This past weekend was a busy one. My twins celebrated their 8th birthday, it was the last weekend of summer break, and it was also a race weekend. I ran my third Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon and as you can guess from the title, it went very well. I did not PR, did not run some blazing fast time, did not even come close to the fitness level I believe (and hope) I am at. What I did do was take the race day conditions into consideration, adjust my pace appropriately, and focused on running strong. As a result I took the day for what it was and had an amazing race experience.
The weekend started off Saturday morning with a shake out run with another 2016 Marathon Trials Project runner, Alana Hadley. She is a low 1:16 half marathon runner so I was hoping some of her speediness would run off on me 😉 After the shake out run (and some instagram pics) I went to breakfast with her father; my coach Mark Hadley. Over coffee and pancakes we talked about future goals, patience, and all things running. I consider this weekend to be the official start of marathon training for me so it was a perfect way to start the season off right.
Race morning the Mr. and I headed to the start and met friends in the VIP/elite area. It was air conditioned with private bathrooms. I am not “elite” by any means so I am very thankful for the perks Competitor was gracious enough to share with me the past three years. Super bummed to hear the news that they will not be continuing this program, but grateful too. We all did a warm up together then lined up at the start for strides and one of my favorite pre-race moments, the National Anthem. Race day temps were an unforgiving, 75 degrees with a dew point of 74. Last year I learned the hard way that trying to fight these temps is a war I won’t win so I dialed back the pace quite a bit. Instead of pouting about less than ideal race conditions I ran with am amazing group of friends for 4-5 miles and enjoyed it. The picture below is a new favorite even though I seem to be hiding in the back. We were chatting a bit and I’m not sure what was said at that moment but don’t we look like we are having way too much fun during a half marathon?!
After that picture was taken we all ran in a group together for another mile or so than Steve and Renee peeled off and sailed in front of us like it was no biggie. Andrew and I ran together for a bit longer before we all strung out. I haven’t looked at my splits but I averaged 6:18 for the whole race. My original goal pace had been 6:05 so that was humbling. The humidity made it hard to breathe and shade was hard to find but there were water hoses at three different places that I remember along the course and the seconds of cooling those provided felt fantastic.
Like I always try, from the halfway point on I make it a point to focus my eyes ahead of me and pick people off. I was able to pass quite a few men but I could never see another girl in front of me so from mile 6 until the finish, my finishing place never changed. I write this because it’s the best mental trick I know. It keeps you focused on what’s in front of you, not your current state, and makes the miles fly by. Once on the boardwalk, I discovered I was 6th female with a time of 1:23:01. After celebrating with friends, Steve and I walked halfway back to our car before getting a text that even MORE celebrating was going on, so of course we had to walk another mile back to join the fun. Here is our post-race brunch celebration.
Just want to give a big THANK YOU to all the race volunteers. The bands always had good songs playing through my head, the water hoses from spectators were appreciated, and the cheer groups were motivating. I may not have had the finishing time I wanted but I had a great race experience to start the marathon cycle off with and luckily I have another half marathon in a month to chase after that sub 1:20 goal.