Surf n Santa 10 Miler Recap

I've run a lot of races (28 if you're keeping score), but I haven't done too many multiple times. This was my second year running the Surf n Santa 10 Miler in Virginia Beach, and it could not have been more different than last year!

I started off the day with a first for me - I drove myself to the race! Before this, my dad has either picked me up since he usually runs them too, or my husband goes with me. This was my first time flying solo! I left well before the start of the race since I wasn't sure about parking, and I had a 3 mile warmup to do before the race started.

I had no issue finding parking and ended up being about 40 minutes earlier than I needed to be. It was a nasty, rainy day so I immediately went and dropped off a bag at the dry gear check. I hung out in the lobby of the convention center for about 15 minutes and did some stretching before hitting the port-a-potty and heading out for my 3 miles. The kids' run was just about to start when I was ready to go. I made a last minute decision to head back to my car really quick and dump the windbreaker I had on, which I think turned out to be the best decision.

I headed toward the beach, down the same road that the first near-mile of the course would take me. I saw a lot of people walking toward the start line and, to be honest, felt like a mega dork for running before the race. Instead of making a turn off that road though, like the course does, I kept going straight until I hit the boardwalk and then I ran north down the boardwalk. Holy wind, batman! The wind was blowing directly into my face - luckily I only had about half a mile before I got to turn around and head the other direction. I got to the start line with about 2 or 3 minutes to spare. I said hi to a friend in a higher corral and made my way to my corral.
The race started with both 5kers and 10-milers running the same 3-mile loop together. We ran down 19th street and made a couple turns to get down to Atlantic Avenue. I felt like the first couple miles totally flew by. We ran north on Atlantic Avenue for a few blocks before making our way onto the boardwalk. 

The first loop ended with us heading back toward the convention center, where we started. The 5kers split off to finish and we kept going before turning around and again heading back toward the oceanfront. I hadn't realized last year how much of the same terrain this course has. Not that I mind, in my opinion that can make the course feel shorter than it actually is. 

This time we ran south, all the way to 2nd street, where we again picked up on the boardwalk. And this time we ran allllll the way to the end (35 blocks, or ~2.5 miles). The wind was still blowing directly in our faces. My strategy was to put my head down and keep moving forward! For a couple minutes I talked to a woman who had also run the Richmond Half Marathon (she noticed my shirt), but other than that I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Luckily it wasn't raining at this point, just cold and windy. The race was appropriately named for the weather today - we definitely had some surf going on!
Looks pleasant out there, no?

While on the boardwalk we hit Mile 7 (Mile 10 on my Garmin), and while I was glad to be getting close to being finished, I wasn't counting down the minutes or anything. I felt pretty good throughout the whole race and was surprised to see my pace steadily dropping - I figured surely something was wrong with my brand new watch. It eventually got down to 9:40 and I just knew that couldn't be right!

Soon after we got off the boardwalk we got to Mile 8, only a couple miles left to go! It wasn't long before we turned back down 19th street and hit Mile 9. I hadn't really been worried about running fast (I was actually already running faster than I planned or thought I could), but with a mile left I started to kick it into gear. With less than half a mile left, two guys I had been playing back and forth with for a lot of the race passed me, and I was not about to let them beat me! One of the guys went ahead, at a pace I knew I couldn't sustain, so I decided to let him go but I knew I could still beat the 2nd guy. I passed him, and I guess the other guy couldn't keep up his pace either because I ended up catching and passing him with ~.2 miles left to go. Yes! Victory was mine! I rounded a corner and headed toward the finish line, not in a full on sprint but definitely at a quick clip.
That's my "Haha I totally beat those guys!!!" face
Turns out...the joke was actually on me. The finish line is actually inside, and it couldn't have been more than a few seconds after I hit the carpet, almost at the finish line, that those two guys came zooming past me in a full out sprint. I was laughing to myself as I crossed the finish line. It was a pretty funny ending to the whole thing. 

This is my "Yeah, totally just killed 13 miles in cold, wind, and rain, no big deal!" face
Now for the of the best things about my new Garmin is that all my data immediately uploaded wirelessly to my phone, and was just waiting for me to look at when I got out of the finisher's chute! My time for all 13.23 miles I logged was 2:06:41 (9:35 pace). Garmin tells me I spent about 5 minutes in between runs waiting for the race to start, so adding that in puts me at 2:11:09 total time (9:55 - my current HM PR pace). Official 10-miler time was 1:36:11 (9:37 pace), which is 9 minutes faster than my time from last year. About half of my splits were negative, my slowest mile was 9:57 (none over 10:00 woohoo!) and my last mile was my fastest - I somehow managed to bust out an 8:44 mile!

After I finished I met up with a couple friends to enjoy the post-race festivities! Let's just say I may have enjoyed them a little too much, and my being by myself may have backfired...we'll leave it at that.

One of the best parts of any J&A race is the swag, and Surf n Santa did not disappoint! The race shirt is actually a SUPER adorable cotton hoodie tee - probably my favorite race tee of all time. I love the design, and the style of shirt is totally up my alley. It's not something I would want to wear to actually run in, but considering that my collection of running shirts is growing faster than I can wear them all, I'm not even a little disappointed by that.

And what's a race without some bling? J&A medals always double as a bottle opener. I've never actually used it for that function, but it's a nice touch!

Despite the crappy weather, there is really nowhere else I'd rather have been on this cold, rainy December morning. Thanks for another great race, J&A! This was the 7th I've done (and I did all 5 this year, which means I will get some sort of special surprise item!) and don't see myself stopping anytime soon!

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