On Sunday, September 6, I joined my fellow Shenanigans teammates south of the Mason-Dixon line to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. In true Team Shenanigans fashion, the good times to be had made it worth my eleven-hour traffic-filled drive down from New York City.
I used this flat race course to both seriously train for future goal races as well as ham it up for some lighthearted shenanigans along the way. What I did not expect was that this race experience would later serve as a reminder of one of the greatest lessons one can learn in life.
More on that later, first let’s discuss race logistics.
Packet Pick Up
For a major brand race this was probably the most efficient packet pick-up I have ever experienced. Like other Rock ‘n’ Roll races I have run (DC, San Diego, and Philly) the Virginia Beach Half Marathon race expo and packet pickup was held in a massive convention center. What differed about this pick-up was the utilization of technology to expedite the bib pick-up process. Typically at a Rock ‘n’ Roll expo all participants’ bib numbers are posted in small print on large bulletin boards. Rather than have runners strain their eyes, race organizers provided us with a series of iPads connected to a database that identified our bib numbers. Once past this point packet pick-up was a cinch.
In typical Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion this expo was filled with all sorts of useful goodies for runners. There was a nice amount of race merchandise available to participants as well as a large selection of other vendors around to cater to our running needs. After gorging ourselves on energy bar samples (Caramel Apple Power Bars are not like other Power Bars since they are tasty), the only thing left to do was hug the fiberglass dolphins in the convention center lobby then make our way out to dinner with fellow team members.
Mother Nature was good to us for most of the day. Growing up, I hated days with an overcast sky. As a runner, I have learned to love them. I don’t have to contend with the energy draining power of the sun on a cloudy day. The light rain combined with a nice flat course made for ideal conditions.
As part of my training for a different race, my plan for the Virginia Beach Half Marathon was to keep a set pace for the first nine miles. Thanks to fellow Team Shenanigans member Meghan Gorny, I was able to accomplish this since she was also training at a similar pace and was nice enough to run with me. At mile nine we met up with other teammates. Since the sun was starting to peek through the clouds, increasing the day’s humidity, we decided to slow down and just have fun with our Team Shenanigans counterparts. A few days before, Brittany Brown issued a Team Shenanigans Challenge: to start a sing-a-long during a race. With our rendition of “I’m a Little Tea Pot,” others around us joined in on the fun.
A Run to Remember
When a person takes up running they embrace a journey in both the physical and symbolic sense. I met a lady at the expo who was the perfect example of this. It was such a pleasure to meet Priscilla Joseph, who was progressing on her running journey with this, her first half marathon. Priscilla shared with me how she was inspired by her sister Alicia, a seasoned runner, to live a healthy life. She took up running as a way of celebrating her 50th birthday, starting with a 5K. Pricilla reports that this race has made her a lifelong runner. Since she and her sister are both retired they plan to travel doing as many destination races as they can. Her new goal is to eventually become a running coach to share the gift of running with others. This lady’s excitement and passion were infectious. She made me stop and think how this sport has enriched my life.
The most memorable part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon had to be Brittany paying tribute to her aunt who had taken ill in the days prior to the half. Brittany ran the race wearing a t-shirt her aunt bought her. The slogan on the shirt perfectly described Brittany’s personality. There was no better time for her to wear it. Later that evening Brittany’s aunt passed away.
Life is full of lessons. With each race comes a lesson. Some are reinforced out on the road. The Rock N’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon was no exception to this rule. Both Priscilla’s journey inspired by her sister and Brittany’s moving tribute to her aunt served as a reminder to never forget what it truly important… family.