I raced the last Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in my longest run since May

Vanessa Junkin posing with photo op showing King Neptune medal on a sheet behind her.
I posed for this photo the day before the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo)

For the fourth year, I headed from the Mike Sterling 10K in Crisfield onto the next destination — Virginia Beach for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.

My first time running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon was in 2017, during my first year as a BibRave Pro. I’ve run the race each year it’s been held since (it was not held in 2020), but this was the last year the event would be run in Virginia Beach. This was the largest event I’ve participated in since the COVID-19 pandemic, and I enjoyed running the streets and boardwalk of Virginia Beach — and getting in some beach time, too.

My friend Veronica and I traveled from Crisfield and stopped at the Virginia Beach Convention Center for the expo before heading to our hotel. This was the first race that I’ve been to since the pandemic that had an expo at all (most have just had a small packet pickup), and it was very scaled-down. Masks were required (which I appreciated, even though I am vaccinated), and they also gave out free branded masks. We picked up our bibs and shirts. The shirt is navy blue with King Neptune on it and is my favorite of the race shirts I’ve gotten at this race.

Vanessa Junkin poses with arms up on podium photo op at the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach expo.
I got a photo at this photo op during the expo. (Veronica James photo)

There was a decent amount of Rock ‘n’ Roll gear available for sale, but not much with “Virginia Beach” on it since this is the last one. There were not too many other vendors there, and it seemed empty. However, I really didn’t need to buy anything and did not mind the expo being small. Honestly, I preferred it not being packed because of the pandemic.

We had dinner at La Bella Italia before an early start the next morning. There were two main waves with several corrals in each. Veronica and I were in the first wave of corrals, which kicked off at 6:30 a.m.

The corrals were a little crowded, so I wore my mask during that time. It took a little while to get to the start — my Garmin shows I started my run at 6:46 a.m. Once we made it up to the start line, 12 people started at a time using red and green lights to show when people should stop and go to help spread people out on the course. Once I was running, there were always people nearby, but I was not packed into big crowds. I didn’t run with the mask.

I’d had a great race at the Mike Sterling 10K the day before, and although it seemed cooler than a normal summer day, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect for my half marathon time. I figured maybe I would try to be somewhere around 2:30, but I’d also had trouble keeping up a 2:45 half marathon pace with Veronica on training runs earlier in the summer.

Unfortunately, I had to go to the bathroom when I was already in the corral. I didn’t think I’d be able to go and get back to my spot, so I figured I would find a porta-potty that didn’t have a line since it wasn’t extremely urgent. I was able to make a porta-potty stop in the second mile with no line, but I’m not the fastest porta-potty user, and I did waste about 2 minutes and 20 seconds. However, I wouldn’t completely consider the time “wasted” — it was worth it to not have to go for the rest of the run.

Veronica and I got a selfie before starting the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.

I ran the first mile in 11:13. The second mile, with the bathroom stop, totaled 13:52. That would be my slowest mile of the day, but it made it a little bit harder to judge the time as I went along. I decided at some point I definitely wanted to be under 2:45, since I’ll be pacing that time in December (even though the warmer weather affects me a lot and that won’t be a problem in December), and as I got closer to the end, I hoped to be under 2:40. I was able to do that, with a final time of 2:39:40.

The course was different than previous years. The start/finish location was different, and we went up further to the northern end of the boardwalk and ran down that before heading back on Atlantic Avenue at 33rd Street. Other parts of the course I remembered from previous years. I missed the usual ice pop stop, but there was a good amount of crowd support, cheer groups and some fun signs to see along the way.

There were also hoses set up that were spraying water, and I made a point to run through the water sprays. It was not as hot as many other days have been, but it was still warm. There were a lot of water stops, and I stopped at each one. I walked at each of those stops, but I mostly ran the rest of the way instead of doing the intervals I have been doing for most training runs. Around Mile 7 or so, I thought about doing four-minute-run/one-minute-walk intervals, but I felt like I started to get a second wind around that point, and continued what I’d been doing with walking at the water stops.

When I had about five miles to go, I had to keep my miles under a 12:00-ish average to finish under 2:40. That helped me stay motivated as I continued. I did walk up the bridge we crossed both ways since I figured it wouldn’t help me all that much to run it.

Along the way, I saw someone wearing a shirt from the first Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach race in 2001, along with “#BarefootElvis.” Someone said she liked his outfit or something like that, and he said “Thank you, thank you very much” in an Elvis voice. After she got a photo, I did, too.

Here’s #BarefootElvis on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach course. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I was wearing my black Eastern Shore Running Club singlet, which has “Eastern Shore Running Club” in smaller font on the back. One person asked me about it along the course, and his wife ended up being from the Eastern Shore — Denton. Another runner asked me about it after we crossed the finish line, and she had recently moved to Onancock, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I was able to get her phone number and connect her to some runners in that area, since it’s about an hour away from Salisbury.

Vanessa Junkin takes selfie with a sign on a telephone pole that describes area as "Neighborhood not a Racetrack."
I thought this sign was funny because it describes the area as a “Neighborhood not a Racetrack,” but there was a race going on.

My last full mile ended up being my fastest of the day, at 10:58. Near the end, a woman was holding a sign that said “Delta coming run faster.” It’s a serious issue, but I appreciated her using this platform, as she’d also written “Get vaxxed,” so I yelled out that I was, acknowledging her sign.

The Deloreans performed a post-race show, which was held at an amphitheater rather than on the beach as in past years. Veronica and I got drinks and sat at a nearby spot where we could hear the band. I also got post-race snacks after crossing the finish line, like a fig bar and chips.

It wasn’t my fastest half marathon and was about 25 minutes slower than my fastest run at this race in 2017, but it was still a much faster pace than I have been running lately. Also, I had just raced the previous day, so I felt good that I was able to come in well under 2:45 and also under 2:40. This was also my longest run since the Run for the Animals Half Marathon in May.

Thanks at least in part to the bathroom stop, I was able to negative-split the race. According to the results, I passed Mile 6.4 at 1:21:22 (and 6.55 miles would be half), but I finished the race in 2:39:40. The results have my pace at a 12:12 average; on my watch it was a little faster because I logged a little more than 13.1 miles (this usually happens).

Afterward, it was fun to enjoy the area, have some food and drinks and relax on the beach.


Mile 1: 11:13
Mile 2: 13:52 (bathroom stop)
Mile 3: 11:20
Mile 4: 13:06
Mile 5: 12:15
Mile 6: 12:54
Mile 7: 11:59
Mile 8: 11:26
Mile 9: 12:12
Mile 10: 11:25
Mile 11: 12:38
Mile 12: 11:50
Mile 13: 10:58
Last part (watch had .27): 2:28 (9:12 pace)
Final: 2:39:43 (12:02 average pace) on watch; official time: 2:39:40 (12:12 average pace)

Vanessa Junkin posing for photo with large King Neptune statue in Virginia Beach.
I posed with the King Neptune statue after finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo)
Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon finisher medal against backdrop of the beach.
Here’s my race finisher medal. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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