“Remember, the second most important thing to choosing the right shoe is choosing the left one”.
Decided to exercise one of my 2020 race credits for the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon over the Labor Day weekend. I targeted this race in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down running but never got a chance to explore Virginia Beach.
I have traveled to the state of Virginia before, but it was in the Washington D. C. area—never the coast. Starting and finishing a race on the Virginia Beach boardwalk was an appealing draw for me and wanted to explore the area as a running tourist.
Happy to report the race, festivities and weather were fantastic and I enjoyed my adventure.
I have been training but knew my current regimen was not where it needs to be to run a Personal Record (PR). Most folks know I am always chasing my next PR, but it appears I am getting wiser with my mental focus. My goal for Virginia Beach was to take a measured approach to the race and then determine how fast my pace would be for the rest of the race.
Booked an early Southwest airlines flight out of Orlando to get to my race destination. This was my first plane ride since my Rock N Roll half marathon and cheesesteak adventures in Philadelphia back in 2019. I did not know how I would react to being back on a plane but felt safe since everyone in the airport and on the plane wore their masks. I have seen horror stories on the news about people not wearing masks but did not experience this at all.
Settled into my exit row seat with extra leg room and enjoyed the two-hour flight to Virginia. This was a perfect opportunity for me to catch up on my reading. I currently have two books going—Eat that Frog and Start With Why. Both books speak to my current work situation, so I bounce back and forth between the books. May need to just finish one so I can tackle the other one with more energy—we will see!
The flight to Virginia Beach was uneventful—nothing special happened but was excited to finally arrive to get the adventure started.
Hotels close to the race venture were booked or too expensive for my taste. Ended up staying in Chesapeake, Virginia which is close to a lot of shopping and entertainment. Made the most of this fact and did some light window shopping and got a pedicure. Nothing like having your feet rubbed prior to pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles. 😊 Completed my carb loading process with extra pasta at The Olive Garden and made sure to drink extra water.
The weather was projected to be hotter than normal so drinking water was necessary to stay hydrated.
The Rock N Roll EXPOs are always a highlight of the weekend. The excitement of being so close to race day puts a smile on the face of most runners. I was happy to be back around runners again and experiencing a new city. The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll EXPO was light on merchandise and vendors—believe this is because 2021 was the 20th Anniversary of this race and also the last year for the event.
The Virginia Beach city leaders decided they did not want to host the race anymore and wanted to leverage the Labor Day holiday weekend for other activities. There were vendors available but not as many as I am used to for the Rock N Roll series. I made sure to shop and buy a new set of leg compression sleeves since they were marked down 50%–got a pair of white CHEP compression sleeves. I am sure you will see picture of me rocking them soon. 😊
Made my way over to the boardwalk after the EXPO to get a taste of Virginia Beach. Got a chance to take some pictures at the King Neptune statue that sits right on the boardwalk. King Neptune is popular with running tourists so had to ensure I got the photo. The beach was crowded—this could be because it was Labor Day weekend, and the local schools start the following week. There were a ton of families on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, and weather. Decided to find a spot to get a drink and food.
Found Catch 31 right on the boardwalk and pulled up at the outdoor bar to enjoy the beach and the view. Ordered crab cake and beer so I could people watch and enjoy college football on the TVs. This was a popular place, and everyone was friendly—I would recommend visiting Catch 31 if you are in the Virginia Beach area.
Left Catch 31 with the intent to get to bed early so I could get up the next day to run the half marathon. I hit the bed to get my rest and get off my feet. I always set my race outfit out the night before since this makes life easier on race day. Decided to rep the Orlando Track Shack running club again during this race. My Track Shack race shirts always get attention from other runners and give us something to talk about before the race.
The race start was staggered to ensure we maintained a safe distance prior to crossing the start line. I was assigned Corral #4 again based on my projected finish time. Happy to report my start position has improved over the years which means I am running faster than most of the runners in each race. 😊
My goal was to run a steady pace, enjoy the process and not hurt myself by trying to do too much. Mission accomplished! The race started one block over from the beach and we made our way to the boardwalk within the first mile. It was great running next to the beach with a nice sunrise coming up over the water.
The course brought us back onto the main drag and then we headed south through neighborhoods for most of the race. My plan is always to run to each water stop and then walk through them when I get water or Gatorade. I take off running again and head towards the next water stop. This approach has allowed me to complete multiple races and set PRs in the process.
I ran with a smile on my face for the first 8 miles then my quads and hamstring started to scream at me. Again, I have been running but not putting in the correct number of miles to build the lactic acid threshold needed for a half marathon. I knew this coming into the race, but it never seems to help when your legs are burning—you just keep moving forward. I continued my game plan even with the pain, but I was not moving very fast.
Mile 10 is where I decided trying to run a PR was not happening so slowed my pace to enjoy the rest of the race. Luckily for me I decided a PR was not worth the pain—Mile 11 is where runners faced the problem of running up a steep bridge to get closer to the finish line. Most of us let out an audible ‘Holy Crap’ when we saw the bridge and the knowledge we had to get up and over to finish the race. My pace slowed down even more while making my way over the bridge. The downhill portion was great and led us back to the boardwalk to finish the race. There were race spectators along the boardwalk and they cheered us to the finish line.
Very happy and proud to finish this race considering my training program was subpar—I can improve and will put more effort into my preparation.
The reward for completing the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon was a trip to New Realm Brewery. This spot was highly recommended and did not disappoint. Realm Brewery is an open air and inside sitting establishment. The outside sitting is covered and there is plenty room to social distance while enjoying food and drink. I got the Acai and Blueberry Seltzer and New Realm Burger which was outstanding. There was live music in the afternoon and the environment was fantastic. They did not have TVs outside to watch football but that is a small thing considering how great this place is. Yes, I will visit again when I am back in the Virginia Beach area.
Unfortunately, the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will not be run again. Great location, course, and entertainment in the area—guess I will have to explore other Rock N Roll locations to continue this running tourist program. 😊
Savannah is next on the list!
“If found on the ground, drag to the finish line”.
(From a runner’s t-shirt)