Hot, humid, and sweaty was the theme of this race. I’m quickly realizing why summer is not a runner’s friend, and last Sunday’s race in Virginia Beach confirmed my feelings.
We kicked off race weekend on Saturday morning with a trip to the expo, held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Our initial impression of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series after the expo had us very excited about the race. We found the expo to be very well organized, with zero lines, and our high marks for Rock ‘n’ Roll continued throughout race day. Because we stayed in nearby Norfolk in order to save money (our hotel room was about a quarter of the cost of most of the room rates for oceanfront hotels), we had to drive to the race. Rock ‘n’ Roll set up a commuter lot at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, where city buses took us 20 minutes down the road to the start line at the convention center. Although there was quite a bit of traffic getting into the lot at the amphitheater, the buses were plentiful, and we waited less than five minutes to board a bus.
Once we arrived at the convention center, we quickly made our way to the inTune upgrade area. For $40 extra, we had access to the VIP area, equipped with prerace drinks, food, porta potties, and gear check. Based on the lines we saw for the regular porta potties and the rumors we heard about general runners’ water and food running out almost 45 minutes before the start of the race, we’re very glad that we opted for the upgrade. After the race, we once again had a separate area, with the same amenities, which we utilized to the fullest extent possible.
About fifteen minutes before the start of the race, Preston and I parted ways. He was in Corral 2, and I was in Corral 3. Because the half marathon and mini marathon started at the same time and shared the same course, half marathon runners and mini marathon runners were mixed together in the same corrals. I really liked this, as it helped to make the mini marathoners feel just as much a part of the race day experience as the half marathoners.
The race started at 7:00am. Other than the heat and humidity, the only thing I didn’t like about this race was how close in time each corral was started. This made for a lot of congestion on the course, and almost defeats the purpose of starting in waves.
As the race started, the heat and humidity hit me immediately. Within the first half mile, I was drenched in sweat. At the expo, I opted to purchase a handheld water bottle, which definitely came in handy since there was only one water stop for the mini marathoners. Despite the heat and humidity, I wanted to push myself as hard as I could, but when I came upon a man around the first mile marker who was on the ground receiving CPR(who sadly later died at the hospital), I came back down to reality and realized that pacing myself would be a much smarter choice than risking injury to myself.
After running the first ten minutes of the race, I started run-walk intervals of a mix of 3 minute run/1 minute walk and 2 minute run/1 minute walk. My choice for which interval depended solely upon how I felt. Going into this race, I hadn’t planned on using intervals, but the reality check of the guy on the ground made me quickly realize that I am not yet prepared to run an entire 5K in the heat and humidity that we experienced last Sunday.
Despite the unbearable weather, the race itself was fantastic! There was a cover band almost every mile, and although I was listening to my own music, the enthusiasm that the bands displayed for us runners left me eager to continue on. A couple of the local high school’s cheerleaders were also along the course, along with thousands of spectators who cheered all of us on, regardless of whether we were running the half or mini marathon. All along Atlantic Avenue (just one block from the beach), many business owners stepped outside of their stores and cheered us on as well. This was my first race where I felt like there were just as many spectators as runners, and it felt amazing to have so much support from so many people. This is definitely something you don’t experience at more local races, where spectators are more sparse and don’t line the entire course.
While on Atlantic Avenue just after mile marker 2, I started to loose energy. It was at this point in the race that I was so sweaty that sweat dripped to the ground off of me, and I didn’t think I could even run a full two minutes without stopping to walk. A random woman who was running the half came up behind me, patted me on the back, and said that Tammy would be proud of me. This was exactly what I needed to push myself back to the 3:1 interval and get myself through the end of the race. Thank you kind lady, you have no idea how much your encouragement meant to me!
The mini marathon and half marathon shared the same course until just before the 3 mile mark. Us mini marathoners parted ways with the half marathoners on Atlantic Avenue, where we turned onto 10th Street before ending the race on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. The split was VERY well marked with numerous signs, which made for a smooth split and very few people running into one another. As I rounded the corner onto the boardwalk, I could very easily see the finish line. I looked down at my watch, realized that my pace was slower than my goal pace, but still pushed myself as hard as I could to the finish line.
After I crossed the finish line, I quickly changed and then went back out to the finish line to wait for Preston to finish the half marathon.
I went into the Rock ‘n’ Roll race with two goals:
1. Run below an 11:00 min/mile pace. Although I had high hopes for this pace, the heat and humidity just weren’t on my side. I finished the 5K in 35:08 (11:20 min/mile pace). Ironically, this was the EXACT same time as my finish time for the Firecracker 5K back in July. At least I’m consistent!
2. Have fun. The entertainment and support of the spectators along the route was incomparable to that of any other race I have run thus far. Despite the heat and humidity, I still had a fantastic time. Although I’m not sure that Preston and I are ready to commit every Labor Day weekend to running in Virginia Beach, we’d definitely like to run another Rock ‘n’ Roll race. We have our eyes on a couple destinations, and are sure to run another Rock ‘n’ Roll race in the near future.
Last Sunday’s race emphasized that running races during the summer is not ideal. My body seems to have having trouble adjusting to the heat. I constantly feel like I’m overheating and that my face is on fire. This is something I need to work on, since taking a break from running in the summer isn’t ideal either.
Because I ran this race in memory of my friend Tammy, I also ran this race for Stand Up to Cancer through Charity Miles. Since Tammy never let herself get down about her fight with cancer, I have refused to be too hard on myself for my slower race time. Was 35:08 my ideal finish time? Of course not. But the important thing is that I finished and I never quit moving forward towards the finish line.
QOTD: How do you adjust for running races in heat and humidity?