Party with a Hurricane: My Rock N Roll Virginia Beach experience


   This was my first race since the allergic reaction that sent me to th ER in early August. That episode was quickly followed by a blot clot in my arm. August was tough for this runner. Rock n' Roll Virginia Beach actually wound up being my longest run in the past 2 months. I was cleared to run by two doctors and I haven't had any issues in two weeks. 
   



  So, let's start with the obvious elephant in the room. Yup, the one that spun its way from the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida panhandle (woo-hoo -- FAMU & Tallahassee & Carraballe Island), then across Georgia and North Carolina to make for a messy race weekend for more than 6 thousand people. I'm talkin' about Hermine! It was a Hurricane, then a tropical storm.. then a hurricane again. Either way, I wasn't really up for another white-knuckle 3 hour drive. So, I took the timely advice from the race directors and stayed my butt home Friday night.
      Rock n Roll race advice (part 1):
       1. Always print your confirmation sheet before you leave the house (I left mine at home by mistake)
       2. If they offer text notifications: SIGN UP IMMEDIATELY.
      The text notifications are awesome and they aren't abused. They only offer text alerts when there is a great concern for the start of the race.
      In this case, they had already cancelled Saturday's 'Mile in the Sand' run. So, I wanted to be in the loop. If not, just check your email.




     I arrived around 1 or 2 o'clock Saturday for the Health and Fitness Expo. I love the expos. This is the first time in a while that I've gone by myself before closing time. That means I wasn't rushed, distracted or nervous. But I was probably really annoying to some of the exhibitors.
      I talked with the stars of the documentary-- "From Fat to Finish Line." If I remember correctly, it took them 4 years to make the documentary. I had just previewed the trailer for their movie on Amazon a couple of days ago. Really nice people. Later, I turned down an offer from a guy who was selling wireless headphones. He didn't believe me when I told him that I already had plenty of wireless headphones at home. (I actually had three in my running bag)




       The Toyota booth is always fun. I recorded a little motivational video. They had a custom patch making station. I thought that was really cool. I had a hard time coming up with something unique. I settled on "I run for Pikachu." Which is not completely true,.. but it's funny and a conversation starter. One of the girls in the Toyota section gave me the stank eye- jokingly- because of it.
       The Brooks area is always a blast.. they broke out the big motorized shoe. I won the race to the top of the mountain race.... and I got a bag to put my stuff in.
      The Convention Center was a beautiful place. The boardwalk is even more beautiful.. but not on this day. I walked out to the boardwalk to "take some pictures" but the wind wasn't having it. It wasn't even really raining. It was all the sand beating up against my skin that made it terrible.
       The strip was nearly a ghost town because of Hermine.  It would rain, then stop raining, sprinkle, then rain again... .and the wind didn't stop. Still, with all of that,... the waves were mesmerizing. The wind on the beach was like an artist.. creating little mosaics in the sand.



        So... I went back to my hotel, just like 99% of everyone else.
    Rock n' Roll Race advice (part 2):
     3. I always drive around the start and finish line to search for FREE race day parking.
         I look for schools, libraries, shopping plaza's, street parking,.. anything that will be closed on race day and that won't be used for PAID or VIP parking. I avoid trying to park in hotel lots for obvious reasons.
      So, after locating three good locations, .. I went home and prepped for the big day.
      Even with some pre-race day prep, finding free parking on race day wasn't easy. 
       I got stuck behind road blocks.
       Some cities block the streets pretty early. Virginia Beach seemed early but only because I was running late that morning. I couldn't get to two of my scouted locations... but the third was a jewel -- a school.
      I Met up with some of my Black Men Run brothas and Black Girls Run Sistahs and it was race time.
      After a gloomy, wet and windy Saturday... Sunday was perfect. 70 degrees, a little breeze and cloudy!!!!! All things I like to check off on my runners wish list for a race.


      Okay, .. so say a little prayer. Ask for prayers on Facebook live and let's go. Of course in the back of my mind I'm thinking about all the health issues from August. That allergic reaction. The blood clot. It all could have been a lot worse, but I'm healthy now and and ready for my longest run since June.  So, I'my plan was to take it easy.This is an assessment run.
      This summer has been hot, humid.. and not suitable for this northern boy.  I dread the wet, sweat drenched, shoes, clothes, socks and so on.
       There was one long stretch of road that was really, really boring.. until I saw the leader come around the corner. Man that dude was moving fast.
         Finally a turn at mile 6.
         The most fun for me was giving high fives to some of he soldiers or airmen stationed at Camp Pendleton. Also the ice pops, .. OH MY GOD, the ice pops. I wanted to take a picture with them and hug them. I took two ice pops and ate all of them. 
      Yup I stopped at some of the water stations and walked. I walked a couple of times in between but I finished strong. The only real hills in this race were on the bridge... going out and coming back. 
      Today's race was not  about passing people or getting a PR.   It's also about the people you run with. After running with someone for a couple of miles you start to feel a sense of comrade-re. Even more.. if you're struggling.. and you see someone else struggling at the same time.. you really start to get that bond of "we can make it together." I like encouraging people... even if I can't physically do it for them.  
      It's amazing how much of a push someone can give you.. even if they pass you. 




     At the end,  I even had enough energy to cut a little dance and a high five with the race announcer. Well, I thought I had enough energy. Then.. my quads cramped up. I knew it was coming... but I was able to walk it off across the finish line. I'm always down for a party celebration. I feed off good energy!     
      That walk back home was something else though.. I almost sat down in a strange chair.
 
   When I got back to the hotel, I had a interesting conversation with the hotel attendant. It was almost past check-out time, So I wanted let him know I'd be out ASAP. Then he started asking me questions. -- The first Question: How far did you run for your marathon?
       Answer: It was only a half marathon so-- 13.1 miles. 
      What is the point of running so far? 
      I thought... Here we go. This guy's got jokes. 
      Second Question: So, what ARE the health benefits? Physical? Mental?
       That was followed by another polite answer... and I'm glad I was patient with the guy. It turns out he really wants to get into running, but didn't know where or how to start. 
      He asked about how I found Races, how many miles a week I run, and How I train. 
       As a runner I sometimes forget about the learning curve... All of the things that I didn't know. One big example: Body Glide. Yup, that's a mistake lesson I'll never,  -- ever -- forget. 

        
   
 

       
 

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