Happy Monday! Well, it’s another work week and cold doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels here in Northern VA. I could use a vacay to somewhere warm!
Since that is just wishful thinking I will just travel to a beach in my mind. How about Virginia Beach, Labor Day weekend, last summer…the location of my second half marathon.
I decided to sign up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in VA Beach after missing the sign up deadline for the Shamrock Half. I knew I wanted to run in VA Beach because it always looks like one big running beach party. Also, we lived in VA Beach when I was little and my parents were in the Navy, so it was semi-familiar atmosphere.
Rock and Roll races are HUGE! They are ran nation-wide and tons of runners sign up. I went from running a new, small race of 3,000 runners, to a huge race of 13,000 runners.
The Saturday before the race my mom, Marcus and I woke up early and road tripped it down to VA Beach. I was excited to have my mom there for this race because she makes every situation fun.
As we were driving into Virginia Beach my mom kept saying stuff like, “Aw, I took you and Tyler here to see the dinosaurs.” and “Aw, there’s the McDonalds where you first learned to drink through a straw.” It was our own little blast from the past as we drove past our old house and landmarks from my childhood.
We went straight to the fitness expo after getting into the area. Fitness expos are super fun and held on the weekend of races. At the fitness expo you pick up your t-shirt, bib, and packet. You can also walk around and get free samples and buy souvenirs. I love race expos because there is always so much energy in the air and excitement for the race.
After some expo fun we checked into our hotel. Marcus stayed behind to do some work and watch football while me and mom went on an adventure!
We decided to go to Fort Story (a nearby Navy base) and climb the Cape Henry lighthouse. I don’t know what genius decides to climb a 90-foot lighthouse the day before running 13.1 miles, but we often have crazy ideas. 🙂
After climbing down the lighthouse we decided to explore the little beach over the sand dunes. The beach has a special power over both of us. Something about the sand, sun, sound of the waves…we are happy campers if we are by the water. We spent a while resting our shaky, lighthouse climbing legs and sat in the sand and watched the waves roll in. Any nervousness I had over running my second half marathon disappeared in those moments of sitting with my mom on the beach.
Eventually we made our way back to the hotel and we all got ready for supper with my mom’s BFF, Miss Brenda! We went to a restaurant right on the beach and spent the night talking, eating good food, and enjoying the scenery.
It could not have been a better day. I was so relaxed and happy to be in such a pretty place, with awesome weather, and the people I love. I felt ready for my race and excited to run.
In the morning I had my usual water and banana. It was still dark when mom and Marcus dropped me off near the start. It was a little intimidating to be alone. But I made the best of my time by making frequent porta potty trips, stretching, and listening to music.
I talked to both of my cheerleaders on the phone right before the race started. They were stationed at mile 2 so I knew I would see them early on in the race. Before I knew it, it was time to start running!
I willed myself to calm down and start slow. The initial boost of adrenaline is enough to make you start too fast and burn out quickly. After a few minutes I found my mom and Marcus. It was so fun to see them so early in the race. They sent my spirits soaring.
After a few miles we were out of the VA Beach resort area and running on long stretches of road. The race was well-organized in that there were spirit squads and bands at every few miles cheering us on and keeping the runners motivated.
At around mile 8 though I started to grow bored and really had to dig deep to keep my focus. It didn’t help that the race was so crowded that I spent a lot of time dodging walkers and slower runners. I am not fast by any means but it was really hard to get into the zone because I was constantly bobbing and weaving.
I spent a lot of time talking to myself and trying to be mentally tough. It was also scorching hot (as expected on Labor Day weekend) so it was a huge relief to have hoses and sprinklers sprayed on us during water stops.
At around mile 11 we passed by a group of houses with water hoses and a band. People were also passing out plastic leis to the runners and cheering. This was a huge boost and really helpful during the last part of the run.
As we approached the only hill of the course, I welcomed it because it broke up the monotony of the flat streets in the miles before. Once we approached the resort area I knew we were close and it would only be a matter of minutes before I was finished.
As I came upon mile 11 I saw my cheerleaders again. I was soaking wet with water and sweat, my knees and feet were starting to hurt, but seeing them felt so good. Especially when my mom screams for me like I’m world-class elite runner.
I started mile 12 with Queen blasting on my iPod. I kicked it up a notch and finished strong. The last mile was on the boardwalk with the ocean to our right. Finishing with the ocean so close was an unforgettable experience. All the other miles were so worth it when the final mile was so beautiful.
I sprinted through the finish line with a big smile on my face and went straight to the sprinkler to cool off.
I felt so proud as another medal was placed around my neck. I had just ran my second half marathon. There was really no way to describe how amazing I felt.
What made this race different was that less then two weeks later I was running another half marathon. So I let my feeling of accomplishment last for the rest of the long weekend before I switched gears and started to prepare for half marathon number three.
What can I say? Races are fun!
Check out my first half marathon recap! 🙂