Well folks I said I would never go back….and for two years I kept my word. Once again I attempted to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach half marathon and on Sunday Sept 1, 2013 I completed my 25th official half marathon. I can honestly say it has not gotten old and each and every finish is special. Two of my friends went with me, one completing his 2nd half the other completing his first half a day before turning 31.
The whole weekend wasn’t easy for me. The drive down was long (as was to be expected) and my friend did most of the driving, as a way to be nice probably. Unfortunately I become ill and do not travel well unless I’m driving. This was also a concern because if I had driven my leg would have given out on me and I wouldn’t be able to run. Really I was screwed either way. Friday night we arrived in enough time to unpack sleeping equipment and curl up to sleep. I didn’t even make it to the couch, I slept on the floor.
Saturday I was MASSIVELY pouting because I missed John Bingham’s presentation. Technically we could have made it, but my friends didn’t feel like rushing to get to the EXPO early. Not cool. Oh well. When we arrived I started to have flashbacks to my last trip there and how uncomfortable I felt. It also didn’t help I have been dealing with my leg issues for over a year. I don’t feel like a “real” runner. I didn’t feel like I belonged and I was scared and nervous and embarrassed. I told the boys how I felt, but they seemed to blow it off. Then there was a mis-communication about sticking together and when I realized I was alone I couldn’t hold back the tears. Knowing how stupid I looked only made me cry and panic more. When I finally found them I couldn’t get the words out for WHY I was upset and one of my friends became very upset and yelled/cursed at me. Not a good way to start the day. I was able to get a stuffed cow from Chick-fil-a, take a cool REFUEL picture, “win” a new towel designed to stay cooler longer and visit a few other fun booths. The fun photo op booths I couldn’t do because I wore a green shirt and would blend into the green screen! oops!
After the EXPO we walked around downtown Norfolk and grabbed some dinner. I was super nervous and distracted the whole afternoon because I didn’t know what race day would bring.
Race day I was up and bouncy way more than I expected to be for 4 AM. Yes FOUR FREAKING A IN THE MORNING M. I think like with Moebius, accepting I didn’t know my fate helped me to let go of the pressure. We were out the door and driving to the parking area in no time. Although the boys didn’t sleep well and were all over the place not being seasoned running professionals like myself. HA! Right?!
We found the field and parked with moments to spare before the cut off for the buses to take us to the starting line. I used the potty and we climbed onto the bus. A short 20 minute commute later we were there and giving drop bags to crew. I was excited to know when I saw that bag again it was bathing suit and beach time! I applied extra sunscreen to myself and ran off to use the bathroom again. I couldn’t believe how many people were there! Well, maybe I could as I had seen it before…but still! Yikes!
I was excited to see my friend Toni, who was also running the race and I was playing phone tag with all weekend. Wouldn’t you know it though, I found myself stuck in a massive potty line and missed her. Boo.
After potty time I found the boys again and we took a quick “before” shot to prove there was a time we all still loved each other. JK.
Then it was time to decide. Do I start with my assigned corral? Do I start with the walkers? I opted to line up with the 2:45 pace bunnies.
The race started and I managed to keep an even pace with the bunnies until the 5K mark. I was fully prepared to duck out at the 5K mark, call it a day and build a sandcastle. Then on the opposite side of the road from the 5K turn was a sign and on it was the message “There will be a day when you can no longer do this…today is not that day”. Luckily I was wearing my sunglasses, because this made me tear up hard core.
I knew it wouldn’t be the BEST performance, in fact I didn’t even know if I would complete the event. I knew I could do more than the 5K though and I knew tomorrow isn’t promised, so I kept running and walking. I finished the 5K portion in about 38 minutes.
In my careless morning efforts, I had only eaten a yogurt as fuel. I can’t process GU so I was worried how I would deal out on the course. By other stroke of luck they were serving lemon-lime Gatorade…one of the very few sports drinks I can drink! I drank 1-2 cups at the stations for my calorie boost. The first time was at mile 3.5 or 4 ish. I found although I wasn’t sick, I also wasn’t able to make it settle at first so I was forced to walk.
A quick stop at the med tent at mile 5 for a massage (hurts so good) and a bathroom break and I was a new woman. I ran to mile 6 and up to the 10K mark. I finished this section around 1:30:00. I was happy when I realized running 3 miles took about 40 minutes and walk/running took 50 so I wasn’t slowing down too badly.
After the 10K mark and as I approached mile 7 I couldn’t find my oomph anymore. Although the friendly neighborhood gorilla did put a smile back on my face.
Maybe it was my leg or being on pavement? More than likely it was lack of nutrition. It was around this point I met Jennie.
Jennie randomly began talking to me along the course and had been doing interval running. We were hitting it off and decided we both walked faster together and neither of us wanted to run anymore. We talked and enjoyed the next 5-6 miles of the course. One of my highlights was entering the camp/military base (roughly miles 8-10) and telling her they were terribly boring and soul-sucking miles so be careful. A woman passing by on the left laughed and told me everyone thinks that about this section. She looked a lot like Yoga Jones from OITNB.
The last few miles were rough physically, but when we knew we made it to boardwalk we could see the ocean and we knew it was over. She told me she couldn’t have done it without me. I told her the same thing applied to me.
I finished my 25th half marathon in 3 hours and 34 minutes and with a new friend.
Every race is different and for me it’s always better when you can share the experience with someone else. I still don’t feel like a “real” runner, but I’m getting used to this walking thing and if it gets me out there, it’s better than sitting at home and pouting.
After the race I promptly walked down the sand and into the water where I sat down fully dressed (sans shoes of course). I spent a glorious 15-20 minutes in the water before the boys made me leave. So I STILL have not been able to go to a beach and relax and enjoy it, but at least I was able to spend time in the water this time around. I couldn’t have swam anyway, I was so tired I would have drowned for sure!
PS. Word of advice, the ocean is salty.