Virginia is For Lovers 14k (56:00)

I love all J&A races.  I have always had a good time running them and will drive back to my home town to them.  It was a nice weekend getaway.  It doesn’t feel like this race was a week ago but due to having so many Lake Effect Stories, I decided to wait to post it.  This week I’ll be playing a lot of catch up on race recaps and life.  It did exist in real life, even with a delayed blog recap!

After getting to my house Friday night, Tim and I relaxed and hung out until Sunday.  This is one of the few times I have actually driven to a race (normally dad drives to all the VA races). Since dad was away on travel I had to navigate to the race myself.  After getting lost by following a crowd of cars (who ended up going to Church not to the race) I made it.  We (Tim and I) got there relatively late so were only able to get in 1.25 miles for a warm up.

Stephanie, Mollie and I at the race start.
Stephanie, Mollie and I at the race start.

I didn’t know how this race would go but did know I would be happy with anything between 6:30-6:50 pace.  Except for a few ice patches, and a little bit of wind, the race conditions were pretty ideal.  I didn’t know what a good time would be with not much racing since the summer and racing an odd distance.  I didn’t know if I should race it like a 10k or a 20k…but eventually settled on going with it like I normally do.  I don’t normally have an exact pace I’m shooting for.

Long story short: The first 3 miles I took out too fast (6:14, 6:14, 6:16) then  I regretted it the last few miles. 

When the race started I was in a pack of about 3 girls.  I passed the first 2 at the one mile mark and had one in front of me for a while.  We went back and forth until mile 3 where she took a lead and never looked back.  I would have loved a win but she was holding a faster pace and opening the gap with each mile.  That is what faster runners do.

Mile one and two were very similar and quiet.  I ran both miles at 6:14 pace.  I tried to stay comfortable.  I thought I was comfortable at the time but looking back I think I took it out a little bit too fast.

Maybe if I hadn't been goobering around I wouldn't have had to power through the rest of the race...maybe...
Maybe if I hadn’t been goobering around I wouldn’t have had to power through the rest of the race…maybe…

When we hit the “hill” (around 2.5) at the amphitheater I knew the woman I was running with had taken the lead for good.  Although we weren’t even 5k into the race my mind thought we were “almost done”…which was terrible.  (No Hollie, you still have 5 miles to go).  Also terrible is running through the amphitheater sober as I have had a few drinks and gone up that ramp a few times.  It’s a different experience.

Around mile 3, I desperately hoped I wasn’t going to die.  It really felt like I set myself up for a rough time and blowing up.

I hit the 5k at 19:36.

Mile 4 I knocked out some side fives with Mollie (Oiselle) and a few others.  It was awesome.  I felt my pace slow down a lot but focused on getting to the 10k. (6:33)

At mile 5 I could tell a few females were starting to catch me.   We also hit some mud due to the rain/sleet/ice from yesterday.  I tried to avoid the cold mush but I definitely got swamped.  Around mile 5 I glanced at my garmin and made the executive goal to try and hit the 10k mark under 40 minutes.  It kept me motivated and focused.

Mile 6 I was just focused on breaking 40 for a 10k…which I did and I was pleased.  I was running the majority of the race by myself but knew I had two female who were gaining on me.  I hate the feeling of knowing people are gaining and you are dying (6:36).

Mile 7 I don’t remember anything but some guy getting really close to me.  I thought it was someone I knew.  We are running down a two lane road there is no need to get within a centimeter of me.  (That’s my number 1 racing pet peeve…I think I gave him the look of a daemon child). I am extremely claustrophobic so people getting in my “racing bubble” when it can be avoided is a big deal for me.  Obviously at the start of the race it’s hard but in the middle of a race it terrifies me.

5 minutes later I’m a different person…

As we approached mile 8 all I could think about was holding second.  I heard them talking behind me and gaining with every stride.  They were closing in the gap.  I knew they were gaining.  I knew I had to give it everything I had or I would probably get fourth overall.  Getting fourth wouldn’t be the end of the world but I really wanted to maintain my place.

After mile 8, it was roughly .7 to the end.  I shut everything out and just focused on getting to the finish line.  I couldn’t tell you any of the scenery we ran by because I was in my own world. 

The race ended inside and once we got in there it went from sunny to dark.  It was like a bad acid trip but I did and maintained about 6 seconds in front.

Post race and we are done.
Post race photo

Long story short: I am happy with this race.  I was expecting around 6:30-6:50 (closer to 6:50) but was happy to be well under that. I was happy that I could really gut out the last mile and maintain whatever place I ended up getting.  My average pace was 6:23 which was far faster than that goal.  Not only that but it’s also 5 seconds per mile faster than my half marathon PR.  It makes me (really hope) that a half marathon PR is possible this spring.

Questions for you:

What odd race distances have you run? 

I guess college 6ks and this 14k is all I have.

How was your Valentine’s Day?


  1. You are so fast! I love that photo of the three of us. I think that half PR is in the near future for you (especially after this past weekend).

    I haven’t done many odd race distances, just cross country 6ks and the 14k twice. I ran a 2 mile road race once, which is pretty rare. I think there should be more of them!

  2. I havent ever raced a 14k, that is a strange distance, but i did race a 15k which I thought was weird. In England, for our cross country races there is no set distance, so I would race a 3.4562846m race one week and a 5.32537 the next!

    I think we all have to learn about going out too fast sometimes, I make that mistake sometimes too and I am an elite athlete! I think its part of being a runner, but you handled it well, and you realized what you did wrong! Cant wait to see what the spring has in store for you after your PR yesterday!

    1. Thanks Tina!

      My PR for the half is actually 1:24.49 so yesterday wasn’t a PR!

      I always thought European cross country was so interesting and exciting just because of all that! It wasn’t just a typical 5k or 6k!

  3. Nicely done, girl. I hate knowing people are gaining on me, too, (although it makes me laugh when they pass me for a little bit and then I pass them before the finish and never see them again…I’m not always nice when I’m racing) and don’t even get me started on people in my running space when there is no reason for it. You make me wish I was still heading down for Shamrock in a few weeks to check out these races haha. Can’t wait till 2015 🙂

    1. I always laugh at that too. In really hilly races there are always people that will pass me on straight aways and down hill and I’ll catch up to them on uphills. It’s like we are a little relay LOL

  4. The weirdest distances I’ve done were 8K, 12K, and 15K- and I don’t think those are extremely weird really, this is the only 14K I have ever heard of, which is kinda cool because it’s an instant PR although yeah, it’s definitely hard to know how to pace for an odd distance. You did a great job and I love all the pictures from it.

  5. great race!! i think the half will bring big things for you this season.
    valentine’s day was good-survived my first day of skiing. only took me 4 days to feel my calves again after..

  6. I love reading your recaps, Hollie, because you are in such a different realm of running than I am! So awesome!

  7. What an awesome race! Great job. So far my “odd” distances are 3 miles (not 5k) and a 16 miler. I hope I can get into the shape that you’re in!

  8. Nicely done! This is so impressive! I love how you went from “goobering” to the second to last picture, where you look like a total beast. Haha the many emotions of a race

  9. Fun race recap! In March here in Denver there is the Runnin’ O’ The Green Lucky 7k, and on Labor Day the Park to Park 10 Miler. Those are the only odd distances I’ve ever run.

    Valentine’s Day was…on a Friday. I had to work, and I took my girls out to dinner. But none of us really get caught up in all the hoopla.

      1. It is definitely a fun distance. I actually wish there were more of them around here. I guess I have to go east!

  10. How are you able to go so fast in races when you don’t train to go fast?? I have been following you for a little bit and it doesn’t seem like you do much speed work?

    1. You are right! I don’t do much speed work at all. I honestly think running high mileage is what helps me. All my speed work is essentially races! 🙂

      1. Well, your race times are incredible! Great job 🙂 I’ll try to just run fast next race 🙂

      2. I hope it works for you! I honestly couldn’t tell you, it seems like my body just knows what to do. Eventually I’m sure I’ll have to do speed work because I’ll plateau but for now I’ll ride this method 🙂

  11. Nice recap and great race Hollie! That’s a great 5k split, and it’s interesting that the 10k mark motivated you to crack the 40 minutes too. It’s not a nice feeling when others are gaining on you when you’ve worked so hard, you definitely have some good mental strength to still kick and hold onto that lead!

    Lol at the racing bubble, not a fan of that either. Why cram someone’s space (unless you’re both drafting)? I’m also not a fan of the “ego chase” – when a runner chases you down, slips in front of you, then slows down because they’re out of breath. It shows that they’re not in their own headspace, then I need to waste pointless energy running around them.

  12. WOW Hollie!!! Nice job speedsta and way to gut out that final mile annnnnd I so get you about my personal space while racing. I had a guy all up in my “racing bubble” this past Saturday. Love the beanie you were rocking btw lol 🙂 and as far as the strangest distance I’ve ever run goes I’d have to say the 15k. I had no idea how to go about training for it so I trained like it were a half marathon. I have no doubts you’ll hammer out a crazy fast spring time PR for sure!!! Can’t wait for your next post!

  13. Firstly: Oh my God, your leg muscles. Really, I could leave it at that (I am so very jealous!), but that’s also a blistering pace, and I definitely believe a PR for the half is in your not-so-distant future on that basis. Amazing.

    Secondly: I’ve run a few odd race distances, mostly on trail or beach. I think a 5.1 mile race over random beach wall/fence-type things and a 16.7ish mile road/trail race in blistering heat conditions stand out the most for me.

    I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Valentine’s Day 😛


  14. A) you are amazing B) you are going to kill it at Shamrock C) I can’t believe this past weekend is over already (totally irrelevant to this post but I can’t help it). Congrats on the great race!

  15. I did a 12k last fall and loved the strange distance. It was a small race, and I ran nearly all of it with a girl I’d never met. It was her furthest run ever, it was my fastest race pace (for any distance at that time).

    Congrats on the awesome race!

  16. AMAZING race Hollie!! Insane pace, and incredible that you held on your lead until the end! A half PR is definitely within reach 🙂

    Haha XC in GB and Europe is full of weird distances! I don’t think I’ve ever run a 5k cross country…it’s always 5.1278km or something weird! 😛 But 14k is a strange road distance for sure!

  17. You look like a BOSS in that picture–doing work and taking no prisoners! Guys who invade racing bubbles are annoying … and then they start talking to you and asking “does your boyfriend do triathlons do?” Seriously, dude?! Lol.

  18. Wow, you are doing great with your pace! Cheers to ya girlie. 😀
    I definitely run too fast at the beginning and always tend to sprint towards the very end.

  19. You had such a great race and I am so glad you and Tim were able to both go down and do the race. I’ve done some random ones, 12k, 20k (weird to me), 30k (weird to me), 8 mile, and some others. I think they are good for you though, teach you to work harder at different times.

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