Monday, January 20, 2014

Race #7, State #7 VA

Race #7, State #7 VA

March 17, 2013--Virginia Beach, VA

Andrew’s sister, Liz and her husband and little boy live in Virginia Beach, so when Andrew told me about the Shamrock Race there, it was a no-brainer that we’d run. Liz and some of her other friends were planning to run, too, so it was to be a big old Irish running party. This was my first time traveling to Virginia, ever, and my first time visiting cousin Liz. It was really great to stay with family again and have time to get to know Liz’s husband and little boy better. What a super sweet, super cutie he is! Andrew and Liz picked me up at the airport. It is such a nice treat to have someone pick you up. No worrying about catching a cab or bus or some other mode of transportation to get to a hotel. The other great thing about connecting with locals is that they know all the good places to eat and park. Very important information.
Liz picked up our numbers and race packets early for us which gave us time to just relax and hang out when we arrived. It was fun to chat and catch up and play with the baby. Babies are the best! Liz selected an off the beaten path Italian restaurant for dinner that night where we met up with her other friend who was running. We enjoyed a lively and delicious dinner as we got out our last minute jitters. It was early to bed that night for everyone.
Morning came early, and it was cold out! Not what I had expected for Virginia. Everyone met at Liz’s house, and she graciously drove us to the starting area. (She decided not to run after all, opting instead to run the 5K race offered the day before). With a little dread, I realized while we were driving in the car that I had forgotten my iPod and sports watch back at Liz’s house! Oh the horror! I always have my watch and my music on me when I run. Realizing I didn’t have it put me at a complete loss. I had no idea how I would keep a strong pace without my music. Oh drat.
We got to the starting line up and jumped and bounced around with all the other runners as we tried to keep warm. The Shamrock Half Marathon offered pacers again, so again I lined up with the 1:45s, figuring I’d give it another try. To everyone’s dismay, some kind of issue with the timing delayed the start of the race, so we all froze for about 15 more minutes as that got worked out. It was a very chilly wait, but once things got worked out and we got underway, the cold subsided a little. Maybe it was just that the exercise was warming us up. 
The route was a loop up the main artery in Virginia Beach. There wasn’t a ton of scenery on this stretch, but it was interesting to see the different kinds of beach vegetation growing along the way. The road led us out of the Virginia Beach area, and we turned and ran through a military base which was strangely desolate, but cool. There were some water stations within the base that were manned by military personnel. We ran past some kind of laser shooting range and then past a light house. Then it was the turn to head back to the beach area and the finish line. 
To my great surprise, I was still with the 1:45s at mile 7, mile 9 and mile 11. I didn’t want to jinx myself, but I was smiling pretty large on the inside. At mile 12 and a half or so, I let one of the pacers in on my thinking...this race was going to be a new PR for me! No music, no watch, cold delayed start. Must’ve been the luck of the Irish that day. I finished in 1:45:20, crushing my old PR of 1:48:23 in Hartford #2. What a race!

Finishers were given fleece blankets along with medals and plenty of food at the finish line. The blankets were the best things ever on that chilly race day. We all reconvened at the finish line, but decided to skip the finish line party in favor for a warmer retreat. We found a local restaurant and had green beer and brunch. Now that’s a great way to celebrate St. Patrick. We enjoyed hanging out together and hearing everyone’s race stories. Back at Liz’s place, we showered up and just relaxed on her big sectional couch taking in the cuteness of our littlest cousin. Andrew flew home that night, while I opted for heading home the next morning. 

This race will be a hard one to beat in so many ways. Great finish time, great race swag, great people to hang with. 

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