This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Virginia Beach for the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. It was a fun ~48 hours filled with some running, great food and lots of time with friends!
I landed in Norfolk Friday afternoon and after a quick Uber ride, was in the Virginia Beach area.
I met up with my friend, Chris (aka RunWestin) for dinner at Eat – and were joined by Jennifer and Michael. The food was amazing – definitely a great restaurant to try if you are in the VA Beach area (thanks, Jen, for the recommendation!).
Saturday morning started off bright and early – Jess picked me up and we headed to her in-law’s home where we sat around and chatted for several hours (we had plans to watch the sunrise with her children but the rain and stormy skies prevented that from happening). We finally made our way to a local park for a few shakeout miles. This park is gorgeous – relatively flat, packed dirt to run on and TONS of local runners getting their long runs in. I even ran into Ally while we were there – it was amazing to finally meet her after years of following each other on social media.
Later that morning, I made my way to the expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. I am usually in and out of expos but I ended up spending almost three hours walking around, testing out some of the services and listening to a couple of the speakers.
In the center of the expo was Humana‘s booth. Humana believes everyone has the power to rock his or her health, which is why they have teamed up with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach race as a title sponsor (they are also the title sponsor for Chicago (race was in July) San Antonio and New Orleans). From Humana:
We’ll be using the hashtag #RockYourHealth throughout – this represents a mindset that fits in so well with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. You don’t have to be an uber athlete to #RockYourHealth, it’s just about making simple, positive changes to improve. #RockYourHealth is also about encouraging others, as we know how contagious positivity can be!
It was the most informative, fun and creative booth I’ve seen at a race expo – and was packed with runners!
Around the booth were a number of large screens with images and motivational phrases – LOVED them all! They are a great way to keep you on track with your goals and to help you #RockYourHealth. Here are a few of my favorites:
In the middle of Humana’s booth was an interactive health quiz – there was 10 questions on a mix of topics on health, eating, injuries and other running-related topics. Based on the number of questions you answered correctly and how quickly you answered them, you received a total score. I took the quiz and got a 305 – the top scores were in the upper 600s – amazing!
Next to the printers were biometric screenings – Humana was offering expo-goers the opportunity to have their body composition tested and analyzed. Knowing as much about yourself and your body is a crucial part to making steps to improve or strengthen yourself which will enable you to #RockYourHealth.
I spent the rest of the evening at Jess’s in-laws home where I relaxed, drank water and had a delicious home-cooked meal! It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening!
As race day approached, Coach informed me that I would not be racing – the weather was not conducive to fast racing and since my goal race was only four weeks away, it made sense to not push too hard and get beat up by the weather. So we decided it made the most sense to use it more as a long tempo / steady state run. Start moderate and try to finish fast to build some confidence.
Although I’ve been running in the heat/humidity in NYC, I was not prepared for just how awful it was in VB. Thankfully, on race morning, there was a strong breeze (which was glorious the last few miles) and it was overcast – so it could have been WAY worse. But it was in the 80s with a high humidity (90% or so). Just really thick, stuffy air.
Race morning was a breeze. I walked out of my hotel at 5:55am and crossed Atlantic Avenue and hopped on a bus that was waiting – and less than 10 minutes later, was outside the Convention Center – and start line! Super quick. Super easy.
I used the bathroom one last time then got to do my warmup with my friend and idol, Kris! It was great to spend those ~10 minutes with her catching up in person.
I walked over to the first corral and hopped in – such an easy process especially given how large the race was! By 7am, the race
I can’t say that the run was a success. Honestly, it stunk. I didn’t hit the paces I had in mind and I certainly didn’t finish fast. But even worse was on the struggle bus from the very beginning. I never felt comfortable, never found a rhythm and never really liked how I felt. I was trying to pace myself and take it easy in the beginning, but even though I was running at/around my probable goal marathon pace, I felt like I was working MUCH harder.
Jess passed me around mile 2 and stayed in my sights for the next ~5.5-6 miles. Sometime before mile 8, I saw her pull off to the side of the road. I went over to check on her and we decided to stay together and run the rest of the race with each other. We both have the same coach – and neither of us were racing – so why not try to enjoy the miles we had left?
Over the next 5 miles, we chatted, complained, stopped a couple more times so Jess could stretch her leg and lifted each other up when we started to get discouraged. I’m thankful to have run those miles with her.
Sunday was a discouraging day of running for me. It wasn’t so much the pace that I was running that was discouraging, but more how I felt – which was awful. My legs felt like lead blocks and I couldn’t will myself to push any harder. The bright side is that mile 13 was the fastest for us together – and the last .25 miles was a 6:57 pace. So at least we finished fast, right? =)
Since I try to share the good and bad, here are the splits from Sunday:
13.22 6:57 (last .22 on garmin)
1:41:21 – 7:40 average
12 / 744 in Age Group
48 / 4758 Females
261 / 8433 Overall
The race was well-organized – from the expo, to the start line, to the course (tons of well-stocked water points, cooling stations, bands, cheer points and spectators), to the finish line. One of the coolest parts of the race was the HumanaVitality Cheer Squad at mile 12. It was a huge screen with messages to runners. Prior to the race, family and friends could leave messages to their runners – I saw a message for me as I approached but have NO idea who created it for me (if it was you, thank you!).
I would definitely recommend this race and the whole weekend experience to anyone – but I would caveat by saying that I would use it more as a “fun” run or long training run than a hard-run race because of the weather conditions this time of year!
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Humana.
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