Last Updated on January 22, 2022 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
chip time: 2:00:26
overall place: 3683/15791 (top 23% of finishers)
gender place: 1229/9077 female (top 13.5%)
age group: 325/1937 (top 16.8%)
I ran a Rock n Roll race, didn’t drink a beer at the finish nor attend the concert post run (blasphemy, I know) but I had a great time! It was a busy 36 hours! Let’s start at the beginning…
I made the solo drive Saturday morning up to Virginia Beach. 6 hours in the car with no company and no kids = car karaoke! I sang my way through 5 decades worth of hits and just about gave myself carpal tunnel on my wrist from hitting the radio’s “scan” button so many times. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
First stop once I arrived to Virginia Beach: the expo! I went to pick up my packet, but per usual, forgot to print out my confirmation sheet. So I looked on the massive bulletin board with 22,000 other names to find my bib #: 4153. I walked around the corner to check in and found out my corral number: 4. Out of 27. What? Did they think I was fast or something? 3 corrals behind the professionals and 23 ahead of everyone else! I wondered if they had me confused with someone else until I remembered what I put for an expected finish time. 7 months ago when I registered for this race, I was convinced I’d be 3/4 done with my Boston bound FIRST training. I put down a 1:45 as a finishing time. But, life got in the way, Boston dreams were temporarily put on hold… now I just needed to make sure I didn’t get run over at the start , heh heh.
ANYWAY, one of the highlights of the expo was when I was drooling over the 2009 Disney medals (there were like 12 of them! I had no idea they offered so many races) and randomly ran into Jennifer, one of the awesome sherpas for Cancer to 5k! I was SO glad I got to see her, in a sea of 20,000+ runners and their family and friends, what were the chances!
So that night, new friend Jessica (from my online running moms group, it was so awesome to meet her!) and I met up with some other online running friends (Dave and Carlton from the Big Cat’s group, and a couple of their friends) for some carb-loading dinner at a little restaurant called Zia Marie The company and the food were both excellent. That ravioli was blindsided by my hunger,it never stood a chance, haha. The rest of the night was just the basic pre-race routine, like making sure I didn’t forget to put my timing chip on my shoe.
Race Day: We were up at 4:15, drove to the Virginia Beach Amphitheater for parking, and were on the shuttle bus to the start by 5:30. Thankfully, these early morning wake up calls are old news to me. I felt great.
I toyed with the idea of moving back a few corrals to start with Jes. My current PR is a 1:59:31, and I knew that I might be able to break that today, so I decided to stay in corral #4, therefore not having to weave around thousands of other people. It was a good decision, because for the first few miles I was surrounded by a pack of people running at the same pace that I was (around an 8:25/mile)
The first half of the race was great. I felt good. My running felt good. Everything just felt good! I stopped and walked through each water stop, since the past few long runs I had been doing a 5/1 run walk interval (so today turned into more of 8:xx/0:30 intervals).
First half of race:
Mile 1: 8:23
Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:21
Mile 4: 9:06
Mile 5: 8:50
Mile 6: 9: 11 (stopped right after mile 5 marker/water stop to GU)
Mile 7: 9:02
Mile 8: 9:07
Now here is where the “fun”comes in. For those of you who have been following my blog know, I’ve spent a lot of time this summer working on and experimenting with my nutrition. The first HUGE mistake I made this race (and really, I’m not a newbie so I should have known better) is that I decided to leave the amphipod bottle with the nuun in the car, so that I would have two free hands to run with my camera and take pictures. Instead, I would take a risk and use the cytomax provided on the course. *sigh* WHEN will I ever learn? Around mile 7/8 I started getting those chills that always signal to me that my electrolytes are low. I had tried drinking the cytomax, but it was disgusting, and made my stomach turn every time. Ick. Nuun, I will never leave you home again. NEVER!
SECOND mistake: I glanced at the race map the night before and assumed by the little water droplets on the picture that there were water stops every mile. The website claims they fell like this: miles 1.3, 3.2, 4.9, 6.7, 7.9, 9.6, and 11.3. All I know is that I started to get really tired and knew I needed to gu around mile 8, and didn’t see another water stop until after 10 (at least according to my Garmin). It messed with my body and it messed with my head. It’s that fine line of not wanting to have TOO much nutrition (and the dreaded gu-belly), but not wanting to burn out. I am 100% positive that my diet as of late has not helped. Taco Bell, Mountain Dew, you all know what I’m talking about, I certainly blog about it enough, haha. Needless to say, I have some work to do.
I will say though, I used the Blueberry-pomegranate Roctane Gu, and had zero stomach issues during the race. Post race my stomach did a few flip flops, but after about 30 minutes I was fine.
All that said, part 2 of the race looked as follows:
mile 9: 9:23 (where is the water?!?)
mile 10: 9:22
mile 11: 9:43
mile 12: 9:33
mile 13: 9:51
13-13.27 (Garmin claims we went over) 2:06 (7:55/mile)
The craziest thing happened to me. I was literally 25 yards from the finish. I had just run 13 miles already. And my body just….stopped. I just stopped, like I couldn’t go any further. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason. I wasn’t entirely out of breath, a little labored breathing but certainly not gasping. My legs hurt, but no shooting pain or anything. It was just like my gas tank was running on fumes and the fumes were gone. I was all the way to the right of the finisher’s chute and a spectator just gave me the most startled look , like “why on earth is she stopping NOW?” She said something generically motivating like “you are almost there!”. I had to laugh at myself, who the heck stops seconds in front of the finish line!! I had to take a second and will my body to keep going. And so I did.
As I was pushing myself to just get to the finish line already (I had already realized I just missed a PR) this couple in front of me slowed to a crawl with their arms in the air (they ran this way for like 20 yards, trying ot get a good finishers photo. The not tired Heather now sitting in front of the computer in her house now realizes that it was a special moment for them, and they wanted to commemorate that with an awesome finishers picture. I give them kudos. But at the time, the “I JUST WANT THIS RACE TO BE OVER” Heather was thinking “get the *&%$ out of the way”. Lucky for me, the photographers not only caught this precious moment on film, but they posted it on the main page of the race’s website, for the rest of the world to share. HA! (go here http://www.rnrvb.com/ and click “view event photos”. Enjoy my “ah crap I just missed a PR” face, haha). I crossed the finish line, 58 seconds short of a PR, got some water, an ice cold towel draped over my neck (awesome), my medal, and the best post race treat ever: A banana and a firecracker Popsicle! See the glitter in the water? Ohh so pretty!!
Jes finished her first EVER half marathon! I’m super proud of her! And equally as exciting, my friend Sabrina and her sweet baby girls came down to the finish! I was SOOOOOO HAPPY to see her! The girls and Sabrina’s hubby Josh gave us a VIP ride back to our cars at the amphitheater so we didn’t have to take the shuttles (and risk not being able to sit down, haha).
Post race I have the BIGGEST blisters on the sides of both big toes. Biggest I have ever seen. Which is odd, because I wore the same socks and same shoes I’ve worn on all of my recent long runs (some being further than 13 miles) so I really don’t get it. Plus, my left knee hurt and was quite swollen last night. All signs point to “TIME FOR NEW SHOES” . It’s been about 6 months, I guess it’s time to retire these puppies!
Anyway, I spent lunch with Sabrina and the babies, catching up and shopping for a Unicorn (it was Sicilly’s 3rd birthday!) and then had to hop in my car and head home. I got home at 8:00 pm, 13+ total hours of driving later (6.5 each way), and 36 hours after the adventure started.
So all rambling aside, here are my final thoughts on this race:
1) It was a good race, but I was a bit disappointed in the whole “rock and roll” aspect of it. The brochures for all the RnR races across country always make it look like a crazy fun time. Other than the one band playing Jimmy Buffet (I’m a parrot head by birth), everyone was playing just “blah” rock. Maybe I had bad timing in my passing of the bands. One stage was even empty. All the cheerleaders /water stations seemed to have very similar themes (sunglasses some face paint and perhaps some tie die shirts). It just wasn’t the crazy fun race I had pictured. But the race was well organized, and in the downtown/ocean front areas there were TONS of spectators. I love spectators! OH, and I loved the military group (Navy? I’m not good at this) around mile two. Mostly senior citizens, and SOOO happy to be out there! They were blaring Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”, which just made me smile, brought warm memories to my heart of my family growing up.
2) Don’t take your chances on nutrition Heather, what were you thinking?!?
3) I have to say the back of the pack is more fun. No one was having “fun” in the front. I guess everyone had a time goal. When we passed the aforementioned Jimmy Buffet cover band, they were playing “fins”. I put my obligatory fin up during the chorus (you know, fin’s to the left, fins to the right…yaddi ya), and noooooo one else around me did. Hundreds of other people, and not one other fin. What’s up with that? I bet the people at the back took their time to stop and dance. I am beginning to realize that some days are for PR’s, and some days are meant for fun 🙂
4) I am so incredibly blessed and lucky. I’m so lucky to have such a supportive partner and family that give me their blessing to go away for weekends at a time and to spend our hard earned money to travel to races. I’m so lucky to have met so many different people across the country through running. And I’m so lucky to have such awesome friends that will tow their babies out in crowds of thousands just to meet me in “family reunion-section G” (yay!)
5) I have a lot of work to do between now and October (Baltimore Marathon), if on nothing more than my non race nutrition. Time to pick it up a notch Heather!
6) I need new shoes. And I really want to give the Newtons a try. I best go to work tonight and hope there are some thirsty people still in town, ones who tip well!
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.