Bill and I were unable to leave for Virginia Beach until Saturday before the race. No worries, though. Since Virginia Beach is only about 4 hours away, we made it to the expo with hours to spare. We picked up our race numbers and received a shoe bag (which also doubled as the checked gear bag) and a short-sleeved tech shirt in Shamrock green. After the expo, we checked in at The Cavalier Hotel, the perfect pick for this race. We were literally across the street from the starting line. We had a fantastic pre-race dinner at Aldo’s (look it up if you are in VA Beach) and called it an early night.
We were up before sunrise to prepare for the race. Luckily, we walked out of our hotel, across the street, and into our corrals. The temperature was chilly, but not too cold. A long –sleeved shirt and tights under my running shorts were just the right weight. At 7am, we were on our way.
The course headed north on Pacific Avenue. There were several people on the race route as it was a nice residential area. There was even a booth where people were handing out beer on the route, just in case you couldn’t wait until the finisher’s festival. After about 3 miles, we made the turn onto Shore Drive.
The route turned from residential to a quiet tree lined street. There were a few speaker stands along the way, and the only live band played around mile 5. I felt great as I ran along this flat course. I had high hopes of a PR. When I checked my watch at the 5-mile mark, I knew that it was a definite possibility.
At about mile 6, we headed into Fort Story. There were signs posted along the route with funny quips and interesting bits of trivia. I can tell you that the old lighthouse is 90 feet tall. I learned that at about the time we ran the road between the old and new lighthouses.
I was still on course for a PR by mile 10. I was running better than ever and I felt wonderful. The flat course was really helping me out. We looped back to Pacific Ave for the final stretch. I still felt great at mile 12 as I headed into town. We made the big left turn onto the boardwalk where the crowds cheered as we finished the race. I had made my PR. I shaved 8 minutes from my previous best. Bill also made his PR.
I got my medal, a nice bottle of water, and a Mylar cape. As I made my way through the gauntlet after the finish line, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a hat embroidered with the logo of the race and the phrase 13.1 Finisher. I also received a reusable green lunch bag filled with beer tickets and food. Those tickets did not last long. They were quickly exchanged for Yuenglings (title sponsors of the race). We also enjoyed a fine Irish Stew while local bands entertained us. It was the best post race party I have ever attended.
In summary, perfect weather, a flat fast course, great swag, cold beer, and hot Irish stew makes for the best half marathon I have run. We are already planning a return trip for next year.