Last year after running my first race, I was super motivated and excited to keep on running. I asked my friend if she thought I had enough time to train for a half marathon. With her encouragement I signed up for the 2016 Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon.
I spent the next few months training. This was before the days of the J&A Training team so I ran many solo miles and spent most of my training in the gym, because I preferred weights to running.
Suddenly, race weekend was here. I was SO nervous at the expo. I was cautious talking to anyone because I was afraid I would get judgement if I told them I was there for the half MARATHON. I mean… it has the word MARATHON. I don’t look like a MARATHONER… even half of one! Gah, I was nervous. I was also determined to prove my own strength and to finish.
That was me at the expo! OH THE NERVES!!! Oh and there was a tropical storm coming to town. Races on Saturday were already cancelled and they were watching the weather for Sunday, giving people the option already to defer or transfer their registration. I had never run in the rain, I didn’t even know if I had the “right gear” to run in the rain! (I really thought there was some magic jacket or something that all the “real runners” would know about. I wouldn’t have it and I would be exposed as a fraud before the race even started.
That night I went home and went Google crazy looking for what I needed to go buy on Saturday so that I would be okay for Sunday’s half marathon. Unfortunately, that same night I had a family emergency. At 4am my best friend picked me up and took me to the airport for a last minute flight out. My race bib stayed on my dining room table. The medal I would have earned on Sunday went home with someone else. It was devastating, but I had to go.
I have since ran 5 other half marathons, my first one being Rock n’ Roll Philly two weeks later. Followed by Crawlin Crab two weeks after that when I wasn’t happy with my performance in Philly. Rock n’ Roll VA beach was supposed to be my race though. I am RockAnneRun for goodness sakes… that is ALL ME!
This year I was determined to do it. I had to reclaim that course and wash away the negative association with this race and my family emergency. My friends called me crazy, because this race is known for having miserable weather. I was going to run it no matter what… so I might as well sign up for the 5K and Mile in the Sand too…
I had way more fun at the expo putting my nerves aside. It was “just another” half marathon with five behind me at this point. I saw some of my friends from the training team. I was confident, both dreading and excited for the next two days of running.
My weekend started off with the 5K. I started with a few people from the training team. Around the first mile marker we settled in to our own paces. It was just myself and Elise and she says to me “I’ll see you at the finish.” I expected her to hit the gas and leave me in the dust. So, I tuned in to my music and just enjoyed the run. The weather was overcast and windy. It felt really great having cooler temperatures. I had several friends along the course cheering and I ran in to a few more running! Around mile two I decided to take a walk break and there was Elise! Together we did some walking and some running and finished together. I was so glad to have her there, we pushed each other for the runs and made walking more enjoyable.
Next up was the Mile in the Sand…. um who thought THAT was a good idea? Before you tell me it isn’t that bad, let me point out it was in the soft sand. I will probably end up doing it again because I love the medal and the challenge… but really… ugh. At least I had fun people to
run walk it with!
Finally- it was time to reclaim the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon.
First lets address the elephant in the room- the weather was so much better than I could have asked for! Low 70s and partly cloudy. The only time the sun got truly brutal was on the boardwalk during the final mile. I would run this race every year if you could guarantee those conditions.
Before the race I met up with a few people from the team for a picture before we headed to the corrals. I even filmed an awkward Facebook Live video when we were waiting for them to release our corral (I had never been so close to the front!).
Then it was time! The course took us past some familiar sights and in the second mile we settled in to a good pace. Suddenly, I kept hearing my name! In the third mile there was so much support from our team and even from work and my non-running life! Talk about an energy rush…. right before a bridge. The bridge is basically a mountain to Virginia Beach. (Oh how I love my flat city!) Up and over we went. When we got to The Adventure Park I was looking for anyone I knew. And there she was- I screamed her name loud enough that she actually heard me over the noise all the way at the doors to the building (trust me, it is pretty far from where I was). Also at this stop was more people from the training team! Great energy boost!
We kept on, Emily talked about her experience running a similar course for the Shamrock Marathon. I didn’t know the girls that I was running with very well so I enjoyed chatting and getting to know them. We switched to intervals around this point which made it easier.
Eventually we found a few other J&A Ambassadors/training team friends! Then we were off the base and back on General Booth heading back to the beach!
(I was having a little too much fun maybe)
Really the whole race just melted away. I spent a good bit of time walking, enjoying the sights and sounds of the race. The course support from the community was one of the best I have ever experienced. The course support from my friends was just incredible. It was a great race!
Also- the headlining band was Sister Hazel! I love them! I can’t think of a better way to reclaim this race. Moving forward this will be the race that was just for fun, just for me. Not the race I had to miss.