My husband and I hate traffic. We avoid it at all costs. But this weekend we did something we haven’t done since we left Virginia Beach 5 years ago: we drove home for Labor Day weekend.
Because it was time to Rock N Roll…
This was the Husband’s first half marathon and my third; a training run I was incorporating into my marathon training plan. We were excited…we couldn’t wait to run OUR town.
We got excited when we headed to the Expo the day before the race.
This was the biggest race I’d run, and the Expo did not disappoint. I could have spent hours there…had I not been hungry.
After getting pumped at the Expo, we made it home and turned in early because we had a very early wake-up call: 3:30AM. By 4:30, we were on the first shuttle to the beach, and believe it or not, we weren’t the only ones with the idea to get to the race site early.
We got to the start with plenty of time to spare; we are always with the mindset “better early than late,” so we didn’t mind getting there early. We spent the time people watching and met up with some of our MD friends around 6AM before heading to our corrals.
Mike & I were in the same corral, and around 7:30AM we were off!
What I haven’t mentioned until now was the weather. It was warm at the start; around 78-80 degrees (at 7AM!) and the humidity was around 80%. Yes, 80%, people. The air was thick, it was sticky, and it was WARM. We were sweating waiting for our corral to be sent off. I was dripping in sweat about a quarter of a mile in. I felt sluggish from the get-go and I was hoping to snap out of it, like I usually do, around mile 3-4. That didn’t quite happen.
I feed off of the race vibe…usually race adrenaline gets me through. I have a feeling everyone was feeling the same way I was during this race: hot, tired, and slow.
The thing about training for an endurance event: you never really know what’s going to happen on race day. You can train your hardest and best, but there are just some external factors you cannot control. Heat and humidity is one of them. I did train in the middle of summer, in very high temps at times, but my last couple runs have been in fairly pleasant weather and I was not feeling the 80% humidity on race day.
My husband and I ran the entire race together. If I was feeling the heat, he was feeling it more. He had cramping issues and told me he felt dehydrated. I tried keeping his spirits up by chatting with him, but I got the idea that he didn’t really want to talk. At one point he asked me, “Why are you talking so NORMAL?!” I had to laugh. It wasn’t long ago where the roles were reversed; I was the one dying and he was the one trying to pep talk me through. I just wanted so badly for his first half marathon experience to be a good one.
I took a look around me and everyone was feeling the heat. There were more walkers than runners; people stopped at the side of the road, sitting, stretching, heads between their legs. More looks of frustration than smiles.
After 12 miles, we finally made it to the boardwalk and could see the end in sight. I felt a surge of energy and felt my feet moving faster. My husband asked me if I wanted to hold hands to the finish line, and I agreed…this was OUR race in OUR town after all. I find out later that he did that because he didn’t want me to beat him. Haha!
13.1 miles done. 13.1 very hard miles complete. This race taught me that not every race is going to be a fairytale; not every race is going to end with a desirable time; not every race is going to feel good. No matter how much effort you put into training, there will be things you cannot control.
I did “PR” on a couple things: I ran the entire race without music. This is huge, as I plan on registering for a local marathon that doesn’t allow headphones/music. I’m actually finding music distracting and I felt I got to really experience the race by having my eyes AND ears open.
Another PR: I didn’t beat myself up at all during this race. Pace didn’t matter, nor did my overall time. What mattered was finishing. What mattered was the experience. 13.1 miles in the summer heat…not a lot of people can do that. I am proud to say that I did.
Lessons learned: I doubt I will register for another Rock N Roll race (too crowded!), or another summer race (OMG, too hot!), and I am on the fence about running another race in Virginia Beach, period. I’ll save that for another post.