Race Report: Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon

DATE: November 20, 2022; 7:30 am

DISTANCE: 13.1 MI

PLACE: Norfolk, VA

WEATHER: 37F, Windy AF

OFFICIAL TIME / PACE: 2:27:12 / 11:15 min/mi

SWAG: Cozy Sweatshirt, Medal, 4 Beers, pizza & tote bag

While I can be a bit of a hater, I will say that I thought J&A Racing did an AMAZING job organizing and running this race. Honestly, I cannot say a single thing that I had a problem with for this half marathon.

Expo:

I’ll admit that I have been someone affected (not sure if this is a good or bad thing) by running races in NYC that have been organized by large entities. I enjoyed the low-key vibe of the expo because bib pick-up was a complete breeze (ie there were not 80 thousand people crammed in one space). I think that I was in and out in about 5 minutes. Normally, I do not buy extras at expos because the prices typically are sky-high, but the prices at this expo were very reasonable. So reasonable that I even picked up a pair of running gloves that were only $10. Thinking back, I’m glad that I purchased those gloves because it was quite chilly on race day.

Since registration for the half marathon included FOUR Blue Moon beers or White Claw Hard Seltzer (yuck), we issued wristbands during bib pickup. Note, I picked up my bib on Friday for a Sunday race. Do you mean to tell me that I have to wear a wristband that implies that I’ve been out clubbing or raving for the entire weekend?

Case in point: On Saturday morning, I grabbed breakfast at a local diner, and the waitress mentioned that I must have had a ‘fun’ night as she gestured to my bright blue wristband. Hey, at least this race’s wristbands were for REAL beer as opposed to nonalcoholic beer that was provided for Rock n Roll Va Beach’s Half Marathon. Not that there is anything wrong with nonalcoholic beer, but it was kind of funny receiving a wristband to indicate that I was older than 21 for “beer” that probably contains less alcohol than vinegar or apple juice.

Let’s get into the half marathon.

Do you know what’s funny? I was complaining about the cold 37F temperature, but I had to check myself. Why? While living in NYC, I have run races in temperatures WELL below freezing. I think living in suburbia has made me a bit ‘weaker’ when it comes to cold temperatures. Actually, I take that back. I think the issue is when I drive the temperature inside my car has to be drastically opposite to the temperatures outside.

  • In the summer, my car’s interior temperature has to be the same as the North Pole.
  • In the winter, the car’s interior temperature will be about 5 degrees above HELL.

By the time arrived in downtown Norfolk from Va Beach (about a 20 min drive), I was nice and cozy. Whereas in my NYC days, I would have to leave the cozy apt and brave the elements by walking to the subway, taking the subway, and walking to the location of the race.

Going into the half marathon, I pretty much was planning on doing the very bare minimum. I had this attitude for a few reasons: 1. I still had a bit of a back injury from NYC Marathon. 2. Honestly, running just has not been doing it for me later (more on that later). 3. I was dealing with a little GI issue. 4. I was not really prepared physically for this race.

The course:

Overall, the course was pretty easy and flat. The only real difficulty with the course was the random gusts of winds from the harbor . . . especially at the beginning. I know that some folks do not like this, but I love courses that have several twists and turns.

I mean this course took us all through Norfolk, and it seemed like every new twist and turn opened up new scenery. I think switching up the scenery allows me to mentally reset every few miles or so. I LOL’d to myself because this course had me like Tommy Lee Jones’s character from The Fugitive because it seemed like we were running past every gas station, outhouse, henhouse, doghouse, crackhouse, train house, and warehouse.

The only thing I did not like about the course was having to run alongside traffic for certain parts of the course, but it was not too bad. I wanted to take a few pics while running, but the $10 dollar gloves made it a bit difficult. Actually, I guess that’s not a bad thing because I spent my time focusing on running and not taking pictures every 10 minutes.

First 10K:

Perhaps, running in a new location changed my attitude because I felt like an explorer running a new course. Originally, I was planning on alternating between running 0.75 mi and walking 0.25 mi. However, within the 1st mile, I was like why not run 0.9mi then walk 0.1mi for the first three miles at least. Next thing I know, I was still doing this for the entirety of the race . . . and it felt good. I will admit that had some back pain during the first 3 miles, but I think the walking helped me recuperate for a bit.

Second 10 + 1K:

After parting with the 10K runners, boy did the field get really small. I guess most of the runners (as one might expect) signed up for the 10K. While things were quieter, I think this is where I really started to get into my groove. Perhaps, it was an illogical fear of being left behind since I had no clue where the hell I was. I guess it worked because according to my splits, I ran the second half faster than the first, which has not happened in a VERY LONG time. I had to LOL again because the “race” was sending me texts while I was running.

I’m so glad that I listened to the advice of one of the J&A organizers from the expo regarding the finish.

She told me after Mile 11 not to let the ‘fake’ finish fool me. After Mile 11.5, which was near the start, there was a lot of commotion and cheers, BUT you still have to run some more and make another loop to the finish line. The commotion was not for the finishers approaching Town Point Park, but it was from people at the post-race party. I’m so glad I listened to her because I was have been really frustrated and annoyed from Miles 11 to 13.1. Yes, we all have GPS devices, but this was my first time running this race . . . and to be perfectly honest, I did not really study the course. All I knew was the race started and ended at Town Point Park, BUT I didn’t know that you had to run past Town Point Park two times for the finish.

After-Party:

We’re done and now it’s time for fun. I think this event was the longest that I stayed at a race’s after-party. I have a feeling that was because of the four Blue Moon beers (and pizza) that the half-marathon participants received.

Random, I absolutely LOVED our finisher sweatshirt because it is soooo cozy.

Concluding Thoughts:

Going into to this race, I was planning for this one to be my last race until March. Also, I was planning on taking a few weeks off from running as a means to miss it. I don’t the great organization of the race, the course, and general camaraderie re-ignited by my passion for running and becoming a better runner. We’ll see if this sentiment will disappear over the next couple of days/weeks. 😉

LOL. Now that I think about it, the Cupid Shuffle does make for an excellent active recovery.

Playlist:

I just went with my random Eurovision playlist because it was too cold to fiddle with Spotify right before starting.

Question(s) of the Day:

-Another social media question. If you follow someone on SM (eg IG), but they don’t follow you, do you introduce yourself when you see them in real life? During the after party, I wanted to say hello to a few local runners who I follow on SM, but I did not want to seem stalkerish.

-Aside from your results, what is your most positive race experience?

-Any upcoming winter races for you?

Social Media Plug:

7 comments

  1. Great job! J & A Racing does a great job. They’re well-known in that area for some quality races. When I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in DC I noticed someone I follow on IG but had never met her in person after the race. I chose not to go over to her because I felt like you said it would seem stalkerish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were opportunities to have even more beer if you did the nauti-challenge (that organization really loves to use puns), which was running the 5K on Sat and the 10K or half on Sunday.

      I left after redeeming my 4 beer vouchers, but I heard that they had a lot left over and were giving away beers at the end of the after party. Since it was a bit colder for this time of year (it was in the 40s that weekend, but in the high 60s the following weekend), I guess a lot of people did not stick around in the cold for the post-race festivities.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done! I did a half a couple of months after my first full and I was so arrogant that I didn’t do yoga or proper training between, assuming o I would be OK and really blew up!

    I won’t recognise people I only know from social media but when I ran my ultra my friend Bernice enthusiastically greeted someone at an aid station who she’d known on insta for ages!

    Liked by 1 person

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