Race Report: Virginia Beach Yuengling Anthem 1/2 Marathon

I can't lie. Initially, I signed up for the Yuengling VA Beach 1/2 Marathon for the beer. Turns out, I got home from Virginia Beach on Monday afternoon and realized that I hadn't drank a beer the whole time I was there. I was preoccupied.

This view.

These people.

That moon.

Those boys.

I've had a few people over the past week tell me that they couldn't wait to read my race report because I always seem to have so much fun during races.  Hearing this kind of makes me get that wiggly-warm feeling in my heart, because that's what I always try to express to you when I write my race reports.

No matter what, I have fun.

Even when I was wishing that I could curl up and cry on the side of the road next to a rat pancake in Baltimore City, I can still look back and tell you that I was having fun. Just before I had visions of curling up in the fetal position and quitting, I was rounding a beautiful lake, eating pretzels, and smiling and laughing with the photographer who I was hiding my bib number from.

If I'm not going to have fun, why would I even bother?

The Virginia Beach 1/2 Marathon was no exception to this rule.

When we drove into Virginia Beach, entering from the end of the Atlantic Avenue strip, I have to admit that I was skeptical. Any of you who have been to a popular beach town know that the outskirts of the strip are usually less desirable than the middle of the strip. I'm sure that there are some perfectly lovely shops and restaurants in these areas of Virginia Beach, but I was more comfortable staying pretty close to our hotel, for obvious reasons.

Like the ocean view.

When we arrived, we promptly checked into our hotel (the Courtyard Marriott Oceanfront), and found a place to fill our bellies.

{prepare to be amazed by a series of iPhone shots}

Neither the view nor the menu at Waterman's disappointed.  I highly recommend the fish tacos.

After we ate, we went directly over to the Virginia Beach Convention Center for the race expo. I've become accustomed to seeing race expos inside the ballroom of one of the host hotels, so this was a little different than expected. It would have been a long trek from our hotel on foot if we didn't have a car, so I was feeling a bit sorry for all of the people that I noticed who were walking there.

The race expo was heavy on the "sales", and light (non-existent) on the freebies.  Here is a picture of Run, Denise, Run's goody bag and marathon finisher shirt.  I didn't take a picture of my shirt, but it's basically the same thing with short sleeves.

Inside that bag was a race information book.

The end.

No fuel, no goodies, no freebies.  Not even a stinking coupon to another race that I wouldn't otherwise want to register for.  It was kind of surprising, actually.

Walking around the expo, there was mainly just a lot of stuff for sale. I managed to snag a pair of these beauty-full runners on the cheap from Chevy Chase Running Company (based in Chevy Chase, MD).  After catching wind that the guy selling us these Newton's was from Silver Spring, MD, I requested the "Hometown Discount". He obliged. I smiled.

I also bought a pair of Snuggbuds, which I've seen at every race expo from here to South Carolina, but I never gave in to the hype. However, this little lady is quite the salesperson.

{and incidentally, she is all over the place, because this pic of her is from the Macworld show in California last year...and all I had to do was Google "Snuggbuds" to find her.}

I will have a review soon on both the Newton Motion runners and the Snuggbuds, since I wore both for this race!

I saw a few (un-purchased) shirts that suited me well.

I mean, it's true.

So my pace isn't slow...it's "frugal".

I wasn't super impressed by the race expo, but I also wasn't disappointed by it. They had everything that we needed (and then some), but I did find some of the people at the booths to be a little more aggressive than I'm accustomed to.

There was one booth of people selling Vemma, which I had never heard of, but I was put off by their approach ("HI THERE MA'AM...VEMMA...LIQUID NUTRITION...YADA YADA...WANT TO TRY A SAMPLE?") to the point that I wasn't willing to even approach and try it. You know those kiosks in the mall where people ask you if they can ask you a question, then they try to put rogue lotions on your face and hands, so when you see them from a distance, you always try to check your phone so that they won't make eye contact with you?

Yeah, that's what it felt like. Maybe it's just me.

We spent a good 1-1.5 hours at the expo on Friday, and we ended up going back on Saturday with the rest of our group, and did another loop around the booths.

After the expo, we did some basic exploring of Virginia Beach, and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and all of the little shops along Atlantic Avenue.  I also loved that on Friday night, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and left the balcony door open, falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves. It was the thing that dreams are made of.

What I didn't especially love was the part where I woke up at 6AM on Saturday to the sound of a very loud seagull on the railing of our balcony--threatening to encroach on our hotel room-sanctuary and eat every graham cracker in sight.

Pictures of Can-y-Bae, Llandudno

[this is not "our" noisy bird, but I'm sure they are related in some way]

Luckily, the bird stayed outside where he belonged. An incident like that could have really ruined my race experience, no?

We had a pretty uneventful day on Saturday besides the race expo. We did, however, enjoy a very carb-a-licious pasta buffet at the Courtyard Marriott restaurant, conveniently located inside of our hotel.  We attempted to make reservations elsewhere, but apparently other people had that same idea months ago, so we stayed right at the Marriott. This turned out to be a great decision, because the food was lovely, there was no crowd, and when we were sufficiently stuffed full of simple carbs, we just hopped into the elevator and rolled into our own comfy beds.  Perfect.

On Sunday morning, the 1/2 marathon race started at 7AM.  We were staying only about 3 blocks from the race start, so we lucked out in that sense.  I was happy to see that the race had a wave start, which made things a little less crazy when the gun went off.  I was glad that out of the 8,500 1/2 marathon participants, they all didn't have to run past me to get to where they needed to be.  That is the beauty of a wave start.

I started off a little bit faster than I probably should have, but I guess I overestimated the speed training that I've been trying to stick with since the Myrtle Beach 1/2. It's funny how a race course can seem like it's going to be so similar (both the Myrtle and VA Beach courses claim to be "flat"), but one course can feel so different than the other.  I felt awesome the whole time I was doing the MB 1/2 (other than the fact that I had to stop at every public restroom available for the first 6 miles), but I wasn't quite as confident at VA Beach. It was just a feeling, I can't explain it.

I can say, however, that the course was very nice.  I was happy with the beach and ocean views when we passed through the grounds of Fort Story [p.s...not that I'd ever join the military, but if I did, it would only be because I could live at Fort Story], and I also loved the beginning of the race, running under an umbrella of pine trees. The smell brought me right back home to New York!

My only gripes about the course were a) the condition of some of the roads that we were running on. Some were uneven with deep tire channels, and that makes it difficult for me to keep my IT Band in check, and b) since the marathon and 1/2 marathon pass each other a few times going in opposite directions, all runners are forced to share 2 lanes of a street. This made things pretty crowded at times, and I even found myself having to sidestep through people...and I'm the SLOW one.

At no point did I dread having to keep running, but at no point did I feel awesome about running. But I had fun! One of the best parts of the race was an entertaining game of leap frog that I played with a woman who was doing Galloway 1:1's. Since I was doing 5:1's, I was running for longer periods than she was.  It seemed like every time my timer would tell me to walk, hers would tell her to run. We played this game for a good 3-4 miles, and I finally decided that I was over it, so I kicked my stubby little legs into turbo.

And by "turbo", I mean a 10:00/mile pace.

It's all relative, right?

After the race, I met up with my other homies, and we waited for Rob to finish. He was the only one from our group who decided to do the marathon in Virginia Beach.

He finished strong, as usual.

Although I didn't feel like it, it turns out that I finished this race about 6 minutes faster than the Myrtle Beach 1/2. I find it interesting these days that I really value my race experience much more than I value my race finish time. Virginia Beach was a great place to run my 4th 1/2 marathon, but it wouldn't have been as enjoyable without the people that I shared it with.

Although the two t-shirts above do suit me well, I'd like to think that I just run slower so that I can enjoy the scenery more.

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