It’s always nice to find a race group that consistently hosts an excellent race! I first ran with J&A Racing in February for their Virginia is for Lovers 14K. Yesterday, Little Runner and I partook of their Crawlin’ Crab race trio and were very pleased with the day (despite the weather!)
I had planned on this half marathon to be my big PR of the year. My plan was to run with the 2:30 pace group and cut 10 minutes off from my previous PR at the Historic Half. I didn’t count on the weather. It was abnormally hot and humid and the sun was shining it all its glory. Remember, I’m the wilting flower who usually collapses under those conditions but I decided NOT THIS TIME!
Packet Pick Up
The packet pick-up, as well as the race start and finish, was at the Hampton Convention Center. It was super easy to pick up our packets, have my ID checked for the post-race beer band (even though I never have one), and pick up our shirts. LR and I both received race specific shirts. His was cute blue cotton T and mine was a red tech v-neck. Even though it was a “ladies cut” it still fit appropriately. I also received a 13.1 car magnet with a crab between the 3 and the 1. It’s very cute! The “expo” was quite small. They had some race branded merchandise but I think there was less merchandise than the VIFL exp. They also had a couple dozen vendors on site. One chiropractor was doing complimentary KT taping, which I thought was nice.
Kid’s Kilometer and Race Start
We were advised to be at the convention center by 7:00 if we wanted to park and we had no problems finding a good spot. The Kid’s Kilometer began at 7:30. They started with Miss. Someone – Teen Virginia? I don’t know – leading the kids through the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought it was a nice touch. The race started right on time and LR blazed the way. He was very excited that it was chipped timed and was asking me to look up his results the entire ride home!
My race began at 8:00. I was seeded in corral 4 and my pacers were at the back of the corral with the obligatory sign. They were very nice guys and not excessively chatty. The Hampton University marching band led the start with the chair racers at the front. It was already in the 70s and very humid at this point. It was all very organized and orderly.
On the Course
Did I mention it was hot? We were all dripping by mile 2. There were 7 water/Gatorade stops and I had my small bottle of EFS but that was barely enough. I lost track of my pacers at the mile 7 water stop and was feeling a little discourage. I was miserable and my time was starting to show it. Luckily, this was about the time that we moved into the neighborhoods where some wonderful people had set up sprinklers, an impromptu Skittles and pretzels stop, and several had cases of water that they were passing out. They were freaking awesome! There was also a planned candy aid station with fruit flavored Mike & Ike’s. I didn’t think I would take any but I wound up with two cups (3 pieces in each cup). I needed the sugar!
The course itself was almost entirely flat. We just had “hills” on the two overpasses and one over an inlet – which smelled like steam crabs – that struck me as very fitting. We ran past the water for a bit and by some interesting architecture but I was honestly just trying to keep moving so I didn’t look around very much. I think it was around mile 10 that I saw one of the pacers helping a woman to the curb. I talked to him for a minute and he was cramping so badly that he had to drop from the group. At this point, I really wanted to walk but my stubborn side kicked in and I tried to push as hard as I could. I decided to run until mile 12 and then finish strong. And I did. Mile 12 was at an 11 minute pace. I wound up setting a new personal best by 4 minutes. It wasn’t the 2:30 that I was hoping for but, considering the conditions, I was just fine with my time.
On Course Support
The support was fabulous. There were plenty of volunteers passing out cold water at all 7 aid stations plus a police officer or other official at all intersections – most of the roads were still open to traffic on one side so this was very important. There was a gel of some sort at one of the later aid stations but I wasn’t paying attention since I don’t use them. And, of course, the Mike & Ike’s. The course and the mileage was well marked and agreed with my Garmin. The true gems, though, were the good people of Hampton who were out showing their support. Around mile 11, a woman sitting on her porch asked why we were running. I shouted back “because we can!” and I heard her mumble “uh, okay…” but she was still out there waving, even if she didn’t get it.
It was so great to come down that last straight to the finish! I saw my husband and LR at the side and the crowd was cheering. When I heard them announce my name as I approached the mat, I pushed as hard as I could and finished in great form. Volunteers were waiting with a crabby medal, water, bananas, Power bars, and – best of all – buckets of ice cold wash clothes! Oh, heaven! I immediately plopped one on my neck and the other on my face and told the volunteer that I loved her! We also received a nice finishers hat. I almost missed that table because I was so preoccupied with the wash cloths 🙂 The finish festival was inside the convention center but we didn’t go to it. The J&A finisher food is a bread bowl with soup. When I signed up, that sounded awesome. After that run, I could hardly stand the thought of eating something hot. Plus, we had to motor back to the hotel for a little pool time before heading back to home.
A+! This was a well-organized, family friendly event. I would be happy to run it again any time, but maybe next time they can dial the sun back a bit?
If you are running with you kids, wear matching shirts in some obnoxious color. LR and I both had on fluorescent orange shirts – we were going for a “crabby” color – and it was very easy for us to find each other in the crowds and for me to spot him in pictures that the organizers posted on Facebook