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

The Diagnosis

Last Saturday, I hurt my left knee. I hurt my knee so bad I was unable to bend it. I was unable to walk up and down the stairs. I hurt my knee so bad it was swollen for an entire week.

An entire week.

After showing my boss and co-worker my knee on Monday at work, they immediately instructed me to see a doctor. They both suffer from knee problems of their own and the fact that it was still swollen after two days was definitely a cause for concern.

I began the process of calling orthopedic specialists in the DC area, preferably close to my work, only to find out that they were not taking new patients at this time or that their earliest appointment was for mid-September. Considering I had the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon the Sunday following the incident,  I couldn’t wait until mid-September for an appointment.

Because what if I was still able to compete in the half marathon?

I started calling specialists closer to my house. Luckily, someone recently had a cancelation and I could come see the doctor on Friday.

Thank goodness.

I took the entire week off from exercise. I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t talk a walk around my neighborhood. I didn’t run. Nothing. It was a terrible week for cardiovascular fitness.

But what was I supposed to do? Risk aggravating my knee further and then completely ruin any chance of competing on Saturday? Ugh terrible.

Friday came and my knee was still swollen.

I went to the doctor. After x-rays and exam he and his assistant came to a decision.

The diagnosis? Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS/IT Band Syndrome).

Common training causes that I am GUILTY of (from Wikipedia):

  • Always running on a banked surface (such as the shoulder of a road or an indoor track) bends the downhill leg slightly inward and causes extreme stretching of the band against the femur. (I typically run on the shoulder of the road/sidewalk and it definitely is not flat or smooth)
  • Inadequate warm-up or cool-down (totally guilty of just going out there and running and then coming home and not doing any stretches)
  • Excessive up-hill and down-hill running (the loop I do is a constant up-hill/down-hill run and I usually circle it at least 2 times)
  • Running up and down stairs (every weekday I run down the escalator steps at the metro station and some mornings I run up them. Total # of steps I run in one instance? 90)

Feet abnormalities that contribute to IT Band Syndrome (from Wikipedia):

From what it sounds like, I’ve done this to myself. Absolutely terrible. Depending on how I train from now on this may continue to be an issue or might just flare up on it own.

Does this mean I can never run again? Absolutely not. But, I do need to train smarter. I need to think more about what is best for my body, not just what I want to be doing.

For the next few weeks, the doctor instructed me to do daily stretches and to focus on cross training. The more I try to run before it is better, the more it will continue to be a pain in the butt knee.

I am not thrilled with this diagnosis, but there are worse things.

As Chris put it, “You got a true runners injury.”

Yeah, I sorta did.

Do you have knee problems? What do you do for them? Have you suffered from IT Band Syndrome? Any tips? Let’s discuss!!