Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wicked Windy 10K

If you're ever considering running a 10K when the last 1.5 miles are directly into a 21 mph sustained headwind with 35 mph gusts, don't do it. Unless the race is the Blue Moon Wicked 10K in Virginia Beach. That race is wicked awesome.

Why Wicked?
The Expo was very festive!
There were many reasons for my decision to run this race. Unlike most races, I didn't announce that I was running this race on my Facebook page beforehand and I only told my husband, some co-workers and my friend who lives in Virginia Beach. I wanted this to be a no-pressure stress-free fun run. Here are some of the reasons I chose this race:

  • I've been getting emails about this race from J & A racing for the past few years and it's always looked fun to me. These are the same folks that organize the Shamrock marathon, so I knew it would be just as fun, only shorter.
  • This was a great way to gauge my fitness for my target 10K in two weeks
  • I wanted to do a race where the focus was on having a good time, not running a good time!
  • One of my best friends lives in VA Beach so this race was a great reason to visit her
  • I thought it would be fun to see all of the costumes.
  • Great swag! Just as much as if you ran the full marathon: a long-sleeve dry-wicking running shirt with an awesome design, a finisher's medal, a finisher's hat. I also bought the "J & A Brewing Company" pint glass and some black shorts that say "Wicked" on the back of them.
  • I wanted to wear all of my zebra running gear at the same time and be a zebra.
Weather & Outfit

This is actually post-race with my medal.
The hourly forecast predicted a 100% chance of rain-- and this was less than 24 hours to race start. I did not feel one drop during the race. Just goes to show you how forecasts can be completely wrong. The temperature was predicted to be about 50 and it ended up being in the low 60's. 

Based on the forecast, I decided to wear a hat to keep the water out of my eyes along with a pair of zebra print gloves and zebra print arm warmers. I have this wonderful GIM Headband in zebra print, but I didn't even pack that because I was so certain I was going to wear the hat. I ended up not wearing the hat and really needing the headband because my wispy hairs were flying all over the place in the wind. I didn't end up wearing my gloves at all and I got hot so I had to remove the zebra arm warmers mid-race.

My friend who I stayed with has a cat. I am very allergic to cats and typically cannot be in a house that has a cat for more than 10 minutes. However, with the help of some Allegra D, I was good to go. 

I made sure that I got a non-drowsy allergy medication because Zyrtec knocks me out and I didn't want to go into the race like that. Allegra D had the opposite effect. I fell asleep at 9:30 and woke up at 12:30. And that was my sleep for the night. I could feel my heart beating fast and I felt like I had a lot of caffeine in me. I wasn't at all anxious about the race and I didn't even think about the race. I might have slept for a little between 2:30 and 3:30, but I'm not sure. Essentially I ran the race on 3-4 hours of sleep. Fortunately I slept wonderfully two nights before the race, which is far more important than the night immediately before the race.

I got to the race super early because they said it could be hard to park. The convention center was open so most people were hanging out in there. I got to use a toilet with running water which was nice.

I warmed up for 1.2 miles and did a few drills. Then I headed for my corral. The announcer noted "not many people in corral one are wearing costumes!" Which was true. Only about 25% of the people in my corral had a costume. Most of the costumes were further back.

Miles 1-2 (7:27, 7:27)
I thought I'd go out at a pace of 7:30 and see where that took me. Ideally I would speed up later in the race but if not, that was okay. I had to keep reining myself in on the first mile. It felt so easy and I didn't trust that I was actually running in the 7:20's. It felt more like an 8:00 pace. But of course, things do feel super easy at the beginning of a 10K. The first mile ran east directly into the head wind (coming from the Southeast). However, there were plenty of people to draft off of so I didn't feel it that much.  Mile two was headed south, so I started to really feel the effects of the wind. People started to space out so it was harder to find a consistent runner to draft off of. And since the wind was coming at me from the side as well, I would have needed someone in front of me and on my side.  

Miles 3-4 (7:22, 7:15)
Bib Numbers had Names!
During mile 3 I started to notice I was getting hot. I could feel that burning sensation in my face and I knew I was probably getting a very red face like I do when I overheat. Ironically, 8:00am was the warmest time of day and then it started to fall throughout the day. I rolled down my zebra arm warmers and by mile 4 I had gone as far as to take one of them completely off. The good news was that there was a turnaround in mile 3 giving a slight tailwind, but the bad news was that we were on the boardwalk and the wind was still coming at us pretty heavily from the ocean. Throughout the race I could hear the rattling of paper bibs. Whenever a gust would come, I held my bib in place for fear it would fall off. This race used the B-Tag so I really didn't want anything happening to my bib.

Mile 4 was awesome. We got off the boardwalk and there was a slight tailwind. I swear though, the headwind seemed far more powerful than the tailwind. There was this nice woman who suggested I tuck right into her "pack" so that they could shield me from the wind. I was able to keep up with them until we turned around and were back into the headwind in mile 5.

Miles 5-6 (7:51, 8:16)
The last 1.5 miles of this course was the worst of both worlds-- on the boardwalk with no buildings to block the wind from the ocean and a headwind. There were a few times when the gusts were so strong I was literally running in place. Even after I finished and was walking around there were times when I struggled to maintain balance and not be pushed around by the wind. It was just very, very painful and difficult to be running into that kind of wind. I've had headwinds in races before, but nothing like this. I told myself to just stay strong and keep pushing. I knew that this last mile would ruin my chance of a PR but I told myself it was good practice for the Shamrock marathon finish. That race can be very windy as well so I wanted to have confidence going into that race in March. Even though the splits look like a bonk, I did not bonk. I stayed strong and pushed very hard.

Last 0.2
I think this really tells the story. Average pace of 7:50. It was all I could muster. I did have a final kick, but with the wind having tired me out so much and it still going, all I had in me was a 7:50 pace. 

When I finished, it took me my usual two minutes to feel "right" which meant the medical people were trying to help me. When I give a good final kick, which is pretty much always, I feel dizzy and out of sorts at the finish line and it's normal for me. I guess I'm unique because I'm always the prime target for the medical people. It's rare that I ever actually need their help-- I just always look like death from pulling out 100% effort at the end.

I got a medal and a finisher's hat which I was super excited about. In all honestly though, this race was much harder for me than the Shamrock half marathon in 2009. I pushed myself harder today than I did back then and fought a tough mental battle. "It's just a 10K" is BS. This 10K was harder than many of my half marathons and so the medal is very well deserved!

I AM the 1%.
If I haven't already mentioned how awesome this race is, they sent me my results in this virtual certificate-- just hours after the finish! Percentile wise, I finished in the top 1% of my age group and the top 1% of all females. Interestingly, this race had exactly 7000 total finishers.

It would have been nice to have been in the top 10 of my age group. But 11 is my favorite number, so I'm happy!

The race is exactly 1:00 slower than my PR. If it had been a bit cooler and less windy I think I could have shaved over a minute off of my time, so that leaves me optimistic about my fitness level and the potential for a PR at the Veteran's Day 10K. 

I had such a fun time, despite the wind, and I'm already thinking about how I can plan my 2012 fall marathon around this race!


  1. Wow! Tough race! You look sooo cute in your zebra costume though. Congrats on toughing it out at the end, sounds rough. I've seen that race since it's come out and it just looks fun! You are going to do great at Veteran's Day!

  2. Congrats, Elizabeth! Sounds like mission accomplished, a pre-race race where you could just do your thing as it came to you. Sounds like some crazy wind, here's hoping the next one is calm as can be. And thanks for the plug, super sweet of you. :)

  3. I'm glad you had fun! That's why we do this, right? :)

  4. Wow, Elizabeth! Nice work, especially under those conditions! Your "bonk" times would thrill me, but, for you, I think you did great, running into a head wind. Congratulations!!

  5. Great job! That sure was a crazy mix of conditions! Whoohhoooo for Halloween races.

  6. I love your costume! and WOW, tough stuff!

  7. I love your outfit! And it sounds like you had a great race for the conditions you were dealing with. Wind slows you down more than you think it should.

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