It’s tough to start a recap of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half-Marathon without a sentence like this: This race is SO much fun!
Regular readers know that I adjusted my race goals to match my recent training (read: a summer of dedicated training, followed by a two-week vacation to Europe and a week of frantic catch-up pre-race). My main goal on Sunday was truly to have fun. This is the kind of race at which that’s almost a given.
The expo was as huge as any marathon expo I’ve seen, with dozens of vendors peddling discounted running gear and distributing free samples, but its location in the ginormous Virginia Beach Convention Center meant it never felt too crowded. The race T-shirt is a nicely-fitting, well-designed Brooks number that’s already earned a spot in my “favorites” stack in my workout-clothes drawer. The medal is also nicely designed, sparkly and beachy and reminiscent of the day itself.
The course is truly flat, but for a short, gentle incline over a bridge to the beach. And it’s pretty, but for a weird portion that winds through Camp Pendleton base housing. I’m sure that portion is brutal on hot, sticky race days, but it was simply boring on Sunday, and was balanced by plenty of stunning beach views, not to mention that awesome boardwalk finish.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half-Marathon is a standard Competitor Group event, for better or worse (read about the finer points of “worse” in this Running Times story about the Rock ‘n’ Roll franchise). My first marathon was the Nashville Country Music Marathon in 2007, so I knew what I was in for, and welcomed the hyper-organized, if predictable, race formula. There’s a time for popsicle sticks at the finish, and there’s a time for evenly spaced corrals, ample, well-stocked water stops, and rock bands and cheerleaders at every mile. This race, I wanted the latter, and the race didn’t fail me.
As for my own performance on Sunday, it was pretty fabulous to throw pace expectations to the wind and make my goal to simply enjoy the race. The first couple miles were especially awesome—rather than keeping an eye out for a pace balloon or ogling my Garmin to make sure my pace was on target, I just smiled and watched the sea of runners flow through the streets. My only pace adjustments came when I slowed down to stay above the 9-minute-mile mark.
The laid-back attitude continued throughout the race. I took my time walking through water stations, not worrying about how many seconds I might be losing. I tuned in to the bands and cheerleaders (favorite cheers included this one at around mile five: “Hey hey! Ho ho! You’ve only got eight miles to go!”). When Steve met up with me to run the last portion of the race by my side, we chatted and joked for a while, as opposed to my usual routine of acknowledging him by wheezing or snorting in his general direction.
I squeaked in just under the two-hour mark—1:59:45, or 9:08-minute miles (yes, I sprinted down the boardwalk once I realized how close I was to the mark). That’s my second-worst half-marathon time ever, clock-wise, but the best time I’ve had running a half-marathon, fun-wise.
Photos forthcoming—I have none of my own, thanks to a semi-hectic race morning, but I’ll post some as soon as I can.
In other news, my apologies for posting irregularly recently. The day after we got back from Europe, we started Outdoor Emergency Care classes as part of our Whitetail Ski Patrol training. Stay tuned for details—and thanks for understanding!