I was so scared that the hurricane was going to hit VA Beach, and ruin my race or my beach weekend! Luckily, the hurricane didn’t even come close, and the only thing we had to deal with was a rainy day (and drive) on Friday.
We got to VA Beach super early, so we went to the expo right before it opened (there were HUGE lines. WTF.) Luckily, the lines inside wasn’t too bad — we got our shirts (I like it better than last year, but when are they going to start having women’s specific sizing?) and had some fun around the expo.
After getting back to the hotel, we went to check out the beach — the waves were crazy! (I should add, crazy for the east coast, in Rio we see waves like that at least once a week!)
A little while later, Kristy and her friend Katie met us at the beach, and we went to enjoy the water away from the life-guarded area. I usually get annoyed by surfers who ruin my swimming experience, but this time I stayed back in the shallow water and let them have their fun. They only get waves like this in this area once a year.
Have you ever heard of someone who had never ever seen the ocean in person, ever? Ever?
Yep, that was Kristy. You can tell her excitement at her first beach experience, despite the crappy weather! The beach is my favorite place, where I’m at my happiest, so it was great to see someone experiencing it for the first time! (Kristy is on the left in these pictures.)
After a fun beach day, Kristy drove off to Lake Anna (not at all close to VA Beach, I should add), where they were staying for the night, and Karl and I went to enjoy some yummy, all-you-can-eat seafood. (Me love the crab legs!)
Saturday, Kathy and Donnie arrived in town and we spent some time at the beach. I was exhausted, and so was Kathy, so we each went into our rooms, while Karl and Donnie scoped out the place for a good carbo loading restaurant. They settled on Pi-zzeria, and we met part of the group for dinner.
The food there was DELICIOUS, but service was SUPER slow, and towards the end of our meal they started doing something in the kitchen that caused the whole place to be smoky — you know that smoke from a campfire that burns your eyes? Yep, that’s how we were all feeling like, dying to leave the place for some fresh air and to regain our vision. (No idea if it’s a regular occurrence there — there was no burned smell, so I don’t think something got burned in the kitchen but it was something they were preparing instead, but the food was great, so maybe sit outside if you ever go there?)
We skipped out on the free Chicago concert as we were all too tired and wanted some rest before the race the next day (the concert didn’t start until 9:30pm, and it was a 20-block walk away from where we were staying).
Bright and early the next morning, we were ready for the race! Please excuse my funky-hair shots. I just got a haircut (finally!) and the front layers are too short to secure into a ponytail, so I get that weird hair over the visor look. Ew. (And yes, by the time I realized this it was way too late!)
Waiting for the rest of our peeps… And as you can see, Karl is still very faithful to his Five Fingers — he LOVES the Bikila model for running, since he can skip the socks with them.
We were going to walk to the start line, but right after we started walking, a shuttle pulled up and offered us a ride. Why not?
Once we got to the Convention Center, where the start line was, we checked our bags and braved the port-a-potty lines (why, oh why, there are never enough of those in ANY race??).
If you look closely below, you can see Kathy’s awesome sunburn on the outside of her stomach… And don’t you just LOVE Margaret’s hot pepper running shorts?
We finally got lined up at the start line! Because of the mess it was to get to our correct wave (my wave was 18), we ended up jumping on wave 13. I felt bad about it at first, then I realized that I was passing people the whole way (including dodging walkers within the first half mile), so I got over it pretty fast. At least I didn’t lie about my predicted finish time.
And we finally started! And then my hair did this, ick. It’s like I came out of a bad 80’s movie…
I was going to run with Kristy, but Katie decided to tag along with her the whole way. Luckily, Karl had decided to run with me, so I had company to the finish line. (We lost Kristy when I went to the left of the course to cheer on the elite runners coming through.)
We first ran through a residential area…
Then quickly moved on to a wooded (and shaded, yay!) part…
As you can tell, I did not stop to take pictures, so some of them came out like this…
Then we ran through a Fort, with absolutely no shade, but I was ready for this part since I remembered it from last year (I hit my “wall” last year around mile 8, which was towards the end of the Fort, this year I braced myself, but no wall here yet).
Even though the weather was not nearly as hot as we had been dealing with, it was still in the mid-80’s and as you can tell, it was sunny…
Gratuitous Sony advertisement shot (but any distractions from the course is a good distraction in my book — even if it is just ads!). Karl almost bought their new walkman (the one with no wires, that goes right into the ears). Have you tried it yet? I’m super curious about it.
And we ran under the crotch of the Rock n Roll guy!
We’re around mile 10-something here, approaching the dreaded bridge, which was the only major hill on the course…
And we’re done with the bridge! I picked up speed here for the last two miles, as miserable as it was, I really wanted a PR!
And we’re done!!! Net time 2:23:52 (a HUGE improvement from my previous PR in March, at the Shamrock Half, where my net time was 2:37).
I gotta say, that it wasn’t until I was writing this and linked to my previous race recap above that I realized that I took a whole 13 minutes off my previous time. For some reason I thought it was only 12. Why does that minute make so much of a difference? It means I took a WHOLE MINUTE off my pace. Seriously! Before I finished it in 11:59 average pace, and now less than 6 months later, I crossed the finish line with a 10:59 average pace.
There’s something to be said about running 19 miles on the weekend before a half marathon that makes you believe you CAN push it for “only” 13 miles. And I did.
A disclaimer about my pace? I lost a LOT of time by walking every water stop. Said that, I don’t know if I would have had energy to kick it at the end, had I not taken the quick breaks to drink water. I didn’t walk for long, but once you add the water stops, it really adds up. I also walked a bit on the bridge, because I just didn’t want to waste my energy with that steep uphill, knowing I was so close to the end. AND I had a quick port-a-potty stop around the 6 mile mark. And even then I got a PR!
And what do I mean, with kicking it at the end? After my 10k split, every single mile after that was faster than the one before. I had negative splits for the first time ever on a race (and I think only once or twice I pulled this off on a training run). And I was able to maintain my last two miles below a 10 minute/mile pace, which is BIG for me.
And our sand dollar medal? Totally worth the effort! My coolest medal so far!
It was great crossing that finish line with Karl again, after the struggle I had getting ready for this race (my first half at the time) last year.
Plus, this was my last half-marathon as a single woman. *gasp*
And Karl’s shoes? Held out just fine!
That night, we went out for fish tacos and well-earned margaritas…
Only Kathy and Donnie were left in town (they got along super well, but actually had just met on the drive down to this trip! From the pictures, you’d think they’re old friends…).
Here you can see our RnR race shirts better too… (Only Karl didn’t wear his.)
Then we went to see Fastball in concert. Don’t know Fastball? Remember “was I out of my head, was I out of my mind…”
Or maybe this other one? “They made up their minds and they started packing…They left before the sun came up that day…”
Yes, we were having fun!
There was even fireworks at the end of the night!
The next day, with everyone else gone, and me unable to go to the beach (oh yeah, I should mention how I got a mysterious allergy, had rashes all over my body — which were really bad on Monday, and spread past what my clothes could cover by that afternoon, and was put on steroids, which made me gain 8lbs and 2″ EACH in my chest, waist and hips? And I had to cancel my first dress fitting, because, uh, this overnight bloating means I probably can’t fit in the dress!). Anyway… Unable to go to the beach, Karl and I took a walk around the boardwalk taking pictures!
Mysterious allergy aside (which luckily only showed up on my skin, as I felt great all weekend), it was a wonderful weekend, and I came out with some lessons learned to get me ready for the marathon. More on that tomorrow…