race report: rock ‘n’ roll virginia beach half marathon

When the alarm went off at 4:00 AM, it was race day.


Our plan was to get up and dressed, and then walk, with little man, down to my brother-in-law’s hotel, where we would drop him off with his aunt and cousins and then hop a shuttle to the start line.

Everything went just so.

After saying our goodbyes, we walked across the street to the long line of waiting shuttles. There was no shortage of transportation, and our bus headed off to the convention center with less than a dozen passengers. I can only assume they kept going back and forth until start time.

We scoped out a bank of portapotties and a curb, and sat down to wait out the minutes. It started sprinkling and we had to get under cover of a tree. Boo.

Somehow, we were on the backside of all the action, so I’m not really sure what was going on as more and more people started arriving. I had to wait on lines for the bathroom twice, and I’m going to be honest: we cut it REALLY close to race time. As in, we were en route to our corral as the National Anthem started. Yikes. That is not at all how I like to do things and I was starting to feel a little anxious.

It took us a moment to find our way into the corrals, which had already started moving. We were assigned to 12, and I think we popped into the crush close to where we should have been. A glance around showed that we were surrounded by the same corral number, as well as some higher and some lower. No one really seemed to be paying attention or checking, so we just went with it. It was certainly crowded, but very laid back.

Each corral was sent off with some music and good luck wishes, and we patiently waited our turn. I wasn’t thrilled that the rain started up again.

However, the precipitation quickly passed and in no time, it was our turn to start.

My race day strategy was pretty simple: stay in step with Mr PugRunner. This was his second half marathon and his special request that we run together. I spent the summer training at his intervals of :60/:30 so that my legs would be used to the quicker starts and stops, so we were ready to go.

The first four miles of the race were uneventful, except that Mr PugRunner started mentioning that his Achilles was acting up. I was a little concerned, and when we passed the turnoff for the 5K runners, I mentioned that he could turn off and end the race early. He wanted to keep going, and so we we did.

The sun was staying hidden, and it was actually a little breezy. The humidity was higher than expected but way lower than back home, and to be honest, I wasn’t even breaking a sweat. In fact, a runner on the course pulled up next to me to tell me that what sweat I did have had formed a heart on the back of my shirt!

We wound through some city streets before a long straightaway on Atlantic, parallel to the oceanfront. And then, I pretty much lost track of where we were altogether. There was a point where we hit upon two bridges, a lower one that we had to cross, and a higvher one for the return, which the leaders were already dominating! We kept up with our intervals pretty uneventfully though mile 5, and then Mr PugRunner announced that he needed to break and stretch.

We got in about another mile before he had to pull up to walk. He was having pain in both Achilles now, and he just couldn’t shake it. I felt awful for him – it’s a terrible feeling to be hurting and know that your options are to drop out or keep pressing gone, with still half a race to go. He felt that if he just took it easy, he could finish, so we kept moving forward.

So we sat back and just did our best to try to enjoy the atmosphere. I insisted that we take a band selfie – the music was great. There were stages roughly every mile and a half, and it was nice to have the live entertainment. I hadn’t even packed my iPod for the race, although I did tell Mr PugRunner that it was ok if he had to plug in his earbuds to help take his mind off things for a bit. He works much better with his music, while I train with and without (I prefer to have my tunes, but I can make do without), so I wanted him to have as easy a time as possible, considering the circumstances.

There was a beautiful stretch of wooded area, full of rolling inclines (for us, they were hills, but for everyone else they were wee little speed bumps). I truly enjoyed all the greenery – it was one of my favorite parts of the whole course and such a nice change from the routes we normally run back home.

Right before mile 8, Mr PugRunner had to stop at a Med Tent. One leg was feeling better, but the other was still plaguing him. He explained what was going on and they took note of his bib number and wrapped his ankle with an ice pack. While they were working on him, I noticed that there was a empty portapotty sitting a little ways behind them. I asked if they would mind if I popped in while I waited, and they were very gracious to allow it.

And then we were off again.

Perhaps the hardest part of the race was when we branched off to run through the military barracks. There was no shade, very little in the way of entertainment (although there were some very enthusiastic cheerleading groups at the end of the area), and aside from small houses and buildings, not much in the line of scenery.

Except for this guy.

We picked up a friend: a young woman who was running (and unfortunately not loving) her first half marathon. She was having some pain and cramping, and we invited her to stay with us as long as she wanted to, as kept alternating between straight walking and intervals. She was game until we got out of the barracks area, and was then worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep up. We got her to the next med tent and advised her to get some salt to help with the cramps, wished her luck and said goodbye.

I was so ready to be done at this point, but the spectators and crowd support were starting to pick up again, after the virtual desert of the barracks. We were able to snag cold, wet towels at one stop, and not one, but TWO otter pops! This girl LOVES otter pops during long races. I may have started skipping at that point. I don’t even know.

Just after mile 11, we faced the higher of the two bridges from this morning. Fortified by my popsicles, I really enjoyed the view.

The last mile of Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach was on the boardwalk along the water. And, oh my, was it the longest mile.

We could see the finish line in the distance, but we kept running and running and it never seemed get any closer. At that point, the course was pretty fully lined with cheering spectators, and it was such great and encouraging ambiance.

It was really nice to see that even though we were hot and tired, we were still having a great time with each other.

We were done!v

After the finish line, we headed straight for the med tent to get Mr PugRunner some more ice. I needed to keep walking – my calves were getting tight, and my plantar fasciitis was making itself known,

But, we still had to stop for our water, snacks, and a picture with this guy. Because he juggled those deflated balls throughout the whole race.

We started moving down the boardwalk, to the Beer Garden.

The crowd was crazy, but it was worth the wait.

And then it was time to walk all the way down to meet up with little man and the rest of our family. We stopped for this picture.

And then it was time for food, glorious food!

Half marathon number five (for me; number two for Mr PugRunner) in the books!

I loved the Rock ‘n’ Roll experience. It was well organized and fun, full of entertainment and course support. The volunteers at the water/fuel stations and medical tents were encouraging and enthusiastic. It was great getting to race in a new city, even if it was a little hillier than what we are used to, and I was thrilled to get to do it with my favorite running partner. Having toed the line at a variety of races, from small local events to huge runDisney-esque

The only, incredibly mild, complaint I could even make was that they didn’t supply Biofreeze at the aid stations. It would have made a world of difference for Mr PugRunner. The volunteer with whom we spoke said a lot of people had asked along the way, so hopefully they would have it for next year.

I don’t know if this is something we could run every year (it’s a long trip on a holiday weekend, when little man is already back in school), but I hope we can do it from time to time. I am also excited to check out other Rock ‘n’ Roll events.

Have you ever run Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach?

What’s your favorite “big name” race?



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39 Responses to race report: rock ‘n’ roll virginia beach half marathon

  1. Megan says:

    Sounds like a great race and family weekend. I am so impressed with your dedication. I started with couch to 5k and 10k a few years ago and saw so many benefits to running. Unfortunately, I let a few injuries and plantar fasciitis sideline me and I stopped running. I’m trying to start over and manage the plantar fasciitis, but it’s hard for me to stay motivated. It’s refreshing to read about your races and training. Thank you!

  2. WOOHOO!!! Congrats to you both!! It sounds like you had a tough race, but so amazing that you two stuck together and that Mr. Pug Runner was able to push through the pain.
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Bronx 10-Mile Race RecapMy Profile

  3. Poor Mr. Pugrunner! I’m impressed with his fortitude though! Awesome job getting it done, and I love that you stayed together and supported each other the whole time. I had never run a half with anyone like that until this past May. I was not as well trained as I would have liked, and was not prepared for how hilly… no MOUNTAINOUS the course was. But my best friend said she wanted to stay with me the whole time, and it was awesome having someone there through the struggle.
    I think my favorite big name race is still the Disney Princess half. The only other really big one I’ve done is the NYC half, and it was horribly cold (about 23 degrees at the warmest!) and I don’t remember there being much in the way of cheering crowds.
    Stacie Seidman recently posted…Truthful TuesdayMy Profile

  4. Darlene says:

    I’m running my first RNR in 2 weeks – excited. Congrats to your hubby who stuck it out and finished.
    Darlene recently posted…Helper’s Fund 10K Race Recap and the Rest of the WeekendMy Profile

  5. That’s so great you ran together! Congrats on pushing through a tough race!
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Marathon DecisionsMy Profile

  6. Congratulations on you both finishing the race! I love it when my husband runs with me. It makes a difference. We all need that extra push when we want to give up! All that matters is that you finished! You both earned it!!!
    Artney @ My Pretty Brown Fit recently posted…Zoodles with Tomato Cream SauceMy Profile

  7. Kudos to both you and your hubby for pushing through a difficult race. The crowd support at RnRVB is what always gets me through the race. And its funny that you say that the course was hillier than you’re used to, since I always think of Virginia Beach as being super flat, at least compared to where I usually run in Northern Virginia.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…2015 Dulles Day 5k on the Runway RecapMy Profile

  8. Love your report! I haven’t done RnR VA Beach but have done Shamrock Half and Full and it sounds like a similar course. I love that wooded area too, but the military barracks are a little desolate. Still, it’s a great place to race any time of year! Congrats to your hubby on pushing through in spite of the pain – that takes guts!
    Alison @racingtales recently posted…Ironman 70.3 World Championship: Just a Swim, Bike, and RunMy Profile

  9. Yes, I remember feeling like that military section would never end.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…My Journey To Become a Running Coach: Part 1My Profile

  10. I was so worried that I’d read one of you dropped out! So glad you both finished. This sounds like one i”d like to do.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Run Now Beer Later in SeattleMy Profile

  11. Angie says:

    The Achilles pain does not sound fun! I am glad he was able to finish. It is tough to push through the pain to finish a race.

    I seriously considering running Rock n Roll Savannah. It falls on the same weekend as Wine and Dine, but if the rumors are true that Wine and Dine is done next year, I will definitely be registering for Savannah.
    Angie recently posted…Let’s Get PhysicalMy Profile

  12. Hollie says:

    Looks like so much fun. I have always wanted to do a Rock N Roll and haven’t yet- some day.
    Hollie recently posted…Pre Running Fuel: Creamy OatmealMy Profile

  13. Great recap! I felt like I was there with you. I’ve never been to RNR Virginia Beach but have always heard great things. Hope Mr. Pug Runner’s Achilles feels better!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Guest Post – Half Marathon Training With a Vitamin DeficiencyMy Profile

  14. Kimberly G says:

    I’ve heard good things about this race. I’ve done a few Rock ‘n’ Roll races and would love to add this one to my calendar. You make such a good point about Biofreeze – I wish aid stations would stock that!

  15. Whoa, tough race. Fun but tough. Hope Mr. Pugrunner was feeling better afterwards with the beer and incredibly great-looking burger in the pics. Made me hungry just looking at it. I definitely have to do a Rock n’Roll race at some point in the future. They seem mighty fun.
    Frank@The Fat Runner recently posted…Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure 5KMy Profile

  16. Natalie says:

    All I have to say is that burger and fries look amazing!! 🙂
    Ha ha! Seriously, congrats on a great race – you did it!!
    Love all your photos! My Aunt and Uncle live in Virginia Beach, so I definitely want to run this race sometime.
    Natalie recently posted…Weekend Update! First 5 mile run and other fun tales!My Profile

  17. This was not the optimal day for running with the humidity, rain and hot temperature. However, the course is usually well supported with people along the way which as you mentioned, helps alot. Congrats to Mr. Pug Runner on a good finish despite his pain. Getting PR’s at the RnRVB is usually not a possibility because of the heat. I also think the course is quite flat, but I have done quite a few training runs outside of Boston and that area is hilly!
    Pam and Christine recently posted…Bonnet Creek Boo-tacular Family Fun RunMy Profile

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