Thursday, July 21, 2016

Running Review: Virginia Beach Boardwalk

A few weeks back I had the chance to visit Virginia Beach with my wife, young daughter Florence and some extended family. As I outlined in my previous posting, the trip was fantastic! A huge part of that trip (and really anywhere I go these days) was the running. Virginia Beach offers a fantastic cardio experience for runners of all abilities.

The VB Boardwalk is 4.5km long (about 3 miles) from end to end stretching from 40th Street at the north end to just below 2nd Street, Rudee Inlet and Grommet Island Park to the south. The west side of the route is flanked by various hotels, condos and restaurants while the east side provides a beautiful view of the beach and mighty Atlantic. Each end of the boardwalk provides a small loop to turn around and head the opposite way.

The boardwalk on a fantastic cloudless day

A nice thing about the boardwalk you will notice right off the bat is the unique paths for pedestrian and cyclist traffic. This is not just a painted line down the middle of the concrete, but two distinct, separated lanes. This assists with congestion, especially during the high season. That being said I would still recommend getting your running in prior to 9am for the benefit of smaller crowds as well as avoiding the worst of the Virginia summer sun.

A view of the separate bike path in front of King Neptune

The boardwalk has a couple of features which help you visualize your location and progress during your run. Every street from 2nd to 40th is marked by a large sign where the boardwalk steps down to the beach, so if you get tired of counting kilometers you can count streets! Secondly, sitting at roughly the 3/4 mark of the boardwalk at 30th street is the mighty statue of King Neptune, the crown jewel in the Virginia Beach experience.

Sign marking 22nd street
The mighty god of the sea

In addition to running on the boardwalk, you also have the option of stepping into the sand and running directly on the beach. I did this for the first time in Punta Cana, and really there is nothing quite like a morning run admiring the waves, enjoying the breeze and having the surf gently (or not so gently) lap against your feet. If you are new to beach running you will surely feel some tightness or moderate discomfort in your shins or ankles the next day as your body adapts to using those additional stabilizing muscles.

The wide open, soft sand beach!
Nothing quite like this feeling

Unlike Punta Cana or Miami, there are no fresh young coconuts available for your post-run electrolytes so be sure to pick up a few cans of coconut water before hand. Coco Joy is a fantastic tasting brand I discovered while in Virginia Beach at the local Target. As is the case with many popular tourist destinations, there are several Strava segments available on the main strip for you to see how you stack up!

Post-run selfie with the waves and fishing pier behind me

Pro Tip: When you switch from boardwalk running to the beach, leave your shoes and socks by one of the tall lifeguard chairs. These are also marked based on street number so they are very easy to find again after your run.

Mike @ Palms & Pints

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