I ran the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon last weekend. This was the last year of this race, so it felt special to me, although I really had no connection to it since this was also my first time running it.
This post is written in partnership with the Rock n Roll Running Series.
This was my first half marathon in a long time. I ran an 8k earlier this summer, but in terms of long distance races, my last races were the Disney Marathon in January 2020 (I actually only ran half of it) and the Detroit Marathon in the fall of 2019.
I decided to run RnR Virginia Beach Half Marathon back in May since it gave me ample time to train.
This was a big race for me because it signified my first long distance race as a mom of two. I’ve written previously about both of those; here’s more on running during pregnancy and my postpartum running journey.
Training was NOT easy, mainly because I had trouble making time for it with a 3.5 year old and a one year old, while balancing running a business.
But, I tried not to take it to seriously, and remind myself that this was something I was doing for myself, and getting out for a run usually helps with stress relief for me.
I did not follow a specific training plan. My goal was to finish and not get injured.
I did a few speed workouts (a modified pyramid workout is always my go to), but mainly just tried to be consistent in running 3-4 days a week. That being said, I was very active, and did a ton of cross training in comparison to my previous marathon training cycles.
Thanks to Peloton, I did strength training a couple times each week as well as cycled, and did some cycling and running bootcamps to keep things fun.
I tried to get one long run in each week, and got up to two hours on my feet, somewhere around 13-14 miles probably. It was on the C&O canal so GPS signal wasn’t great.
But, I felt comforted in that if I could do two hours on my feet, I’d be fine with this race.
I practiced my fueling throughout my training, even doing it on some of the shorter runs, just like I tell my clients.
I’ve always loved Huma gels, and this training cycle was no different. I did try some other gels and really did not enjoy them, so stuck with what my body knew and liked.
We arrived in Virginia Beach on Friday evening, checked in to the hotel and then went to get dinner at The Atlantic.
We split a bunch of dishes and I had this birthday cake sunday for dessert, because carb loading for runners is important.
On Saturday morning, we went for a quick 2 mile shake out. I typically don’t do much the day before a big race, and wanted to do a little shake out since we drove most of the day Friday.
Then, we stopped for breakfast and coffee before heading to the Expo! Necessities, I tell ya.
I actually had a table at the expo for Bucket List Tummy. I had some brochures out, and an email list for people to sign up, and just enjoyed talking with people about nutrition for running.
We went to Whole Foods to pick up dinner and ended up enjoying it outside – it was a beautiful night.
I had a piece of pizza + a mix of things from the salad bar. Sweet potatoes, chicken, pasta, low fiber veggies, some beets, and rice.
Very carb-heavy and salty, as I knew my body needed that. I had brought some NUUN tablets from home that I hydrated all day with. Otherwise, I would have gotten some of those, too!
More information about what to eat before a long run here.
I had pizza before the Ogden Marathon, where I qualified for Boston, and it’s worked well for me ever since. I also may be superstitious.
We went to bed around 9-9:30, knowing we were planning to get up at 4:30.
The race started at 6:30 and we planned on leaving our hotel around 6 am as the start was about a mile away down on the boardwalk.
I ate an iteration of overnight oats that I made the night before in the hotel fridge. We had also grabbed some coffee from Whole Foods the night before that we had.
I pretty much follow all of my race day nutrition guidelines before, during and after a race!
The race started at 6:30 and within the first 5 minutes, we were running along the boardwalk seeing the sun rise. It was absolutely beautiful.
Here’s a photo from a video I recorded, so it may be a little blurry. We ran along the boardwalk for a mile or so, and then got back on the roads and did an out and back.
I started with and ran with Ed, as was our plan. But, I had to stop and pee around mile 5-6 and he kept going, so I ran solo the rest of the way.
Here’s a shot of us in the first mile, happy to be out there.
I was running around 8:15 paced miles for most of the race, which felt comfortable. Some of my miles got a little quicker later in the race.
I took my huma gel around mile 8 with some water, and had some sour raisins around mile 11.
There were a few spots with great crowd support and I loved seeing the bands along the course every few miles. The live music really helps re-ignite energy and it’s hard not to smile when you see the bands.
Just seeing the appreciation that people have for running is humbling, and it’s a great reminder that you’re not in this alone. I always feel that along the course.
I felt ecstatic to be done, as I don’t know how much more I had in my tank. I crossed the line at 1:50, give or take, which I was happy with.
The finish line area was very energetic, with music, sampling opportunities, snacks and more. We hung out for a bit and then headed back to the hotel to pack up and make the drive back to Maryland.
I grabbed a banana, sample of local coffee, and lots of water, before stopping for a proper breakfast sandwich.
All in all, it was a memorable and exciting event, and I’m glad I conquered my first half marathon of 2021 along the beach in the last year of this race.