Going into this race was rough. I'd hurt my right knee in a bad way after the Military Challenge bringing much of my running to a halt and the week before the race I had two bike accidents damn near back to back, both inflicting pain on my left knee. On top of this, I was just plain tired. Had a heavy hours week at work, started going to PT and strength training more, was left to watch the dogs who turn out to be a handful for one person, coworker issues, project deadlines, and just so many other little things...

So, whine, whine, whine. But, still, I was confident I could at least finish.

At first I wasn't sure I was going to write anything about this, feeling it wasn't all that big a deal compared to my first half. If anything, this was just a push back into training for the marathon, but the more I thought about it and had my coworkers chat me up about it, the more I realized I did have a good time and a few things to say on the whole experience.

First of all, this was by far the largest race I've been in and, aside from a few select BIG ones I'd still like to experience, probably going to stay that way. I mean, again, it was fun, but a 400-1500 person race and a 10,000+ person race are just completely different animals. I just prefer a race where you can mingle afterward and actually be able to spot and chat with people you recognized from the run vs. a crowd so immense that you're lucky to spot anyone you know at all. Ditto on having those stretches on the path where you might not be around much of anyone vs. having stretches where you're lucky if you're able to run without hitting anyone else.

Though enough of that. I already gave a little background as to what I was going into this with, so I'll start at getting to the race. Woke up around 4am from a lousy 2-3 hours sleep so pumped with adrenaline it didn't much matter. Though the race was a good 20-30 minutes away, they had a shuttle running from the Amplitheater, within walking distance of my place, to the start(and back from the finish). This is one aspect I really loved, got there at 4:30am and caught the first shuttle, wanted to be early just as a personal preference and to pick-up my bib before any lines started.

When we arrived at the start at the Virginia Beach Convention Center it was still pretty dark, though they had a tents set-up with water, (hot?) bananas, information, medical, and bag drop-off already. Since the info online implied they'd only be using their official bags, which I wasn't sure they'd have at the start, for the bag check, I only brought what I could run with or toss and didn't bother checking anything so I can't really comment on how well that worked out, but despite another race declaring no pick-up on race day, I had no problems getting my bib and chip.

From there it was a relatively relaxing hour or so of just wandering around and waiting and next thing I knew it was time to start lining up. Going off my pre-shit happening projected finish time, I was in corral 2. From there, I spent about half the race around the pacer for that group, a 1:45 finish time pace. At some point though, I realized I was stressing over keeping with him instead of enjoying myself and let myself slip back some.

So, a rough breakdown...

Miles 1-2: Awful. Like, it was fun for a moment and I wasn't really hurting but I could feel the heat starting in after the first water stop(only one I skipped).

Miles 3-5: Worse. It was hot, it was humid, people where stopping and walking all over and while I didn't stop running the whole way(was worried the way my knee had been that if I stopped it'd start hurting and I wouldn't be able to really start again. also, personally, slow run > walking) ngl, a big part of me wanted to... Until I used half an energy gel at mile 4(originally was saving it for the seventh mile). I've never had water stations and gel(or anything similar) effect me as much as in this. It's not like it was a miracle or anything, but every kid holding out a cup of water was amazing.

Miles 6-9: Actually kinda pleasant. Suddenly didn't feel as hot out and was actually really enjoying myself.

Miles 10-12: Things started slowly going downhill again, and not even just for me. At one point I heard a man behind me muttering something and the woman running with him being all "Come on, it's only 30 more minutes of your life! You will make it!" or something like that, oddly it was damn near exactly what I'd been mentally reminding myself only a few seconds earlier.

For an odd moment, heat was no longer the issue and I was actually shivering. Like, clouds covering the sun + shade from the trees in that area + drenched in sweat and water from the stations = oddly cold Asia. Yet, toward the end the world righted itself and the heat came pouring back. Luckily, around this point there were some spectators handing out freezer pops(those ones that are just a frozen in a plastic wrapper, normally bought unfrozen?), I got a blue one. Most around me passed it up so a bit down the road some spectators seemed confused by my having it, was amused and tasty. Alas, about 1/4th into it the sweetness started to turn my stomache so I had to toss it(saw some others at this point so clearly wasn't the only one who experienced this) XP

Finish: Leaving the oceanfront area at the beginning we went over the bridge, which has a bit of a hill, so to reach the finish we had to go over it again, only the steeper side. This was horrible, the only point my right leg really acted up, yet made less outright miserable by someone dressed as the grim reaper chilling on the bridge with a "The End is Near" sign.

After the bridge I figured it'd be really short to the finish, but I think around there it was roughly a mile left. Worse mile ever. I just wanted to be done and the knowledge that it was coming was the only thing keeping me going. Though I suppose I had more energy left than I thought as, despite convincing myself it wasn't gonna happen, totally sprinted, passed some, and finished as though I didn't feel like just dropping. Felt fucking amazing.

Apparently my coworker, there supporting her husband who finished a minute or so behind my time, saw me right before the medals, but my brain was taking a moment to catch up with the rest of me and I completely missed her. The set-up at the finish was chaotic. They basically funneled everyone to water, cool towels, the finisher medals, and then a ton of businesses handing out stuff(fruit cups, those rocket looking popsicles, chocolate milk, guu(i think...), and just a ton of people).

Once past that I started looking for a place to collect myself when I saw this one woman with her arms far more loaded than me drop a few things so I quickly helped her pick it up. From there, since we both realized we'd missed packet pick-up(not getting our shirts or goodie bags) we walked together to information to pick them up. Talked a bit about running, the military, and general chatter. Was nice, didn't get her name though, just that she was from D.C. and had come with a Run, Crawl, Walk group who she'd left in the dust when realizing they were mostly walking, lol.

Split up eventually, went and stretched, wandered a little more, got my free beer, asked about how results posting would work(since everyone one I've been to posted at the race and online but this was such a big event I didn't see the latter happening) and was told it'd just be online. At that point pain started to catch up with me so I made my way to the shuttles and home.

Despite the gimmick of the Rock and Roll Marathon Series being the music and having bands at various points on the route, I can't say that this was all that memorial an aspect of it. Only time I really noticed when running was during a hotter point wondering to myself how it must suck to be stuck playing for 3+ hours(I assume) in that humidity, ignoring that I was running in that heat and had paid to do it... vs. being paid like I'm guessing they are, lol.

So, in conclusion, had fun. Will do more halves in the future, but not so sure about this particular one due to the sheer crowdedness and cost(considerably higher than smaller events).

Finishing time: 1:48:38(PR!)
Was in the 500s of finishers, but out of 10,000+ can't be too woeful. 23 out of 614 for my age group and got my name in the paper as a top local finisher, lol.

Tentative upcoming race schedule:
36th Annual Fall Foliage Festival 10k- October 13th
Blue Moon Wicked 10k- October 27th
Freedom Marathon- November 11th
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