I’ve spent the week sharing advice, visualization notes and happy-stomach insights for the Marine Corps Marathon. And I want to begin this post by sending my best, speediest vibes to my friends running either the full marathon or the 10K, including Heather from Dietitian on the Run.
Now, it’s time to turn my focus toward the race I’ll be running on MCM Day, the Blue Moon Wicked 10K in Virginia Beach.
I signed up for the race as part of my road to the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November, long before I lost a month of training thanks to the plague. Now, I’m counting on this 10K to be a fun, festive training run to reignite my training for the half. And while I won’t be practicing my speediest paces, I can still practice my mental-toughness strategies. Here’s how I see it going down:
We arrive at the Virginia Beach Convention Center early, leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. to avoid traffic and long lines at the packet pickup. I pick up my bib, lucky No. 814, drop my stuff at the bag check, and entertain myself by watching the costume-contest judging while I wait for the 8 a.m. start.
I’m in corral one, so I line up at the back of what must be a wide range of pseudo-speedsters (considering that I’m in it, and considering that there were several people in my age group alone running sub-seven-minute miles—eek!). It will be in the low 60s, and with a 30 percent chance of rain, if forecasts hold up—perfectly decent running weather (side note: Kudos to race organizers for posting regular updates from local meteorologists on the race’s Facebook page). I run slow and controlled for the first mile, from the convention center toward the beach, and focus on enjoying my surroundings—the costumes on my fellow runners, the Halloween candy given out by spectators. I am pleased to see a perfect 10-minute mile on my Garmin when I glance down around the second mile marker.
I keep the same steady pace as I begin mile No. 2, which takes me along Atlantic Avenue down to Second Street, where I’ll stop to take in water. The course heads onto the boardwalk, where the challenge will really begin.
If I’m feeling good, I pick up the pace a bit here, still running in a controlled fashion that anticipates some extra exhaustion thanks to my recent spate of training-ruining illnesses. I let the first ocean views of the race take my mind off the miles, and remind myself that I’m lucky to be healthy enough to run today, and to be strong enough to know I can finish a 10K even after a considerable training hiatus.
I stay steady as the course heads back to Atlantic Avenue, and remind myself to relax and push simultaneously as I start getting sore and tired. I pass the third mile marker, and start looking forward to another water stop at mile 3.5.
I find a pleasant sense of flow, though I’m definitely working harder now, and the fourth mile marker comes up sooner than I expect it to. Now, I’m looking forward to the 4.5-mile water stop, which also marks the turnaround point at which we head back onto the boardwalk.
I grin widely as I get ready for the fun-filled final mile. Usually, this is a painful mile in my 10K-running life. But today, it is all about enjoying the day, stopping at the “Trick or Treat stop” at 34th Street, nodding at the huge, hulking King Neptune statue, then tucking in and pushing hard for the last half-mile stretch.
I find the energy to give one last kick at the 6-mile mark near 23rd Street, and sprint to the finish at 17th Street. I collect my finishers medal and tumblers (only given to actual finishers—how’s that for motivation to finish?) and hit the post-race party on the beach. I think about how much fun I had, and about how I feel ready to jump back into training for the half-marathon.
Have you run the Blue Moon Wicked 10K? Any feedback or advice?