Inaugural Harbor Lights Half Marathon Recap

November 26, 2014

November 26, 2014

Missed the Inaugural Harbor Lights 5K race recap?

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Image: Harbor Lights Half Marathon

Expo Volunteering

Following the Harbor Lights 5K I went inside the Half Moon Cruise and Celebration Center for my volunteer shift.  As a J&A Ambassador, one of our responsibilities is to volunteer at their booth (J&A or non J&A expos) if we are available.

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I met a few of the other ambassadors – Jim, Jenn, Corinne and Lisa and we were there to answer questions about their races.  

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Here is a plug for two upcoming events:

Visitors were able to register at the booth and one person even signed up for her first marathon!  The expo itself was pretty small.  There was a PowerBar booth with samples, the Pacers table, and a physical therapy group. 

Around Town

After my volunteer event I went back to the hotel for a shower before venturing over to Virginia Beach for some Jollibee.  It was my first time there and I had their fried chicken – yum!

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After lunch we watched a movie before heading back to Norfolk.  This past weekend the city was also hosting the 30th Annual Grand Illumination Parade.  There are holiday decorations, lights, and floats (Christine from We Run Disney mentioned this in their Weekly Roundup).

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Image: Holidays in the City

I had no idea how grand it was until we returned to our hotel – which was located at the end of the parade route.  Our hotel provided us with a letter explaining the road closure information and said as hotel guests we would still be able to turn into the hotel with the assistance of the police. 

We got back to the hotel a 1/2 hour before the start of the parade and the police officer would not let us turn into the hotel.  It was a little frustrating because there was a sign placed on the road with our hotel name on it.  I suppose there was a disconnect and I understand his safety concerns.  We were re-routed and found a restaurant to camp out in until the parade was over (outside downtown because parking was scarce). 

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

Following the NYC Marathon I ran/walked the Across the Bay 10K and ran the .US 12K National Road Race.  My legs felt great during last week’s 12K and I knew I could sustain that pace if the distance was longer.  My 5K pace from the Harbor Lights 5K was 10:30.. so I thought.. lets go for the 2:30.

  • A – 2:30-2:34
  • B – 2:35-2:39
  • C – 2:40 +

Was it too ambitious?? Foreshadowing….

Harbor Lights Half Marathon

The half marathon started/finished at the same location as the 5K.  Spotted at the Start: Popeyes and Olive Oyls!

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The out and back course started in downtown Norfolk.  We headed north towards the Old Dominion University campus, along some water, and back south to downtown Norfolk.

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Image: Harbor Lights Half Marathon

The race started at 7:30am with the corrals released 1-2 minutes apart from each other.  I lined up with the 2:30 pacer, Randy, and we were off! At mile 1 we hit an 11:20 split and I noticed a slight pain my right knee – which I’ve had when I am not warmed up (and I wasn’t).  At that point I decided to slow it down and separated myself from the 2:30 group – there would be more chances in the future to achieve that goal.

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Throughout the course I noticed several mermaid statues (each decorated differently).  I thought that was cool and tried to spot them throughout the course – I lost count!  I tried to take more pictures, but they always surfaced after I put away my camera!

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Below is a mermaid statue from my hotel (not the course obvi) – to give you an idea of how different they could look.

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We ran through Ghent and a few other Norfolk neighborhoods before reaching the ODU campus.  I noticed cute murals along the way.

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This was not a spectator heavy race, but there was plenty of on-course entertainment (DJs playing music).

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One of my favorite portions of the course – a waterfront community by mile 7.  Shortly after my legs began to fatigue.  My goals were a bit too ambitious – this was the longest distance I was running since NY.  Somewhere between miles 8 and 9 I utilized a run/walk interval and I mentally checked out. 

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At mile 9.5 there was a pie stop, yes a pie stop! Bakers Crust made mini pumpkin and chocolate pies.  I chose a pumpkin pie and it was delicious!  I heard the chocolate pie was great following the race – but I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to try at least one!

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Entering the downtown area again! I thought those homes were cute.  We also ran across some cobblestone again, and once again I hopped onto the sidewalk.  The section was not as long as yesterday’s course.

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Passing by the pagoda.  The route sound familiar? The last few miles of the half course mirrored the last portion of the 5K course.

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Passing the U.S.S Wisconsin.  Because I did not take many course pictures the day before, I wanted to capture them during the half.

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Before reaching mile 12 I texted Cliff that I had about 10-15 minutes to go before I would pass the hotel.  He took the below shot from the balcony.

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Hi Cliff! Thanks for the aerial pics!

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Five minutes later I would pass through the same finish line.

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My time was 2:44, well over my “C” goal and about 11 minutes + from my current PR. You know what… that was okay.  Lesson learned in goal setting haha 🙂

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The pretty medal.

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And we received a finshers glass.

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There were about 800 “Get Lit Challenge” participants and we received a third medal for completing both races.

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Final Thoughts

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  • A beautiful day – I was a bit overdressed wearing my J&A pullover and tank top (yeah…. forgot to pack another set of running clothes).
  • There were a lot of road closures throughout the course – the Norfolk police did an excellent job.
  • There was a gel station, pie station, and bananas and jelly beans.  I was towards the back of the pack and there was plenty when I ran by (hopefully the same case for others)
  • Water stations almost every 2 miles (felt like more)
  • Liked they had DJs/music playing throughout the course
  • Run/walk and walker friendly with a 4:00 time limit (18:20/mile)
  • Slight slight downhill towards the last half the race. Overall the course is really flat – as in next year I am going to PR flat.
  • Same first 1.5 miles as the 5K and same last 1.5 miles of the 5K
  • There was a cobblestone section, but not as much as the 5K.
  • Ohh the swag! Loved the finishers glass.
  • I wish I counted (and took pics) of all the mermaid statues I spotted along the course. 
  • I wish J&A had their usual posters along the course with corny jokes.  Those are always fun to read – but this is trivial 🙂
  • Liked the size of the event – a sold out race of 3,000 runners.

Depending on which fall marathon I choose, I hope to be back next year for the second Harbor Lights weekend!

Disclosure: As a J&A Ambassador I received a complimentary race entry.  All thoughts and opinions on the blog are my own.

Do you have a favorite type of course? (ex. water, city, farmland)

Have you run back to back races before? Considering it?

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