Upon arrival late Friday night, we got checked in and went straight to bed! With the alarm set for 6:30 a.m. for the first ever MILE ON THE SAND!
This was a last minute decision for me to jump in, but for only $30 you get a medal, a beach towel and a free beer at the finish, PLUS, for doing two races for the weekend, you earn a third medal! I'm a sucker for a good medal, and this was a good one! More on that later.
The out and back course was on the dry sand by the sea wall, and not the packed sand by the beach!
It was super challenging to get a good footing. The average finish time was over 17 minutes. I was happy to get it in in 12:15, with my HR over 180 bpm!!
Check out this great clip that Rock N Roll posted on their Instagram! I'm the one in the yellow shirt! ;)
With that done, it was family time on the beach!
The boy and I made our way to the expo to get my race packet and meet up with my Team Chocolate Milk teammates!
Saturday night was all about carbs and friends. Still can't believe I forgot to take pictures, but it was great to see a high school classmate, Justin Smith, and his family. Then off to bed early for the 5 a.m. alarm!
It was super dark when I arrived at the start line, but with my VIP pass, I found the air conditioning and the breakfast buffet!
The temperature was already about 78 and the humidity was 97% at the start! I was in corral 9, and was seriously sweating just standing there. I had hydrated so much in prep for it, that I already had to pee, but once the gun went off, my body quickly absorbed everything I gave it!
The plan was to start slow and back off (inside joke), but the real plan was to run the first 6 the same way I do all my long runs, nice and smooth, with no heavy effort. The race course starts at the convention center and runs East toward the water before going North on Pacific Avenue and South on Atlantic Avenue, which runs right by our hotel and through the tourism gut of the city! A fair number of fans lined both sides of the street, especially given that it was 7:30 a.m., I assume some were on their way to bed from the night before!
Around mile 4, you leave the crowds and head inland by going over the only hill/bridge on the course. A whopping 30 foot incline! But it was enough to raise my HR !
All jokes about pretty girls aside, the view really was awesome. I stuck to the plan perfectly, and my HR was right on track in zone 3 at this point. I stuck with this plan through mile 6 before I realized that it was elevating a bit too much. No clue what the real temps were, but the water aid stations were getting hammered, and they had city buses parked along the route labeled "cooling station" that anyone could get in to rest and bring their core temp down! The course dries up a bit as we run past the aquarium. No thanks, I'm still moving, and have an average pace in the low 11s/mile.
Miles 7-9 were in line with a typical long run as of late which is walk the HR down to around 145 and jog it back up over 160. Needless to say, it took a while to walk it down and no time at all to run it back up, but this dropped my pace by almost a minute per mile. The course itself runs past a golf course and through some welcome shade, and other than a KOA campground, the crowd is pretty thin.
In contrast, this next part of the course brought a unique experience as we made our way through a military base. Uniformed military stood by almost as if monitoring our safety was their #1 job of the day. We ran past their living quarters and around the fields they train in. It was unlike anything I'd run through before, and while I enjoyed it, I did not enjoy miles 10-12.
I struggled to run as my cramping had worsened, and as I exited the base, mile 11 was like a buffet of aid. Water and gatorade, followed by trays of ice and sponges, followed by skittles (blood sugar) and Fla-vor-ice popsicles (how can I say no) - sprinklers, hoses and squirt guns were offered from every other homeowner as everyone knew it was a hot one (hottest and most humid ever on record in fact!)
Mile 13 was mile 13, you know, suck it up and run! So I did, but it was too late. The goal of 2:40 was out of reach, so I limped in for a 2:46 finish! And so, my 17th half marathon will go down as my slowest in over 2 years, but I will tell you honestly, I am NOT disappointed. The heat and humidity were unlike anything I had trained in, and should be unlike anything I will deal with in the coming months, and so, I press on!
Post-race, of course, I refueled with delicious low fat chocolate milk! 3 bottles to be exact, and visited with some teammates in the VIP lounge! But didn't sit too long, because it was back to the beach with the family before the early morning departure. My sponsorship also included VIP entry into the headliner concert, Train, that evening at the American Music Festival, but I was so exhausted I fell asleep by 9:00 and missed the fireworks display on the water at 10:00! Shoot!
As promised, some exceptional hardware collected for the weekend, the picture doesn't do it justice, so I made a short video to demo the medals!
If you've not been to Virginia Beach, I highly recommend it, and if you're a runner or music lover, Labor Day weekend is the best time to go!! We will be back...but next time, maybe we'll fly! ;)