Rock N Roll VA Beach Half Marathon Recap

5 Sep

I’ll just be upfront about this: I’d rather stab sticks in my eye than relive any part of this race.  I guess part of the whole “you have a blog where you talk about running” and “you can’t improve if you don’t honestly look at the races that went wrong” things are convincing me to address it.

I’m pretty sure everyone and their brother knows I went down to Virginia Beach last weekend to race the Rock N Roll half with Hollie and Laura.  (Side note: I felt almost sick to my stomach over the fact that as I was heading down to one of their races, Flotrack reported the Competitor group’s decision to pull all elite support and funding for their future races.  I won’t address that now, but I do have some thoughts I would like to share in the future.)

Pic stolen from Hollie.

OK I know, I know, photo reuse violation … I just think it’s a cute picture

I knew it was going to be hot and humid, and that a PR was probably out of the question.  I did, however, intend on racing.  I decided I wanted to try and keep the pace between 7:30-7:40 and see if I could squeak in under 1:40.  I would have been happy with anything <1:45.

I went out and settled into my race pace, pulling the classic idiot move of trying to run splits instead of listening to my body.  I remember seeing the turn and the finish chute for the 5k and thinking man, I wish I was done right now.

Yeah.  Here’s a prime piece of advice for you: if MILE FREAKIN’ 2.5 of a half marathon has you feeling like you already want to quit, you probably went out too hard.

I hit my splits perfectly for the first 5k, then started to fade almost immediately.  I couldn’t cool down and I felt unbelievably thirsty.  By mile 5, I decided to walk the water stops and try to keep running around 8:05-8:12 pace.  I figured if I could finish it out at goal marathon pace, I could still call it a good workout.

I forced down my Gu at mile 7.  That was probably my second biggest mistake of the race.  Between the excess water I was drinking (two cups at each stop, the stops seemed really far apart and I was worried about dehydration) and the fact that even on a great day, my stomach doesn’t necessarily handle fuel well, I was just an overheating mess of indigestion.

My stomach was sloshing, I was dizzy and slighty incoherent, but I just kept moving forward.  We turned into the base at some point and I just remember it getting unbearably hot.  I slowed to a walk just after mile 8.  A girl ran a few steps by me and shouted “aww hope you’re ok – I’ve been pacing off of you.”  She started to slow down and I warned her, “it’s gonna get real ugly from here.”

Then I threw up.

Then I suddenly had a volunteer next to me with a water bottle.  Apparently, there was a medical tent nearby, I think he came from there?  I honestly don’t remember. He made me stop and finish the water bottle before going on.  I didn’t stop my watch, but I was also incapable of doing math at that point – I could have sworn I was there for almost 10 minutes, but reviewing the splits on my watch, it was definitely only about 4 minutes.

At that point, my mind had given up.  I stopped to walk whenever I felt like it.  I still felt dizzy and my legs felt like lead and jello at the same time.  I would alternate between telling myself I didn’t give a fuck about this race or running or anything, and telling myself that I completely fucking sucked at running.  My brain was throwing itself quite the pity party.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here.  Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here. Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I turned onto the boardwalk, looked at my watch, and basically knew a personal worst time was a guarantee.  I had no fight left in me.  I think I started walking before I even officially crossed the line.

Pretty sure I'm glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

Pretty sure I’m glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

1:51:22 was my finishing time.  A shiny new Personal Worst.


So here I sit, days later, entirely unsure of what to think.  At first I thought I just went out way too fast.  But this wasn’t a case of me picking numbers that I wanted to run.  The Boilermaker in early July was 73 degrees at the start with 89% humidity, and I ran an average 7:33 pace.  The temperature at the start of this race was 75 degrees with 94% humidity.  Yes, it was worse, but not by much.  And I’ve had almost two months of training on my legs.  Was it that unrealistic to expect to run a similar pace?

I don’t know what this means for Wineglass.  I can’t imagine backing off of my BQ goal.  I am considering running another half this weekend as a confidence booster … but it has the potential to do even more damage if I bonk again.  I’m also not sure I’ll be fully recovered by then.

What would you do?  Race the half or sit it out?

How do you get your brain to shut up when it’s making you doubt everything?


8 Responses to “Rock N Roll VA Beach Half Marathon Recap”

  1. outside time (@itsoutsidetime) September 5, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Ugh, I feel you on the barfing thing. I’ve thrown up during two races; it’s not pretty. That being said, I don’t think it’s fair to compare this to Boilermaker. I’ve never raced in upstate NY, but I just moved from Chicago to North Carolina and having an absolute bitch of a time adjusting to the heat. On paper, it doesn’t look that different, but Chicago has cool breezes (in the winter, bitter winds) and North Carolina just has hot, steamy air that circulates ’round and ’round. Just don’t beat yourself up over it too much.

    • upstaterunner September 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      It was definitely not a pleasant experience, and I hope to not repeat it! I know you’re right about the weather comparison too .. it’s another one of those things where numbers on paper do not account for all things being equal. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  2. HollieisFueledByLOLZ September 5, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I’m honestly still shocked they stopped you. While yes it was hot so many puke during races to begin with. That boardwalk was literally one of the hardest parts of any race I’ve ever done. I thought the end might never come.

    Do the half. You will say what if if you don’t.

  3. Laura @losingrace September 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I think you should do the half, don’t even go into it racing it- maybe just say okay I will hit marathon pace. You are a kick ass runner who has had a rough year, and I have a feeling your rough year is coming to a close- because damnit girl you deserve better! I’m ridiculously proud of you for pushing through, and proud of you for not punching the person who made you stop (I think that is what I would have done). Don’t even think about Wineglass at the moment- remember what we talked about during the race- This race does NOT determine how we will do at Wineglass. It’s a month from tomorrow and you have been getting the miles in which is the most important thing. It’s going to be cooler and it’s going to be better- don’t doubt yourself because you have a hell of a lot of people who believe in you!

  4. Kristy September 8, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Mile 5 is when I slowed WAY down too, it really was effing hot and humid!

    Better to get a crappy race out of the way now, BEFORE the marathon. You still have time to get in solid training runs, don’t fret about WG, you’ll be ready, and the weather will hopefully cooperate more.

    Nice to meet you btw. 🙂

    • upstaterunner September 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      It was so nice to meet you too! Glad we could all catch up and chat on the beach.

      And I know you’re right – I guess my confidence is just a little on the fragile side 🙂


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