There’s so much to say about this past weekend’s races, some I can fully explain and some that I’m still processing and keeping to myself. But the feeling of fully enjoying and being in the moment for the three races in Virginia Beach, the 5k, Mile on the Sand, and the Half marathon, is really one that I want to hang on to for a very long time.
While my training did not go quite as planned, it was up until my iron deficiency diagnosis, consistent. I was completing every workout from the day-to-day running, crossing training, and long runs. Knowing about the iron issues now really makes me wonder what I could have accomplished if I had healthy levels for the entire training period. But I’m not looking back in a negative way. In fact, it has provided me with a positive outlook on the upcoming goals I have.
Now, about the weekend!
For the Saturday 5k and Mile on the Sand the temps were nice and cool which hid the 93 percent humidity. I was so excited to be running and really wanted to see what I could do with the improved iron levels and speed but I really focused on staying within a certain pace keeping Sunday’s half in mind but also knowing I had about 45 minutes between the 5k and Mile on the Sand.
With that in mind I ended up cutting 5 minutes off of my current 5k time. I’m now 7 minutes off of my 5k PR from a few years ago and that now seems in reach. I haven’t felt that optimistic about working towards a PR in a long time.
One of the hard parts for me was to keep my muscles warm in between the two races. A lot of people I met were talking about just walking the mile so I still wasn’t quite sure what my plan was for this. Ultimately, I figured I start out running and see how I felt. If the sand was too difficult to run through I would walk it. When I have been running on the beach in Miami there is a section closer to the boardwalk where the sand is packed and easier to run on while in Virginia Beach the sand is very loose. It had also rained heavily the night before which made more divots in the sand and more challenging.
I started my run and took it slow to warm up my muscles again. I never felt like I was pushing myself or struggling to keep going so I ran the whole thing and smiled most of the time. It was a really great experience to have a race on the beach that I just wanted to enjoy it. So consider that goal met!
I took it easy for the rest of the day in order to save my legs for the half on Sunday where the heat and humidity would be in full force for us. The night before consisted of alight dinner and my UCAN prep for the race. Just a quick tangent here. I started using UCAN during my training and really liked the slow release of carbs while running. The unfortunate thing for me is that I started using before my diagnosis and treatment and never got a long run with it before the race. So I made my drink to have 30 minutes before the race and also made a gel version for about six or seven mile mark of the half as a just in case. They really worked well and now I’m a UCAN convert.
Now back to the race. My one and only goal was to just really enjoy this and I did just that!
Of course, once it got going I still wanted to accomplish certain things. I wanted to keep my pace pretty even and fell strong all the way. At the start my left leg was really tight and hurting to the point that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I just kept talking to my leg and begged it to feel better. It actually listened!
I was able to keep my pace in a certain range for most of the race until I got onto Camp Pendleton State where the roads haven’t been paved in decades. I took my UCAN gel when I entered the base but my leg started to really hurt as we were nearing the exit for the base but as soon as we got onto less choppy pavement it felt fine the rest of the way. My quads were a bit sore but nothing I haven’t experienced before and thing if I had one more long run before this that would not have been an issue.
Getting onto the boardwalk was a great feeling because I knew I would be able to run it our and stay within my goal pace range. I was also able to to pass runners on the one major hill and along the boardwalk. That is always a good feeling.
An even better feeling is shaving 30 minutes off of your current half marathon pace and just 20 minutes off of my half PR, another goal to work towards.
It has been such a long time that I have been able to really thoroughly enjoy a race weekend like this!