Race Recap: Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

The doctor gave me an okay to run/walk the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Granted, I was under strict instruction to stop if my knee started hurting aching even a teeny bit. IT Band Syndrome is not something to be messed around with. My knee hurt all week, but nowhere near as bad as last Saturday.

Friday following my appointment, I immediately packed my bags and waited for Chris to get home so we could head down to Virginia Beach.


The weather on Saturday and Sunday was painfully humid. You walked outside and immediately started sweating. I spent Saturday hanging out with one of my best friends, Lee Anne. We went and explored the race expo and then headed over to the beach to catch some sun.

Sunday morning I woke up at 3:15am. A little earlier than I wanted to be awake, but I was up and shockingly could not fall back asleep. Chris woke up a short time later and began to get ready to leave for the race.

On our way over to the start line, we stopped to grab some breakfast. I enjoyed a delicious bowl of frosted flakes and a donut. The fact I didn’t experience a sugar crash mid race baffles me but I needed something, anything to get me going.

I don’t remember the last time I had a donut. I enjoyed every bite of it.

We arrived at the start-line village a few minutes before 6am.

I immediately went to the portapotty line and once in the potty, I regretted my decision. After almost tossing my cookies donut, I chugged water and began to wait. There was water, fruit, and bagel stations all around but with the smell of the portapotty still fresh in my mind I was unable to really enjoy all that was surrounding me.

The crowd seemed really pumped up given how early it was. There were swarms of people everywhere. Chris told me following the race that there was over sixteen thousand registered participants.

Around 6:45am I said my goodbyes to Chris and went to my assigned corral.

The start line was slightly anti-climatic. The few races I’ve participated in haven’t had corrals, so waiting a few minutes in between each release was kind of boring. The adrenaline started to drain a little. Though, I will give credit to the announcer, he was doing his best to pump each crowd up as if they were a group of elite runners.

After the bullhorn sounded for corral eleven, I was off. It was about 7:15am at this point. I started the first few steps slowly telling myself that I wasn’t going to run, that running would be a bad decision. However, with the crowd of people around me all taking off and trying to find their groove, I kind of felt like a jerk strolling along.

So, I started running.

I began to tell myself that when my knee starts to hurt I would stop. I decided to move slowly. No pushing myself to the limit because I hadn’t exercised in a week and who knew how my knee would react to my normal pace.

I managed to run about two miles before I felt the familiar pain in my knee and decided to walk. I was only two miles in. I wanted to finish the race or at least get far enough to feel proud about my outcome given the circumstances.

I walked eleven miles. I did try to run here and there, but only a few steps at a time. Whenever I saw the mile markers I ran the short distance to them and walked until I saw the next one.

It was a long race, but it didn’t feel long.

Around mile six, I knew I had blisters forming on the bottoms of my feet and on the sides. I stopped for a few moments to put band-aids on, my horrible attempt to dull the pain. The pain became worse with each passing mile. During mile eleven, I felt the blister on the side of my right foot pop. By mile twelve, I was taking baby steps. Each step was accompanied by a whimper. I just kept repeating to myself that it would all be over soon and it probably wasn’t as bad as I was imagining.

Shortly before mile thirteen, Chris greeted me on the course. He knew I was in tough shape given the mass amount of texts that I sent him during the race. However, after he saw the expression on my face he knew it was bad news bears. At this point I was hobbling along the Virginia Beach boardwalk with the finish line in sight. I immediately started crying when I saw him because of the pain. I leaned on him, gripping him arm first and then just squeezing his hand. I needed his support to cross the finish line. The pain in my feet was so severe that I didn’t even notice that my knee was flaring up.

We crossed the finish line together at 3:53:03.

The emcee/announcer came up to us while I was hobbling along and made a comment about how Chris didn’t want to run it with me but that he still got to cross the finish line.

I finished the half marathon. I am officially a half-marathon runner (err… walker!)


After crossing the finish line, all I wanted was my medal and my chocolate milk. Unfortunately I only received one of those things. They ran out of chocolate milk before I finished.

C’est la vie. I came to Virginia Beach to get my medal and that is exactly what I left with.

My feet on the other hand will need some major recovery time. The blisters I mentioned are about the size of an infants hand. I have two on each feet, one on the balls of my foot near my big toe and one on the inner sides near the heel. I can’t walk without holding onto something and without walking on the outside of my feet. Ouch.


I’ll save you the gory photos of what they actually look like, just know that I need those big band-aids for a very good reason. I couldn’t even take ONE step after removing my shoes yesterday because they were so tender and my feet were so swollen. It was disgusting.

My body definitely took a beating. Would I do it again knowing the results of participating? Definitely.

Other things to note about the race:

  • It was eighty-eight percent humidity on Sunday morning at 7am. We stepped outside and immediately started sweating. Because of this humidity, people were passing out left and right. I’ve never seen so many medics in my life.
  • The course was flat minus a bridge that was maybe .15 of a mile. The bridge was a baby hill in comparison to what I am used to, but no one stopped to walk it (except me). The course is also an up and back kinda course. It makes it hard for your supporters to see you at random spots but its really not so bad.
  • The bands along the course are not the greatest. There was an 80’s vibe going on with each of the songs being performed but it was more like bad karaoke instead of rock concert.
  • Water stations/gatorade/Gu/medicial stations were evenly spaced throughout the course. I never felt like their presence was lacking. One station did run out of cups for water while I was there but I was carrying a water bottle so I wasn’t affected.
  • Portapotty’s were ALL over this course. It was nice considering the lines in the beginning were slightly outrageous. I saw at least one at each water stop as well as a few others along the way.

This was a fun race. I enjoyed the course and the atmosphere. It was definitely a much different feel than the Leesburg 20K.

I only wish they had more chocolate milk. And that I had worn different shoes.

My stats:

5K: 48:31
10K: 1:40:13
10 Mi: 2:49:10
Pace: 17:47
Chip time: 3:53:03
Clock time: 4:09:46

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13 thoughts on “Race Recap: Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

  1. Awesome job, and congratulations on finishing and toughing it out! I have my first sprint triathlon (300 yard swim, 10 mile bike ride, and 2 mile run) on Sunday and I am super nervous. I’ve had bronchitis for the past three weeks and haven’t been able to train at all. I appreciate you sharing your perseverance and helping me to believe I can finish it.

    • Thanks Kendall! You are going to rock that sprint triathlons butt!! You’ve been running much longer distances than two miles. The one thing I’ve heard people say they wished they had trained harder for is the swimming portion but at least it’s first.

      Keep me posted on how it goes!

      • The swimming is definitely what I am most worried about. I signed up to be in a slower swimming group so I would feel less pressure. I know I can run and I ride my bike to and from work every day, so I figure if I can just make it out of the pool, I’ll survive it haha. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes.

  2. Sarah that’s really incredible you pushed yourself so hard and finished! I am really proud of you! I hope your toesies feel better!!

  3. Great job Sarah!! So awful about the blisters, I have read a lot about training for a half marathon because I am attempting my first in April (maybe February) hopefully I won’t have that issue, it seems like it hurts! What training regimen did you use?

    • Ahh that is SO exciting! Which one are you training for?

      The blisters, I believe, were not caused by the distance (because I run around that distance every Saturday) but by the water cool down stations. They had hoses and were spraying participants down, I was trying to avoid them and my feet got soaked. I think that coupled with the semi-new shoes and heat made the blisters pop up in full swing. It was awful. I definitely recommend wearing shoes you are one hundred percent comfortable in on race day!!

      As far as training, I started mid June and felt ready (minus the knee issue that crept up last week) for the half marathon. This is a basic run down of my training schedule:
      Monday: Off or Cross Train (swimming, elliptical, bike, walk)
      Tuesday: Speed work for 40-50 minutes
      Wednesday: Off or cross train
      Thursday: Run 3-4 miles or cross train for 40-45 minutes
      Friday: Off
      Saturday: Long Run (started at 4 miles and increased my mileage weekly) the long run isn’t about speed, it’s about getting your body used to being on your feet for that distance
      Sunday: 3 mile EASY EASY EASY run. Usually I just walked. If I felt like running, I would but I would be going crazy slow.

      I hope this helps!!

  4. congrats on your finish! what strength to finish despite the heat, humidity, and pain. it was so tough…i knew it was going to be a rough run when i noticed there was a least one runner at each medic tent as well as some runners needing assistance along the course. i’ve never seen anything like it. hope your feet and knee heal soon!

    • Thank you!! It certainly was an interesting race. I felt bad for all the people receiving medical attention. The guy next to me at the end collapsed right after crossing the finish line it was scary. But I’m pumped to do my next one!

  5. Congrats on finishing your first Half!! May you have many more to come (without blisters!) I recommend buying some blister band-aids..they are wonderful! They really help the blisters heal. So what is your next half?? RnR DC??

    • Thank you!! I think the blisters were a result of my feet getting wet at the cooling stations (where people were being hosed off), I tried to avoid them but I know my feet got soaked. Add the heat and the shoes rubbing and it was just a bad day for my feet.

      I am going to look into band aids though! And thicker socks for next time. I def never want to feel that pain ever again.

      As for my next half I have the Richmond marathon coming up in November and then the Disney princess half in February. But, I want to the dc half next year too!! πŸ™‚

      What about you?

  6. Way to go!! I would not have been able to persevere with blisters, they are the worst kind of pain. This post definitely made me excited for the day I get to the point where I can run a half! Can’t wait to hear about your next one (that is hopefully a better experience in terms of injuries/pain!).

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