Rock and Roll VA Beach Half Marathon
I also like to think of this as the WORST race experience ever. My performance wasn’t terrible, all things considered, but I know I could have squeaked out another sub-2 considering my training. Anyways…the RNR VA Beach race actually took place over Labor Day weekend (so yeah…in September…3 months ago), but I think it’s worth recapping, especially since it played a roll in my training for the full.
I was pumped about the race because it was my first RNR race, and I had always wanted to run one. I’ve heard mixed things about RNR, that they’re kind of cookie-cutter-big-box type races, but I LOVE a race with a big crowd and a lot of support just as much as I love a small-I-can-place-in-my-age-group race (and that has to be SMALL for that to happen). I was planning to run the race with one of my Marathon Training Team (MTT) buds, Katie, since she and I both hoped for sub-2s. And my good friend Meredith was also running, despite not having much training. Just a fun run for her.
Meredith and I went to the expo together on Saturday and had a grand ole time looking around. We got TONS of free samples of stuff (and about 50 fortune cookies, thanks to PF Chang’s being a sponsor). I also loved the Brooks area (they’re the presenting sponsor), especially since they had my beloved Pure Cadence shoes on a very deserving pedestal.
Read to ROCK.
Pure beauty. I actually ended up buying ANOTHER pair of Pure Cadence at the expo…the blue/green pair was on ridiculous sale in my size, and I couldn’t pass them up. I love those shoes.
Free PEAS! Yum. And yes, I think it’s fair to say I’m often motivated by wine.
I wish I ran a 2:03…
So after the expo we went back to our hotel, which was actually quite far from the starting line. It was almost impossible to find a room in VA Beach that weekend that wasn’t insanely expensive (like $250+ per night for a CRAPPY little place) or that required a 3 night minimum (because of the holiday weekend). But we were lucky to find the VA Beach Hotel and Conference Center, which is actually on the sound side of the water (I think it’s a sound??). It was a nice place on the waterfront, reasonably priced, and only about 15 minutes from the main strip of VA Beach.
The next morning we got up bright and early and very quickly got the fear of God in our eyes when we saw this…
The humidity was out of control. When we woke up it was somewhere close to 92% humidity already, and in the high 70s. I knew at that moment that I was probably in trouble, despite having trained in the VA humidity for several months already. Running in the humidity is the WORST…there are only so many layers you can reasonably take off. At least in the bitter cold you can bundle up.
Bri dropped us off near the start with enough time for us to run into McDonald’s for a last minute bathroom stop. Then Meredith and I split ways to find our respective corrals and I met up with Katie.
Me and Meredith. Scared but smiling. And it looks like I have a massive sock bun in my hair, but that’s actually just a tree.
The race started pretty normally and uneventfully. Katie and I managed to stay together for the first 3-4 miles, and were pacing conservatively so we didn’t burn out at the end of the race. We got separated at a water stop, and I waved for her to go ahead. I knew by mile 4 that a sub-2 was NOT going to happen unless I planned to pass out or die along the way, so I told myself to just keep pushing through and play each mile by ear.
By mile 8 I was already completely soaking wet with sweat. I had no idea my body was capable of such levels of sweat. It was gross. And I made sure I stopped at EVERY water stop (just for a short moment) to grab a cup of water to dump on my head and a cup of water to drink. I also drank Gatorade at every other stop. I figured it was foolish to pass up water in conditions like this.
The race actually had a relay portion, so also around mile 8 there were a whole bunch of people who got to STOP and a whole bunch of people who got to start on fresh legs and only had 5 miles to do. This was a major downer for me and I really resented those people. The finish seemed SO far away and I was already feeling horribly tired.
I honestly have no idea how I managed to run the majority of the race. According to my Garmin, my moving time was actually pretty decent, somewhere in the 9:20s. The stopping at water stops sucked my time down quite a bit, but I don’t think I would have been able to finish without them.
Around mile 10 I started to get an INSANE pain in my left foot. Like excruciating. The arch of my foot was stabbing me with pain and I was limping when I walked through the water stops. It was scary and horrible. However, I told myself to just keep going, and my foot actually felt BETTER when I was running. It started flaring up again around mile 12, but by that point I was pushing myself with my mind more than my body.
The race finishes on the VA Beach board walk which is nice and flat, but also cruel. You can SEE the finish line arch from just about a mile away, and it seems SO CLOSE. But my Garmin told me that I still had a ways to go, so I just put my head down and moved forward. I did manage to snap a happy photo though. This is the biggest BS smile I’ve ever given. I was hating life at that point…
I ended up finishing in 2:07:32, which I think is pretty good all things considered. I threw the sub-2 dreams out the door early, and just focused on finishing. I was still faster than my first half marathon, so I’ll take that.
After crossing the finish line I knew my foot was in trouble. I couldn’t walk and it was SO painful. It felt very plantar fasciitis-esque. I got a bag of ice from the medical tent and then attempted to find Bri. When I did find him he took all my post-race stuff and we found a place to hang out while we waited for Meredith. Unfortunately we had to wait on the beach and I didn’t want to sit down…beach+soaking wet = incredible amounts of sand sticking everywhere. I ended up standing for a solid hour while we waited for Meredith. Turns out she also had incredible pain in her calves and could barely move forward. Poor thing!! But she did it!
On our way back to the hotel I couldn’t walk without a limp, and I felt like puking. It was horrible. The heat drained me of all energy and I was seriously worried about the foot. We went out to eat later and I couldn’t put any weight on the foot.
All in all, I’d say the race was a good experience. I NEVER want to run it again for fear of the same terrible conditions, but at least the course was flat. I thought it was well managed and would have been a great race if the weather wasn’t so awful. Now I kind of want to run the Shamrock Half, also in VA Beach, but in MARCH, so the weather may actually cooperate.
Half marathon #4, success!