Something wicked this way comes


Yesterday I ran the Wicked 10k, a great race put on by J&A racing in Virginia Beach.  I’ve been wanting to do this race for the last couple of years, but I haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule.  With the Richmond Marathon coming up in three weeks, I needed a tuneup race.  I was hoping for a half marathon, but couldn’t make it happen, so this had to do.  I hadn’t done any racing, or even fast running in a few months.  All of my training has been easy high mileage.  So I really had no idea what kind of pace to even shoot for.  Plan was to go out hard and try to hang on, turned out to be a pretty good plan.

Weather was great when I got to the convention center, nice and cool, in the high 40s, but it would warm up quickly when the sun came up.  Overall, still pretty good weather, wind wasn’t bad, which can sometimes be a problem on the boardwalk.  Warmed up for about 2.5 miles, with some strides, and then I was ready to go.  Lined up in Corral 1, where the announcer noted the lack of costumes among the “serious runners”.  Next year I’m dressing up, but it will still be a run friendly costume, because I’ve already set some goals.  The horn blows, and we’re off!

Mile1: 5:59

I lined up pretty close to the front of the corral, so had no problems with crowding and was able to get right on pace.  I figured I’d shoot for around 6 flat and see how it felt, doing good so far.  Running near me was “Nearly Naked Mariachi Man”, apparently a yearly staple at Wicked, I made a mental note to not get beaten by a man wearing nothing but a speedo and Mariachi hat.  He was very talkative and holding a good pace, could be a challenge.

Mile 2: 6:00

Still feeling good, getting in the groove.  Nearly Naked Mariachi Man has fallen back a lil, but I can still hear him behind me, getting lots of cheers from the crowds.  I set my sights on a guy in front of me in a white shirt, seems to be running a similar pace, figure I’ll target him to stay on pace and then work on passing him if I can.  I wanted to try not to focus on my watch and focus more on racing the people around me. We hit the boardwalk heading north, which is usually when you get blasted with a nasty headwind, but there was no wind to be found, perfect!

Mile 3: 6:08

Starting to feel the effort, wondering if I might be going a little too fast, but then I remind myself of how well my training has been going and the huge mileage I’ve been putting in, I can do this.  I stay focused on white shirt guy and keep pushing.  We’re off the boardwalk now and cruising down Atlantic.  I can’t hear Mariachi Man behind me anymore, so I figure I’m not in any danger of needing to worry about getting passed.

Mile 4: 6:12

I set a new 5k PR with a 5k split of 18:54 (3 second PR, woohoo!).  I start to worry that I probably shouldn’t be setting 5k PRs in a 10k race, but then remind myself again that my training should support this effort.  As I’m crusiing down Atlantic, I start to get a little too comfortable and notice that white shirt guy is starting to pull away, he has passed a younger runner who is now about 50ft in front of me.  Then I see Mark from my LRS on the sideline cheering people on.  He tells me that I’m doing great, but that I need to go catch that young guy in front of me.  That was perfect timing, and just the motivation I needed to pick it back up.  I surged and passed the young guy and pulled back within a comfortable distance of white shirt guy.

Mile 5: 6:12

Pace has a slipped a lil the last two miles, but the effort is still solid.  Several times I’ve had the feeling that if I pushed harder I might puke, so I figured that was about right.  At the end of mile 5, we turn back onto the boardwalk, where we have just a touch of a tailwind, always nice.

Mile 6: 6:15

This was a tough section, not just because it was the last mile of the race, but because the finish line is in sight, but still far away, that’s always tough.  I try to start reeling in white shirt guy, but he’s running strong.  I start to lull a bit again, and just like before, suddenly Mark appeared again and told me to pump my arms and finish strong.  The bad thing about not racing often, and not doing any speedwork, is you tend to lose all form towards the end of a race.  Apparently I was focusing on my feet and my arms were just kind of flailing.  I felt my pace pick up instantly and my form improve when I started focusing on pumping my arms.  Got passed in this mile, the only time during the whole race, this guy was finishing really strong, I tried to surge to go with him, but just couldn’t hang.  I knew that I had run a good race when I didn’t have that much left in me.

.2: 5:58 pace

Kicked with everything I had left, which wasn’t much.  Thought I might puke again, but I wasn’t going to let up until I crossed the mat, and if it meant puking, then that was just fine by me.  I saw 38:xx on the clock, and knew that I had a solid PR.

Official time: 38:12 (6:09 average pace), 2:01 PR over my 40:13 at ERR 10k five months ago

Turned out to be good enough for 3rd place Masters!  Finished 13th overall out of 5384 runners, and 3rd in my group of 256.  Couldn’t be happier!  I think after I finish my marathon, and then my 50k in December, I’ll turn my focus to speed and see what I can really do at the shorter distances.

I think that with my training and this PR, I should have a shot at sub-3 in Richmond.  My plan is to go out at around a 2:58 pace, aim for a 1:29 first half, and then if I’m feeling good by mile 20, pick up the pace and finish strong.  If I’m not feeling it, then I’ll just try to hang on and squeak out a sub-3.  Overall my goal is to BQ again, so I can actually run Boston in ’16, and I think barring catastrophic failure, I should be a lock for that (my BQ is 3:15).  So my A goal will be sub-3, B goal sub-3:05 and C goal sub-3:10.  Now we just have to see if the weather cooperates.

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