perfect! The Hubs and I signed up, and I was ecstatic beyond a runner's high because finally we are going to run together, at my pace, AND finish TOGETHER. Can we get any more Valentiney than this?! I think not.

Foot cozy-ing up to Cryo Freeze
Prologue. Two weeks before this race I did a long run of 8 miles in a blazing (blazing for me) 10:38 min/ mile pace on a hilly route. That 8-miler was followed by two awesome 5-milers that following week, sealing that feeling that I finally got my running mojo back after a not-so-stellar couple weeks of running. My next long run after that, a week before the race, was a 10k on some freakishly hilly route near a friend's house. I was struggling at that 10:35 min/mile pace, but it felt good in the end. Two days later, though, WHAM! PF! Plantar fasciitis. Then, Little Man got the stomach bug. It was not looking good. Spirits were at an all time low, as I had to skip all my runs and all workouts that week. After icing like a mofo that week of the race, and lots of rest for Little Man and me, everything started to come together, and we were finally on our way to Virginia Beach.

 Love the swag!  My favorite running jacket.
Packet Pickup. We got to packet pickup just in time with an hour to spare. It was the smoothest and fastest race packet pick up ever. Kudos to J&A Racing for that and for the awesome running jacket, my favorite race swag so far! There weren't a whole lot of vendors there other than a few tables advertising other races, a local running store selling discounted running gear, and that's pretty much all I can remember. Can't complain too much because the boys didn't freak out and start whining at all like they did at other crowded packet pickup venues. There is definitely a huge advantage to coming to race expos at the very end.

Sleep. One day I will learn to shut my mind off and actually get a decent amount of sleep before a race. Period.

Race Morning. When my alarm went off, as usual, I wondered, "did I sleep?" We got ready, and as we were getting breakfast, we hear our boys waking up. Seriously? Do my boys have some hidden detector that tells them Mommy is awake, so wake up?? This happens when I go early for my long runs too! So we had to help them get their breakfast while we inhaled ours, and finally we were on our way to the race. A huge thanks to my Dad for watching our boys that morning!

Hanging out with our friend "R" and The Hubs before the race
Race Start. Driving to the start line, we ended up taking a wrong turn at some point, but that wrong turn ended up saving us a TON of time, because somehow we by-passed a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. Yes! We also scored on the premium parking space literally 50 feet from our corral. Double yes!

It was cold, in the mid 30s, but luckily we got to wait inside The Field House where the packet pickup was. This race scored another point for not only having a warm place to wait until the start, but also for letting us use The Field House restrooms. It was so nice to not have to use the porto-potties.

We waited for our friend "R," who ended up signing up for the race at the last minute, and we chatted away and watched other runners until it was time to go.

"Tutu Power" in the distance
Sixty-seven percent of the runners in this race were female. So we saw a lot of tutus, girl power, costumes, and tons of pink and red! There were a good number of couples there like us, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the husbands/boyfriends who were probably made to dress up in costume by their significant other because they had this look of, "I can't wait to get this race over with so I can get out of this <insert costume name>." From a ball and chain couple to the couple who were clearly "love bugs," this race was definitely very festive. I think The Hubs was relieved that all I made him wear was a red tech shirt! We were color and gear coordinated from our BCWH dri-fit hats down to our pair of Saucony Kinvaras.

After our last restroom stop, we were ready and on our way to our corral....or so I thought.

I NEEDED to go potty. Again. The lines to the porto-potties outside were looooong. There is no way, I thought. With just 15 minutes until start time, I sprinted back to The Field House to find a shorter restroom line. The Hubs thought I was crazy. As I watched my Garmin tick the minutes away while waiting in line, I was getting a little nervous. I literally had 3 minutes to get back to my corral, but I made it. The look on The Hubs face was priceless because I could tell that HE needed to go potty too and now wished he had gone. At that point it was too late, and we started walking towards the starting line.

The Race and Watching Runners. I was looking at this race as another long run, so I started at a very easy 11 min./mile pace. It's been a week since I last ran, so I wasn't sure how my foot was going to feel.

The course was mostly flat, except for the segment going through the Amphitheater. Other than that part, it was a fast course as it wound through a suburban sports park and healthcare center complex.
We couldn't ask for better weather. It was cloudy and around 39 degrees. The course was not crowded at all, but it was so quiet! Everyone seemed to be plugged into their iPods. There was a DJ stationed along the route which was nice - I think he was cranking out some 80s song that totally pumped up The Hubs. We must have been obnoxious to some runners around us while we belted out "You Give Love A Bad Name," pumping our fists in the air.

Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day" more than a log carrying guy in a gas mask.
We passed by this pair of guys who carried logs of all things! One guy had on a gas mask. I wanted to ask what it was for but didn't get to. Their costumes definitely did not scream "Happy Valentine's Day."

There were a couple of older runners there with Garmin watches, and I was so enamoured by their spirit, strength and by the fact that they're running a 14K! They're not fast, but they're smiling and looking like they're having a great time! I grew up watching grandparents sit around a lot, stay at home most of the time, not doing much, so whenever I see an older runner, I can't help but think, "I want to keep running at that age..."

At around Mile 6, we noticed this kid. I'm like, "what's a kid doing on a 14K course?" Turns out he's 12 years old, and I tried to keep up with him. Gosh he made it look so easy. Sadly, I couldn'tkeep up. Geez. Well more power to him!

Running With The Hubs. I had a blast running with The Hubs, what can I say. At one point, The Hubs realized, "wow, we're only at Mile 3?" I reminded him, "Ummm, we are running at my pace...Sorry, I know that by this time, you would be at Mile 6/7, but hey, at least we are getting our money's worth by being on the course longer!" Yes, at this point, The Hubs was jogging, even running backwards at one point, taking pictures of me. I think I even caught him walking fast next to me. I was like, "oh, come's a race, get a little more cardio than that." He was such a hoot!
Around Mile 4 or 5

At around Mile 4, I needed to GU. The Hubs? No GU for him unless it's a half marathon distance. He did grab some water on the way, but he never carries any water on him, and like I said, unless it's a half marathon distance. When we came to this trail lined with lamp posts, I started to do some fartleks! I know, weird! I think it was the GU.

By Mile 6, I could tell The Hubs REALLY needed to pee. He'd been eye-ing the woods in the distance, but he didn't want me to lose time by waiting around for him. So we started scoping out porto-potties up ahead. When we got to the part of the course where it looped around a small pond, we noticed porto-potties about 3/4 of a mile ahead. I told The Hubs to go for it. So he peeled away and sprinted to the potties. Later, he told me his pace was around 6:15 - 6:20! Runners around him must've been like, "wow, he REALLY needed to go badly!" It's no surprise that by the time I got to the potties, he was done and I was going at a 9:40 pace! I mean, really? Am I THAT slow?

Around Mile 7.5, he started reading off all the cheesy Valentine "pick up lines" signs like "If I had a nickel for every time I met someone as beautiful girl as you, I'd only have a nickel."


I had to think about that for a minute.  Or is it just me that didn't get it the first time?  They were THAT cheesy, but The Hubs reading them to me kept me occupied, because at that point, my calves were starting to twitch. Ugh. I was having flash backs of my first half marathon when my right calf locked up on me with just 0.20 miles left to go to the finish. So when my calf started twitching ferociously, I slowed to a walk. Guess that's what happens when you don't run for a week! Or maybe I needed to drink some Gatorade.  I was clearly having a hard time.

Sherry Arnold.  As I tried to shake off my legs, I saw a runner run past us with the Sherry Arnold Virtual Run bib, and I started thinking of her smiling down at all the people around the world running in memory of her today.  It's what she would want us to do to remember her.  I didn't know Sherry, but as a fellow mom and runner, what happened to her shook me to the core and made me angry and sad.  Thinking of her gave me strength.

As if on cue, The Hubs coached me back to a jog. "Shorten your stride, land flat on your feet, not your midfoot/forefoot. Count with me, 1-2-3,1-2-3...." And boy did the counting helped! I focused on that a lot until we were running back up to a 10:30 pace.  We came into a headwind around Mile 8. Like the gentleman that he is, The Hubs shielded me from the wind and ran right in front of me. What a sweet guy! I caught a second wind at this point as my calf started to feel a bit better.  Yeah, this is for you, Sherry!

Smiling after our finish line beer
Newlywed Roadkill. Around Mile 8.5 with only 0.2 miles to go, we caught sight of the newlyweds. Yup. A couple got married during the race on Lover's Lane (Mile 6). The bride had a veil, white running skirt, shirt, and the groom even had on a black coat which he ended up carrying - can't remember whether he wore a pair of shorts or not. The Hubs egged me on, "Come on, Marie, let's go pass the newlyweds, COME ON!!" Roadkill the newlyweds??! It sounded so mean, but before I could say that to him, I found myself picking up the pace with The Hubs following suit, and sure enough, we passed them. We sprinted inside The Field House towards the indoor finish line.

The Finish. There were cheers from the spectators, and I was all smiles until I realized, hey, wait, they're cheering for the newlyweds! But it was all that we needed to finish strong, hand in hand, still very much in love, the big cheese balls that we are. haha! We talked about doing the Tango across the finish line, but we forgot!

Oh and I almost forgot to add. So right at that moment when we approached the finish line, for a second I thought about sprinting hard so that just this once, I could say I finished BEFORE The Hubs. Well imagine my disbelief when we got our official time:

Mine: 1:31:51
The Hubs': 1:31:50

Sigh. Maybe next time!

Post-race fun at The Field House
Post-Race Fun. It was really nice to finish indoors. We got our medals, a nice drinking glass (which was hard to hold when you've got gloves on), gatorade, water, and some post-run power bar of some sort.  A nice touch was getting a nice carnation from a firefighter.  (teehee - big smile)  I had an armful of stuff, and I wished I had a bag to put them all in. I heard way too many drinking glasses crashing in smithereens on the concrete floor.

Finish line swag
As we got our well-earned beer, The Field House was starting to get crowded. Runners were stretching, camping out on the floor with beers at hand, and it felt hot in there. We got to a line for burritos. Burritos for post-race food? It wasn't ideal, but I was starving at that point so it wasn't too bad. They had a band playing The Cure's Just Like Heaven and a few runners dancing around.

This is a race I will definitely do again with The Hubs. It was a lot of fun and it was so worth it for the swag, the medal, the course, and for the superb organization and coordination by J&A Racing. 

Back of medal of of the charm "Live, Love, Run"

1 comment:

  1. I loved this!! What a great race - congrats on finishing strong :)

    (FYI - I did a race with my hubby once that didn't use chips but a stringer - we started & ended together but they pulled his bib tag first & he ended up "beating" me by something like 2 minutes in the standings. I was TICKED!)


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