Sunday, October 7, 2012

Race report: Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon, October 7, 2012

I ran the Crawlin’ Crab half-marathon today, finishing in 1:29:37.  Not the time I had hoped for when I registered, but I’m still pretty happy with the race, one of three I was registered to run on this day.

By way of explanation, about a week ago, I joked to a friend about how it absolutely KILLS me to spend too much money on athletic clothing.  Others may run in Lululemon or Athleta gear.  I get a lot of my clothes from Target.

But races?   That’s a different story. I’ll totally sign up for a race to save myself a spot just in case I want to run it.  

And that’s how I ended up registered for 3 races on the same day – Sunday, October 7.

Way back in March or something, I registered for the “Run for the Parks” 10K – to be held on an extremely fast 10K course.  But then, after the Philadelphia RnR Half Marathon didn’t work out for me, I decided I needed to run a half-marathon.  And the Crawlin’ Crab, a first time race with a flat course put on by a race management group with a good reputation, was calling.  So I entered, and booked a hotel room right by the start/finish line.

And then I checked the weather this week, and it didn’t look good.  High winds, and temp/dp in the mid-sixties.  And the weather in DC was forecast to be perfect, the result of a cold weather front that would be coming to the Virginia Beach area later.  Why drive 3 hours each way and get a hotel room for those conditions when I could stay home and run the Woodrow Wilson Half, a net downhill race, albeit with some hills.  

So I entered the Woodrow Wilson half, and was leaning towards running that.  Yup, three races on one day.   But…upon discussing with my coach, I recalled that the Woodrow Wilson half includes much of the same course as a local 10 mile race that I had skipped this spring due to injury concern – downhills tend to rip me up, and concrete is pretty hard on me also.  And, since I’m in the midst of marathon training, I’d rather run in bad weather if it meant avoiding tweaks that would set me back.  So, Crawlin’ Crab it was.  Complete with drive and hotel.  And the weather forecast was trending cooler, so that was good.

The hotel was another story.  The hotel room I had booked, upon closer inspection, had two double beds.  And Brian was coming with me to this race.  Whoops.  Cue rapid rebooking.  And, in order to get a room with a single bed AND a separate area with microwave/fridge, I had to book a “corner suite.”
Just one part of our "corner suite." 
Brian thinks we should do this every race.

The drive down was the toughest part of the trip, and not that tough.  Once we got to the hotel, we were set.  Race expo right next door; start and finish just outside.  Easy.  Now we just needed to hope the front came though – it was still pretty hot when I did a shakeout jog Saturday afternoon.

And it did.   In a sense.  We woke to a downpour on Sunday morning.  Fortunately that cleared by race start, shifting to high 50s with on and off rain (that mostly held off).  And wind.  Lotsa wind.  The conditions were best described as “blustery.”  I debated wearing a cap to keep any rain out of my eyes, but decided it’d just be annoying in the wind.

Lined up, and we were off.  The course was pretty flat, with the only real challenges being an overpass at the beginning and end.  The real challenge was the wind, which gusted from random directions.  In addition to the gusts, we had a tailwind for the first mile, which was nice.  

I usually am happy to be running by myself, but in these conditions I would have been happy for a running buddy (or 3) to share the work.  In the first mile I saw a pack of three women go out together, at a pace that clearly wouldn’t work for me (there were some other women ahead of them).  So I settled back and looked for a group that might be running a pace that would work for me.  But couldn’t find anyone.  *sigh*.   I’d be doing this one solo.

So I ran, mostly on my own.  Generally, I could see 4-5 runners ahead of me, some as close as 5-10 seconds.  But no one to work with.  A bike escort pulled up next to me at one point, and told me that I was 7th woman.  Nice.  But I couldn’t see the other 6.

The course was pretty isolated.  We ran from the start area (near a cluster of hotels, chain restaurants, etc) down some local roads and into downtown Hampton.  Then, some turns through downtown (the funnest part of the course), and then out along the beach.  The wind was notable throughout, buffeting us from  various directions.   

While running along the beach, I noted the 6th place woman in the distance.  Over the next mile+, I slowly reeled her in and passed her.  A bike escort then confirmed that I was 6th.

And then we turned north, to head back home for the last 4 miles, and hit the headwind.  (um yeah, tail wind for first mile, headwind for last 4.  I know that doesn’t make sense but that’s how it was).   I just focused on trying not to tense up and fight it too much, while maintaining my effort.  I knew I was slowing, but at the same time, I passed one or two people.  My legs were utterly exhausted (I’m guessing from fighting the wind), but I just reminded myself that this was good practice for my marathon.

The overpass that we had to climb at mile 12.5 was (not surprisingly) harder than it was when we covered it at the start of the race.  Funny how that works.  But then I was over it, and just held my form and pace together all the way to the finish.  No kick.  Legs just didn’t have it.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:46
Mile 2: 6:45
Mile 3: 6:45
Mile 4: 6:46
Mile 5: 6:44
Mile 6: 6:44
Mile 7: 6:42
Mile 8-9: 13:39 (6:40)
Mile 10: 7:09
Mile 11: 7:06
Mile 12: 7:00
Mile 13: 6:49
last .11 - 0:44 (6:40 pace)

Time of 1:29:37.  But good enough for 6th female and the age group win, and I’m told I finished right behind some pretty fast people.    I’ll take it.  Not the PR I was hoping for when I registered, but we run in the conditions given us.  To quote a friend, who in reference to this race quoted another friend's t-shirt  - "They can't all be PRs and sunshine."

Other points:

  • Race was really well managed – all the water stops had tons of volunteers.  Expo was easy, start/finish well organized.
  • I totally recommend this race – most convenient race ever.  Even if you don’t stay at the host hotel, there’s tons of hotels right within walking distance of the start/finish, which is also where the expo is.  And, if you get good weather, this should be a pretty fast race.
  • Comical post race encounter in hotel elevator with a woman who commented that she hadn’t expected the race to be “so hilly.”  I just said something neutral.  The race had some gentle incline changes, but the only real “hills” were the overpasses (which were somewhat steep, but short). I’m guessing she was from the Virginia Beach area.
  • Stomach felt off throughout, so I stuck with one gel for the whole race, nursing it intermittently.    Got really nauseous about 30 minutes after finishing.
  • Brian reported post race that the wind was reported on the news as 15-20 mph.  Weather Underground’s forecast got this one right.
  • I was completely mentally and physically exhausted when I finished this one.  Funny how wind and lack of company can do that to you.


  1. Your "comical post race encounter" reminds me of the woman next to me at the Richmond 8K who complained that going uphill was making her knees hurt.

  2. Congrats again! As for final time, it matters naught, you're a real racer, girl, and that means place is what counts. 6th OA is crazy great! Really impressive. I sense steam coming off your shoes ready to burn that upcoming marathon to the ground.

    And smiles at the quote. :)

  3. Congrats on your race. I think you definitely made the right call vs WWB. While our weather was wonderful, I don't know a single person who ran WWB twice. I never hear positive things about the course.

    You ran a great race (6th OAF!!) with some crazy weather conditions! Congratulations!!!

  4. I know you prefer to stay local rather than travel, so I am surprised you traveled for this one! Also, two double beds isn't so bad the night before a race. You don't have to worry about someone's tossing and turning waking you up! :-)

    I'm with you- I don't mind registering for a race and then losing the money if I change my mind. It's kind of like insurance that you know you'll have a spot.

    Great job in the wind! I totally relate to you because I ran that Blue Moon Wicked 10K last year and it took 2 minutes off of my projected time. I was still satisfied with it, just because the wind was so powerful. Anyway, I am really impressed with your performance here and glad you were able to squeeze in another half marathon into your fall schedule!

  5. Congrats on a strong race! Wind is so hard to deal with since it's not something you can train for like hills. It sounds like just the kind of race you needed to have on the road to the marathon.

  6. Way to push through what sounds like some tough spots during the race! It was fun hearing about it first hand at the pool this morning. Nice job, Cris!

  7. good work DW. Totally whacko entering races in one day. i know this as i have done the same. and i am totally ok with my insanity.

  8. I'm soooo glad I read this!! I was a minute behind you and 8th female. What a buzz kill for a summer of training. But seriously, who trains in wind like that?! Not me! I was just getting to the point I was efficient in the humidity but I totally forgot about the possibility of wind. I did the 3 hour each way trip too. ARG!! My redemption race is in 3 weeks. Chalk this one up to a good strength workout! But hey congrats on sub 90 ; )

  9. I'm a VB local but missed this race since I was out of town. J&A Racing hosts the best races! People look at the lack of elevation change (no hills!!) here but never realize that half of every race is spent running directly into the wind. Annoyed me
    to no end when I moved here. Congrats on placing top ten and sub 90 on a blustery day! Let me know if you make it back to VB soon :)