Category Archives: VA Beach RnR

RnR VA Beach Half Marathon Race Recap

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…


Filed under Pictures, Race, Race Report, VA Beach RnR

VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon…

There was this…

And there was this…

Hurricane totally skipped us, I had a good race, and a PR!  (Took 12 minutes off my best half marathon time — woohoo!)

Great weekend, recap coming soon…


Filed under Half Marathon, Pictures, Race, Race Report, VA Beach RnR


This weekend will be my last beach trip before we fly out to Rio in November for the wedding.

It’s also my last long race before the Chicago Marathon — I even have *gasp* time goals for the Rock n Roll VA Beach Half Marathon (don’t laugh at my stupid time goals — I know it’s slow, but I am still planning on cutting about 10 minutes off my time…).

Of course, effing hurricane Earl has other plans.  Virginia Beach already has a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch.

It’s my mini-vacation, people!!!  And I want that stupid medal!  And half-marathon or no half-marathon, I still need to run 13 miles this weekend!

Wish me luck.  We’re driving down there tomorrow super-early in the morning.  I heard that the first thing to get evacuated is the oceanfront.  Guess where we’re staying?  Exactly.


Turns out, one of the girls from my running group who’s also running it, has never (EVER!) seen the beach or the ocean before, since she spent her life at a landlocked state.  This is surreal to me, growing up in Rio, where we could see the ocean from our window (it wasn’t the nicest beach that we lived by, but whatever).

Imagine the first time you see the ocean you’re dealing with storms?

On the bright side, if the storm misses us, the waves will be AWESOME.

On the not so bright side, last year we were dealing with super calm waters, almost pool-like, but the idiot lifeguards wouldn’t let anyone go in the water past their knees.  I’m sorry, for me that’s a sign of laziness — yes, the beach is crowded, yes, it’s labor day weekend, but do your job and save people if you need to, don’t ruin everyone’s fun by making everyone stay up to their knees only.

And you know what?  I feel MUCH safer in the deep water with no one around me, than I do with 20 kids within 10 feet doing stupid things like kicking my head if I go in to cool off.  Not that I even got to the deep water, the water was up to my waist when I got whistled at, I ignored it — since I wasn’t doing anything wrong, there’s no way in hell that whistle is aimed at me — and then finally had a lifeguard screaming at me asking me to get out of the water, and only go up to my knees.  WTF.

(If you ever get the chance to go to Rio, you’ll see lifeguard posts by the boardwalk, every quarter mile or so, they’re a couple of stories high, no lifeguards at the beach at all.  They’re at their posts with their binoculars, and you see helicopters every so often patrolling the beach — that’s what lifeguards are supposed to do:  patrol the area, and come out if there are any issues.  Not forbid people from enjoying themselves so god forbid they have work to do!)

So awesome waves will be for nothing, I bet they won’t even let us in the water at all.

Wish me luck…


Filed under Race, VA Beach RnR

RnR Half Marathon!

I signed up for the VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon again this year.  This was the first half marathon I ran (and this year it will be my fourth), and last year I had such a hard time during training, thinking I would never be healthy in time to complete it.  But despite being bedridden for a week and a half, I picked training back up and finished with my goal pace of 12 min/mile (I had been slowly getting faster, but it was a huge setback that brought my pace back to super-slow).

It was my one pre-30 goal, and I was scared I would never be crossing that finish line.  Amazing how far I’ve come since.  I decided to post this here, since so many people are dealing with unexpected injuries now, and if this can bring hope to one person, so be it.

These are the four posts I wrote back then…

In which I admit that I might not finish the Half Marathon (July 30, 2009)

I signed up for the VA Beach Half Marathon in April.  I knew training would start at the end of June and I was ready.  Two weeks before my 30th birthday, I was going to cross that finish line, running a Half Marathon, without the need to stop and walk.

It was a great, attainable, pre-30th goal.

And I was training.   I didn’t miss one training run. Running 4 times a week had a hit on my social life, took a toll on my friendships.   Weeknights were no longer my own.  Volleyball league was given up. But I WAS going to finish it.

Sunday, my parents arrived in the country, and I proudly announced how on Saturday I ran a total of 11 miles — 8 miles in my training run in the morning, then 3 miles that night at the Crystal City Twilighter 5k, beating my time last year by 4 minutes.  They met Karl a couple of hours before dinner (it went great!).

My sister was making a chicken and broccoli casserole, with a creamy sauce. We were starving.  It was finally ready.

I was sitting by the table, when she removed the casserole from the oven and said “I don’t think it’s ready” my mom countered “it is ready” I looked through the glass dish that was now a few inches from me and proclaimed “I can see it bubbling” and just then, it slipped out of my sister’s hand and the contents of the dish landed on my lap, a few inches below my skirt.

I got up quickly, and screamed.  A very much primal scream.  I was in agony.   Everyone urged me to the cold shower, where while rubbing it with ice, I could see the humongous blisters forming.

My sister was in tears in the kitchen, while my brother in law decided to call an ambulance, to be on the safe side.

The paramedics arrived, and when they saw the blisters on my lower thigh going down my knee, they immediately asked to take me to the hospital to treat my 2nd degree burns.

My Sunday night was spent in the hospital.  As soon as I got in, they started pumping meds through the IV.  Anti-nausea medication, anti-inflammatory, and a pain reliever (“like morphine, but stronger” said the nurse).

The anti-nausea medication didn’t work, so I needed another dose of it.

The doctor was finally ready to treat the burns.   Do you know how doctors treat burns?  By scrubbing off, with a wet gauze, all the blisters and the dead skin.   You know, when you’re trying to get stubborn stain out of your t-shirt?  Yeah, just like that.

Needless to say, the pain medication wasn’t enough.   The nurse pumped more of it through the IV.  Then I needed more anti-nausea medication.

This is what being high feels like.

Unfortunately, the second dose of pain medication still was not enough:  when the doctor came back to finish rubbing off the blisters and dead skin, the pain was just as unbearable the second time around.  My dad, who had followed the ambulance with Karl, claimed I almost broke his hand off.

Finally, at almost midnight, I was being discharged.  My biggest concern to the doctor?  “How soon can I run?”  He said as soon as it’s not too painful to do so.  Having no pain at the time, I thought I could pick training back up in a couple of days.

On my way out of the hospital the nurse catches me and said she forgot to give me a tetanus shot.  I lift my shirt sleeve up, and she gets it done.

I could barely walk, I was so out of it from all the meds.  Got home, emailed work that I couldn’t be in the morning, and went to bed.

Now it’s Thursday and I still haven’t made it to work.   The medication knocks me out most of the day.  The pain is excruciating, I’m on 4 different prescription meds, plus a prescription cream.  I can only (and barely) walk with a limp.  Twice a day, I’m supposed to wash the burn with soap and water completely removing the cream, and that only makes the pain much worse.

The burn is supposed to be covered until the scabbing is gone.   Of course, no scabs yet, so who knows when I can finally walk normally.

We’re a month away from the Half Marathon, a month and a half to my 30th.

I highly doubt I’ll be able to run anytime soon.  And that one goal I had before 30?  Well, it’s getting further and further away from my reach.

Then a few weeks later, I wrote this post:

And there is hope…  (August 20, 2009)

So after the other post I have come to terms that there is only so much you can control.  You can do everything right, and life might still throw you a curve ball.

I missed 6 days of work after the burn, since I was in incapable of walking more than a few feet for 8 days straight.  When I returned to work, I was still limping and in pain meds.

A week after the burn, there had been no change.  After the doctor suspected a nasty spot was the start of an infection and prescribed antibiotics, in just a few days the improvement was visible, and my skin finally started healing, little by little, making me feel more human again.

At the end of the second week, I was finally successful in finding a knee brace that would keep the bandages in place (since it was still an open wound that needed to be covered at all hours) so I could run.

It has been hard.  REALLY hard.  Somehow, 2 weeks barely walking, when most days my longest walk was from the bed to the couch, my endurance got shot, my body got weak.  Even though I was consistently running prior to the burn, all of a sudden I could no longer keep up.  The heat, which I had acclimatized to, started bothering me again, leaving me out of breath after a few strides.

With only a few weeks to the Half Marathon, I didn’t have the luxury of building up my endurance again, and I had to jump right back into training.  And I couldn’t run it all.

My first attempted run was supposed to have been for 10 miles.  I felt wonderful during the first two miles, then exhaustion hit me and I had to walk.  But after a couple of minutes walking, I could run again.  It took me longer, even my running pace got (as if it was possible!) slower, but I still finished the 10 miles, even if it wasn’t all running.

This was the first time since the burn that I had hope.  I accepted the fact that I couldn’t run the Half Marathon, but I now know that there is no doubt that I can finish it.

And so I’m back at training.  Some days, like yesterday, I can run for an hour straight and not have to stop.  Other days, after every mile I need a short walking break.

Saturday is supposed to be my longest run ever.  I’m supposed to go out there and run for 140 minutes.  I know I won’t be able to run the whole time.  But I do know that I’ll be able to complete the time.

Maybe, by the time the Army Ten Miler comes along a little over a month from now, I will have regained my endurance, got my body strong again, and I can run the 10 miles. But for the VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon, I might not be able to run it all, but in a little over 2 weeks from now, I will cross that finish line and get the medal I so rightfully deserve.

And a few days later…

11.7 (August 24, 2009)

Miles, that is. 11.7 miles.   That I ran on Saturday.  Non-stop.  Still talking towards the end.

Sure, I ran slower than my usual pace, so it took me a few more minutes to complete it.  But I ran the whole thing.  Could I have done another 1.4 miles and completed a half marathon on Saturday? Absolutely.

The weather wasn’t as hot, the drop in temperature certainly helped (amazing how a high of 80 degrees vs a high of 90 degrees makes the run much less torture).

But being able to run almost 12 miles, without needing a walk break?  It was the exact boost of confidence I needed!

Not only I can finish the Half Marathon, but I just might be able to finish running it all!

And that pre-30th goal?  Will be accomplished after all.  Yippee!!!

Big props to my friends running the Marine Corps Marathon this October…   While I officially started taper, our group training run this weekend for the MCM is 3 hours long.  Ick.

And then…

I did it!  (September 9, 2009)

I did it! At my slow 12 min/mile pace, but my goal was to finish, my second goal was to be able to do so at a 12 min/mile pace.  And I got them both done.

A month ago, I didn’t think I was going to be able to run it at all.  Heck, a month ago I still couldn’t walk, and I was limping in pain.

Karl ran with me the whole time (“we’re a team” he says) and we crossed the finish line together.

Of course, to my despair, I finished right behind the old woman wearing that stupid spiky red cap.  Had I noticed that at the end (I was more worried in not passing out), I would have certainly sprinted a tad more to beat her. (Editor’s note:  on closer look, turns out the woman’s name was Robert.  Oops.  He got some man boobs going on!)

Next year?  My goal will be to finish in front of anyone wearing something stupid.

There were 11 of us down at VA Beach.  Karl  and I went camping, since none of us wanted to spend a lot in hotels (the hotel room cost literally 10 times more than a campsite).  Some of the group camped, others shared a hotel room.

It was a blast!  The fastest of the group finished in 1:30 (a 6:56 pace!), the slowest finished in 2:50 — but we all finished it!  It wasn’t easy, and the last two miles were the longest miles I have ever ran (and by then, the sun was beating down on us).

Karl and I stuck around for a couple more days to enjoy the beach, only to be greeted with non-stop rain on Monday and Tuesday.   At points so strong, that there was flooding in the area.   But we caught up on sleep inside the tent, which is now drying out in my living room.

The weekend?  Was awesome!

The best part?  I achieved my pre-30th goal of running a half marathon! Just signed up for next year’s race — I’m totally putting myself up for that torture again 🙂

The moral of the story?  There will be things out of your control, but don’t give up.  Just because you believe you can’t do it, doesn’t mean you can’t…


Filed under Half Marathon, Injury, Training, VA Beach RnR