My Big Day!

Virginia Beach Travel Blog

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ocean sunrise

Waking up went easily even if it was early for a Saturday.  Could've been a lot worse though.  My race had an 8:00 AM start time; tomorrow the half marathon would take off at 7.  I got dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, then pulled my warm-up pants on over the shorts.  I knew that I wouldn't need them for the run but there was no way I was standing around for a half hour without them.

Out in the main room Janie was already up, coffee brewing.  I don't touch the stuff but Megan was happy to see it.  Janie pointed out that you could just see the edge of the race route from our room so of course I had to go out on the balcony.  Sure enough, down to the right you could see bright orange cones marking the final curve.  I had a simple breakfast (bagel) while the other two girls woke up and we had official introductions.

waiting to start

Megan and I headed downstairs with lots of time to spare.  We jogged the several blocks to where the corrals were set up for the race near 31st street.  That's when it decided to start to rain.  Not too heavy but enough to make us take shelter under the covered drive in front of a hotel.  I tried not to be nervous about the weather but I had chosen to wear a white shirt...luckily it stopped after about ten minutes.  I had stretched a little and people watched.  Lots of green.  I got a kick out of the back of one woman's shirt: "You just got passed by a pregnant chick."  I think I'd like to do that if I ever do a 5K while pregnant....long ways off!

With race time approaching I shrugged out of my warmer clothes and headed over to the corrals.

near mile 3
  I had entered a seed time that put me in the second of five corrals.  I remembered the time being 45 minutes.  9-minute miles didn't seem like that bad of an idea until I broke down my best 5K time up to now: 27 minutes which works out to just under 9 minute miles.  Plus I was nursing a sore left hamstring that had stopped me from getting in my only attempt at 4.5 miles prior to today's race.  I didn't know if I could keep going for nearly 5 miles but I definitely did not feel optimistic about pulling off 5 miles at the same pace as 3.1 miles.  Therefore, my gameplan was to hang out at the back of corral two and avoid being run over by energetic runners at the beginning.

Megan left at this point to stake out a spot somewhere in the first mile.

my St. Patty's carnation from Dad
  I briefly chatted with a mother and middle school daughter and then talked with a military guy who had just moved to the area in the last week.  The first corral took off and then they counted down for us.  I jogged up to the start and hit the clock on my watch as I crossed the line.

The last race I ran was on a back country road with about 40 runners and walkers.  It had some slight hills and was very natural.  Today I was running right down the tourist area of Virginia Beach.  I was only one of hundreds of runners--and it felt great.  There is an energy in running with others that I rarely experienced in my solo training nor had I ever run in a race anywhere close to this magnitude.

turtle
  I looked around with my peripheral vision as we passed restaurants and storefronts.  I focused on runners near me to guide off or pass if they were too slow for my taste.  I waved as I passed Megan and then continued down the flat street.

Knowing the route definitely helped.  I could count down blocks and guess-timate where the mile markers would be.  At about 2nd street we reached the end of our southern journey and turned to head back north via the boardwalk.  There was a slight incline here, the only spot in the entire route.  The race map had shown the route to be basically flat; two guys behind me decided to point out that the hill was not on the map!  The wind came off the ocean now, not bad but still there.

Komodo dragon
  I fell back on my high school training and listened to Coach Watt in my head: let someone bigger than you block the wind.  I followed a guy in a black T-shirt for a good part of this stretch.

I saw Megan again just past the mile three mark.  I had been checking my watch at each mile marker and noticed that I was keeping up with about a 9-minute mile pace.  I called out my good timing to her and she cheered me on.  Less than two blocks later the dreaded side cramp hit.  I forced myself to keep jogging even if my steps were stilted and short.  I tried not focus on the people passing me and instead on my breathing.  In high school I had once dropped out of a race due to cramps and that thought was always in the back of my mind when it happened.

beneath the water
   However, Megan had coached me through a cramp in the middle of 5K two summers before; basically she had refused to let me stop.  So even though at one point I coudn't breath for two breaths, I now refused to slow to a walk.  My stubborn attitude paid off; after no more than a half mile the cramp subsided and I could lengthen my stride back out.  We turned back onto the main road and hit the mile 4 marker.  At this point I was on a runner's high.  Not only did I know I could finish, I also realized that even with the cramp, I could still get 45 minutes for my 8K.

I passed the guy I had chatted to at the start; we exchanged hi's but I pushed on through a strong wind now.  At the last set of turns, the girls from our room were down on the street and cheering me on.

Megan, Janie, Chrissie
  I returned to the boardwalk for the last stretch.  It was a tough balance: I could see the finish and wanted to speed ahead but caution reminded me about the cramp and held me to a steady pace.  I passed beneath the green arch at a clock time of 47:25.  Knowing that I had been running about three minutes behind the offical time, I was excited; I had broken 45 minutes!  Later I would learn my official time was 44:38.

I picked up my medal and shirt along with food and water.  Then followed several confused minutes while I tried to figure out where my sister might be waiting for me since they did not have a meeting area broken down by last names.  Megan did find me though and greeted me with a proud hug.

I don't remember much of the next few hours.

one fish amongst coral
  I know we went back to the hotel where the others were heading out to a pancake breakfast but I opted for a shower.  After that I did a little grading while we waited for everyone to get back.

Our afternoon was spent at the Expo and then the Virginia Beach aquarium.  At the expo Megan picked up her bib number and racing bag.  She also got a sticker for her car to mark her first marathon.

At the aquarium Chad joined us, having safely journeyed from North Carolina.  However, while we were still waiting for him to arrive, Megan and I grabbed a late lunch from their cafe.  The food was a little pricey but good.

The aquarium is divided into two buildings; we only visited the larger one since everyone else in the group had a big race the next day.

purple fish
  I think our highlight was the tank where you could touch stingrays and skates if they swam close enough to the surface.

After the aquarium we went briefly back to the hotel before heading out to meet up with another friend of Janie's for dinner.  We had a big group at dinner, our six plus four more adults and four kids.  It was a waterfront restaurant but no one had fish.  I had a burger (hey, my run was done!) and almost everyone else opted for some form of pasta.

We had a short, quiet evening before turning in for the night.  Chad got the living room to himself on the sleeper couch.  Megan and Janie shared one bed, Kimberly and Chrissie were in the other bed, and I camped out on the floor on an air mattress.

spocklogic says:
Darwin and a 5K too - that's something!
Posted on: Sep 15, 2012
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ocean sunrise
ocean sunrise
waiting to start
waiting to start
near mile 3
near mile 3
my St. Pattys carnation from Dad
my St. Patty's carnation from Dad
turtle
turtle
Komodo dragon
Komodo dragon
beneath the water
beneath the water
Megan, Janie, Chrissie
Megan, Janie, Chrissie
one fish amongst coral
one fish amongst coral
purple fish
purple fish
interspecies high five
interspecies high five
rays
rays
jellyfish
jellyfish
exiting
exiting
the moon over the water
the moon over the water