Virginia is for Lovers 14k
A Valentine’s Day Race
PRE-RACE: Last year for whatever reason, I missed out running this race…a lot of my running “couples” friends ran this, and it bugged me for a full year that Michele and I missed out. Once the registration opened “WE” decided we were not going to miss out this year. Michele is a walker and it is great when we can participate in events together. The 14k offered a near perfect distance for a challenging walk/run for the both of us.
Nearly as soon as we decided to run this event we also decided to stay the night in Va Beach, after all, it is Valentines Season. Michele and I left work and headed for the expo, foregoing dinner until after we got to our room. The Virginia is for Lovers 14k expo was kind of small but adequate and housed in a local sports complex. Picking up our race packs went off without a hitch and everyone was very helpful. Our pre-race meal was a Pizza and I’ll tell ya since we delayed our dinner time, we put a serious killing on that pizza!
Pre-race for me offered up two pleasant surprises. The First, I would be starting in corral #1 (did I miss type my projected finish time?), I never start up front. And second, the finish was indoors…finishing on a soccer field equipped with field turf. Finishing indoors with the weather forecasted for race day (40’s with a 20 to 30 mph gusting winds) made me very happy for a warm finish.
Race morning was cold and crisp, with bright skies and a gusting wind. When we arrived at the race site Michele and I settled in and waited on our starting time. I like getting on location at least an hour early. This drives my bride crazy, but today we were not the early birds as the parking area was already pretty full. Part of our plan was to meet up with a friend (Jill) from our housing area who was also running the race. I went about texting Jill that we were on site and waiting her arrival. She replied back that she had also arrived, looking up from my phone, I found Jill standing right in front of my car. Totally random and with zero coordination she somehow managed to park right next to us.
Somehow in the excitement of race start…I forgot I was starting in corral #1 and lined up mid-pack in corral #2. The start of the race went off with each corral having it’s own starting time approx. 3 minutes apart. As corral #1 ran away from us the Race Director offered a challenge for corral #2 runners to catch up with corral #1. Well I could not let that challenge go. Michele would start with Corral #4.
As the starting gun for my corral went off (the wrong corral, mind you) I followed the pack trying to navigate the normal race crowds at the start. A pass here, dodge there and I made my way into a good pace and in a good position where I did not have to work too hard navigating the pack.
Mile 1 / 8:35 – With what I thought was a slow start, I was very surprised when I looked at my GPS and saw I was right on my goal pace of 8:30. I was even more surprised how easy this pace felt. Over the last month of marathon training I really felt like I had picked up an extra gear and today the pace was feeling effortless, but it was early.
Mile 2 / 8:12
Mile 3 / 8:07
Mile 4 / 7:57 – This race being at a “weird” distance, all my normal race day math was taking a hit. I was running well; I was able to keep up the pace; and my foot fall felt better yet. I was making my way through the pack with little extra effort but my race day math was taking a beating…I had a hard time trying to figure out my negative split times. There are two things I fear worse then death…#1 doing math in public and #2 trying to do math while running in public.
It was somewhere between mile 4 and 5 miles when I realized I had ran my way right into the middle of corral #1. I reasoned I was either a very fast corral #2 runner or these were very slow corral #1 people. No matter what I had met the Race Directors challenge.
Mile 5 / 7:56 – With my inability to do math on the run the only way I could figure out how to run a negative race split was to keep running faster.
Mile 6 / 7:51
Mile 7 / 7:58
Mile 8 / 8:09 – Mile 8 was by far the toughest and not just because it was the last mile. This section of the course had multiple switchbacks which had us fighting the wind head on for what felt like forever. By this time the conditions were brutal, it was cold and the winds were heavy. There comes a time in every race where I just want to be done and today this was it. I was so sick of the wind, the cold, and the turns that I only wanted to finish inside the nice warm field house and get my “finishers medal!
Finish Distance 14k (8.69 miles)
My Finish Time: 1h 10m 06s
My Avg Pace: 8:04
Michele’s Finish Time: 1h 53m 0s
Michele’s Avg. Pace: 13:04
After I had finished, I collected up my medal, some gatorade, two bags of pretzels and headed back outside to see if I could find Jill and “My Special Valentine Walker” Michele. If I was cold before….the chill really sank into my bones when I stepped back out into that wind.
It was not long before Jill ran by, she looked like she was running well and would be happy with her finish. After spotting Jill I walked to a point where I could see multiple sections of the switchbacks and began looking for my honey. I stood in the wind and cold for about a half hour when I spotted that familiar power walking stride. I worked my way out on the course so I could “walk” in with my Valentine…and to be honest I could not keep up. I had to divert to a slow run to pace with her.
The Virginia is for Lovers 14k was a fun race, well thought out, well planned and one we will do again. The organizers at J&A Racing, Virginia Beach put on a great event…now they just need to work on the wind.