Rock n Roll - Virginia Beach

With about a week’s notice, Dan put together a trip to Norfolk, VA for his small weekend side business over the Labor Day weekend. I was excited to spend some time in Virginia Beach, about 30 minutes from Norfolk. I checked my work calendar and saw that taking the day off was do-able. I reached out to my J&A ambassador group and asked if there were any group runs or races in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. I was in luck, there was a group run Saturday morning in Virginia Beach and Rock n Roll was having a 5k and half marathon on Sunday morning. I initially planned to go to the group run and register for the 5k since it was such short notice. Before I got to register for the 5k though, I was running one morning at home when I realized I really wanted to do the half. I came home and looked at the half marathon route. I know VB well enough that when I saw the course map I knew I had to do it. The RnR half course is essentially the first half of the Shamrock Marathon course. I always say when I do the Shamrock Marathon that if I was doing only the first half, I could possibly PR.

We headed to Virginia on Friday, set up Dan’s stand at the event he was attending in Norfolk on Saturday and Sunday and then we checked into our hotel in Chesapeake and picked up a rental car at the airport so that we had two vehicles for the weekend and he could get to Norfolk all day Saturday and Sunday and I could go to VB to run. Friday night the weather was nasty. Heavy rain and wind as a hurricane was hitting the east coast. I hoped the rest of the weekend would shape up. I woke up early Saturday morning reading to head to VB and meet the J&A training team for a 7 am run. I looked out the window of the hotel room and I saw the trees were nearly bent in half and it was raining sideways. I flipped on the Weather channel and they were reporting from Virginia Beach where of course it was even worse than where I was 25 minutes inland. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be running at 7 am. I went to the hotel breakfast and then headed to the gym at the hotel to get some miles in on the treadmill. I spend the rest of the day checking out some stores in the area and being bored while the power was out for about 2 hours. I missed the expo in Saturday because the wind and rain was heavy on and off and I wasn’t sure about getting on the highway to get to the expo. I knew there were lots of closed roads.

Rock n Roll was offering refunds, transfers to another Rock n Roll event, or race day packet pick up. It was great that they were so flexible since a lot of people were impacted by the limited travel on Saturday as Virginia was in a state of emergency. I went back and forth about what I should do on Sunday. I had nearly talked myself into just getting a refund until Saturday night when I decided I’d never forgive myself if I chickened out and didn’t give it a go.

I was up and out of the hotel by 5:30 and I got to VB and easily found parking near the convention center. I got my packet in front of the convention center and had some time to kill. The restrooms and bag check were all in the big parking lot of the convention center and the start was in front of the convention center. I hung out on the curb and ate my Larabar before I checked my bag at the bag check and got in the bathroom line. Once I headed to my corral, I had 15 minutes or so until the start. In true RnR form, there was lots of music and excitement. I was afraid that I may have to wait awhile for my corral but the race start time was 7 and my corral started at 7:20, so we really didn’t have long at all to wait.

The half marathon and 5k started together. That was nice, it kept plenty of excitement for the first 3 miles before the 5k turned off to finish and the half marathon kept going straight. After Saturday’s hurricane, the weather was just beautiful on Sunday. A little more wind than there could have been but nothing too bad at all. There was plenty of course support and no shortage of spectators. As we were warned in the emails ahead of the race, the conditions did prevent setup of some things like the inflatable arches at the start and finish and some of the bands and such. There was so much excitement from the runners and the crew that the absence of some course markers wasn’t even noticed.

I started with the 2:30 group, which was my half marathon PR. I had hopes of a PR but I had 6 days’ notice that I was doing the race so I really wasn’t sure what I would be able to do. I realized right away that I was pacing about a minute per mile ahead of the 2:30 group and I was feeling good and it was going to be more of a struggle to slow down. The race started in the oceanfront area of VB and then headed south out of town, circled around a military base, and then came back into town to finish on the boardwalk. I maintained my pace for the first half of the race. It was expected to be very hot so there were cooling buses along the course. It wasn’t terribly hot but it was warm enough. I slowed up a bit in the second half but still was well ahead of any half marathon I’d ever done. As in my past experiences, running north on the boardwalk goes against a strong wind. In this case though, it was the home stretch so it was easier to keep pushing.

I had a really good time running RnRVB. Every race is always my favorite but really this one will be hard to beat. I finished in 2:22 and I couldn’t believe it. A 7 ½ minute PR. I never felt uncomfortable throughout the run. The pace was just happening, as if I was out for a leisurely little run, it felt very natural.

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