I think my body is finally getting warmed back up from the race this weekend. Remember that time that I posted about how I was secretly hoping to have a personal best at this race? I wish I could go back in time and remind that Michelle to look at the weather forecast one more time and really think about what that meant. Before we jump right into the race, lets take a look at the Expo.
Saturday morning I was up and out the door by 5:30. I had my heart set on listening to one of my running idols, Shalane Flanagan, speak. She was also doing a book signing for her newest cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow. Tucker and I timed it almost perfectly where we both arrived at the expo at the same time. We took a walk around looking at the tables, getting ourselves some free Yuengling samples and making our way to the line to meet Shalane. I cut it very close as I was getting in line they stopped letting more people in the line. Thankfully I was second to last and managed to tell Shalane how inspiring she was & get a nice picture. That absolutely made the trip completely worth it. It’s not everyday you get to meet an Olympian who you have been following for years. I almost cried & I was definitely shaking while we snapped this picture.
After we met Shalane we finished off the expo by taking lots of fun pictures. Neither of us needed to actually purchase anything but going to a race expo is always fun. There are usually items that are discounted, like shoes & race fuel. I really like looking at the different clothing and trying out some samples.
After we were done with the expo we headed to our hotel to get checked in. We stayed at the Holiday Inn that was right on the beach. When I booked this place, I did it because we were right next to the start and the finish of the race. This isn’t my first rodeo with racing out of town, you always want a hotel close by even if costs a little bit more money.
We took a walk down Atlantic Avenue in search of some dinner after we unpacked. We found the big sand sculpture that had the race on it as well as King Neptune. Then we headed to Y’not Italian for dinner. I stuffed myself with bread, salad, and lots of pasta. So much so that I didn’t even have room for dessert. I was just as disappointed in myself as you would imagine.
We got back from dinner, did some stretching, foam rolling, and we hit the sheets early. I set my alarm for 4:50 in the morning and fell asleep pretty quickly. Plus, I didn’t have any kids waking me up through the night, bonus!
I got up and out of bed at 5 and started drinking a bit of nuun. I looked outside at the rain coming down sideways under the lamp post. I immediately realized that I had to push all thoughts of a PR out of the window. The main reason is this: My PR comes from Rock N Roll Savannah back in November and everything went PERFECT for that race. I was in the peak condition, the weather was absolutely perfect, and I had no leg problems or cramping or digestive issues. Seriously, everything aligned for that PR. So, since I’ve dealt with 2 injuries since then, in order to PR right now, I really need perfect conditions again. 20 mph winds, rain, sleet, and the cold was not going to allow me to get there. So when Tucker got up, we both agreed we were in survival mode.
We went downstairs to attend the breakfast we read about but apparently we had to sign up beforehand. So my usual english muffin was out of the window as our hotel only had packaged poptarts & packaged muffins for breakfast. So I opted for the banana nut muffin and then we went to drop off our dry bags. I wasn’t upset about my normal breakfast routine being thrown off since I wasn’t going to be out there gunning for a PR anyways.
Back up to the room we went to warm up and prep ourselves. I had bought the cutest tank to wear and the cutest shamrock headbands that I didn’t get to wear since I had to bundle up. I legit wore 2 long sleeve running shirts AND a zip up jacket. I wore my gloves, my nike pants, my ear warmers, and my Fleet Feet hat. I seriously am so glad I wore all of that since it kept my core body from getting wet.
With about 10 minutes from the start we walked outside and were SOAKED just immediately. We were right next to the start though which was nice. It was still kind of dark and the rain was coming down hard. There were lots of people wearing trash bags and hiding in the parking garages to stay dry. I just sucked it up and went out in the rain, I was going to be wet for the next 2 hours anyways, what was another 5 minutes.
Miles 1-3: I started out at a 7:30 pace which was pretty close to goal pace but the effort felt SO much harder than that. We were running against the wind and rain. It was extremely cold. I had worn my compression sleeves on my calves and that was a huge mistake. When they got wet, they got tighter and it was hurting my calves. At mile 3 I pulled off to the side and pulled them down. Trying to pull up wet tights, pull down wet compression sleeves, then pull the wet tights back down… yeah it took me MINUTES. Mile 3 was at a 10:20 pace because of how much time it took me to mess with those.
Miles 4-6: We headed through a really nice area that was covered by trees on both sides. This blocked most of the wind and made it so that the rain wasn’t as bad either. The problem though for me was that the rode is really heavily sloped and it made me really paranoid about my knee. I tried to run on the flattest part of the road but that meant I stepped in a lot of puddles. I could hear the water swishing in my shoes for most of the race.
**Side Rant** If you are new to running, I’ll let this slide but if you are someone whose done races before, just know I was shaming you in my head. When you open your GU packets, PLEASE hold on to them until you find a trash can OR go all the way over to the edge of the road to toss them to the side. There were COUNTLESS empty GU packets right in the middle of the road and with it being wet and rainy, they were super slippery. Don’t ever do this with your trash please. Same goes for the garbage bags that you wear at the race start. Please go all the way over to the edge of the road to toss them to the side or hold out for a trash can. I had to jump over some trash bags that were in the center of the road. I feel like this has to be common sense race courtesy but maybe some newbies just got caught up in the race.
Miles 6-9: Here is where we headed into Fort Story. I had heard from other people that this is where the crazy wind will pick up. It was pretty fun to run through the base and we heard the bugles going off. At this point I just had to sit back and laugh at the weather, like seriously. I looked ahead of me and saw a huge sand dune in the road. The sand had been blowing so hard that there was a pile in the road and we all had to put our hands up by our face to protect ourselves from the sand. Every time we ran by a break in the wall, the wind would quite literally push me to the other side of the road and through more puddles. Even with all of that I was still ticking off the miles either at Marathon Pace or a little faster. I think most of my miles ranged from 7:45-8:05 pace. This is also where I started getting pelted with Sleet. I can’t believe how crazy this weather turned out to be.
Miles 10-13.1: We were running down Atlantic Avenue to the finish line and we had the wind to our backs at this point. There was a little bit of crowd support out there but not much. Which, thank you so much to those who braved that weather to cheer us on, it was truly appreciated. I was having a decent time out there but at this point my fingers were becoming numb and I couldn’t open up my last HUMA to take and I figured I’d survive without it. I just kept clicking off the miles and looking forward to beer and a hot shower. For the very last leg of the race, maybe a half a mile, we turned onto the board walk and finished right by the ocean. I wish more of the race could have been on the boardwalk but I completely understand why it can’t. There was a small cheering crowd, race photographers, and I heard my name get called out as I crossed the line in 1:46:12.
I got my beautiful medal, got some pictures taken, and headed through the finisher chute. We got a bottle of water, gatorade, some chips, a shamrock cookie, a finishers hat, a finishers towel, and some granola bars. I grabbed all of my goodies, grabbed my dry bag, and I ended up going back to our hotel room because I assumed I had enough time to change/shower and then head back to the finish to watch Tucker. Tucker started about 20 minutes after me and we were super close to the finish line. I took the most amazing hot shower ever, got dressed, and braved the wind and rain to head to the finish BUT Tucker had to go and be a super star and finish faster than he expected so I missed him crossing the finish line!!! But I am so proud of him. He did so great!!!!!!!!!
We both headed back to the room to get warm, Tuck showered, and then we headed to the after party. it was a nice big tent that felt warmer inside since we were blocked from the wind. Included in our race ticket was 4 Yuengling beers and there was a wide variety of the beers for us. I thankfully remembered a coozy to help keep my fingers warm. On our walk over Tucker got to stop and ring the PR bell WOO (and accidentally break it and put it back together ha)
There were some awesome bands playing and we got some Irish Stew. There was even vegetarian stew for me! I think we got lucky because not very many people wanted to brave the weather for the after party which meant no one was collecting food tickets. I ended up enjoying 4 bowls of the vegetarian soup to try and warm myself up and when we left there was still TONS of soup. They also were not bothering with drink tickets either which I believe was due to the low turnout. Tucker and I may or may not have put away 16 beers between the two of us. We got the most out of our entry fees! We danced, made some new friends, built a beer cup tower and watched a lot of drunk people stumble around it almost knocking it over.
We had a blast! I would ABSOLUTELY recommend this race to anyone even with the most horrible race conditions ever. You get so much stuff for your race entry fee and it is an extremely well organized race, in a great city, and the after party was well worth it. After we partied hard we headed back to our room for a nap before dinner. We ended up going to a great seafood restaurant right on the water. Had the weather been nicer there was like a patio area we could have sat by. Apparently we were sitting right next to one of the famous “Teen Moms” from the show but neither of us watch to have known. I ordered she crab soup, we shared some mussels, and I had some Tuna with crab on top for dinner. This meal got 5 stars out of me!
I got up Monday morning and took some gorgeous pictures of my medal with the sunrise before taking off for my 7 hour journey back home. Once home I was able to color in another state on my Run 50 chalk board! Virginia is complete. Next up: North Carolina in May!!!!