As you read in my last post, I was racing both the Crawlin’ Crab 5K and Half Marathon on back to back days. With the 5k over, it was time to focus on the half marathon.
This was going to be my 7th half marathon and would be knocking off state #5 in my 50 state quest (PA, FL, SC & KY were previously knocked off the list).
I honestly had no idea what to expect for this race. I didn’t have a clue of where I should goal myself & had no idea how my body would hold up. My training has sucked and this was my first half since April. I think my number one goal was to just finish. When I was at the expo on Friday I stopped by the pace team booth to see where each pace team would be. I was put into Corral 3 and the 2:15 pace team would be there, so I figured I’d start with them and see how it went. My PR is 2:15:00 and I knew I wouldn’t be close to that but I also didn’t want to be over 2:30. When the guy asked me where I thought I would be I told him 2:22 to 2:23.
The night before the race, I found a local Italian place and decided to give it a go. It ended up being a pretty good choice. Since I was by myself, I typically eat the bar but there was literally no one at the bar, so I got a table. I ended up with some baked pasta with mushrooms and sausage and ate way to much bread. Of course I had my standard prerace glass of wine. I know a lot of runners won’t drink weeks leading up to the race, but that runner is not me. I prefer to have my glass of wine.
Morning of the race, I wanted to get up a little earlier than I normally would so I could make some oatmeal and relax a little. I had planned on walking over again and planned to check a bag, so I didn’t know how long that whole process would take it. I still didn’t know what to wear since it was colder than I thought so I went with capris, my procrompression socks and a short sleeve shirt. Since I was checking a bag, I wore a long sleeve shirt on the walk over to keep me warm. I try to plan my outfit options knowing I will warm up and plan for it to feel like 20 degrees warmer once you start, but I struggled with this one.
Once I got to the starting line area (same area as the previous day 5K race), I found the bag check and reluctantly gave up the long sleeve. Their bag check process was beyond easy, so I was grateful for that. I gave up my stuff and then headed to the bathroom lines. I was again shocked to see how many port-a-johns there were for such a small race. Kudos to these race directors for knowing the right runners to port-a-john ratio! I didn’t even have to wait in line!
I was in corral 3, so off I went to get thereI decided I would at least try and start with the 2:15 pace group and keep them in my sights for as long as I could then see what happens. They were at the back of the corral and easy to spot. I didn’t introduce myself to either pacer since I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up to a 2:15. The corral start was the same as the 5K, so we waited a few minutes and finally corral 3 was off to the races!
Not having an idea of what will happen can be a good thing. I had no true expectations of myself and I just wanted to finish and get some bling. Mile 1 (and mile 12) had the only ‘hill’ on the course and it was really just an overpass. I had to laugh at the fact that they called it a hill. I used mile 1 to settle in and get any nerves out of the system.
During the first 2 miles I actually kept up with the 2:15 pace group and I felt good. I knew I wouldn’t be able to last long with them, so I trailed off just a few steps going into mile 3. I kept them in my sights, but slowed down to around 10:30’s. I still felt good and felt I was getting into a good stride. Even in these first 3 miles, I never felt like a sardine in a can. There was plenty of room on the road. Most of these miles, the race course was only closed on the one side and traffic kept flowing on the other. There were a lot of volunteers and police officers out to keep the runners safe.
As I went into mile 3, I met up with 2 ladies and we started chatting. Their first question to me was “how do you like this pace” and I just laughed at them. I told them I felt good right now but knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain for the whole race. We started talking about races, the local area and doing triathlons. The one woman was maybe 2 my age and a total beast. She told me about all her ultra’s she has done and Ironman races as well. I guess this race was a walk in the park for her. We had talked and enjoy mile 3 so much so I missed the 5k mark. I passed through though at 32:20 (10:26/mile). I broke off with them just after mile 4 at the second water stop. Since I carry water, I grabbed some and they pulled off to walk through.
Coming after the water stop, we pulled into downtown Hampton. I had not visited it prior to the race and was shocked to see how cute it was. The one thing I did not like about these miles was a small stretch was run on an old cobblestone road. I felt myself slow down as to not trip. There were a fair amount of spectators along this area so it was nice to run through some cheer zones.
Around mile 5 I felt HUNGRY. Like, give me all the pancakes hungry. I normally don’t get this way during a race so I knew I was in trouble. I took out some shot blocks and chomped down on a few, but if I felt that hungry by mile 5, I knew I might be doomed. It was also around here I kept going between 10:35 to 10:40. Still pretty good I was telling myself.
I hit the 10k mark in 1:05:01 (10:29/mile). I didn’t feel as hungry at this point, so I was happy about that. These miles were some of my favorite. Somewhere around mile 7 we got to turn and run along the water. I loved the view of not just the water but also of the very nice houses we got to run right by. For being out there by the water, we passed a fair amount of people sitting out on the sidewalks to cheer the runners by. A few had signs, but many were just out there enjoying coffee and waving.
Somewhere around mile 8 we passed the only first aid tent. I think they were handing out jelly beans and I probably should have taken some, but I had hit a wall by this point and wanted to just give up and walk the last 5 miles. I heard one of the volunteers at the first aid tent said the water stop was “just up ahead” so I told myself get to that point and then walk. My idea of “just up ahead” and their idea of it were clearly not the same. I think it was a mile away. About mile 8.8 though I had to walk. I just had nothing in me anywhere. I figured I would get some water, throw back some shot blocks and start a run/walk the rest of the race.
Miles 9- 13.1
These were some hard miles for me. I struggle when I start to walk in a race because even if I start looking at my watch to time out a run/walk, I come up with every excuse I can to just keep walking. I get bored and walking felt good, so why not keep walking? I started with trying to run .5 miles and walk .1 and by 3 rounds into that, I dropped down to running about 3 minutes and walking 1 minute. At some point around mile 10 a woman started walking by me (she was also run/walking) and asked how I was doing. I told her I was OK, I’d finish and get there eventually. I told her though I wish there were more spectators out and especially someone I knew as I was all by myself out there. She smile and told me I had thousands of other friends out here supporting me. She smiled and started walking. I think she knew I needed that little boost and it sure did help!
The one thing I knew going into this race was that I didn’t train well for it, so whatever happened would just happen. The last 2 miles seems to just drag out. I remember just telling myself one foot in front of the other. There wasn’t a huge crowd support at this time, so that also started dragging me down. It’s amazing what random strangers can do to get you going!
Finally I hit the last mile and figured I’d just try to run as much as I could. I had about 5 minutes in and then came to that bridge again. I started to slowly jog, but then took it down to a walk for the rest of the way. I think sometimes I am faster at walking. I have nice long legs, so they come in handy every once in awhile. I got some momentum down the bridge and knew as soon as I turned right after the bridge it was about .3 miles left! I walked for maybe 15s more and then just told myself to get my shit together and run. Finally there were spectators out there to help cheer as well! Just before I came to the finish line, my name was announced (awesome touch to the race!) and I picked it up for the last few feet and took it home!
Once I passed the finish line, all I remember is getting a banana, a granola bar, a water shoved in my hands and eventually a medal around my neck. A few more feet through the finisher’s chute a volunteer handed me another finisher’s gift, a visor. After a few more feet, I was handed another medal for the Shell Yeah! Challenge. Basically I was given ALL THE BLING!!!
Since I was at the race alone I figured I would just pop into the post race expo, maybe grab a beer and head back to the hotel to change and get on my way. Instead I found myself at a table chatting with some really fun Ragnar people! I was standing at the table by myself probably drinking a beer and instagraming (wow, don’t I sound amazing) and they asked if they could join. I of course said yes and when I saw the Ragnar shirt I was even more excited. One of the runners also happened to be originally from Western PA. I swear no matter where I go, I run into someone from Western PA. We got to talking about Ragnar and how amazing it was. I believe their team name was Run Forrest Run and they had just completed Ragnar DC. They mentioned they had planned to run Ragnar Napa Valley and I told them to call me up if they need another runner!
This was such a fun race for me. I had been looking forward to running this race for quite some time and it met all my expectations and more! If you are looking for a PR course and need to mark off VA from your quest of 50 states, this is a great race to run!! J&A Racing really knows how to put on not just a great race, but a fun experience! I would love the opportunity to run some of their other races as well.
After the race I ventured down to Virginia Beach and enjoy some time just walking along the ocean. I am by no means a big beach and ocean person, but to do this in October after a race.. very relaxing!
Overall, I was happy with how I finished. I still have 2 more half marathons though in the next 30 days on the calendar, so on to the next challenge!!
Official finish time:
113/243, 25-29 Females
654/1465, All Females