I arrived at the expo around 2pm on Friday, thinking I would beat the Saturday crowd. Hahaha, not true. Though I didn’t have to wait to pick up my bib and shirt, the rest of the expo was CROWDED. They were selling last year’s t-shirt for 5 bucks, and I wanted to get Karl one, since we both ran it, but there were at least 50 people in line for the register, so I gave up on that idea soon.
I walked around with Jen for a bit, no freebies were being given, then I went over to my hotel room to check in.
The reusable goody bag from last year was great, it became my beach/pool bag, and a year later is still going strong. This year’s? I used it once, to put my running shoes in after the race, and the seam had ripped on the sides by the time we made it into the hotel, 10 minutes later. Angela’s bag broke by the time she left the expo. So, unfortunately, though the idea is great, the quality was not on par with the “reusable” idea. The shirt, however, is cute (yay for side stripes that make you look slimmer!). Again, my one beef is that it doesn’t come in gender-specific sizing. I got a small, which is loose on me, but I’m far from a small – I feel bad for my slimmer runner friends!
We woke up super early on Sunday morning, Karl went to walk Lily while I finished getting ready. Despite the 85 degree weather we got the day we arrived, it was COLD and WINDY on Sunday. We all knew it was going to be colder, but crap, not THAT cold. I wore my running skirt and compression socks, and was glad to have only part of my leg exposed, but even then, it was just not enough to keep us warm!
We went to the hotel lobby to meet up with everyone, Jen even brought me some shamrock antennas to wear (I passed them on to Hugi after the first mile).
Even Margaret and Erin, who were staying somewhere else, came out to meet with us! It was great catching up with them (even if briefly), and we were able to get a picture with most of the group (some people had already left to brave the cold weather).
After delaying the inevitable, we went off into the cold… I was envying the marathoners who started an hour later than us (what’s up with that?), and got to wait at their start line after the sun came out. It was super windy, and we all gathered together to exchange some body heat.
We started off on Pacific Avenue, running through a residential neighborhood. The roads were crowded, and I was glad I wasn’t planning on PR’ing (mostly because I knew I didn’t have the endurance to speed up anymore), as it would have been hard to weave through the crowds, even though I started in the correct corral. The picture below was taken AFTER the crowd disbursed a bit (it just wasn’t safe to start taking pictures when it was so crowded in that first mile).
After Pacific Avenue, we turned into Shore Drive where we were surrounded by trees. Like last year, there were jokes on the side of the road, but many had been down due to the wind. I missed most of the jokes though, because though I had a couple of hard miles starting up (I just wasn’t feeling it), once we turned into Shore Drive we all got a bit chatty, and caught up on things.
We had already lost Nikki due to dropped ipods and whatever else she was losing (she had a bit of a clumsy start), and it was around this part that Hugi took off. This was Hugi’s first Half Marathon, and she was doing great. I wasn’t well-trained because of all these injuries, and didn’t even know if I could run the whole thing without taking a break, so I kept telling Hugi to run her race and ditch us. She finally listened to her body, made arrangements on where to meet after the race and off she went. I was so proud! Yes, she’s now faster than me, but it wasn’t long ago when she was having a hard time keeping up with me at the Army Ten Miler, now look at her! Sure, I got slower, but she kept it up and ran the half almost in the same pace as I was running months ago!
At around this time, my foot started hurting with every step. It felt like I was being shocked every time I put my foot down. I didn’t want to quit on mile 5, so I started thinking of other better things, and see how long I could last.
After Shore Drive, we made out way into Ft. Story. Many of the complaints on this race online is that going into Ft. Story is boring. I didn’t think it was boring this year, nor did I think so last year. You can see the ocean in the distance, and you pass not one, but TWO lighthouses, one of them being one of the oldest in the country!
Luckily I was still having a pretty good run at this time, my foot pain was still there, but not nearly as bad as before, and though it was a lot warmer, my body was finally in synch with the run. I held up a pace that didn’t tire me out. I was also running with my own water, so I saved tons of time by skipping water stops in the first ten miles.
Angela was still going strong too! And she was running with our group shirt! So props to her! (And she was smart enough to wear a visor…)
Jen was also having a good run at this point. This was around mile 7 or 8 and she was even going backwards and taking pictures!
Looking at the pictures below, it seems like it was a super hot day – I think the weather topped off in the mid-50’s later on. The sun certainly warmed things up, but it wasn’t nearly as warm as the bright pictures make it seem!
We were FINALLY approaching the two lighthouses in the distance!
This one below? That’s one of the oldest in the country (first one built by the US Government).
Jen wanted pictures with the other lighthouse too…
I was even able to get a self-portrait with the old one!
At some point at the end of this leg, we lost Angela, who had to hang back a bit.
Finally, around mile 9 or so, we got back to Pacific Avenue, and the residential area of VA Beach. I was feeling good at this time, sure the distance was getting to me, but I was still chatting away.
Jen was still doing good at this time too!
Ugh, gotta lose those extra 10lbs since the wedding STAT. I look like a big green blob. Plus I need a tan.
Shortly after these pictures, Jen’s knee started bothering her, so she turned on her headphones and tried to get into the zone to make it to the final miles. I had no one to talk to, but was still feeling strong despite both my hip and foot now hurting.
I never saw the 12 marker, but had an idea I had about a mile to go, so at some point I picked up the pace a bit, and started feeling really good. I even convinced a random girl to give up on walking and run with me the last mile (she tagged along until around the 13 marker).
While my goal was to be able to run this in about a 11:30 pace or so, my last mile was well below 11 pace. I even warned Jen “I’m picking up the pace, so if you’re hurting and need to stay back, don’t feel bad, it’s because we’re actually going faster” (she doesn’t have a Garmin). Instead, she tagged along most of the way.
I told myself, as always, that I would pick up once I passed that 13 mile marker, and I did, being able to finish strong with an 8 min/mile pace (yes, for 0.1 mile, don’t hate!). In retrospect, I probably could have picked up the pace in the last 2 miles, instead of waiting for the last mile to do so, but since it’s been so long, I wasn’t sure if I could sustain it, so I played it safe.
I crossed the finish line in 2:31:46. It’s about 8 minutes slower than my last half, but so much has happened since then, that I’m super happy with the results. Weeks ago, I was just hoping I could finish it, and at the start line on Sunday, I had three different goals… A “realistic” one, of finishing in less than 2:40, an “maybe attainable” one, of finishing in 2:35, and a “hopeful” one, of finishing in 2:30.
If I had not stopped to take a few pictures when we were around the fort, I could definitely had broken the 2:30 mark. But at the end, I was dying to pee the whole time but didn’t luck out in finding a porta-potty with no lines, so it would have been worse if I had taken the break.
Jen crossed the finish line seconds after me, and we were both excited to be done (ignore the woman blowing her nose, ruining our picture!).
Karl was a good husband, waiting for me at the finish line with flipflops! He said he shouted my name, but I was in the zone and didn’t hear it.
By the way, this is the first half marathon Karl has run for himself (he has ran 3 half marathons before, but all at my pace to keep me company).
He finished in 1:37:49, being the fastest one of our group! I’m proud of him, and knew he could kick some butt if I wasn’t holding him behind! (He claims he was just so cold that he wanted to be done early.)
Just like last year, we got a finisher’s hat, t-shirt and a medal. I of course, did not notice my medal was the wrong way when I snapped this picture…
Hugi was happy to be done, and took her own finisher’s shot with her future marathon training partner! (She’s wearing her finisher’s shirt too.)
The three of us (now can you pronounce Hugi’s real name?).
Karl and Jeremy were also celebrating!
And of course, we needed a shot of us in all our green glory!
Hugi also wanted to send this picture to her mom, with Jeremy’s classy outfit. Go figure!
Here’s our awesome finisher’s swag – the hat, finisher’s shirt, and medal (oh, and let’s not forget the personalized bibs. I got quite a few “go, Carla!” because of it!).
A close up at the back of the shirt:
And the medal, which doubles as a bottle opener! (Since Karl doesn’t display his medals, he really liked this feature!)
Despite the bottle opener abilities, I think last year’s medal was a lot cooler. What do you think? I absolute hate huge logos displayed across a finisher’s medal (remember my beef with the Chicago Marathon medal?)
After we went back to the hotel, showered, hung out for a bit with Nikki (who finished her first half despite a foot stress fracture and stomach problems), Angela (who also finished her first half not far behind me) and Jeremy (who PR’d! Yay for flat courses!). We checked out of the hotel, loaded up our cars, and went back to the finish line to wait for Kristy who ran her first marathon!
After hitting the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet (if you’re ever in the area, go there!), we made our long drive home (why there are always traffic in these roads, even in the middle of March on a Sunday?).
At home, I added my new medal to my medal holder! I’m running out of space for them…