We got up at 6:00, out the door at 6:40 and got down to Santa Monica around 7:00. We parked easy, got ready, had a potty break and went to the start to check out corrals. Devin and I did a quick warmup of 10 min and then hopped in corrals. My corral (9-9:59) was packed and I had to wait on the outside to enter the corral.
The race started on time and I think my corral was wave 4. My goal was to hover around 10 min mile and then negative split. I started well and it was nice to do the Venice Boardwalk first instead of last. Then we did 1 out and back and split from the 5k before the 10k did one large out and back, joined back with the 5k briefly and when they turned to the finish we did one final out and back that was about a mile. The race was basically a reverse of every past year. At the split, I found Devin who was having a rough race. I ran with him for a bit before he sent me on.
The only thing I didn't like was the lack of water stops, I had to run across the course each time as they weren't on any map and were also pretty small. For one of the final water stops I went to get water and some went from a run to the slowest walk ever. Luckily I was far enough back to be able to stop but seriously people!
When we met up with the 5k, things were definitely congested. They had divided the 5k and 10k and some of the 5k walkers had migrated over which definitely caused a traffic jam as many of them had strollers. I navigated well and was able to get to an open area. As the 5k turned off to finish, the 10k had about a mile left. I kicked it into gear and could tell I probably needed to fuel more. I only took one Clif shot around mile 3 when I usually fuel every 2 miles (I should have known better!) but was trying to match up my fueling with the water stops. As I kept on, it was actually pretty warm since it has been so cold lately (turns out it was the start of another Santa Ana so when we finished it was a big humid and in the 70s when the turkey trot I had done the week before was in the 40s) but I kept on. As we rounded the corner I knew I was pretty close to my PR, if I could just hold on. .5 from the end, I started getting a side stitch and on my walk break I tried to work out. I tried to run again and it came back STRONG. so strong I slowed to a walk. What the heck? Ugh! I knew my PR was gone and after about a minute I felt better to run but not at full force. I finished as strong as I could. The finish line was closer than I envisioned so I probably could have kicked it a bit harder. I crossed in :58:46- 41 seconds after my PR. Boo :(
To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I wish I could have seen the finish line photos (free race photos but I only had 3 and they were not good haha) because I bet I looked PISSED! I started crying-ugh. I know it's just a race but it's still frustrating to be so close to my goal and have something like a side cramp get in the way. I don't know if I would have been able to PR but it would have been nice to try. And now the 10k is the only distance I didn't PR in 2015 and it's the distance I ran the most. Boo.
However being more positive, I almost completely did negative splits, I felt pretty comfortable until the end. Every mile was sub-10 and I definitely think I could run a half averaging 9:45 which would put me about 2:07. I definitely need a PR attempt soon.
They had a ton of food at the finish-so much I went in search of boxes to pack it away. We got water, some nasty protein milk, nestle milk, skinny pop, kettle chips, Sriracha, a banana and more. Yay for snacks post race. We walked around the little expo area while we waited for everyone to finish.
With the new course, the finish is in another area so we had almost a one mile to the car which was nice because we didn't have traffic getting out and it gave us time to cool down as well. We got back, showered and relaxed for the day drinking mulled wine, eating yummy food and watched Christmas specials.
The corrals worked well but they definitely need to be expanded. One corral was 7:00-8:59 which is a wide range. My corral 9-9:59 was packed and could have used more of an area. Also, they probably need to split the 10k and 5k. My 5k pace is different than my 10k pace, so people in the area were all over the place time wise.
The new course is nice but there were multiple times we were running directly into the sun (which is fine just make sure to have your sunglasses and a hat!). In the past, the portions with the sun in our eyes was run the other direction so it wasn't an issue until this year. There was a lack of water stops. We didn't have a water stop the last 2 miles so next time I would just run with a water bottle to make sure I can fuel correctly. I think the side stitch/cramp was caused from fueling without water and then a lack of water at the end.
Overall I did enjoy the race and do plan on running it again. Next year I will bring my own water bottle, fuel like I normally do and maybe even wear a hat. Maybe I'll bust out the Christmas solider outfit again?!?
Has anyone else run a Christmas/holiday themed race lately?