Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Chartway Norfolk Harbor 10K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!
I was originally hoping to run my elusive sub-50-minute 10K at the Norfolk Harbor 10K. Then, as it got closer and that goal didn’t seem realistic, I hoped maybe to run sub-55.
It turned out that where I am right now is about a 57-something 10K. And I’m OK with that. I ran nearly the same time on Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Norfolk Harbor 10K as I did two weeks prior at the Veterans Day 10K. I was pumped about my Veterans Day 10K time, which was more than four minutes faster than the 10K I ran in September and my fastest in about two years.
My Norfolk Harbor weekend started Saturday morning, when I picked up my friend Veronica and we headed down to Norfolk, which is about a two-and-a-half hour drive.
The race expo was at the Decker Half Moone Center, and at the time we went, a little before 12:40 p.m., the expo wasn’t crowded at all. It was a pretty small expo and it was easy to pick up our bibs and race shirts. I also got a photo with Santa.
We had a late lunch and then checked out the Hot Cocoa War, which had been recommended to me when I asked for suggestions on Instagram. We met up with our friend Lynn for an Italian dinner at Varia. There was also a holiday parade going on that evening, but we missed that.
It was windy but in the 50s for the race, so I decided to wear a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. I was actually so confident I’d wear shorts that I didn’t even bring pants. It was perfect for the race, but cold afterward.
Veronica and I had a short walk to the start from the Sheraton on race morning. Since we were staying so close, we didn’t leave a ton of time before the race, but I was able to meet up with fellow BibRave Pro Dane Doornbos for a photo.
The 10K, which Veronica and I were running, started at the same time as the half marathon, so based on our expected paces, we were both in Corral 1. The race started several minutes late, I believe because there was an intersection that still needed to be cleared. Although I was ready to go, safety is obviously the most important.
I decided to take a similar approach to my race at the Veterans Day 10K, only looking at my watch when it buzzed for each mile. However, since I wanted to run a little bit faster, I was going to try to push harder from the beginning.
I was still surprised and a little confused when the first mile buzzed at 8:19. Maybe I was going fast, but not that fast. My watch was having trouble finding GPS before the start, and I think there was still something wrong with the GPS; I looked at the map and it is a little wonky-looking (for example, not exactly in a straight line). My guess is that that mile was probably closer to 9:00 — possibly high 8s.
After that first one, the miles seemed to be much more reasonable. The second mile buzzed in 9:25.
That first part of the race was in an urban environment. Around Mile 2, my left shin started to hurt a little bit, which was annoying, but it didn’t seem to impede me too much, and that slight pain did go away.
We then took a bridge and after that, ran along the Mowbray Arch, which offered nice views along the water. I stopped briefly for water around the halfway point; I’m not sure if I really needed it, but it did seem warmer than the 10K I’d run two weeks ago, and I figured the halfway point would be a good spot to get some water.
As a 10K runner, I then turned right onto a small bridge that went over the water. There were numerous signs before the turn, as half marathoners would continue straight. On the bridge, there were signs reminding runners that we were on the 10K course.
We then started heading on the bridge again. Although I’d looked at the course map, I was surprised we were doing it again. However, that was short-lived, as I saw the runners in front of me head onto a small ramp and go under the bridge. I followed them, and we started heading toward the downtown area again.
Around the Mile 4 marker, there was a pie stop, with mini pies. Normally, I would love to get some pie, but I was still trying to run a fast time, and I wasn’t sure how that would affect me, so I decided not to get one.
A little before Mile 5, we ran through where the starting corrals had been. Around this point, there was a runner named Kara (or Cara) who was getting a lot of cheers from the audience. I mentioned that to her in a friendly way, and she even invited me to join her running club. I don’t live close enough to Norfolk for that, but I still thought it was really nice.
Then, we had an out-and-back before finishing the course along the water. The last half-mile or so was along the water, and that was a really nice way to finish the race. It wasn’t a straightaway; there was some zig-zagging toward the end along the waterfront.
I finished with a time of 57:34 and an average pace of 9:16 (it showed up as a little faster on my watch, but I’m still skeptical of that first mile). It was just 27 seconds off my time at the Veterans Day 10K, and it was windy at the Norfolk Harbor 10K.
I’ve been reading the most recent book of Meb Keflezighi’s, “26 Marathons,” and he mentioned that he didn’t want a race to look like a “fluke.” Although I didn’t come in faster than my Veterans Day 10K finish, I did feel like my Norfolk Harbor finish definitely showed that my previous finish wasn’t a fluke, either — between the races, the times were consistent.
I hadn’t seen Veronica on the out-and-back, which surprised me. I was even more surprised when she called me from the course and said she’d taken that bridge twice. She ended up running about 1.5 miles extra, and she later found out she wasn’t the only one who made that mistake. That turn should have been more clearly marked, with a volunteer actively telling runners which way to go.
Once I finished, I made my way through the chute and got some finish line snacks, a drawstring bag and a hat, along with my medal, which I think is really nice. I waited for Veronica and then we got some soup, which came with bread, and Mango White Claw. I’d never actually tried White Claw before, and I enjoyed it.
There was a band playing at the after-party, and it was a fun environment. There were different photo ops and the location was scenic. However, I hadn’t checked a bag, and there were not mylar blankets.
I’d felt fine, temperature-wise, during the race, but I was really cold afterward. I didn’t want to buy anything, so I just enjoyed myself despite the cold. I would recommend checking a bag with a sweatshirt and sweatpants if the weather is similar next year.
We then saw Lynn, who had finished the half marathon, and we hung out for a while. All three of us made it into the Norfolk Harbor recap video — watch it here. We’d gone up to the videographer after seeing him film someone else nearby, and then he asked us to kiss our medals, so I did, and that part got in!
It was a fun race, and although I didn’t meet my goal, I am still proud of my time. With my two 10Ks in the 57s this month, I’ve now set a benchmark to beat for next year’s 10Ks.
Mile 1: 8:19 (questionable – GPS issue?)
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:17
Mile 4: 9:27
Mile 5: 9:13
Mile 6: 9:15
Last part (watch had .3): 2:35 (8:45 pace) – I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually ran 6.2 and the .1 needs to be added to Mile 1.
Official time: 57:34/9:16 pace