I’ve run Rock N Roll VA Beach twice before (2013 and 2015 ). Despite being injured for most of the summer, I had high hopes I would be able to run in 2016 too. Rock N Roll Marathon Series has several races around the world. Believe it or not, Rock N Roll Virginia Beach was their second race ever!
Virginia Beach is one of the few races from the Rock N Roll marathon serious that is a half marathon. Half Marathons are a hugely popular race distance and RnR VA Beach is held each year on Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the American Music Festival. Plus Labor Day in Virginia Beach is hot and humid. You roast on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk.
Even if it meant forgoing my pride and running faster than a PR, I set earlier in the year.
Even if it meant my only goal was “to finish.”
As luck would have it, I hadn’t had any pain in my foot for several weeks. I decided to use RnR to test my fitness and foot at the half marathon distance. I was confident with my training that my foot would be fine, but I had no idea what kind of time I would run. That being said, if it hurt anyway, I would have stopped too.
So with that, I toed the line on Sunday. My PR allowed me to have an F bib, and I was F5. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up as fifth female, and my only goal was to finish. Since I grew up in VA Beach and half of my friends still live there, I felt like the race was a reunion. I saw a lot of my close friends including well-known blogger Kris L (who ended up as second overall). As I told my dad, I never seemed to stop talking during the race. I high-fived little kids; I shouted to my friends spectating and talked to fellow racers.
The hurricane and high winds caused the race to have a few modifications such as fewer course structures like the mile markers, as well as the start and finish line overhead. They could have blown out to sea…but at least the race was on. The mile on the sand the day before was cancelled due to the hurricane and travel advisory.
I reminded myself everyone was dealing with the weather. Luck hasn’t been on my side for racing weather this year, so I’ve let that one go…It wasn’t as windy as the April Fools half and it wasn’t as rainy as the Shamrock or Broad Street so I called it a “good” weather day. I appreciate that the Rock n Roll series has miles of music, plus I like the course and a grand finish on the boardwalk.
The race went off, and I decided to run on my own. I didn’t want to feel pressured by a pace group. (There was both a 1:25 and 1:32). My legs were stiff, but I felt pretty good. My friend, Greg, ran close by and said he was going to try and run below 1:30. As much as I wanted to stay with him, I wasn’t sure if that was in my realm of possibilities. We chatted for about two miles. We ran each at 6:42 and 6:48.
I had mixed feelings during the first mile. I’ve run three 5ks now, all around the 6:30 pace. 12 seconds per mile slower but four times the distance didn’t seem like my brightest idea…but I was running on how I felt for the day.
During the third mile, I began to realize this was much longer than the few 5ks I recently ran. As we ran through the third mile, the 5kers turned off. I hit the 5k in 21:27.
The next few miles went without much notice. There was the wind but it wasn’t unmanageable. I found myself running in a pack of men. At the time I had no idea what place I was in and honestly I didn’t care.
I was constantly reevaluating my foot. Nothing hurt and that was all right by me. Somewhere between mile 3-4, I waved to someone and bumped my watch into split mode. I had no idea how to fix it, so I ran the rest of the race relatively blind to pace and time. I could do simple math based on timing to figure out approximately where I was at. My mile markers beeped at the .3.
Around mile 5, I started running with a guy named Brett who is training for his second marathon. We chatted for several miles, and they went by quickly. I also noticed two females about a quarter of a mile in front. I wanted to catch them but didn’t know how my endurance would hold up in the final miles…would it be another repeat of bombing Shamrock? That race is a memory I never want to remember.
We hit the halfway point in 44:46. At that point, my lofty goal was to break 1:30. I did know since the winds were coming from the north, it would be a strong headwind for the final two miles. I opted not to think very far ahead.
During mile 7, I faded. I found myself disconnected from the race and in the negative zone. Looking at my Garmin now; I ran about a 7 min mile.
As I saw I was reeling the two women in, I began to feel rejuvenated. I reminded the race was already halfway over, and I could do it. We went on the base, and the course went in a giant U. I could see the racers out ahead, and I could see the top women several minutes ahead.
I caught both women and as I left the base mentally preparing for the final four miles on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. I hit mile ten around 1:08:30 and thought, “I could still be on track to break 1:30.”
There is a mini out and back on the course, and we saw racers running between 2-3 hour half marathons. They were cheering, and it was motivating for us. I tried to cheer for everyone I knew too.
A man came up behind me and said, he had wanted to catch my green CEPs for a while…I didn’t know what to say so I said, “they were like little beacons”. He ran by me, and I was the one chasing him for the remainder of the race.
Mile 11 always seems to be the hardest mile for me in a half. At mile 11, the race is almost over but then again, not really. We went over a small bridge, and it got to be windy. I put on my sunglasses to keep sand out of my eyes (and to hide the pain). The lack of speed work, training and endurance began catching me. My foot, however, felt fine.
We came down the bridge, clicked through mile 12 and by the time I knew it we were running the final mile on the boardwalk. The final mile was extremely windy and lonesome. The sand was whipping around. I had been unsure whether I wanted to wear my sunglasses but they proved to be helpful to keep sand out of my eyes.
I was running the straight away by myself with spectators around. Honestly, I was jealous. I wanted to stand around in a hoodie and with coffee too. Since it was too windy for the typical finishers line, you didn’t know when the finish was coming. You felt like it would never come. The only thing that signalled the race was over was a timing mat. When I finally saw the outline of a finishers mat, I decided to hammer out what I believe was the last quarter of a mile.
I saw the clock ticking into the 1:29s and I had no idea if I would be under 1:30. I don’t know why I was so concerned, but I gave it everything I had and crossed in 1:29.46. I finished triumphal. I was fifth female overall.
After crossing I felt extremely happy. I finished the race injury free, and exceeded any time goals I had for myself. I’m not in the fitness I was earlier in the year but I know with both time and effort, I’ll get back there eventually. I’m proud that I ran a smart race and able to run consistently as well.
It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course. I always appreciate RnR VA Beach, and it’s awesome to see so many friends and family during the race.
Questions for you:
Have you ever run a Rock n’ Race?
Have you ever had a race canceled?