Well, Race 5 of Fall 2013, the Wicked 10K, is in the books. This is the second year I’ve run it, and it was again a wonderful experience. The end of October race can bring unpredictable weather and with it difficult (hard wind, cold rain) race conditions. This year’s J&A Racing event had almost perfect weather, and aside from a 14 miler on Thursday resulting in a lack of rest, I couldn’t have been any better off.
Friday afternoon I headed to the Wicked 10K expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center for packet pick-up and buy a new pair of runners. Walking right in, the full, yet spacious, number pick-up area was easy to navigate and I was quickly on my way to secure my race swag. Reusable shopping bag and race shirt (comfy AND fits!) in hand, it was off to the vendors. A little messier in the crowded aisle, I did manage to scoop up a pair of my favorite, Pro-Grid Ride 5s at a ‘we’re trying to move these out’ discount (yay!). I cruised through checkout and headed for home. A mac and chicken dinner set me up for a great night’s sleep that left me a little confused when my alarm went off at 530 this morning.
I finally figured out why I was waking up and got the day started with a nice big breakfast. Race bag assembled, shoes in hand and warm-ups on over my race clothes, I was prepared for the 45 degree morning as my race buddy and I drove to the race’s start, and finish, line outside the Convention Center. Arriving over an hour before the race’s 8am Start, we stayed in the nice warm car while the free parking lot filled up around us until 7am. From our warm vantage point inside the car we got to see all kinds of exciting costumes as participants put their outfits on display at the Wicked 10K costume contest. At 715, I pulled off my cozy warm jacket, pinned on my number, slipped on my shoes and we started for the mostly costumed crowd milling right inside the Convention Center’s doors. Starting and finishing a few feet outside of the Convention Center, we bypassed a huge row of Port-a-Potties next to the line and made for the warmer restrooms inside. Packet pick-up was available this morning from 630 to 8am, so indoor restroom access was limited only by lines and I managed to find a relatively short one. Ample restrooms had the line moving quickly, which gave me time to stretch out on the hard concrete floor and loosen up a bit before heading back out into the cold at 750am.
Hopping the barrier and jumping into my corral, the crowd helped keep me warm as the national anthem was played and Team Hoyt got the race started right on time. I was lucky enough to be in corral one and be one of the very first runners to cross the Start line. Speedy starters streamed around me as we ran out 19th Street towards Atlantic Avenue for the first half mile, but I managed to settle into my own pace as I rounded the course’s first turn. I spent the next five and a half miles slowly picking off one fast starter after another as we ran down a windless Atlantic Avenue to 37th Street where I skipped a well manned, enthusiastic water and Gatorade station, and turned onto the Boardwalk just after mile two. Even though I’m out there watching the sun rise more days than not, this morning was stunning. Quiet water, bright sunshine and no wind made me smile while I ran past a smattering of cheering fans. I maintained my comfortable first mile pace through the first portion of Boardwalk running, but as I rounded the corner at 24th Street, passed the Thriller Dance Group and stepped back out onto Atlantic Avenue past another group of supporters at the halfway point, picked it up a bit.
My goal was to run negative splits today, and I did. The second half of my race was faster than the first as I covered the rest of mile three and half of mile four on the second Boardwalk part of the course. Turning back onto Atlantic Avenue once again, it was about 800M to reach mile five and pass a second fully staffed water station. With a little more than a mile remaining, I kicked it up another notch and continued to pass people as we retraced our first steps of the race. Coming back down 19th Street straight to the Finish was a little lonely but nearing the line, there was plenty of a great feeling of excitement. I crossed the Finish line happy with my performance, took a deep breath and headed down the shoot. Picking up my medal, a bottle of water, a few PowerBars, a banana and a brand new coffee mug, my race buddy and I cruised right into the post-race party.
The nice thing about finishing early is a lack of lines in the after party. It took a snap of the fingers to get IDed and have a delicious Blue Moon Mountain Abby Ale in my hand. Securing a table, I slipped off my runners and put on a not very supportive, but comfy, pair of flip flops before flopping myself down onto the hard cement floor to stretch a bit. While enjoying a few free (for me) beers, my race buddy and I listened to Rock Star Parking play great music, chatted with friends and saw many more interesting costumes over two hours before heading home for a little college football.
I had a wonderful Wicked 10K experience today, finished over five and a half minutes ahead of last year’s time, was 194th out of 5937, 38 of 3903 ladies and eighth in my age group. It’s a fast course with a fast field, and I’m very happy with it. There are lots of positives about this race, including a flat course, ample free parking, plenty of restroom facilities, a fantastic after party and great organization. I can’t think of any negatives, especially after a day like today, and J&A has done another amazing job. I’m not sure I’ll be back next year with the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon the week before, but don’t count me out for the Wicked 10K in 2015!