The Rock n Roll Half Marathon takes place in the beach area of Virginia Beach...starting at the Convention center on 19th St, turning down Pacific Avenue, over the Rudee Inlet Bridge, down General Booth Blvd, turning back at Oceana Ave, by winding through Camp Pendleton, back over the bridge, up Atlantic Ave with the final 2+ mile leg down the boardwalk. Last year...I heard...it was really hot and humid but this year promised to be sunny but cooler.
I got up at 4:00 to a crisp cool autumn-like Sunday morning...I swear I could see my breath when I let the dog out. Weather was in the mid to high 60's and projected to be not more than about 74F at my finish time...8:30-9:00...with the temps not reaching more than low 80's into the afternoon...almost a perfect day for a race. I was concerned about parking down near the race...there was to be no parking at the Convention center...where the race starts... and with 20,000 runners expected plus family and friends, parking was expected to be scarce. The race organizers were encouraging people to park at the Amphitheater...a good 20 minutes away...and utilize buses that would take people to and from the race. I didn't want to be reliant on bus transportation to get me to the race on time or to wait for buses to start running 2-3 hours after the race. So I decided to get up earlier and beat the crowd to the limited parking at the oceanfront. I was out of the house by 5:00, even going through my normal routine of a shower, coffee and breakfast and my morning constitutional. There were no problems driving to the race area except getting closer to the beach the traffic did pick up a bit. The first parking lot I pulled into, where I saw a lot of cars pulling in, was a private lot and they wanted to charge me $20 to park to which I laughed at the guy and pulled back out. There was an adjacent municipal parking lot on the corner of 19th and Pacific where I found a more reasonable $7 charge...and it was about equal distance from the start and finish line. I walked/jogged almost a mile to the starting area which gave me a chance to warm-up/test out my left lower leg problem that I had sustained during the Mud Run about three weeks earlier. It was healing but the pain was still there especially at the beginning of a run. I had taken three extra strength Tylenol at breakfast to help take most of the discomfort away even though I don't like the idea of taking meds on race day.
The race starts at 7:00 so I had plenty of time to stretch and do another warm-up jog as well as eat part of a bagel, half a banana and sip some water. Made a couple of visits to the port-a-lets but when I got to my starting corral 15 minutes prior to the start, I felt the urge to go again...but I suppressed the urge thinking that I could certainly make it through the hour and half to the finish. The race is corral started with each corral waiting 1-1.5 minutes after the corral ahead starts...there are at least 24 corrals. They start the wheel chairs first, then the elite women about 15 minutes prior to the main start. They start the elite men as well as corral 1 at 7:00...I'm in corral 2 and we move up to the start line and wait almost a minute and a half before we are let loose. Since I am very bad at pacing myself I had hoped to go with a pace group but this race didn't have a 1:30 pace group...the fastest one was 1:45...I wanted to try starting off slow this race, around 7:00 minute miles...most races...well all the prior races without a pace group...I start off like a jackrabbit with a pace anywhere from 6:15 -6:30 minute miles. This course was very well marked with visible mile markers with electronic timers at each mile, 5K, 10K, 15K and 20K as well as timing mats at 5K, 10K, 10 mile and 11 miles. The first mile surprisingly was very near my expected pace of just under 7:00. Even at the 7:00 mpm pace, we caught up to the tail end of corral 1 before we make the turn onto Pacific Ave which is a bit before the 1 mile mark. The next 5 miles are also at the same pace. The second mile we went over the bridge and onto a mostly shaded General Booth Blvd for the next 2 miles. Running through Camp Pendleton from miles 6-7, we caught a nice cool crosswind, which felt good. Then back over the bridge for mile 8 where we could see runners from the later corrals still going the opposite way. There was a bit of a headwind going up Atlantic Ave miles 8-11 and I felt my pace slowing quite a bit, then we turned onto the boardwalk for what seemed the longest two plus miles I had ever run. It seemed long because you could see the finish banner/towers in the distance and they didn't seem to get any closer. I finally crossed the finish line in 1:39:46/7...chip time: 1:38:27.
The Not so Good:
I was unable to maintain my PMP of 7:20...ended up with a 7:31 pace
My leg...I had left leg tenderness up to about mile 3 than just a dull ache until we reached the boardwalk where the pain became more apparent. After the finish, I was limping pretty bad due to the discomfort. The morning after the race, I could barely walk on it but with Motrin, ice and rest it was feeling well enought to move around some later in the day...thank goodness Monday was a holiday. I'm hoping it's just a shin splint and not a stress fracture.
A great event...had fun.
The crowds and bands were great, the cheerleaders and volunteers were awesome and this seemed to be a very well organized race for the large amount of runners.
And the weather...you couldn't have asked for better for that time of the year.
Some of the sights seen during/at the end of the race:
- 1 of 3 running Elvis seen.
- Sponge Bob seen with cheerleaders singing Sponge Bob Square pants song.
- Runner juggling 4-5 bean bags while running.
- Geico Cavemen...about four of them running together
- The amazing Team Hoyt...a person was also handing out iced wet Hoyt towels between miles 4-5...a very welcome relief.
Race timing mat splits:
There were 580 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 17013 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 736 of 17013
Age group finish place was 22 of 580
Time: 1:38:27 for an overall pace of 7:31 per mile