race report: tour de pain – 4 mile beach run {8.7.2015}

Last year was my first go at Tour De Pain (day 1 & day 2). When I completed the last mile of the three race series, I was pretty adamant that I could take it or leave it the next time it popped up on the calendar.

And then it did pop up on the calendar and I decided I couldn’t leave it.


Tour De Pain is three races in less than 24 hours: a four mile beach run on Friday night, a 5K road race on Saturday morning and a one mile sizzler on Saturday afternoon. The distances are certainly reasonable, but combined, it creates quite a challenge.

Since this race was scheduled for the last weekend before school started, a lot of my running friends weren’t able to make it. It was a bummer, but I was ok heading out on my own. I honestly didn’t have any goals or expectations heading in. I’ve been training hard this summer, but my attention has turned to my long runs and my focus was my endurance, not my speed.

I picked up my packet with my bib and timing chip. I would need to use the same one for all three races, and I always worry about forgetting to change them with my shirts and shoes.

I just promised myself I would double check every time I left the house.

In addition, I agonized over which shoes to wear to each race. My plantar fasciitis hadn’t been cooperating and I wanted to make sure to switch off my shoes and have them work with the different terrains and speeds. Decisions, decisions.

On Friday afternoon, we all went to the movies. It was a great way for me to unwind and rest, even if the movie left much to be desired. When we left the theater, the heavens opened and we were hit by an awful storm. It was a torrential downpour, with huge strikes of lightning and major gusts of wind. Not promising at all.

Mr PugRunner asked if I was still going to go. There was nothing I wanted to do less than drive all the way to Jacksonville Beach in a storm and run in the rain, but the doppler showed that things would clear up, so I really had to go for it.

I made it to the beach in great time, and scored a nice parking spot a few blocks  away from the pier and the start line. The walk was good for me to calm my nerves, and I made my way directly to the bathroom line before crossing over to the sand.

The good thing about the rain was that the sky was still heavy with clouds, and there was a bit of a wind that had kicked up. Ok, the wind wasn’t a great thing, but it was way better than blazing sun and heavy air. I was pleased and felt ready to stretch out my legs.

I milled about with the other runners, adjusting my laces and just enjoying the view.

When it was time to line up, I made my way closer to the water line. There was a wide swatch of packed sand, but I wanted to stay on ground as level as possible for as long as possible.

The four mile race was gun-timed, so I also maneuvered myself as close to the start line as felt comfortable. It’s not my favorite way to race, but I could only do my best.

You know how sometimes, everything just clicks? Well that night was one of those times. With the exception of the wind, conditions were as close to perfect as one could hope for. In the middle of August. On the beach.

The course was a pretty standard out and back: two miles down the beach and two miles back, with two water stops. I headed out at my standard intervals and felt great. I pushed along consistently and kept my head down to help stave off the worst of the winds.

After the turnaround, I tucked in behind some other runners and focused on little landmarks along the beach. As I got closer and closer to the clock, I realized that I was well on track for my fastest four mile race and kicked up as much as I could.

The end result? A five minute PR! On the beach! Whoo hoo!

I had had no expectations whatsoever about this night, and I totally surprised myself! My entire outlook for the rest of the weekend changed from “overcoming a challenge” to “kicking butt and taking names.”

Mr PugRunner had picked up Chinese food for himself and little man, and had been kind enough to get some for me to eat when I got home, so I started to head in the direction of the car.

But not before snagging a cup of watermelon ice from the Rita’s tent. Yum.

Awesome night! One race down, two to go!

How do you feel about racing on the sand?

What’s your favorite terrain and distance?

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38 Responses to race report: tour de pain – 4 mile beach run {8.7.2015}

  1. Anne says:

    I’ve only race in the sand once (funny enough I’m actually wearing that race track right now ha ha) let me tell you, once was enough that is crazy hard!

    Congrats on a five minute pr. That’s a huge time,especially in the shorter distant! I’m excited to hear how rest went!
    Anne recently posted…It’s Been a WhileMy Profile

  2. Bri says:

    Oh man, running over sand is hard! Well done in the race… It looked fun!
    Bri recently posted…How I’m changing up my fitness routine for fallMy Profile

  3. Congrats on the PR! I’m not a fan of running on the sand. I used to think it was great. But I developed an injury and since then, I stick to terra firma.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…AmbitiousMy Profile

  4. That sounds like so much fun and quite a challenge. I do not like to run on the sand-too hard on my calves. A 5 min PR is huge!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…My First Client!~ The Husband ProjectMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I was so freaking happy! The best part is that I didn’t even feel spent afterwards! I was pushing, but I didn’t think I was pushing that hard! It’s always nice to be surprised like that.

  5. Running on the sand is SO tough. It burns the calfs. Way to get the PR,
    Jen @ Pretty Little Grub recently posted…How to Stay Consistent with ExerciseMy Profile

  6. I can’t run on sand 🙁 I think a 10k would be my favorite distance and that Watermelon looks so refreshing!!
    Tricia @ MissSippiPiddlin recently posted…Adsorbion Review + #GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Cassi says:

    Awesome PR running on sand! I struggle with walking normally on sand I can’t imagine adding speed to it.
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  8. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations, running on the sand is so tough!!! Looks like it was fun though 🙂
    Stephanie recently posted…So Many Activities, So Little Time!My Profile

  9. Cristina says:

    Congrats on the PR. Running on the sand is so hard for me. I have flimsy ankles … But sounds like a challenging but fun event!
    Cristina recently posted…Final Race Day: The Camillus House Children’s Run TeamMy Profile

  10. Kelli says:

    running on sand is so hard! were you able to run on the packed sand closer to the water line or was the course such that you were in the smooshy stuff? The beach section in the escape from alcatraz triathlon was probably the low point in my race until I got distracted by seeing dolphins! Congrats on the PR!
    Kelli recently posted…Woman Crush WednesdayMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      For this, there was plenty of hard-packed sand, both ways. I will say that this race and beach is pretty ideal as far as that goes.

      Dolphins are able to distract from all manner of ills!

  11. I don’t think I’d ever voluntarily race on the sand, haha! That is AMAZING. I’m a flat or rolling hills road race kinda girl.
    Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers recently posted…Fitness Deal Alert: Yerdle (+ free $35 yerdle dollars)!My Profile

  12. Becki S says:

    That’s an awesome PR and on the beach none the less!! Anytime I run on sand I have to tell myself it’s not for time or pace, I am no good on the sand and often get so distracted by the water (or my shoes getting wet) that it’s usually just a fun run and not part of training.
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  13. Wow, a PR on the sand is awesome. I’ve actually never run ON the beach!!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Sundried Tomato & Feta Freekeh Burgers: Freekeh Review & GiveawayMy Profile

  14. Sharita says:

    Congrats on an awesome race! The race name alone would tempt me to sign up! How do you like beach racing? I’ve only run on the beach a few times leisurely, so this sounds intriguing!
    Sharita recently posted…Can’t Commit To a Diet? These small hacks can bring BIG results!My Profile

  15. Four mile PR on the SAND! Amazing! I already know you had great runs for this race, but I can’t wait for the rest of the recaps!
    Awesome job!!!
    Stacie Seidman recently posted…What’s Up Wednesday!My Profile

  16. rachel says:

    Great job! Love your race outfit. Running in the sand is super hard!
    rachel recently posted…Weigh In Wednesday – Success!My Profile

  17. Toni says:

    Great job on the pr, looks like an amazing race series, despite being painful it looks
    Toni recently posted…Running in Florida is HardMy Profile

  18. Ariana says:

    Way to go girl!!! Funny how those times we aren’t 100% sure about ourselves turn out to be super awesome, hey??

    I’ve never done a full-on beach run or race, however the triathlon I just participated in this past July had a sand finish. For real – after swimming 1.5km, cycling 40k, and running 10km, they make you run about 500m in the sand to cross the finish line. So cruel, haha.
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  19. Angie says:

    Awesome run! The hard work is paying off!
    Angie recently posted…Back to schoolMy Profile

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