Double Race Weekend: Wicked 10k Recap

This wasn't a weekend to update my PR board, but any weekend when I can update my list of completed races is a good one! I realized after the fact that it was a pseudo personal record in that, although I've done a race challenge once before (with an 8k on Saturday and marathon on Sunday), this was the first time I've run 2 totally different races in the same weekend in 2 different cities (in 2 different states at that!). Who says I can't have new experiences even with almost 60 races under my belt?

Just so we're all clear here, I should just go ahead and tell you that Wicked is my FAVORITE race of the year. Except you wouldn't know that if you were Alyssa or Lisa because when they asked me on Saturday night how it was I blandly said, "It was fun." (sorry for the lack of enthusiasm at the time but I just wasn't feeling very well!). But anyway, I love the time of year and the Halloween theme and the post-race beach party and literally everything about it from start to finish. It's put on by J&A Racing, who host several races from 5k to full marathon throughout the year. If you find yourself in the Virginia Beach area or are looking for a racecation, I can't say enough good things about these events! Wicked was my first 10k in 2011 and I've made it a point to come back every year since (same for their other big race, Shamrock weekend in March).

I was particularly excited for this race this year because I lived at the Oceanfront over the summer and spent I don't even know how many miles running from the convention center to the beach and up and down Atlantic Avenue and the Oceanfront. I hadn't been back at all since August so I was excited to get back to my old stomping grounds!

My dad was assigned Corral 4 and I was assigned Corral 2, but I started in 4 with him even though we didn't plan to run together. I had exactly zero expectations or aspirations for a PR, which was good because if I had, starting in a higher corral would have been a mistake. The crowd was so thick that I did a lot of bobbing and weaving, especially since a lot of people dress up and run in groups, so there were a few times I got stuck behind 2 or 3 different groups who had unintentionally made a human shield. It was really congested up until we made the first turn at 3/4 of a mile, and then it started to thin out a bit. Once I was finally able to settle into my own rhythm and pace, I realized I actually felt really good! I was honestly surprised when my watch beeped with an 8:30 Mile 2 - mainly because I was sure that wig was going to weigh me down!
So, if you look carefully at the course map, you can see that the only time there are runners going in both directions on the same street is for a short few block stretch after mile 1 (heading south) and before mile 3 (heading north). After I jumped off the boardwalk and was back on Atlantic Avenue heading north, I took note of the runners still heading out in the opposite direction. There are so many participants in this race (close to 6000!) that the sea of people seems never-ending!

Now we need to pause for story time!
I have really tried to make it no secret that I have had to work very hard at my running throughout the last 4.5 years, and that when I started I was not good. Actually, I kind of sucked at it for a long time. The first year I ran Wicked was in 2011, right at 6 months after I started Couch to 5k. I actually signed my dad, Ben, and myself up for Wicked in June of that year as a father's day present to my dad, since I knew he had run it before. I was only 6 weeks into C25k at that point, but I knew that by October I would be done with the program and I thought should be able to keep going and be ready to run 6.2 miles by October. actually took me until August to finish C25k (because life and also because RUNNING IS HARD), then I ran 2 times total in September, and then all of a sudden it was October and I was supposed to run 6.2 miles at the end of the month. I ran more in October than I had in September, but prior to race day, I had only made it up to a maximum of 4 miles.

Ben and I decided we would stick together and commit to running at least the first 4 miles, and then see what happened after that. This is the part where I should also mention that even though I could run up to 4 miles, I could only do it verrrryyyy slowly. So our wave took off and I crossed my 3rd starting line ever and I was running and I just kept thinking to myself, "...I don't think I can do this." After the first turn, during that first stretch on Atlantic Avenue, heading south around mile 1ish, Ben (who is a foot taller than me and naturally a better runner than me) kept getting a little ahead of me, then he'd slow down and I'd catch up. We did that a few times before he finally said to me, "You have to run faster or I can't stay with you. I physically can't run at this pace." Womp womp. (This is the only part of the story that's important for now, but it was a happy ending: I made it to mile 4 like we had planned and I actually finished all 6.2 miles without stopping once!).
So where was I? I was running Wicked on Saturday, almost to mile 3, and watching the runners who were heading in the opposite direction. I looked down at my watch and saw that I was at 24 minutes, and then my thoughts drifted to the runners on the other side of the road...their waves probably started at least a few minutes before mine, so they were roughly 20 minutes in, and I knew they hadn't made it to the mile 2 marker yet so I was able to estimate that their pace was probably in the 12-13 minute per mile range. And then it hit me: that was me. Four years ago, I was one of those runners struggling through 12:30 miles, not even at mile 2, and I could see runners on the other side who had seemingly effortlessly made it almost a mile farther than I had. It choked me up for a second to realize that, because if you had told me back then that one day I'd be on the other side, I never would have believed it. 

After that the race really flew by. I remember briefly thinking, "Meh, this could be over now and that would be okay" right before mile 4, but then I got over into and got back into the zone. I was really just happy to be running at the oceanfront, and my thoughts kept going to all the different times I've run there, either in training or in races. Before I knew it we were turning onto the boardwalk, and I looked down to see that I had been running for 42 minutes already even though it felt like it had only been 5. After that turn it's about a mile and a half to the finish on the boardwalk, and there's nothing to do but keep putting one foot in front of the other and stare at the ocean. The end can be deceptively long, but it's not a bad way to end a race! We passed my BFF King Neptune with less than a mile to go, and even though I had been riding that line between comfortable and hard for a while, I was ready to kick it into gear a little bit. I was still shocked when I saw that I had run mile 6 at 8:09 and averaged 7:45 for the last quarter mile to the finish! 

Official time: 53:23 (8:36 pace)

So, there I was, crossing my 58th finish line, and I still hadn't run out of sappy feelings about running and racing. Logically, at this point, 10k shouldn't be a big deal. I've run at least that distance probably hundreds of times now. I finished a half Ironman 2 weeks ago, I've finished 2 full marathons and 2 half marathons on that very boardwalk, and still I couldn't help but feel like, "Wow! I did it! I just ran 10k!" Sometimes it feels like a lifetime since those early running days and sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, but either way I can never truly forget where I started. Finishing a race is always a humbling experience that fills me with gratitude.

It was an amazing day with perfect weather and a perfect celebration afterward! I'm one little mermaid who always looks forward to coming home to the ocean.

And lucky for me, I had another opportunity to feel that way this weekend! Check back for Race #2, the City of Oaks Old Reliable 10k, and Alyssa's first marathon finish tomorrow!


  1. Love your costume!! I'm glad you had such a good race, the weather looked amazing! Its nice to look back and see how far you've come since you started running. I used to be much faster than I am now and it motivates me to work harder when I look at my old race times.

  2. congrats on the finish! even more awesome that you ran dressed as a mermaid :)

  3. I can't believe I never asked you ONCE this weekend where you got those leggings because I need to own them in my life and wear them everyday. Congrats again on an awesome race !

  4. I've heard AMAZING things about the Wicked and the Rock and Roll. I'm outside DC so commuting for those races is quite doable, I've just never tried. Are you in the VA beach area?

  5. I LOVE your running costume! Those leggings are just perfect. Although I can't imagine running in a wig - how did you keep it on?

    That's awesome that you can look back and have that reflection! I run super slow, so I'd totally be on the 12 minute mile side, but I feel that way sometimes when I see people walking it in after me, especially if I've managed to run the whole way.

  6. I LOVE your costume! So amazing! Congratulations on an awesome race! Looks like you definitely walked out of it with the right attitude!

  7. Any race is still an accomplishment ... no matter how many, how far you go.
    Great job seeing the progress in your years.
    My husband always tells me it hurts him to go my slow pace too :) Oopsie
    Your costume is FANTASTICCCCCCCCCCCCCC... where did you get those pants? Girl - you look GOOD too in it too!

  8. awww stop making me teary!! seriously though, i think it's great that you haven't run out of sappy thoughts because you should never get complacent and forget where you started. your running outfit is amazeballs by the way.

  9. Nice work! I love your costume - so cute!

    The 5k I ran on Halloween had an out & back section where the runners had to run past each other. I kept telling everyoen I passed "Good job!" or "Looking good!" or something encouraging - you never know who may be just starting out now but has the potential to do more!

  10. Your costume is ADORABLE. It's not secret that I'm not nearly as dedicated to my running as you are, and that's not a big deal to me. But I DO love running, and I don't think I've ever finished a race without feeling a little choked up. Not that they've all been hard, but they've all felt like an accomplishment. (Even if the accomplishment was waking up early on a Saturday morning or just committing to paying for the race.)

    It's so fun to see how much we've improved when you don't even realize it's happening. I remember my first 5k. I averaged a little over 10 minute miles, and I was OVER THE MOON. I couldn't believe how fast that was. I remember telling people that it was a fluke and would never happen again. My last 5k, I averaged under 9 minute miles without even TRYING to get faster. It's part of why racing is so much fun. I often forget about the progress I've made until I see someone who is just starting out. I can't help but to think, "Huh. That's what I looked like!"

  11. You look SO great first of all- your costume was rocking and I officially want those leggings! ;) But more than that, I kid you not... this post actually made me think about running again. And not in an "ugh" kinda' way, but in a 'maybe I could do that again' kinda way. Thanks for always inspiring!

  12. 7:45!? (Don't you dare say it's only a quarter mile. Yay, Speedy!)
    I love your storytime and the epiphany you shared after. It rung true especially after my Sunday, because I remember seeing the sub-3ers come up the greenway just as I was going down into it. In the marathon distance, sure, I'll never be on the other side of things. But the reason this sport we love so much is so loveable is that we can make it so we're on whatever side of the line we want to be on. (I hope that makes sense, but I just ran a marathon and I think it did something weird to my brain because I still can't think or talk right.) Love your costume, love your attitude, love that I get to know you.

  13. DANG GIRL!!!!!!!! 60 races total? You're like,, goals haha seriously that is amazing! I LOVE your race costume! IT is so perfect and so cute!! My husband (Jason) and I just made a goal to run a mile a day( don't laugh haha) but it's a start! i used to run a lot more and loved it and loved having some tone but i stopped and now I SUCK at it! So your story about not being very good when you first started is perfect for me and super motivating!! And look where you are now! Having an amazing PR and running cool races! Can I be you? haha ps I am 90% sure we have the same blog theme :) I've changed mine A LOT from the original coding but yeah, was it the one from creative worker bee on etsy?!
    xo, Candace | Lovely Little Rants

  14. You had the best costume! Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on the back to back 10Ks! Always fun supporting a friend. Will you be running Surf N Santa?

  15. OMG your costume! Is it bad I scrolled down before I read the rest to see your full outfit, haha. You look amazing and your dad's costume is so cool too! I loved that story you shared about your first time running this race-- how you signed up before you even finishing c25k, and how you ended up running the entire thing! If I ever end up running (for real) I totally want to do this race with you one day!