VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Last year, I ran a local half-marathon event which was rel­a­tive­ly small (300+ run­ners). Angela, hav­ing work con­flicts, did­n’t run any for­mal event, but did run 13.1 miles with me on what was dubbed the First Annu­al Angela Dyer Birth­day Half-Marathon, which actu­al­ly took place last Labor Day (e.g. – not her birth­day). This year, we thought we’d give a much larg­er race a try. In fact, this would be the largest event any of us had ever run in: The Vir­ginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon.

We weren’t going to be run­ning this one alone, though. Sta­cie John­son and Matt Thomas were run­ning as well, and they’d be joined on the trip to Vir­ginia by Sta­cie’s hus­band, Jason for both moral sup­port and logis­tics. This race has around 20,000 par­tic­i­pants, and so logis­tics were going to be very impor­tant, as it would turn out. We all met up at the hotel the evening before1, after going to pick up race pack­ets (includ­ing bib num­bers and time chips) at the near­ly com­plete VA Beach Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. After get­ting some rec­om­men­da­tions from a local friend of mine, Scott, we all went out to din­ner at a lit­tle mom & pop Ital­ian restau­rant for some prop­er pre-race din­ing. Since all of us take pho­tos to at least some degree, that along with exer­cise, was the top­ic of dis­cus­sion for most of the evening. After Matt had treat­ed us all to our hearts con­tent of pas­ta, Scott treat­ed us to some ice cream at a local dri­ve up joint. We did our best to turn in ear­ly and said our good-nights to Scott.

The next morn­ing was a quick get-ready for the race, where Jason dumped us off just in time to make it to the start line. Just in time to stand around and wait, that is. Races this large start in waves, and ours were all back in the mid­dle at best. Some 20 min­utes after the first start gun fired, Matt and I were off. He wise­ly observed the crowds were way too dense on the course to have any hope of run­ning the race togeth­er, so we each did our own thing, bob­bing and weav­ing around the course for sev­er­al miles (truth be told, all the way to the fin­ish line).

The course, being all at sea lev­el is about as flat as race cours­es get. The only hill is the bridge over the mari­na, and that isn’t even exact­ly very steep or chal­leng­ing; and this com­ing from a guy who trains in Rich­mond, VA. There is enough vari­a­tion on the course to make it go by rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly, at least, until the end. The last two miles (give or take) are along the board­walk. This is explained in the brochures as some sort of roman­tic sell­ing point for the race. In truth, as Jason J. described it, the board­walk is much more accu­rate­ly described by slab-walk as this was two miles over hard con­crete under the bak­ing sun. You’re about as East as East gets in VA, short of run­ning along the wet sand, so to say the least: there’s no shade. Run­ning through the many mis­ters (pipes that spray water mist, not actu­al­ly male humans) pro­vides some relief, but the only real relief came in the form of ice cubes hand­ed out at the end of the race, placed inside of the wet hand-tow­el also doled out there.

I had a time I could be fair­ly hap­py with (2:06) and was­n’t throw­ing up any­thing (prob­a­bly because there was noth­ing in me…), so I felt pret­ty good. I found Matt not too long after the race. We got some more ice and got in line for our free beer. While it was an effec­tive way to get some quick carbs, after two hours of stren­u­ous exer­cise, it does­n’t take too much alco­hol to push me over (though, as things turned out, I had some time before I would need to dri­ve any­where). Jason found us stand­ing near the agreed meet­ing spot (the names-beginning-with‑X,Y,-or‑Z sign; it seemed like such a good idea the night before). Angela and the Sta­cie came along very short­ly there-after. We began our walk to the bus pick-up to get a ride back to Jason’s car, which he had smart­ly parked with­in a block of one of the bus stops. After walk­ing about 12 blocks and then wait­ing in a line that wrapped anoth­er block-and-a-half, we packed onto a bus. Too bad this bus was head­ing the wrong way: out to the VA Beach amphithe­ater. You may not know (we cer­tain­ly did­n’t): that’s no where near down­town VA Beach, where Jason had parked. Well after a long, but even­tu­al­ly rest­ful bus ride back to our car (no thanks to a rude bus dri­ver who only brought us back after being told to do so by her superior).

We man­aged to get back to the hotel and eek out some quick show­ers before find­ing a nice restau­rant near­by to cel­e­brate. We did so in style, with good food and some good micro­brews (as well as a wait­ress who was real­ly, real­ly friend­lychat­ty). After­wards, we grabbed some cof­fee for the dri­ve to Rich­mond, where our two-car car­a­van head­ed for to enjoy a cou­ple more evenings of rest and friends.

  1. Angela and I were held up in traf­fic on the way over to the Beach and end­ed up tak­ing the long way there. []