Monday, September 30, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon

Half number 8 on year took place in my back yard down in Providence, RI.  This will be third year that Rock N Roll has hosted this event and Julie and I have run all three.  This race holds a special place for me as in 2011 it was my first half marathon. 

On the day before the race we woke up and headed down to RI where we stopped just before the border to have lunch with one of my high school buddy's and his family before heading on down to the expo.

Coming up to the event RnR announced that the expo would only be from 9-5 on Saturday vs. the Friday/Saturday combination of past years and other races.  I know this race is smaller than the others but it was still a shock for me to have them cut out the Friday hours.  When we arrived the expo seemed much smaller than prior years and smaller than any other expo I've been to.  There was no Brooks set-up and very limited vendors.  Normally RnR are trying to get you to sign up for next year's race with a discount but that wasn't the case.  This combined with the small number of participants, 3,930 makes me wonder if they will be back again next year.  The attendance numbers are up slightly from last year's number of 3,610 not including the mini marathoners, but nowhere near year 1 participation of 5,770.

Bare Bones Expo :(
That being said Julie and I came to the expo to get some stuff done.  First was to register for the RnR USA half marathon in March.  We made our way over to the RnR both to register, but they were having WiFi problems so only two computers were working, but one of those two were open so we jumped on and promptly registered us both without using the code to get us our discount.  It seems that I'm not the first person to do this as the person manning the booth knew just what to do and was able to full out a form to hopefully have our $30 refunded in 4 to 6 weeks. Go me!

Next we headed over to hippie runner to grab a plain headband for running.  Julie has a couple with slogans on them, and they work great, but we both just wanted one with a solid color on it for use in races or training.  We grabbed them and headed out to find a dunkin donuts to buy some bagels for breakfast in the morning.  When we arrived at the only DD near the expo it was closed.  It closed at 4PM as apparently Providence doesn't need caffeine, so we headed to our hotel just north of the capital.

We settled into the Providence Marriott and asked the front desk if there was a grocery store nearby.  We were directed to the Whole Foods about two miles away in the car, but only about 300 feet away as the crow flies.  As you have to walk over a couple of busy roads and about 10 flights of stairs to get there we jumped in the car to grab a couple of bagels and organic peanut butter.  Since the liquor store was two doors down we stopped in and got some Shipyard Pumpkinhead and Wachusett Pumpkan ale (the Pumpkan is funnier when you see it's in a can), before heading back to the hotel for some drinks before dinner.

About six we headed back down towards downtown to grab some dinner at the Omni Hotel's restaurant called Centro.  It's the only Italian place within walking distance so we hit it up.  Julie went with the house speciality pizza which was a white pizza with prosciutto and arugula, while I went with the linguine with spicy sauce and lobster chunks.  All and all very tasty!

After dinner we headed down to Waterfire, which is a light display put on along the river.  Several large basins are situated throughout the river, and a large fire is lit in each.  The fires are tended by a gondola and burn well into the night.  We hung out watching the water and fire for a while before he headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep.

While walking back to the hotel we played a game called "how many times can you cross the road."  Wondering how to play?  Well it's simple you just cross the road until something happens to make you cross the road again.  First I crossed the road over to the other side towards the capital since that's the way we came (1 point Drew, 1-0 Drew).  Julie then pointed out that we were on the wrong side to get back to the hotel so we found a cross walk (safety first) and made our way back to the other side (1 point for making us cross the road and 1 point for putting us on the right side of the road 2-1 Julie).  We cross another road but that was running perpendicular to our path so no points were awarded, but just a little further up the street I urgently said "move over, cross the street, cross the street".  There just rooting around in the bushes was a skunk so we quickly made our way across the street again (2 points for Drew, 1 for keeping each person skunk spray free.  I think the hotel would have charged us extra to try and get that smell out of the room 3-2 Drew).  We made our way up the road a little farther and crossed back across the street (no points were awarded since we both knew that we had to be on that side). 

A little farther up the road something scurried along the bushes and I nearly jumped back across the street.  Instead of the white stripe of a skunk it was the white cotton ball of a rabbit.  Julie laughed at me as we arrived at the hotel.  I should have let her get sprayed.  Final score Drew 3 Julie 2.

Waterfire in Providence

Race day we slept in and only woke up two hours forty-five minutes before the race rather than our normal three hours, which let us sleep until 4:15.  We had our bagels while scrolling through infomercials and episodes of 30 for 30 (Who killed the USFL?) while we woke up and got ready for the race.  Shopping at Whole Foods all I was able to get in terms of peanut butter was organic peanut butter which is more like ground peanuts with oil.  How is this more healty than JIF?

About 20 minutes before the scheduled start we headed down the will towards the capital to the start line and got in our coral, number 5.  There were only 11 corals so being in 5 didn't feel too close to the front.  We waited as the clock hit 7...then 7:05...then 7:10.  These races are normally pretty much on time so it was strange and I was starting to get a bit cold.  Finally about 7:12 when they announced we were about to start I was ready to go!

starting line
 The course starts up past the state house and tests you right out of the gate with a hill that goes past the seat of government before taking a right (past our hotel) and then slightly down hill again.    After that quick up and down it levels off for until about mile 1.5 where you hit another hill for about a mile as you pass Brown University and the Whole Foods we passed the day before.
As I passed the 5K mark I felt tired and took my foot off the gas a bit because I knew just after the start of mile 4 there was a big hill.  But I didn't remember just how big it was.  It's really freakin big and just as quickly as it does up it gives back most of it's elevation.  I was able to keep moving all the way up and was still making pretty good time as I zig-zaged down through mile 5 and 6. 
Miles 7 and 8 run along the river at Blackstone Park which made for some nice views along it's fog strewn banks.  I stopped here and made a pit stop which lost be about 2-3 minutes but overall I was still making pretty good time.
The Fog at Blackstone Park

After leaving the part the course cuts back inland for a while before emerging back along the river and runs in India Point Park just after mile 9 all the way to mile 10 where it cuts over the river to the other side of Providence.   This part of the course isn't very scenic as you run along the campus of Johnson and Wales, but it's only a mile so it's not too bad.  Also about this time I set the goal to beat my time from last year of 2:19:34, so I picked up the pace.
At mile 11 you come back to the river heading back towards the bridge you crossed.  At this point you can see the people in the home stretch going the other way.  Even though I wished I could follow them I didn't, I kept on over the bridge again just to U turn and run down the other side of the river.   One more small bridge crossing at the 20K mark and you're in the home stretch running along Waterplace Park while the people on the other side of the road wonder if they can just follow you.

Waterplace park with the capital
The final stretch comes with one last twist.  The final turn starts you on a 0.2 mile hill up to the finish line.  For those who didn't scout this it can be a cruel cruel joke.  I powered up the hill and clocked in at 2:19:04, 30 seconds faster than last year and almost 20 minutes faster than 2 years ago!
The finish line is up a wicked hill

Feeling good I grabbed my medal and headed straight to the beer garden without passing go and without someone handing me $200.  I turned in my drink ticket for an ice cold Mic Ultra and watched a bit of the opening band, the Velveteen Playboys.  When I finished by beer I hit the repeat button this time turning in Julie's beer ticket which I took off her bib this morning. 

Having a beer listening to Velveteen Playboys

After my beers I checked Julie's progress using the "Find My iPhone" app.  It comes in useful even if it's a bit creepy that you can see where someone is all the time.  Matching her spot with the RunKeeper map from my run I walked down and met her at mile 11 to give her some encouragement and Gatorade.  She finished up strong knocking about 20 minutes off of her time from Philly two weeks ago and since the race started so early we hung out listening to the headliner Atlas Genius for a while before heading back to our hotel to shower up without encountering any skunks along the way.
Julie shows off at 20K

Hanging at the Atlas Genius concert post race

Showered up we checked out and went to a new place for brunch that we saw on Phantom Gourmet, which is called the Duck and Bunny.  DnB is all about the crepes.  Want a burrito?  It's a crepe instead of a tortilla.  Want a sushi roll?  It's a crepe instead of seaweed.  Want pasta?  It's a cut up crepe instead of pasta.  You get the picture.  In addition to all the crepe craziness, they have some traditional foods and find some traditional uses for the crepes as well, along with afternoon tea offerings.

We started off with a couple of lattes while we decided if we wanted sweet or savory.  Julie went savory with a salmon roll (similar to a large sushi roll) with salmon, herb cheese, capers, creme fraise and chives.

Salmon Roll
I went sweet with the Red Velvet Pancakes with Mascarpone cheese and chocolate chips. Bother were wonderful.  Stuffed, we grabbed two cupcakes to go (banana-nutella for me and honey lavender for Julie) and headed back to Boston.

Red Velvet Pancakes
One more half scheduled for this year down in Savannah in November, but before that we have the RnR Brooklyn 10K in 2 weeks.  60 minutes or bust!!!




Segment Pace

Overall Page

















Overall: 2,694 out of 3,930 Division: 205 out of 349 Gender: 1,108 out of 1,348


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week in Review 9.29.13

Race week for the Rock n' Roll Providence Half Marathon, lets hope the race goes as well as Philly did!  Nothing crazy this week.  I've even dialed it back a bit between all the climbing and running we've done. 

On Monday we hit the rock gym again to use one another of the passes we had before they expire on Saturday.  After that it was 2 5K's in the middle of the week to rest up for Sunday's race!

Tuesday - 35:11 an 11:21 Pace
Wednesday - 34.55 an 11:16 Pace

Thursday my route took my a bit farther as I tried out the new Brooks Glycerin running shoes and new Equilibrium base layer (review of that later-on).  3.3 mi in 35:40 a 10:49 pace

Stay tuned for the race report I'll have up early next week (I hope)!

Miles run last week 22.6 (Assuming I finish the half!!!!)

Miles run this year 721.6

Miles left to 1K in 2013: 278.4 (21.42 miles per week over the next 13 weeks down 0.08 from last week)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week in Review 9.22.13

Philly half is done time to taper again for Providence!

I took off Monday due to my late arrival from Philly but returned to running on Tuesday with a recovery run.  I was pretty sore from my PR so no speeds here just a stretch of the legs.  Later that evening I hit the gym for some strength training back to the two-a-days before my cold/allergies 5.0 mi in 58:45 an 11:45 pace.

After using The Stick Tuesday morning and again at night, my  left felt pretty good, not 100% but good enough to try some fartlek Wednesday morning.  I ran down to the track with a half mile warm up and cool down.  I couldn't get my heart rate up above 160 so I probably could have run faster if my legs weren't so tired but it wasn't a bad pace.  I've started to use my garmin vs. RunKeeper for training so that I can monitor my heart rate and I think that will also probably translate into some slower times as it appears to be more accurate.  5.2 mi in 51:38 a 9:56 pace

Thursday I did some more speed work at the track. Half mile warm up with a four miles fast then another half mile coll down.  I was very near my 10K goal of 9:40!  5.0 mi in 48.34 a 9:43 pace

Friday Julie and I did some cross training at the new Rock gym that opened up.  After a little over an hour we were pretty beat but it was fun to get back out there and do some climbing.
Saturday I didn't push the 5 miles since I had another run on Sunday, so I did a down and back to John Brewers before we headed over tot he Science museum to see the dead sea scrolls (they were kinda boring).  5 mi in 57:46 an 11:33 pace

Sunday last "long" run before the Rock N Roll Providence half Marathon, but before that Julie and I hit the rock gym again.  Between the football on TV and planning on going back to the gym Monday morning we didn't stay past the hour, but it was still quite the workout.  Between the half last Sunday and the time at the gym I didn't push this run in length or distance.  4mi in 45:25 an 11:22 pace

Miles run last week 24.2

Miles run this year 699

Miles left to 1K in 2013: 301.0 (21.5 miles per week over the next 14 weeks down 0.18 from last week)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon

For the third year in a row Julie and I headed down I-95 for the Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  Our trip started at rush hour as we jumped on the Mass Pike and headed out on our way.  The traffic wasn't that bad but once we hit Hartford the rains began and Mother Nature put on a light show any pyro technician would be jealous of.  The rains grew heavier as we headed south and we turned on talk radio to get a sense of how it was affecting traffic.  What we heard was not good.

Our preferred route down the Garden State Parkway was closed due to flooding.  The alternative way we would normally take, down the Palisades Parkway, was closed due to a tree down across the road.  Both of those we rendered useless anyways as 287 was closed due to an overturned tractor-trailer.  The only way to get down there was to go through NYC and over to NJ through one of the tunnels or the GW bridge.  We picked the bridge and were rewarded with a clear ride.  Despite the weather and the detour our travel time was average at five and a half hours.
A rainy GW Bridge

Friday I worked from the Pasternak house.  I tried to do 5K early in the afternoon, but the time of day and cold or allergies that I was fighting off made me haul back home after just 2 miles.  After no training since Monday night and this episode I didn't have high hopes for the race on Sunday.  After showering up and finishing the day's work we were joined by Julie's friend and co-worker Jen who was going to be doing the half (her first) with us, and we sat down for some Philly cheese steaks.  Later that night we headed out to meet one of Julie's college friends, Heather, at a new brew pub called Vault.  The IPA I had was very good and the food being eaten by others looking wonderful.  After checking out the menu, I think we'll be returning here while visiting for Thanksgiving.

Saturday we slept in and made our way over to Manhattan Bagels for some breakfast.  Julie's mom though that it being a holiday that it would be pretty quiet, but with all the Yom Kippur orders sitting on the counter waiting to be picked up they were out of almost everything.  Luckily they had three jalapeno and cheddar bagels left which we grabbed, but we had to wait for some more plain to come out of the oven!  After breakfast it was time to head downtown to the expo and to meet up with Julie's cousins Sue and Katie.

The expo was packed when we arrived around 12:30.  We grabbed our bibs and shirts and headed out to check out the vendors.  This was Jen's first expo so we made our way around so she could grab some useful gear for the race.  Never opposed to shopping, I ended up with a set of arm warmers proclaiming that I was training for the zombie apocalypse (along with a car magnet to match) while Julie picked up a vest and new pair of running sunglasses.  We stopped to talk to a number of vendors along the way and I even sat to listen to a bit of a training clinic given during the expo.

This year's shirt

Just in case

After we the expo we headed to the Embassy Suites near the art museum to check in.  It's the second closest hotel to the start line (I'm not paying to stay at the Ritz across the street) and was our base of operations last year as well.  This year it seemed a bit more run down and had a bit of a smell but it's all about location and the free beer (and wine) and snacks from 5:30-7:30 which we took advantage of before we headed down to dinner in south Philly for dinner with Julie's family.

View from our room.  Tomorrow this will be packed with runners

So will this
Down in south Philly we grabbed a prime parking spot and walked a couple of blocks to Villa de Roma where we met up with Julie's parents, Katie and her boyfriend Vince and Katie's parents.  Vince wasn't running with us tomorrow.  He needed to do 20 miles as training for his cross country season to get up to his 100 mile week.  100 miles?!?!  I think he should have ordered a couple of pastas dinners.  Villa is typical Italian place in this neck of the woods, cash only, no reservations, loud, dark, cramped and wonderful food.  We sat down after a bit of a wait and started in on a couple of carafes of Chanti and garlic bread.  For my meal I had Penne Abruzzi loaded with sausage, mushrooms, peppers and enough carbs to keep me running all day.  Stuffed and tired we headed back to the smelly hotel to get some rest before the race.

Race day we woke up early and I had my usual breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter. As we got ready I tried to decide on what to wear. It was pretty cool, but we'd be warming up so I debated I bringing my newly purchased arm warmers or not. In the end I decided to bring them and drop them off with Julie's Parents when I saw them on the race course.

At 7:30 we headed down to the lobby and met up with Sue and Katie to head over to the starting line. It pretty packed already and the throng of humanity was only getting more dense.  Katie was checking a bag so I dropped my arm warmers with her before she did (which turned out to be a good decision since I didn't see Julie's parents along the course) and we made our way over towards the gear check.  I say towards because there were so many people there that we sent Katie and Sue in alone rather than trying to push everyone into the sea of people.  A couple of minutes later they returned and we headed over to decide if where we were going to jump into the corals.


We found an entrance near some port-a-potties and coral 5.  We weren't going to jump in that low of a coral we were going to wait for a higher number to come by and jump in there.  As we got to the entrance the first runners were off and I was ready to go to the bathroom since that's when everyone jumps out of line to get going to the start.  We followed this logic last year and it worked perfectly, but this year it didn't.  The lines were so long they were at least 50 people deep.  I had to go but I hadn't trained must off the week and I wasn't expecting to do anything special on this run so I figured I'd just stop along the way.  I waited for my assigned coral, 9, jumped in and took off.

The course takes off from near the front of the art museum and down Benjamin Franklin parkway towards Willie Penn and the Love statue and then around JFK plaza towards the old city hall.  I stared out strong just over 10 minutes for my first mile.  I figured I was going out a bit fast but what the heck.

Running towards old city hall with sun glare...
and without.

After you pass old city hall the course then continues down market/11th street towards the National Constitution Center, home of the liberty bell.  I missed this last year so I made an extra effort to make sure I noticed it all and took in the sights.

Pretty Sure the liberty bell is in there
After that the course U-turns back up Arch street just before the 3 mile mark.  To say that Arch street needs some work is like saying the fat kids love cupcakes.  Seriously, the street has so many waves I felt as if I should be in a speedo carring a long board.  Do you know why Philly has a reputation for giving out so many parking tickets?  Because every car in the city just dies on the side of the road after bottoming out on Arch street.  I nearly fell a couple of times and but managed to keep on my feet (no joke).  When the terrain finally flattened out again I the course headed back up through Logan Square and towards the museum.  Just after mile 4 I was still running just over 10 minute miles, but I had to go.  I came a cross a set of port-a-potties with no line and ducked in.  No biggie I can't keep running at this pace the whole time.

Back to the Museum
After you pass the museum the course heads out along the Schuylkill River for a nice four mile down and back.  On the way out the course was shaded keeping everyone cool, almost cold.  I past a pair of older people sitting along the route with one of the best signs I had ever seen.  It was just while poster board with black lettering that said "Motivational Sign".  I chuckled to myself and kept going regretting I didn't see it earlier to get a picture.  As I passed the halfway mark I looked at my watch and even with the pee break I was just about on pace for a PR, but since I wasn't feeling well all week I knew that this couldn't last.  About this time I responded to JR, one of my twitter followers from Philly taking a small shot at the city.  My first mid-race tweet!

Just short of mile 9 the race heads over the river on Falls Bridge and I grabbed a Gu from a race volunteer.  As you get to the bridge there was a slight incline and I started to struggle, but I was pretty happy where I was.  I had done almost 9 miles just over 10 minute miles, and I was easily going to beat my recent times in Virginia Beach and Seattle.  As I approached mile 10 I was greeted by a Michelob Ultra advertisement announcing that there was free beer at the end, and I realized I was still going at just over a 10 minute mile pace.  OK 10 miles in I can allow myself to start thinking about a PR now, but do I have enough left in the tank to do it?

Mich ultra is waiting...must get to the finish
After mile 11 the trees start to thin out and the sun got going.  It was still cool so the sun wasn't over heating me but I really wanted the shade back.  My legs started to get a bit heavy but as long as I could keep just under 11 minute miles the rest of the way I was golden.

The past two years I've really faded here around mile 12.  The road is angled to help with rain water runoff, the sun is beating down on you, and the road has an ever so slight incline, but this year I had a PR.  I could even walk the last 1.1 mile and still PR so I pushed to keep my pace going and see how low I could go.  As you hit mile 13 you start up a hill towards the steps of the art museum (thankfully you don't have to go up them Rocky style, that would be a little cheesy).  It's the last cruel twist of this half marathon that is essentially flat up until this point.  I powered up the hill and sprinted towards the finish. 

My watch said just short of 2:14. If that was right I had broken my PR by over 5 minutes.  I didn't have anything that was a more accurate measure of my time since unlike other races for some reason the competitor group didn't have spectator tracking so I would have had to pay $5 to track myself then $5 for each other member of our group.  I wasn't about to pay $25 bucks for all those text messages and since you fine readers of my blog can follow me via Runkeeper Live, so I went with less than 2:14.

I felt great, I even felt as if I had something left in the tank.  I grabbed my medal and some Gatorade and headed over to pick up my heavy medal for 7 races in a year (Rock Legend), before going over to the beer garden for my free beer.  I hung out drinking my beer and taking some pictures before I started back to the hotel.

Yup I'm a rock legend
As I was heading out to the hotel I saw the medal engravers booth.  I remembered that I said when I broke 2:15 I would get my medal engraved so I walked over and waited in line.  I filled out my form and handed it in and that's when the trouble began.  Their internet went down and they couldn't find my time.  I looked online and found it at 2:14:05, it was under 2:15 so I guess I'm getting my medal engraved!  "Great we'll call in your credit card while your medal is being engraved.  What's your zip code?"  I told her while she called in the card of the lady in front of me, then mine.  After giving her my zip code 4 times they couldn't get my card to work, but they had already engraved my medal.  They took my information so they could mail it back to me once I had paid.  It was just before 11 and they would be there until noon, but I needed to be back to my hotel by noon as most places shut off your key by then even with late check out.

I had no intention of potentially losing my medal so I started to call everyone I thought would be finished to see if they had any cash.  Katie was already back at the hotel (only a 21 year old could barely train and run a sub 2hr half) and I ran into Sue on the way back to the hotel.  Luckily Julie's parents were nice enough to meet me near the hotel with a twenty so that I didn't need to go all the way back and up to the room.  I headed back to pick up my medal (again) and then back to the hotel. I made it there and back with about 10 minutes to spare. I showered up and waited for Julie and Jen to finish up.

When the ladies arrived Julie was not wearing her Philadelphia finishers medal but a generic Rock n Roll medal.  She said they ran out of Philadelphia ones but they would mail it to her later, and on Monday she received an e-mail saying that a rack of medals were stolen which is why they ran out, but that she would be getting one within two weeks.  Gotta love the city of brotherly love!

After checking out we headed out of the city to Julie's parents with a car full of people (thankfully we didn't get pulled over because there were definitely more people than seats) for a family lunch with even more of Julie's cousins.  There were a lot of people there, so many that Julie felt the need to explain to Jen how everyone was related.  I think it entailed the use of lists, diagrams, PowerPoint's, a strait rule and an abacus.  It's that complicated.  We sat around eating lobster rolls, drinking beers and hurricanes (from the Pasternak's recent trip to New Orleans) and just relaxing and chatting the afternoon away.  Near the end the runners were honored with an ice cream cake (because it's hard trying to replace all those calories burned), but before too long it was time to go.  Julie was staying down south for work so she drove me over to the train station to catch the Amtrak back to Boston.

I slept most of the way.  Seeing as I got in at 1AM I wanted to bank as much sleep as possible so I could function at work on Monday, and when I arrived at Back Bay station I was lucky to catch a cab.   The wheels sounded a bit wobbley as we made out way out the Mass Pike, but it held together and I arrived home safe and sound.  Just 2 weeks until the RnR Providence half!




Segment Pace

Overall Page

















Overall: 10,717 out of 18,068 Division: 822 out of 1,121 Gender: 5,174 out of 7,044


Monday, September 16, 2013

Week in Review 9.15.13

Race week for the Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, combined with a cold or allergies so there isn't much to report as far as training goes.

Monday I headed out to do some fartlek down to the track.  I wanted to do a full 5 miles but one of the guys I was meeting for beers and wings for Monday night football got there early so I left a bit early.  Wings time!  4.9mi in 50:29 a 10:18 pace. 

I woke up Tuesday stuffy and with a scratchy throat.  Not wanting to push my luck and get sick before the race so I didn't run again until Friday while I was working from home.  Read about that run and the half on Sunday in my race report.  I hope to have the race report up shortly!

Miles run last week 20.0

Miles run this year 674.8

Miles left to 1K in 2013: 325.2 (21.68 miles per week over the next 15 weeks up 0.1 from last week)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week In Review 9.8.13

Another taper week, I love !

I started my training week on Tuesday trying out my knew light up visor.  It worked pretty well but my legs were still pretty heavy from the Virginia Beach half so it was slow going and I didn't get all 5 in, so I'll look to make up for it tomorrow  4.3 mi in 47:56 an 11:09 pace.

Wednesday I ran fartlek down at the track with a half mile warm up and cool down.  Felt good and you can't argue with the pace.  Almost on pace to do my October 10K in under an hour!  6 mi in 58:58 a 9:50 pace

Thursday I did some more speed work at the track.  Half mile warm up with a four miles fast (for me) then six-tenths of a mile for the cool down.  I'll take it!  5.1 mi in 50:27 a 9:54 pace

Friday I was up and out to the gym early for some strength training.  Nothing to see here move along.
Saturday I didn't push the 5 miles since I had another long run on sunday.  I hung out around my house using the hills as some resistance, and was surprised at the pace.  I also got a little extra running in playing tag with the nice and nephews down in CT after apple picking.  JULIE MAKE ME SOME APPLE PIE!!!!  5 mi in 54:35 a 10:55 pace

Sunday last "long" run before the Rock N Roll Philadelphia half Marathon.  I kept the pace under 11 minutes but it was rough I just felt tired the entire time.  Oh well shake it off half number 7 in 7 days! 8mi in 1:27:46 a 10:58 pace

Miles run last week 28.4

Miles run this year 654.8

Miles left to 1K in 2013: 345.2 (21.58 miles per week over the next 16 weeks down 0.3 from last week)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Labor Day weekend started early as I headed out of work around 2 to catch our flight to Norfolk for the half.  We arrived early at Logan and were able to catch an earlier flight to DCA extending our layover from 75 minutes by and hour.  This turned out to be pretty key as the terminal we were in only had one restaurant to have a sit down dinner.  By the time we were seated at Gordon Biersch and my first beer arrived the line to get in was around 30 people deep.

We arrived in Norfolk a few minutes early just after 9 and grabbed our rental car from Hertz which happened to be a ford hybrid I had never heard of and made our way down to VB stopping at KMart on the way to pick up some supplies for the weekend.


Friday we awoke earlish and gathered our things for the beach before heading down to the complimentary breakfast at the Fairfield Inn. It was a decent spread, and it wasn't very busy yet.  We only spotted a few runners and a pair of guys who were obviously working the GEICO booth at the expo.  We grabbed a couple of peanut butter packs to power our race day breakfast and headed down to the beach. 

Due to packing constraints (I'm cheap and didn't want to pay to check a bag), we didn't bring any beach towels so we grabbed a couple of pool towels from the hotel which turned out to be woefully too small and headed across the boardwalk to the waves.  Just after 9AM the beach was pretty empty and the lifeguards were just making it to their stands, but sand was already starting to get hot and the water was cool.  After about two hours, several fly overs by F-16's and a visit from a passing pod of porpoises, we headed in to clean up, and so Julie could take a conference call before we headed down to the Expo.  

Getting to VB convention center (which also was the site of the starting line) from our hotel was very simple, a straight shot up 19th street for about three-quarters of a mile.  When we made it there, things were in full swing and the parking lots were full but I decided to take a chance and see if we could find a close spot in lot 1, and was rewarded with about 20 open spots reserved for Hybrid or Electrical cars right up front.  Score!

We made our way in and headed to get our bibs and something didn't look quite right, there was smoke rising to my left that...a volcano?  We grabbed our bibs, shirts and swag bags and headed over to the race store.  The Brooks exhibit which used to be carnival theme now had an island theme and was named "Run Happy Island", complete with customs where you can get your passport, a mechanical shoe you can ride and yes a volcano name crackatoe-a where you can race people to the top.  Brooks had brought the interactive experience to a whole new level.  

We grabbed our passports and took it over to the gift shop to see what we had won.  The QR code on it determines the free gift you can win which was between a new pair of shoes, a beach bag, a tinted visor or a foam Shaka.  Julie and I both won a run happy visor.  I had my gait analysis done last time so no need to do that again and Julie was afraid she would actually crack-a-toe-a (really I think it was lose to me) so we didn't race up the volcano.  We watched some people get thrown from the shoe, but I think I need to lose a few more LBs before I do that.  Maybe next year.

We made our way out to the rest of the expo to grab a few items for the race.  We both grabbed a iPhone holder that can either be use on your arm or hand.  I thought I would want one that goes on my right hand but the guy told me most righties have it on their left so I went with the left.  If I didn't like it, it also came with a strap to use as an arm band.  I think what finally sold us was the place in the holder to store money and IDs.  I used it during the half and I liked it.  It straps on so you're not required to actually hold it and it was fairly quick to get access to the phone for pictures as well as being light and as Julie said "not annoying".  It did give me a small blister on my thumb but that didn't happen to Julie.  If it's something you think you might like you should check them our at 

It wasn't really for the race, but it's been pretty dark recently so I wanted to get a light to allow drivers to see me better while training (it's always nice to not get hit by a car).  I found a booth selling an array of lights from rings to arm bands to hats and visors. I opted for the visor which had a variable speed red light in back and white LEDs in the brim to illuminate my way.  It's adjustable so that I can place a wool hat on under it.  Now that I'm ready to train in the winter I just need to get into Boston (fingers crossed).  We grabbed some info on the Baltimore running fest so that I can try and talk my buddy Ryan into joining us and then headed back to the hotel.

The sun was starting its descent so it didn't make much sense to go back to the beach for just a short while, so we decided to walk along Atlantic Ave, which is the Main Street in VB and runs parallel to the beach.  The street is full of tourist trap shops selling t-shirts, souvenirs and beach wear.  We made the mistake of stopping at "Visitor Information" which is really just a way to give you a coupon map and try to rope you into going for a time share presentation.  I got us a free dinner and TWO vacations back to VB (like I said I'm cheap) but Julie wasn't impressed so we passed.  Before heading back to grab some food we did find beach mats two for $5 that we snatched up for use the rest of the weekend.

We grabbed dinner at The Ocean House which was next to our hotel.  It's a beach bar with standard bar grub and cold beer at a reasonable price.  The real attraction is its open air upper floor that overlooks the ocean and you can't beat that!  

After dinner we headed down to the main stage for night one of the American Music Festival.  Tonight it was Fuel opening for Daughtry.  Julie and I found a spot to the right of the stage still on the boardwalk which allowed for a great view.  We had seen Fuel a couple of years ago at Rider and they were much the same as back then playing the songs you know from 90's radio with a good amount of energy.  Next up was Daughtry and after about four songs I decided that Chris Daughtry was a bit of a screamer, I mean he even screamed while he was introducing his guitarist.  Who does that?  After that it was time to go to rest up for tomorrow.

Saturday we got up at a more reasonable hour and headed down to breakfast which was packed with runners this morning.  After a quick bite to eat and grabbing some bagels for our pre-race breakfast we headed back up to our room to sit on our balcony, read and look out at the ocean until about 11.

Day two of the festival, the headliners played during the day to allow the runners to get a good night sleep before the race, so we packed up our stuff and headed down to rent a bike.  Before we rented I told the guy specifically that we wanted a lock and he told us he had them so we rented our bikes at which time he then informed us he didn't have any locks but one of the places down the boardwalk would.  We headed out and stopped at the first sister shop on the pier.  They had no more locks, neither did the next, nor the grocery store on Atlantic ave which was sold out.  I had visions of having to go back to our rental place an arguing with the person to give us a refund when the last bike rental shop had one lone lock which they gave us.  Note to self bring a bike lock with us next time.  We locked up our bikes and headed down to the water to claim a spot.

We spent the afternoon alternating between sitting in the sun and body surfing in the water.  About 1PM the first act came on.  LONGREEF was from Sydney Australia and was good but isn't this the American music festival? Next up was Smashmouth who played the type of set I think most people wanted to hear.  They played all of their hits, including the one from Shrek, but they played for less than an hour which was a bit strange as it was less than the first band.

Finally the headliner was up Bare Naked Ladies (OK Canada is practically America so I get that one).  They played a mix of new and old but and as the previous two times I had seen them they had fun ad-libbing with their surroundings.  At one point with the life guards blowing their whistles and waving some swimmers in, the band announced to the swimmers "The life guard would be much more comfortable if you made your way this way.  Yes you, quit your bullshit and swim this way."  They then broke into an impromptu song about life guards to the music of a Rush song.  Overall it was fun day on the beach and I ended up with a little sunburn (Julie says I look like a lobstah) which will be fun for the run tomorrow I'm sure.

We headed back to the hotel to clean up and headed to Big Italy for dinner.  They have a large set of unique pizza options and we went with the carb loading friendly Mac-n-cheese pie, which is exactly like it sounds.  After dinner we headed back to the nearby stage to catch a little bit of Eve6, but had to leave early as the bikes needed to be back by 9. 

 On the way back the boardwalk was speckled with bands playing from small stages every couple of blocks.  Had we know we would have just gotten take out and ate on our balcony listening to the band outside our hotel.  At 9 the smaller stages had to end, but after some prompting the band below our balcony said "You guys will have to come bail us out if we get in trouble, but to hell with the city ordinance" and  broke out one more tune.  Race day tomorrow so after that last song it was off to bed for us.

For about an hour.  Just after 10 I awoke to strange banging outside like another band had taken over but it was just the bass drum.  I went to the window and there was a ship offshore shooting off fireworks.  The show lasted about 10 minutes and it was back to bed for good this time.

4:30AM came way too early but because of the heat this race starts early (7AM).  We ate the bagels that we pilfered from breakfast the day before and got ready for the race.  About 6:40 we started the walk down to the start line.  The temperatures were climbing into the upper 70's and the humidity meeter was pegged near 100% making it feel at least 10 degrees hotter.  The race started right on time and we jumped in a corral just behind our assigned number 11 and I bid goodbye to Julie.

The course started back down 19th towards our hotel before turning left and then a U-turn back out of VB on Atlantic ave.  Atlantic ave was full of spectators urging on the runners and as we pass the Pirate Ghost tour building one of the runners to my left ask "If it's about pirates why is there a spaceship up on the building?"  I looked up and sure enough there was a flying saucer.  One of life's great mysteries I guess.

After that the course heads out of VB and down towards and through Camp Pendleton while passing neighbor hoods, condos, a group in jail house rock costumes and a KOA campground where I saw a couple we met the day before from NJ (John and Joanne).  The scenery out this way wasn't the best when it wasn't running through the wooded areas which were nice and provided some much needed shade, but Julie gives a big thank you to the families in Pendleton who were giving out handfuls of ice. After exiting Pendleton the race heads back the way it came and back into VB.

Because of the heat there were more people than I have ever seen getting medical treatment. The medical personnel were really great today.  Along the route they had cooling buses which were tempting but I thought that if I got in one I might just ask it to take me the rest of the way so I steered clear, but I did take advantage of all the water stops.  Normally the RnR races have water stops about every 1.5 miles but here they seemed to have extra stops for the heat along with a sponge station and the locals turning on their sprinklers and handing out popsicles to help the runners beat the heat.

Over the bridge the race goes back into VB and takes a couple of turns before heading out onto the boardwalk.  Along the last stretch you pass the main stage for the festival and hordes of spectators pushing you on to the finish, which is really needed as the temp on the concrete soared making my sunburn sting.  I crossed the finish line and was thankful for the water gatorade and misters that your see on sidelines of football games (they are awesome if you're wondering).

I grabbed by medal and my heavy medal (super 6) and headed up to the room to grab some flip flops for myself and Julie along with some more water before heading back down to get my (and Julie's) free beer.  In the beer garden I met some other people from Boston and talked with another group about how to get their results and find out if you've placed in the age categories.  Seeing as I've never come close to winning anything, I wasn't able to help them on that front.  Soon Julie joined me and after grabbing some VB gear at the merchandise tent we headed down to the water for Julie to make a splash before heading up to change.

After a shower we headed back to the The Ocean House for lunch and a couple of beers.  I don't know if it was the beers or a touch of heat stroke, but once we got back to the room I was asleep and out for a couple of hours.  After I awoke we spent some time reading on the balcony before heading down to Rock Fish for dinner.  While at dinner the weather started to move in and it started raining, so instead of renting a bike again (I kept the lock from the previous day) and heading down to see Robert Randolph and the Family and Third Eye Blind, we went back to the room and waited for it to pass.  The band setting up across the boardwalk had now taken down all their equipment so it looked as if the main stage would be the only music tonight.  We received word that the concert was delayed a bit but had started and since the rain was still falling we decided to stay in and just relax.

Labor Day morning we woke up early to spend some time on the beach and take some pictures with our medals before heading off to the airport.  All in all this was one of my favorite races being combined with the music festival.  It's a hot one though so don't expect to set any PRs and make sure you take care on the beach but I think we might find our way back here next year.  No rest for the wicked, Philly in 14 days and Providence in 21.  As one shirt I saw this weekend said, "Why train?  Just taper."




Segment Pace

Overall Page

















Overall: 5,070 out of 9,853 Division: 435 out of 664  Gender: 2,697 out of 4,292