Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Recap

Normally I would just jump right in to a race recap for you all, but this weekend was something different. Joe, Gloria and I left Friday morning for Virginia Beach knowing we were trying to beat a hurricane. We got the news part way through the trip that the Mile on the Sand on Saturday would be cancelled.

We made it to the expo with crazy winds and really dark skies. I feel bad because we didn't do a lot at the expo, but we needed to get checked in and relax a little bit. 

We ended up going to a RnR happy hour on the boardwalk Friday night and had a lot of fun. It was at this point Kat and I made plans to run the race together. I was treating it as a long run and her goal time was around this pace. 

Saturday was the storm. Man, the winds were intense. We ended up finding a mall and walked around for awhile. I called it my Mile in the Mall to earn my medal I got. We really just relaxed and ate. 

So Sunday morning we made our way to the start line. I had debated about wearing long sleeves because when the wind starting gusting it was chilly. The temps were in the 70s so I decided to wear a tank. 

We met up with some of the Rock 'n' Blog team and chatted for a little. It was so nice to finally meet Hollie in person! (Fun fact, she was the fifth overall female). 

I ended up meeting Kat and our new friend Mo who we met at the happy hour. She was going to stay with us for as long as she could. Kat wanted to run a 2:10. 

The first four miles flew by. We were chatting and just enjoying the company and flat course. The wind was not so bad for the first few miles. We expected a tailwind while we were a block off the boardwalk and it never happened. 

I got super emotional at the 5k split. There were a bunch of volunteers wearing CPO Accepted shirts and all of the military people on the course were stopping to shaking their hands. I had chills. It was an incredible experience. 

5k split: 30:36. 

I was trying to give Kat some marathon advice while we were running, like walk through all the water stops. That's something we started to do during this race. 

I have no idea if Kat knows I took this picture =)

I could tell Mo was not going to make it far with us. She was having a rough day. It was super humid so I didn't blame her. We said good bye to her around the five mile mark. 

We would come back up the other side of the street around mile 10.5.

My sole focus of this race became pacing Kat. She was doing a really good job of staying around a 9:30 pace but would randomly speed up. I would reel her back in by gently saying "if you want to speed up we can". Kat would always respond with NO!

10k split: 1:00. 

It was at this point that we really just started looking around the course. We are back on a KOA Campground (or right outside it) and it's beautiful. The smell of campfire is all around and the crowds are so awesome. At the point I have taken a freeze pop from a little girl in a hula skirt. I keep asking Kat if she wants anything and she says she's fine. She was really waiting for the gels a little after mile eight. 

Speaking of mile eight, when we got there Kat yells in excitement "ONLY FOUR MILEA LEFT!!" Now my runner math is pretty terrible but I know two even numbers don't make an odd number. I really felt bad bursting her bubble, because we were doing great. But I did and she wasn't happy. (A four letter word may have happened). 

We finally made it to her gel stop. I went ahead and grabbed some water for her. Poor Kat could not get those gummies opened! We actually came to a complete stop. It was actually kinda funny. Of course our overall pace slowed because of it, but I didn't mind. In the back of my mind I think Kat needed it. 

This area of the course had the best cheer sections. This is a huge military area and all of the service men and women were out cheering. One man said we weren't even sweating. I chuckled. 

We headed back towards the finish around the ten mile mark. I know at this point Kat is struggling. Our pace is slowing to a 9:45 but I know I just have to be positive energy at this point. 

10 mile split: 1:39. 

We grabbed some sponges, I grabbed her some extra water and we kept moving. There was freeze pops ahead and of course I grabbed some. We made it to the overpass, with the only real hill on the course and that is where we met the wind. HOLY HEAD WIND! After not feeling it for so long, it was rough. 

Kat pointed the boardwalk out to me and all I could say was thank god. We stopped at the final water stop before the boardwalk and the wind was awful. Kat had started her kick pretty early so I let her go. Pretty much, I didn't want to kick I went in with a goal of 2:10 and that's what I'm set at. 

The crowds at the boardwalk were amazing. Just as I spotted the finish line I saw Joe. I told him I was fine and would see him at the finish line. 

No sprint, nothing like that. This was a long run and I'm pretty sure if I tried to sprint my stomach would have exploded. I crossed the finish line and saw Kat. Looked at my watch and finished with a 2:10! Bam! 

I'm so happy Kat let me join her on her journey. I was really happy to help. I love pacing people especially now that I can't run as fast as I would like. When we found Joe again he told us he finally broke 30 minutes in the 5k (28:25)! We earned all the medals from the weekend. 

Here is the course map and elevation chart. 

Despite the weather, we had a great weekend. The race was awesome. Great course and the crowd support was amazing. If you are looking for a fast and flat end of summer race, keep this one on your radar. 

Disclaimer: I was provided entry into this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program but all opinions are my own. 


  1. First I am so glad we could meet! That was a lot of fun.

    Second, I'm glad you had a good race and did what you wanted. The CPO area around the 5k made me emotional too. Since I grew up in the area I know a few people that have gone through the program.

    1. I'm so glad we finally met! That whole race was such an emotion experience.

  2. Nice work pacing your friend! I'm glad you had such a good race experience despite the weather.

  3. Thanks for pacing me!!! Also, I kinda new you were taking a photo at that one point but I didn't realize it until it was too late to make a fun face! Can't wait for Philly! :)

  4. Congrats on a great race! I'm so glad the hurricane didn't get in the way of the big race.

    1. Thanks Kristen! We made the best of it for sure!

  5. Awesome! Congrats on pacing your friend to her goal time! And congrats to Joe on his 5K PR! So one of your marathon tips is to walk through water stops? I'm debating what to do. I don't generally do well when I walk because if I'm tired it's so hard to get back into a groove again. But will I physically need to walk to use different muscles during the marathon?

    1. YES WALK THE WATER STOPS! Not only is it a nice break you also need to pay a bit more attention to the cups and slick pavement. Especially in cooler temps. Just give yourself a second to breathe and gain composure.