You tried to ruin my race weekend in Virginia Beach, but you didn’t quite do it.
To be fair: I was disappointed that a great combination of beach weather and running weather originally forecast for this past weekend — with sunny skies, low 70s for the start and low 60s dew points overall — didn’t pan out. That forecast would have given me some time to read on the beach and play in the ocean. I had a dream of finishing the half marathon and literally running into the sea. Alas, that was not on tap.
Instead, Tropical Storm Hermine — downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane — barreled up the East Coast, bringing insane winds and heavy rain.
I woke up super early because I know how 95 can get on long holiday weekends. I got to my hotel around 9:15 and my room was already ready! Good thing, because I was beat and needed a nap.
After my nap, I felt unsettled. I decided to go for a run. I was supposed to do 6 miles on Thursday, but was too tired. So, I decided to run the boardwalk and maybe go to the expo right at the end.
The first mile flew by and felt super easy despite the pace my Garmin beeped at me. I reached the end of the boardwalk, turned around to head the other way and immediately knew why. I’d been running in a strong tailwind without even knowing it.
It was a struggle to run about 2.5 miles the other way to reach the other end of the boardwalk. There were a few stops to just rest and stare at the ocean. I realized a little more than halfway through 6 miles that I’d be way too sweaty and gross to run to the expo from the oceanfront, so I went up to my room to shower and change.
About halfway through the run, I also got the text that Saturday’s Mile on the Sand was canceled. Given the weather forecast and complicated logistics of trying to move the race to the boardwalk (which would still be blasted with wind and sand) or elsewhere, I wasn’t surprised.
Rock ‘n’ Roll knows how do to things right — and we would still get our medals and beach towel. They encouraged us to just do the mile virtually or run on the sand at another, more safe, time. They’d also been great about communication — sending out texts, emails and using social media to inform runners twice a day what the status of the races were. And it was a great call that they canceled the Mile on the Sand by 1 p.m. Friday, instead of potentially waiting until that evening.
The expo was a short 15-minute walk away, and I was basically in and out. I stopped only to talk to one of the CGI folks I know and to get some more Glukos gummies for my remaining super long run and the marathon itself. I also finally picked up my actual, physical TourPass, which I forgot to pick up at the other four Rock ‘n’ Roll races I’ve done this year.
I walked back to the hotel and got in my only time on the sand, dipping my ankles into the ocean, which was at the perfect warmth for going in deeper and playing in. But I wasn’t in my swimsuit and there were dangerous riptides anyway, so I didn’t go in any farther.
Then it was time to grab a snack and get ready for the happy hour Rock ‘n’ Roll put on at a nearby restaurant. I heard about it over the loudspeaker at the expo and it was at a place I had jotted down as having good dinner potential.
I ended up staying out until a bit before 11, enjoying some really great nachos with pulled pork and a few beers. Steff, her husband, and Gloria came by not too far into the happy hour and we had a great time catching up and chatting.
Walking back to the hotel, it was clear Hermine was coming. It was windier and I was a little cold. It was lightly raining, too. I got back at 11 and went right to sleep, only to wake up in the middle of the night to a roaring wind coming in through my air conditioner unit. I added interior air conditioning to my list of hotel perks to look for, put a pillow over my head — which I hate — and tried to get some decent sleep, but it was a toss-and-turn struggle.
I woke up around 8 and peered outside. Hermine was almost at full force. I saw a person along the oceanfront and immediately thought, who is this crazy guy?! I Snapchatted that. Then a couple minutes later, I saw him still out there, but now he was gesturing. “Wait, is this a Weather Channel guy?!” I wondered, and Snapchatted. But where was his camera? Just on a balcony so it was out of the elements? I turned on my TV and found the Weather Channel. OMG! It is a Weather Channel meteorologist — Mike Seidel!
I spent the next half hour or so completely amused. Going back and forth between watching him on TV and watching him on the beach. At one point, two runners came down the boardwalk wearing their Mile on the Sand bibs — they were getting in that mile no matter what. Mike Seidel was able to get them live on TV, too.
After my amusement waned a little — but not much — I decided to do my Mile on the Sand as a Mile on the Treadmill While Looking at the Sand. I Snapchatted a couple more times while watching Seidel from my treadmill, and about a quarter mile into my walk, I noticed him leaving the beach.
I wondered if he was coming into my hotel, but after a minute figured maybe not. Then, he entered the hotel’s back entrance, which is right next to the workout room. I immediately knew I had to go talk to him and get a quote for USA TODAY. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
So I stopped my treadmill walk, stalked him a bit and found him at a table in the breakfast area. He was completely soaked and busy trying to tweet out a video of himself at the beach. He was having quite a time with it because the screen protector on his phone had captured some moisture and wasn’t letting him type accurately.
It was clear he was super busy, and I found out he’d been on the road for 10 straight days, too. I got a couple good quotes, and then he needed to dash back outside. I went to finish up my last .75 on the treadmill, then got breakfast and went around interviewing a few of the other hotel guests so I’d have a nice feed to send to USA TODAY. A lot of the hotel guests were there for the race, and the feed I sent in ended up being posted as a separate story online and in print!
I basically spent the rest of the day in my hotel room. I had ventured out front around 10 — at the height of the storm — and it was insane, even under a covered awning. I can’t imagine being on the beach. The trees were bending at all sorts of crazy angles and the rain was coming in sideways.
I’d never experienced a tropical storm full on before and it was amazing to see the force of the Hermine and incredible waves it brought in.
A Rock n Blog meetup was canceled because of the weather, and I had brought food for lunch so I didn’t need to venture out. I took a nap — even though the wind was still blowing loudly through the AC (it finally stopped at the end of my nap), then went down for a dip in the pool before getting a shower and getting some pizza takeout for dinner.
The pizza was really good, but contained so much cheese that I knew wouldn’t be good for my stomach. So I had to slough some of it off and not finish the whole thing. The rest of the night I spent reading in bed. I was tired from my poor night’s sleep the night before and it was lights out at 9:30 with a 5:30 alarm set for the race.
I definitely slept better and could feel it. I got ready and headed out the door a little after 6. I walked straight into a race shuttle I hadn’t planned on using, and decided to go for it — it’d get me to the start line faster.
I purchased VIP for this race, and I’m glad I did. I was thinking more about the after-race party, but it came in handy pre-race. I needed the bathroom when I got to the start line, and then needed it twice more before the start — my stomach was acting up a little. And the VIP bathrooms were indoors and there were zero lines. My stomach had started being funky Saturday, but I figured it was because my period started and I had hoped it would be done by Sunday.
We had a Rock ‘n’ Blog / We Run Social meetup before the race start but two seconds into that I felt I needed to go to the bathroom again, so I headed back to the VIP before getting a photo with the group. Sorry, guys!
I didn’t get what I needed to get done in the bathroom, so I stepped outside again only to have to go back a few minutes later, just 10-15 minutes before the start. But I finally could tell I was done with needing the bathroom. Phew.
Steff, Gloria and I had met another runner at the happy hour and she found us Sunday morning! I had talked to Steff about wanting to do around a 2:10 for this race, potentially a little faster if I could, and the other girl was willing to give it a shot. (P.S. Steff is super fast, so 2:10 is her long run pace!)
I had been concerned about running this race in just shorts and a tank given the wind forecast — at one point up to 20-30 mph sustained winds with 40-50 mph gusts. But on race morning, the winds had died down a lot. Still, I felt a little chilled until I’d walked around the convention center and VIP area. That’s when I knew I didn’t need the extra pullover long sleeve I’d brought just in case. I checked my bag super quickly in between the bathroom stops.
We started in corral 4, and the first few miles really flew by. I kept expecting to feel the wind, and anticipated a nice tailwind down Atlantic Avenue when we turned, but it didn’t manifest. Certainly not a bad thing, since that would have meant a strong headwind elsewhere on the course.
The other running lady stayed with us until mile 5 or so, then pulled back. Steph and I kept going, clocking in miles between 9:30 and 9:45 per the Garmin. I felt really good through mile 7 or so, but by mile 8 my legs were starting to hurt. I’d done no speedwork in the past six weeks and it was still rather warm and humid as race days come. Plus, we were losing time at the waterstops, where I started needing more time to get two cups instead of one and was walking a bit slower because of my legs. After mile 8, we hit the stop with Glukos and I struggled — once again — to get the gummies to open. It added on a good minute or more to our time, and I was only trying to get three or so into my stomach! One fell in my water cup and one or two fell on the ground. Ugh.
Miles 9-12 were a little bit of a struggle. My legs were hurting, so I backed off the pace a little, knowing once I hit that last mile that I would pick it back up. I made sure to get extra water in if I felt I needed it, too. My body kept telling me to walk, but I was too close to the finish line to give in and knew I’d feel awful if I did. Plus, I had Steff keeping my company!
I started feeling good again on the (slight) downhill around mile 12 — a bridge we needed to cross twice during the race. We turned onto the boardwalk a short time later, and I was ready to go. I ended up leaving Steff and then realizing half way through the boardwalk stretch that I’d gone off a bit too soon. I eased back a little bit, then picked it back up once the finish line was closer.
I expected the headwind on the boardwalk to be awful, but it was actually better than it had been when I did my 6 on Friday. Go figure!
I crossed the finish line in 2:09:39. Just under goal pace!
This was my fifth Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon of the year, which meant I got to pick up my heavy medal on race day! With the remix medal, it ended up being 4 medals for one race weekend!
Overall, Hermine had a minimal impact on Sunday race day. The wind was nowhere near as bad as forecast. I didn’t even feel it but for a couple of times during the race, most notably crossing the bridge on the way back in and on the boardwalk.
The race needed to ditch the inflatables, tall mileage signage (there were still short post mile markers) and the start and finish line banners, but it really didn’t affect the race much. There were still plenty of bands and spectators on the course.
I spent a couple hours at the VIP restaurant afterward, and I got some hushpuppies. I became obsessed with making sure I got some this weekend and the VIP restaurant served them during normal business hours so I asked the bartender if there was any way I could order some. I ended up taking them as takeout because they were so busy making tots for the VIP spread that it took awhile to get my hushpuppies into the fryer. But the wait was oh so worth it.
It was sunny on my short walk back to the hotel, and I really didn’t want to leave. Finally, decent beach weather! But it was, sadly, time to get a shower and hit the road.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my race. Even though 2:10 was my goal, I figured that wouldn’t feel too hard, and that if I pushed a little I could finish even faster.
I reminded myself I’d just run 18 a week before, and 6 on Friday, and it was hot and humid on race day. Perhaps if it was a nice fall race that I tapered for, then I could have run 2:05. Instead, I was pretty damn soaked in sweat by the end of this race and I’d done zero speedwork to prepare.
If anything, this race gives me a great picture of where my fitness is right now, and the fact that it’s still summer. On the plus side, I expected to feel more stiff and achy later Sunday and into Monday, and I did not, so my body is still keeping on track with recovering well from workouts.
Next up: A 20-miler and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly weekend with Steff!