I have learned from my friends that there are two very different schools of thought when it comes to racing. (Well, there are likely more, but these two are the ones that I have observed so far.) One is to race the same races and courses every year, judging your progress based on how much faster you are running the race than the previous year. The other is to race in many different locations and areas, hardly ever repeating the same race and seeing how many different states in which they can race. I've typically been an in-betweener. I like trying new races, but I also have my favorites (the Westerville 4th of July 5K, Emerald City, Granville Winter Run).
This race, however, was to be my first time actually leaving the state of Ohio and traveling somewhere else to run. I have been looking forward to race weekend for months. The race was truly only a small part of it. My life as a mother of five and a middle school teacher is very stressful. I haven't ever spent more than a night away from my kiddos, and boy did I need a break from everything. I would only be running for just under two hours... so maybe driving 9+ hours each way for such a short race sounds crazy, but wow was it worth it, as you'll see. Before I could leave, though, I had to take care of a lot...
|The itinerary wall, for my husband...|
|My to-do list (before leaving for the trip)|
My day started fabulously on Friday morning with a very short and easy 2-mile shake-out run. Tons of "firsts" this trip, and this was one: my first-ever shake-out run. Most runners swear by them, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Typically I completely rest for three full days before a race. I chose my partners wisely--my sage MIT friends, who promised to keep the pace pedestrian and fill my mind with good thoughts. After our quick jaunt we headed to Starbucks for my "send-off party". Always filled with smiles and laughter; these women made me feel like a superstar ready to take on the world... or at least get an awesome PR!
|The most supportive friends ever!|
I headed home to say goodbye to my littles and send them off to school/my mom's for the day. Andrea picked me up at 10:00 AM sharp as planned, and we quickly loaded my things into her car and were off. I had packed fairly light: a duffel with all of my clothes and running things, my "food bag" (breakfast foods and snacks for the trip), and a cooler with 12 bottles of water. We programmed her GPS to lead us to Virginia Beach and spent the next 9.5 hours engaged in non-stop conversation. Running, of course, was a key topic, but oh so much more... we've bonded on our training runs, of course, but after this trip, I know and love Andrea like she is my sister.
|Headed into West Virginia!|
The roughest part of our trip occurred a few hours in. Out of the corners of our eyes we saw a small dog run out onto the highway we were traveling on. The car in front of us hit the dog; thankfully we were able to swerve and the cars behind us were as well, so there were no other resulting causalities. It happened so very quickly, and almost seemed surreal. We thanked God that we were safe, and that there was not a crash, but of course were sad about the poor dog. Thankfully we were both so excited about our weekend, it didn't put a huge damper on things.
We hit some traffic as we neared the ocean, but finally reached our destination at around 7:30 PM, only 30 minutes later than expected. Our first impressions of Virginia Beach were highly positive; the sun had set but we couldn't get over the fact that #wewenttothebeach! (This became an utterance that permeated our trip!) We hadn't had dinner yet so we quickly checked in at the hotel (the Wyndham Oceanfront) and went to a local bar and grill recommended by the concierge at the hotel. I was starving but Andrea put me to shame, demolishing her burger in half the time it took me to eat mine. Bellies happily full, we went back to our hotel and quickly fell asleep.
The next morning we both were woken very early by the sound of a barking dog. I couldn't decide if it was on the beach or actually in the hotel. After almost 1.5 hours of listening to the noise, I finally got up and used the bathroom. Andrea got up then too, and she figured out that the dog was actually in the room adjacent to ours! We got ready and headed down to go to breakfast, letting the front desk know about the situation. They were very kind and agreed to compensate us with a $40 discount for the night. Yay for the dog LOL!
|First view of the ocean on Saturday morning, from our hotel balcony|
|Hard to see, but this was below our balcony on Saturday... "Will you marry me?" So sweet...|
Breakfast was at Pocahontas Pancakes, which had received great reviews. We were excited to see that the restaurant was right on the route of the Shamrock 8K race, allowing us spectacular viewing as we ate our delicious meals. I went with eggs, toast, 2 buttermilk pancakes and sausage.
|View from the window as we ate breakfast|
Once again, Andrea out-ate me easily! We headed over to pick up our bibs at the expo after breakfast. The expo was actually pretty big--many vendors, lots to look at. Bib pick-up was seamless, and we spent a good hour just perusing the "runner stuff" being peddeled. I grabbed a few new "Hippie Chick" bands (I prefer them to Bondi Bands now, as they are a bit smaller and fit me better), and Andrea got her GUs for the next day. We had "massages" using a TENS-type unit, spoke to a pacer about the race course, and left with a feeling of excitement about the next day.
|I was throwing coins in the air LOL|
|Andrea getting a cool electro-massage|
The next few hours were spent at the beach... because, of course, #wewenttothebeach! It was a relatively cool, windy day, with temperatures in the mid to upper 50's, but you'd better believe we wanted to soak in all of the time that we could under that warm Virginia sun! Of course, sunscreen was forgotten, and we both ended up with burns on our faces... well worth it, though, for the amazing afternoon of warmth that was experienced. We took a ton of pictures...
|What a view...|
|Andrea loved this setting...|
|Our hotel! We were on the 17th floor (second from the top)...|
|The most amazing beach houses ever...|
|Obligatory beach selfie|
Dinner reservations were at 5 PM for a tiny Italian restaurant called Pasta E Pani that Andrea had selected.The food was delicious--cheese ravioli and tons of bread for me, pizza for her. We mainly spoke of the race over our meal, and finally came to a decision as to how we were going to race the next morning. We had waffled with whether or not we'd actually run the race together and if so, what our goal time would be. After a bit of negotiation (I wanted a sub-1:45; Andrea felt we could do a 1:40), we settled on a 1:42. This time actually was my secret goal, my pie-in-the-sky, OMG-I-want-this goal, my goal I would only whisper to my closest friends. I was 10% excited, 90% scared to death of this goal! But Andrea broke down the race, mile-by-mile, and made it sound do-able, at least on paper. We continued to discuss how things would go through the remaining waking hours of the night, but time passed and it was soon lights out... we had business to take care of the next day!
To be continued... :)