Disclosure: I’m a member of the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Blog Team. In exchange for helping promote the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll race series, I received some swag and a discounted Tour Pass. To save $15 on any race in 2015 (other than Vegas), use code TrainWithBain.
After running that mile in the sand, I was both thankful it was just a mile, and ready to run on pavement again. (By the way, if you go run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mile in the Sand, or any sand race, a few tips for you: take a Buff to cover your nose and mouth, be prepared to rinse/wash your sunglasses due to salt water mist accumulation, and buy sand socks.) Saturday night my hostess Meghan introduced me to a crowd I’m affectionately calling “the pod people” because John Thompson recorded part of Episode 44 of his podcast, Runner of a Certain Age, at dinner. Several of them are part of Team Shenanigans, which I’d describe as fun runners who are all about being encouraging and following good racing etiquette.
To find Runner of a Certain Age, you can go to the facebook page, the podcast blog page for this specific episode (see pictures of me and the crew at dinner, me and John before the race, and the “unofficial Fireball aid station” from Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego), or right to where you can play the podcast itself.
Dinner was great (Sirena EATalian, if you’re looking for good food; sorry but you’ll have to find your own good company). After dinner Meghan and I went over to the end of the Team RWB pre-race dinner (which was BBQ, so definitely not for this vegetarian–and I’m not sure about the wisdom of fueling a half marathon with massive quantities of meat, but hey…). I met some really cool people (re-met a few from the morning’s pre-Mile in the Sand photos) and cooed at a few cute babies. Since Virginia Beach has a big ol’ Navy installation right there, Team RWB is gigantic. If you’ve never heard of Team RWB, you should check them out–it’s all about camaraderie and integrating members of the military, who are often on the move, into community and fun. Anyway.
We got up early on race morning, to avoid traffic and make sure we got to parking and all of the pre-race photo meet-ups. There was more than ample parking at the ampitheatre, and then a free shuttle over to the race staging area. Some people didn’t read their pre-race emails and ended up driving around confused they couldn’t get into the parking lot for the convention center, which was CLEARLY explained in the pre-race emails (that was the VIP parking area). Seriously people, don’t be that runner–read all the pre-race emails. (If it turns out they are just ads or whatever, go ahead and delete them, but at least read them, there might be important information in there.) The free shuttle was easy and dropped us off right at the start.
After dousing myself in sunblock, eating a banana, and checking in my bag, we walked across the parking lot to the memorial near the convention center. Conveniently, this is where everyone plans their photos, so as long as you can move fairly quickly, it’s a simple matter to get into pictures for the Sparkle Skirts lovers, Half Fanatics/Marathon Maniacs, etc.
Then we wandered over to the convention center near the VIP entrance for some snaps with the pod people, and I attempted to meet up with the Rock ‘n’ Blog team and local Ambassadors of Rock. Sadly, that was a Facebook fail; only three of us managed to find each other in the designated location. The only people in front of us were either in handcycles, or in race chairs, or pushing race chairs, and two of the three of us we wearing Rock ‘n’ Blog shirts, so it should have been fairly idiot-proof. Nope. Oh well. I blame the clouds.
During this, I learned a handy safety tip: if you’re getting photos taken in a shirt you haven’t run in yet, get the pics done early enough that you can change shirts–put the photo shirt in your gear bag and check it.
Speaking of the clouds, it started to rain during the starting actions. Since I was in corral two thousand, I sat down under a tree on the grass and waited for the first dozen plus corrals to go by, while keeping my glasses dry. (I hate running with my eyeglasses, but until I get the new contact lenses, I hate colliding with inanimate objects more and so I wear glasses.) Then when it was my turn, I hopped into my assigned corral and started the run.
The rain actually felt quite good, and I think it kept the feeling of humidity down for the first part of the race. It was still more humid than my body likes, so I was trying to be conscious of my running pace as I did my 1 minute intervals. At the halfway point, I was on pace to be able to match my PR, but then the rain had stopped and I felt the full effects of heat and humidity. Since no race is ever worth hurting myself, I decided to back off a bit to make sure I didn’t feel horrible or get sick before the end of the race.
Since I had never run in Virginia Beach, every piece of the course was brand-spankin’ new to me. I understand some of the locals regularly run parts of the route, and that parts of it are used in other courses, so it might not have had the same effect on everyone. I liked getting to run through both the street-side part of the first block away from the beach, and on the boardwalk-type area next to it.
I also enjoyed running through so much lush and green! Since I live in California (and psst, in case you are living under a rock and haven’t heard, we have a mad drought going on here) I don’t see a lot of lush and green of the wet and squishy kind. Part of the course runs through Camp Pendleton, which seriously confused me because in my head, Camp Pendleton is in California. (By the way, THAT fact took my brain a while to assimilate because actual Pendleton–like Pendleton blankets–is in Oregon.) Also I was at that point in the course where the really obvious becomes profound. Example thought: “running negative splits is so simple–you just have to run faster on the second half of the course!” (No kidding. Good thing they don’t let me play with the science after a long run.)
One road has runners going out down one side, and back up the other (after completing a loop beyond the street). I was surprised and super happy to see No Meat Athlete, Team RWB, and others had set up unofficial aid stations. I had a tasty vegan cupcakelette from No Meat Athlete on the way out, and the squeeze ice from Team RWB I had really helped with the heat on the way back. (To find a No Meat Athlete running group near you, choose the “running groups” option in the menu. Most of the links go to group Facebook pages. To find a Team RWB chapter, choose “get involved” and then “join the team.”)
The rain did not return, though some really nice people cheering and/or brunching outside provided some sprinklers for us to run through.
Race sponsor Humana provided wet-down sponges and a mist tunnel to try to help keep runners from overheating. The mist tunnel faked out some runners, who saw it and thought it was the finish line (despite being tiny, inflatable, and announcer-less). I hit the finish line, collected a bunch of bling–half marathon medal, remix medal, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Heavy Medals series “Stairway to Seven.” The finish line was well-stocked with water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, Power Bars, bananas, and chips–the usual Rock ‘n’ Roll past-race fare.
I collected my bling for the half marathon, the remix challenge, and the Stairway to Seven “Heavy Medal.”
There was a Remix medal too, of course (otherwise why run in the sand?). Bling collecting was followed by brunching with my new running buddies. I don’t remember what I ate, but I had two of these really fantastically tasty brunch beverages. Eventually, the drive home, showers, and–to the great puzzlement of the three-year-old living in the house–voluntary napping. But first, one mug shot for posterity (because in the age of the internet, it’s all “selfies or it didn’t happen”):
Overall, I really enjoyed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Remix experience. I swore I’d not do another mile in the sand, but I think now I would if I had the proper gear (Buff to keep sand out of nose/mouth; “sand socks” for running, so my feet didn’t get filled with sand; and pack a spare cloth/towel for wiping the glasses after rinsing them in the drinking fountain). I’d run the half marathon again for certain! The course support from neighbors/residents and local running groups definitely rivals San Diego (minus the unofficial aid stations offering some questionable hydration strategies).
Next in the Rock ‘n’ Roll series (at least for me): Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose! Not quite my home-town race, but within driving distance. The only drawback of running races is the travel costs. I was really lucky to be able to run Virginia Beach, and look forward to returning for one of the locally produced J&A races next year.