Mile Matters with J&A Racing
Getting both a course PR and an overall PR makes for a pretty solid weekend. Getting to do it on a beautiful course, alongside your best friend, and partying afterwords? Make that a GREAT weekend!
That’s exactly what J&A Racing’s Crawlin Crab 2019 was, and I don’t think there’s any better way to open race season.
Friday night I swung by packet to grab my bibs and race shirts (I opted to do the Shell Yeah! Challenge – meaning the 5K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday). It didn’t take long, so I had plenty of time to walk around the expo and look at all the gear.
After talking myself out of buying (more) shirts, I headed out for sushi, then home for an early bedtime after laying out everything I’d need when I woke.
Waking early Saturday, I grabbed coffee, triple checked my bag, then made my way back to Hampton for the 8am start of the 5K.
That beautiful fall chill in the corrals made it feel official – race season was starting.
Pretty soon we were off and running, wrapping around the convention center, over the interstate, down to Bluebird Gap Farm, where they had brought out animals for runners to stop and pet! It was so cute – and definitely a unique course feature I saw a lot of people take advantage of. From there, it was back to the convention center for the finish line! Once I grabbed my medal and koozie, I headed to the post race party to meet up with friends to enjoy beer and crab soup! With the live music in the background, we stood at a high top table where we got to meet a few strangers and hear their running stories. Race goers are hands down some of the nicest people out there.
As a J&A Racing Ambassador, I was working at the expo that afternoon, so after a quick trip to Peninsula Town Center for (more) food and coffee, it was back to the convention center.
I got to hang out with other runners, make new friends, and show off swag for upcoming races (I legit can’t stop gushing over the Norfolk Harbor medals. Ask the others – I’m fairly certain I showed them to everyone who came to our booth.)
After heading home, I went the traditional route of pasta for pre-race dinner. Nothing like homemade chicken lasagna to fuel up!
No alarm was needed on Sunday – I woke up ready to go. Another cup of coffee, obsessively checking my bag compared to my packing list (yes, I’m a list person!), and off to Hampton again. It was extra special because my mom was working the finish line so we rode together.
My friend and I spent time wandering, checking our dry bags in, and trying to stay relaxed. We trained for this, had a great 12 mile training run a couple weeks before, and the stars had aligned – it was another perfect fall day.
Once we were in our corral, we just had to kill time. I tried to remind myself it was my second half marathon this year – i’m basically an expert. Soon, the horn sounded and we hit the pavement.
I kept a close eye on my watch so as not to overdo it right out of the gate. I couldn’t believe it when we hit the first mile marker – it flew by. All the spectators, DJs, police, volunteers, and even people just driving nearby were so incredibly motivating. Running into downtown Hampton gave us a chance to see the nearby attractions, and soon we hit my favorite stretch – right by the water. There is nothing as beautiful as a shoreline along your route, and to have it at the critical midpoint of a half marathon was perfect.
This part of the course was where I began to lose some momentum – I blame last minute nutrition changes. We kept chugging along through the neighborhood and back out to the main road for the last few miles. I was struggling by this point and watched as each mile got slower. Right at the turn onto the final bridge just before the finish was a swarm of J&A crew, some I knew, there to cheer us on! Hearing them call my name was the last boost I needed to get momentum into those last few tenths. The cherry on top was my mom, who if you recall was volunteering at the finish line, ready with a hug for us.
Crawlin Crab 2019 was a redemption race for me. I ran Crawlin Crab once before in 2013, without training, at nearly twice my current weight. This year showed me how resilient I am, and how hard work can pay off. Having a course PR of nearly an hour and a half is an undoubted success.
The cherry on top? A second round of soup and another glass of my new favorite beer, while spending time with old and new friends.
Here’s to an AMAZING race weekend! My only question is – how can I handle the three weeks until the next?!
Katy Gaston is a 2019/2020 J&A Racing Ambassador. She is a physical therapist from Newport News, Virginia, who received both her bachelors degree and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University, and recently joined Junior League of Hampton Roads. She began running during undergrad when friends dragged her into it, and after attending the Wicked 10k she realized running was fun! After recovering from a significant medical event a few years ago, she started on a personal journey that led her to lose over 120 pounds, and finally returned to running. For the past year Katy has built her distance, improved her pace, and successfully ran a half marathon in June with a 2:29 time. Her goal is to shave that down to 2:15 then work towards a full marathon by the end of 2020.