Finally got through my 3rd half marathon in 5 weeks! I was nervous going into it, afraid being my 3rd in such a short time, I’d bonk and just be done.
Luckily and unluckily for me, the weather was cool (40ish) and raining in pre-race and for at least 30-45 minutes of the race. These cool temps really helped me, as last weekend the heat of low 60s and sunshine hurt me.
I booked this race back in November. Originally I was only going to run the 8k on Saturday, and Conrad the half on Sunday, however after I realized I wouldn’t get out of work in time to make it in time, I transferred into the half.
The emails really start coming to prep you for the race 2 weeks in advance. They prep you for what to expect, your bib #, and your corral. If you ‘like’ their Facebook page, there are videos prepping you as well. They ask for an expected finish time at registration. I’m not sure what was put in (Conrad did my transfer) so I was placed in corral 7. There are 12 total. And yes, they start 1-2 minutes apart from each other.
Big talk is there around 20k people in town for the race weekend. There were around 7,000 runners in the half on Sunday and 1800 marathon runners. 8,000 TownBanke 8k runners and 3,000 kids in Operation Smile Final Mile.
Since I couldn’t leave Friday, we left early Saturday a.m. and arrived at the Expo in the Virginia Beach Convention Center around 2. Got our bibs, arm bracelets for being over 21, got our shirts (pretty shirts, just sized a little big… I tried to switch sizes at the exchange table but they were out of extras in that size), and walked through the merchandise for sale. There were heavily discounted shirts from last year and other memorabilia. I picked up a car magnet.
The Health and Wellness expo was full of vendors and sponsors. There were speakers, photo opportunities, and even Yuengling samples.
We walked around and got our photos and headed out to our hotel.
The Hampton Inn south was Oceanfront and a great hotel, but too far from the finish line in my opinion (hotel at 11th street, start line in 40s, finish at 30th street).
We drove down to dinner at Chichos (singer there and a great ‘chozone’… i.e. calzone). We also took pictures by King Neptune on the beach.
We listened to a band at Murphys Irish pub before we headed back to the hotel… not to forget a late night run to Ben and Jerry’s for ice cream while relaxing in the hotel room. It was cloudy and 40 degrees and cool all afternoon and evening with a blistering wind on Atlantic Avenue. Drops of rain on and off as well made it uncomfortable to enjoy the beach.
Race day: up by 5am to wake up and eat my chocolate Luna bar for breakfast. Left the hotel around 6. Parking for the race was going to be an issue. We were worried where we wold be parking. The rain started as we left the hotel and it was around 43 degrees. We found the parking garage, paid to park, and walked the 15 blocks to the start line in the rain.
Dry bag drop offs were done on UPS trucks on Atlantic Ave. Each one was labeled with the first letter of last names so you walked to the right truck.
We hopped in our corrals right at 6:55a.m.. The corral was thinned out because everyone was under the awning of nearby restaurants until corral 1 started.
Around 7:10 my corral started. I had a slow start as I couldn’t get my phone to set up mapmyrun because of the rain. I thought it had started, but around mile 6 I looked and it never did. So I used the race tracker text and the time on my fitbit to help me gauge how I was doing after that.
After my slow first few minutes I got into a groove. Legs felt good, numb from the cold rain, started running a pace I was happy with. Water stops at each mile marker it seemed. There was even a fruit stop around mile 2. The first Yuengling stop was around mile 3.5-4. I actually didn’t even see it, but Conrad did and I saw it on my way back. They were again around mile 5, 9, 11… Conrad even saw one guy he didnt think was part of the race giving out beer from a cooler on his own. This was crazy. Nonetheless I was aiming for a PR so this was just funny to watch.
Only GU stop was around mile 5. I grabbed mine to start later.
Crossed the timing mat at 6.2 miles after we made the turnaround and as we were running into Fort Story. This is where I looked at my time on my runner tracker text and realized if I picked it up, I might actually PR. I was at 1:01:20. From here on I was able to keep my min/mile at/under 10.
Fort Story was very windy. Started blowing my hat. Thankfully my ponytail helped. Fort Story was around 3 miles long. Once we ran out I was so excited there was only 4 more miles and it was straight to the finish. Running on Pacific Ave for 3 more miles, with occasional tailwind pushing us along …then it turns onto Atlantic and what felt like the longest stretch (probably. 5m) on the boardwalk. At least there were tons of supporters by now.
I pushed through and crossed the finish! Sadly I did not PR. My time at the Asheville Half Marathon on the Biltmore Estate last year was 2:09:33 (less than a minute off). Bummed because I know if I wasn’t messing with mapmyrun in the rain at the beginning I probably could have.
It took about 10 minutes to walk through the finish chute. Medals, waters, gatorade, bananas, shamrock cookies, chips, granola bar, finishers hat, beach towel, and a finishers bag. Loaded down!
Conrad beat me by 10 minutes so he was able to get a picture as I was finishing, then meet me for pictures.
2 weekends in a row he has PR’ed, so he rang the bell and we got our beach picture.
Into the food/party tent where a band was playing, Murphys was giving out stew, and runners could get a free cup of Yuengling. We stayed for about 30 minutes or more but as we cooled down, the sweat made the cool temps hard to bear, so we left.
The UPS trucks were on the boardwalk now for dry bag pickup. We grabbed ours and headed to the car and the hotel.
Overall the weekend was great. This race has a good # of finishers freebies.
The course is very flat and the marathon is a Boston qualifier. I wish the weather had been better, but this is the luck of the draw.. just make the best out of it.