A few months ago, I got an email inviting me to register for the Shark Tooth’s 10K, which I had previously run back in 2014 at the incredible rate of just $30, including bling AND race socks (in lieu of a tee-shirt). I remembered that I liked the race, so I registered, and then didn’t think much about it until a few weeks ago…when I realized that I’d be racing pretty much every weekend! Hah!
Nevertheless, as race weekend approached, I was excited to see where my legs would take me. Although I had recently run the DONNA 10K (as part of the Booby Trap Challenge), and regularly run about 5-6 miles in training runs, I had not properly raced a 10K since…well, since the last time I ran this race, three years ago. My PR for the 10K is SUPER OLD…I mean, back “when I lived in VA” old, so it really deserves to be shattered soon.
Of course, I had to keep in mind that I am also building back up after a cycle of marathon training, followed by two marathons, two half marathons, a 5K and a 10K…and, I’d be running another half in two weeks. Details, right? 😉
So, I decided this – I’d run comfortably hard (like, a 6.5 on a 1-10 scale) and see where that took me. I’d monitor my pace, and step it up if needed. Yup, that was my plan.
Well, until I rolled up to the parking lot of the race and realized that I forgot my Garmin on the bed stand!
The ironic thing here was that three years ago, I made the conscious decision to leave the watch at home, so perhaps, it was a sign! No need to panic. I got this.
The race was due to start at 7:30 AM and it was a gorgeous, cool morning (55 degrees). I had arrived about an hour early, just in case (I got a great parking spot, and was able to rest a little since I had picked up my packet earlier that week, though race morning pick-up is available). Taking a gander out of my car window, I realized that many Floridians were considering this “very cold” as they were approaching the start with jackets and tights. So, when the time came for me to emerge from my vehicle and line up, I took a deep breath and traipsed over, seemingly one of very few festively dressed runners that morning.
At the start, I “ran into” several local runner friends and chatted a bit before the announcement of the course being clear was made, and the race kicked off a few minutes late, around 7:35 AM.
I brought along my iPod that morning, and when ACDC’s “Back in Black” was the first song to come on, I knew it would be a good race. There was congestion for only about the first 2-3 minutes of the race, as we departed the Venice Airport gates, and onto the road. From there, the course turned into a residential area, then up the beach road.
You’d think, after almost 7 years of running, I could gauge how far a mile is…but no, not really! I don’t know if I missed it, or if it just wasn’t there, but I must have zoned out on the first mile marker sign, because a few songs in, we were zooming past Mile 2! Whoo! At this point, I was checking out my “surrounding” runners to see who I might be sticking with for the next few miles.
My favorite part of the race was about halfway-ish when we made the turn through the race’s namesake – Casperson Beach, home of the shark teeth! We cruised through the beach parking area (sandy, but not slippery) and I saw my friend Stephanie and her son, who were volunteering at the water stop – always nice to see a friendly face!
From there, the course veered onto a hard packed trail area, connecting to the Venetian Waterway Trail, where I had completed a handful of my long runs for Celebration Marathon training. It’s scenic and lovely, but concrete – and yesterday, very windy! And not a lovely tailwind! Still, it was nice to know “where I was” as far as geographically (which says a lot, since I am navigationally challenged) and I knew that I could comfortably lower my pace.
Those last two miles, I passed about 5 people on the return. Thankfully, the path was wide enough to do it without a lot of trouble, and I was able to smoothly maneuver the “left pass, return to lane” method. Breaking from the path, and back onto airport grounds, I let my feet speed a little more so I could finally get a glimpse at the electronic clock…I hoped I’d see a 4X:xx…and yes! I did! I saw the ticker move from a 48:xx (my PR) and felt good about crossing, seconds later, at 49:xx (net time, 49:05).
Wahoo! I was in, 9 seconds faster than the last time I ran the course (COURSE PR, WOOOT) and a sub-8 pace (7:54) without burned out legs. I grabbed a water, a scone, and a beer (YAY awesome finish area) before grabbing my hoodie from the car, and checking out official results.
At the results tent, I was excited to see that I had not only won 2nd in my age group, but I had won a free entry to a local 5K in the door prize drawing as well!* So awesome!
While waiting for the awards ceremony, I chatted with some runner pals that I had not seen in a while, and just enjoyed the vibe of the race. Just as I had remembered if from three years ago, it was well-organized, well-supplied (lots of good food post-race, and well-stocked aid stations during the race), and of course, well-themed! The medal is really nice, especially for it being a 10K, and though I’d say the majority of the runners are local, it would be worth the trip for runners looking for a fun course in a beautiful place.
So, what’s next up on the docket? My 4th running of the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon on March 19! I will, however, make a concerted effort to remember my watch, if nothing else but to have the data for my Strava account! 😉
* The race I won an entry to is the Smoothie King 5K – and I am trying to convince hubs that I should use my entry to register HIM so Abby and I can cheer for him…leave a comment to cheer him on and convince him its a good idea 😉