Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon - September 2013

Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon - September 2013

What better way to run out the clock on the final days of summer than a trip to Virginia Beach for some R&R (Relaxation and Running)?  I actually ran this race as a relay with a friend from work.  My friend, Scott, has been going to VA Beach over Labor Day weekend with his wife and other friends and family for about the past five years, and always raves about how much fun it is.  He has also run the RNR Half Marathon during each of those years.  Unfortunately, it is frequently hot and humid in VA Beach over Labor Day weekend, so it is not a great race if you are looking to run a fast time.  Scott did not really want to battle through the heat again this year, but he asked if I might be interested in running it with him in the relay division.  I would run the first 7.9 miles and he would finish the last 5.2 miles.  We checked the winning relay times from the past couple years and saw that we would have a really good chance of being the top overall relay team!  So, when we signed up, we named our team In It To Win It.

My wife and I headed down to VA Beach right around noon on Friday, hoping to beat some traffic.  But apparently a lot of other people like to go to VA Beach over Labor Day weekend too...and they also had the "clever" idea to leave early like we did. So, there was a good bit of traffic on the way there. This was actually the first time either of us had ever been to VA Beach, even though we have lived in VA for over five years now.  Despite the traffic, we made it in plenty of time for a yummy seafood dinner with everyone before heading back to the hotel.  Our hotel was right on the beach, and even had a spacious balcony outside overlooking the beach.  This was an excellent location, because we were really close to the stage for the American Music Fest, which is actually right on the beach.  We could just sit on our balcony and watch and listen without even having to pay to attend the concerts.  Chris Daughtry performed on Friday, Barenaked Ladies on Saturday, and Third Eye Blind on Sunday.  The hotel was also only about a quarter mile away from the race finish line, which was convenient too. 

The race started on Sunday morning at 7 am.  Even at 7 am, it was already 76 degrees with 97% humidity!  Yuck!  I was starting to see why Scott did not want to run the entire half marathon.  We took a short shuttle ride (along with our wives who came to cheer us on!) from our hotel over to the race start.  Once we got there, Scott had to take another shuttle over to the relay transition area at the 7.9 mile mark where I would hi-five him and he would run the final 5.2 miles to the finish.  I'm not sure why they don't just split the relay in half - with each person running 6.55 miles.  Maybe there just isn't a convenient area to have a bunch of people standing around at the half way point.  But I didn't really mind, since I am training for a marathon right now anyway.  It would just be like a long lactate threshold training run for me.

Once Scott hopped on his shuttle bus, I completed my warm-up, and then headed over to the starting corral.  There were a lot of runners - well over 10,000!  Still, I nudged my way up to the 2nd row of runners.  After all, I figured that the soon-to-be winning relay team should be positioned somewhere near the front.  After the national anthem and some speeches, the race was off!  I went out fairly conservative with a 6:30 mile.  I knew it was really hot and humid, and that I would not be able to run my normal pace - which for this distance would be about a 6:10 or 6:15/mile.  I wanted to run with a reasonable effort for the first 5 miles or so, and keep my heart rate just below lactate threshold (about 172 bpm).  Then I figured that I would pick it up for the last 2 or 3 miles before the relay exchange.  This turned out to be a good strategy, because I passed a ton of people after about the 3 mile mark.  They just went out too fast for the weather conditions, and started to overheat and fade.

My 2nd mile was a solid 6:36, but I slowed down on miles 3 through 7 with a 6:44, 6:44, 6:47, 6:50, and 6:43 respectively.  The weather certainly was a challenge.  However, I picked it up on my last mile and averaged a 6:31 pace.  Overall, I ran 7.98 miles in 53:22, averaging a 6:41/mile pace.  I was generally happy with this, given the conditions, but do think I probably could have pushed it harder on the 6th and 7th miles. 

In It To Win It - We won it!!
Around 7.4 miles, I could finally see the relay exchange area ahead in the distance.  I wasn't sure if I was winning the relay or not though.  There were a few other runners around me, but none of them had on a blue race bib, which signified that you were a relay runner.  As I came up a hill and veered left towards the exchange area, I could hear a lot of people cheering loudly.  I also heard a race announcer exclaim, "And here comes the FIRST PLACE relay team!"  Woohoo! I WAS in first!  I sprinted the final stretch to Scott, hi-fived him, and he ran off to finish the race for In It To Win It

When I looked back, I didn't see any other relay teams coming in close behind us.  As long as Scott did not self destruct, we should have the victory!  My wife met me at the relay exchange area, and we ran on some side roads to take a shortcut back to the finish line.  We made it back and met up with Scott and everyone else.  He said he didn't see any other relay teams pass him, so he was pretty sure we had won. Later on, the race results were posted, which confirmed that we were indeed 1st place overall out of about 280 relay teams with a time of 1:27:24 (6:40/mile pace)!  (Race Results)  The closest team to us was about 9 minutes behind.  In It To Win It had won it!! 

What a fun weekend!  Lots of beach time, concerts, yummy seafood, and a winning a race.  I will likely head back to VA Beach again next Labor Day weekend, where Scott and I will have the opportunity to defend our relay championship.

1 comment:

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