New Location, New Career, Same Love

It’s been six months since my last blog. To be frank, my life has taken quite a few turns since my Yuengling’s Shamrock Marathon Weekend post.

JB photoLove: I broke up with my long-time beau. We ran many races together since 2016 and he will likely remain the greatest love of my life. But our love simply ran its course (pun totally intended).

Career & Location: In August, I started a new career as a professor in South Carolina. In late-September, I survived the post-Hurricane Florence flood, but my home sustained severe damage. That happened as I officially retired from the Army in October after 20 years of service. My home is currently under construction, but I should be back in my “new” home before Christmas.

The amazing thing about love and loss is that the most painful events underscore the simplicity of life. It took a while, but I’ve embraced these last six months and the many lessons about perseverance, patience, and perspective. Despite it all, my love-hate relationship with running continues to blossom, as does the second part of my life.

Yuengling’s Shamrock Marathon Weekend

This was my first time at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend in Virginia beach and I must say, it was a well-orchestrated event. My beau and I completed the Dolphin Challenge (8K on Saturday, Half Marathon on Sunday).

Flat & Full of Fun

There were plenty of water/gatorade points along both courses – which were also delightfully flat. Both races had phenomenal crowd support along the routes where locals provided anything from words of encouragement, cookies, and fruit to shots of beer. My favorite sign was the one made just for me … the perfect stranger.

perfect stranger

A Perfect Stranger’s Pride

The finish line included a large beer tent, with hot soup, a live band, good music, and a great vibe. That tent was also a welcomed retreat from the brisk breeze along the shore. Nevertheless, it was a welcomed change of scenery, I mean just look at that beautiful sky line.

 

 

I set a new PR for the 8K but took it easy on the Half Marathon. I must admit that one of my favorite moments of every race is to see a familiar face smiling at me as I cross the finish line. I have several Sole Sisters and my beau to thank for that. This weekend, my beau ran with me. Although my pace for the Half was slower than planned, he braved the wind and waited for me to cross the finish line (he runs ahead of me, for obvious reasons).

Bling and Goodie Bags

We were impressed by the bling and the goodies provided for both races: shirts (long sleeve for the 8K, short sleeve for the Half), a hat, a bag for each day, a beach towel, and a beer can sleeve.

 

Truly a Matter of Convenience

Packet Pickup

After driving nearly three hours from Northern Virginia, we were so appreciative of the quick and simple packet pick-up at the Virginia Beach Convention Center – despite the estimated 25,000 participants. We received an email prompt earlier in the week to retrieve our bib numbers via text message, which eliminated the need to print our forms.

The DoubleTree Hotel

The hotel amenities were very good (fridge in the room and free parking) but there was not a microwave in the room. This is likely because of the on site restaurant Max & Erma’s,  which we found to have excellent customer service and breakfast. We were granted a late check-out on Sunday and the hotel staff was nothing short of pleasant and professional. Lastly, with only a nine minute drive to the 31 Ocean Parking near the 8K start line and the finish line for the weekend, this hotel proved very convenient.

Crazy Enough to do it Again?

As we were leaving the parking garage after the Half Marathon my beau said, “Babe, we just completed our first half marathon of the year.” He paused, then said, “Just think, a month from now we’ll be running the LoCo Challenge!” “Yeah,” I exclaimed, “Another 8K and Half Marathon … babe, we need to find a different hobby.” He quickly looked at me and quipped, “I oughta push your ass out this car … you’re the one signing us up for all these races!” I laughed … then thought to myself … “well I guess now isn’t a good time to suggest we run this again next year?”

 

In the Name of Walls and Devious Thoughts

My beau (bless his heart) has always been the voice of reason, the beacon of positivity and perspective, and the “hype man” before the race. During my first year of racing this drove me crazy because I was the over-thinker, the planner, and I was “in the zone” like 30 minutes before the start — basically I was really nervous. So questions like “Are you ready?” and “Are you excited?” were usually met with stank eyes.

So, there we were (hey, this is how all the good stories start) in summer 2016 at the Quantico 12K. This was my first time running more than 5 miles. Uh…YES, I knew 12K was 7.46 miles … and NO, I didn’t really train for the run. In retrospect, there were soooo many things I didn’t know about running. But, that’s not the point.

So, there we were, running our first race together. He easily has a pace a few minutes faster than mine, so I just assumed that he (like my Sole Sisters I race with) would simply run ahead and I’d see him at the finish line. But after I turned the first bend, there he was (his pace slowed, trying to find me through the crowd). Damnit! I thought … I had no illusions of grandeur in my pace … so I immediately feared I’d slow him down. “What are you doing babe? Go ahead, run your race,” I said. “No babe, we are going to run this together!” he replied. I really didn’t want to slow him down, but I appreciated the gesture … at first.

A couple miles into the run, he looked at me and asked “How you feelin’ babe?” In my mind I was thinking “Uh, like my heart is beating fast and I don’t wanna run this race!” but of course I just said “I’m good.” Well, perhaps he didn’t hear me … because like TWO MINUTES LATER he asked the same question. Okay! In all fairness, it was probably longer than two minutes, but after being asked the same questions a few times I was coming pretty close to losing it!

—- The Wall —-

Just when I was approaching my mental wall … which was probably 1/2 mile after the 5 mile marker … there my loving beau was running along side me … still talking … still asking me questions … still periodically looking over at me. And it happened … he had his phone in his hand and he said, “Hey babe…” when I abruptly yelled “I swear if you say one more thing about this race!!!”  He looked at me in shock and answered, “I was just going to share this song with you” (showing me his playlist).

Oh Great!” I thought…”NOW I’m the jerk!”

I think he knew I hit my wall (hmm, wonder what gave him that idea), so for the rest of the race he tried encouraging me, “You’re doing great babe.” “Pick up your feet a little bit, there you go, good stride, you’re looking good.” I still had a horn and fangs … but said nothing in response. This was the part of the course where clearing the last 1.4 miles includes a continuous (seemingly never ending) incline. Mind you, this was two months after running the Semper 5ive and I was beginning to see a trend with the Marines (hills, they love those dang hills).

My beloved beau kept encouraging me, and as we climbed the last hill and passed the 7 mile marker he reached for my hand so we could run in together. Well, (horn and fangs in full effect) I pulled my hand back and just tried to focus on not dying … but he stuck right next to me and we crossed the finish line together.

—- Devious Thoughts —-

Never one to miss an opportunity for self-reflection, after I ate my banana, drank half my beer, and we took our “finisher photo”… I looked into his eyes, grabbed his hand, and apologetically said “Babe… I’m SO sorry for being mean to you during the race!”

He looked at me, with his beautiful blue eyes and bright smile, and retorted …

“Aww…babe, it’s okay … but you do that crap again and I’ll PUSH your ass off the trail and into some bushes.” 

quantico 12k (2016)

We Started Together, We Finished Together

In the Name of Love: a Gala, a Mocha, and a Mile

While this story does not involve a race it does envelope the essence of what has inspired me to start this blog. As I mentioned, my affection for running developed in conjunction with my long-distant relationship with my beau. In an attempt to make the most out of our quality time, despite group outings we try to steal moments just for us. New Year’s Eve weekend was a perfect combination of lovers, lobbies, and lounges.

—- A Gala —-

It started with the 2018 Black Tie New Year’s Eve Gala hosted by the International Club D.C.! I’ve attended this phenomenal event the last two years … and let me tell you … for a little over $100 my ticket got me a 10:30pm entry, multiple ballrooms with different genres of music, open bars in each room, and yummy (like my inner fat girl almost lost her damn mind, yummy) international desserts. Mannn listen, if it weren’t for making sure my belly didn’t bulge in my dress this girl would’ve hung out with the desserts all night. Eh, um, I digress … oh yes … there’s also champagne and a balloon drop at midnight in a couple of the rooms. It’s really a no fuss occasion and a perfect event to get all decked out in a beautiful cocktail dress and suit (despite the name, the dress code is “black tie optional, cocktail attire requested”).

 

We celebrated with a group of friends … occasionally our posse would ride out from one room to the other to check out the live bands, the DJs, or spend some time in the Karaoke room. Umm, yeah so… friends shouldn’t let friends sing drunk … EVER … just sayin’. Anyway … all in all, this event holds a special place in my heart because it’s like time stands still as I share a special moment with my beau … the count down from 10 -> 9 -> 8 -> 7 … the anticipation … 3 -> 2 -> 1… the “Happy New Year!” that rings throughout the room with such excitement … and then we share a kiss (or two) … ahhh … it’s so romantic. We had sooo much fun and made wonderful memories with our group of friends – some of which were recorded … and for a small fee will disappear forever … I’m totally kidding!.

—- A Mocha —-

After departing the hotel (more on that in another blog) we relied on our trusty google maps for nearby options for breakfast. I woke up in the mood for some damn bacon (I love bacon, not that damn turkey stuff, REAL bacon). So we found two options, the first (the DINER) was a few miles from the hotel. Unfortunately, there was a 35 minute wait (did I mention that I was hungry which is nearly synonymous with hangry). So we turned on our heels enroute to the second option. However, walking along the sidewalk back to the car, we noticed the Tryst Coffee House that conveniently had a menu displayed on a stand outside. My beau asked “do you wanna try this place?” as we both hastily inventoried the menu — personally, I was looking for two things (1) was it still serving breakfast and (2) was there an option for bacon? We both decided it was a good choice.

The moment we walked in, I was intrigued by the set up … instead of boring tables set in a uniformed manner, my eyes danced around the room noticing families and friends sitting on sofas, love seats, at kitchen nooks, country tables, or bar stools. There was no question it was a “seat yourself” kind of place. We quickly spotted two stools at the bar. It wasn’t long before a very casually dressed waiter greeted us with menus and a smile. He quickly took our drink order (a mocha for me and a latte for him). After that, my beau and I played the “what are you thinking about ordering game”… he has a gut of steal and can easily opt for something like the Breakfast Burrito (with bacon … yup, that’s my man). Despite my burning desire for bacon, The Nina looked really delicious. Once we placed our orders, I went back to surveying the room … my beau and I both noticed how eclectic the patrons were. I sat there for a while, then I exclaimed, “hey, this set up kinda reminds me of the cafe in Friends” (neither of us could remember the name) … then I added very matter of factly, “only, there’s more black people here … and other folks for that matter,” he smiled and agreed.

Out came our coffees accompanied by two animal crackers on the saucers! I don’t care how old you are … animal crackers tug at everyone’s inner two year old! That was hands down the best mocha I’ve tasted … now, I say that as an average bear … not some highfalutin coffee connoisseur (so please, lower your brow and put your pinky down … you know who you are), but Tryst (unbeknownst at the time, is known for their coffee).

 

About Tryst

Wanna Know More about Tryst?

Then came our food … have you ever recalled something that tasted so good that you’ve contemplated making the trek for another serving? Yeah, my Nina cuddled up with kettle chips was “I’m not gonna talk to you right now, much less offer you a taste,” kinda good. We both bit into our meals with an approving “Mmmmm!” It was delightful … I eventually offered him some … but … by then he was full (timing is everything, isn’t it).

—- A Mile —-

Speaking of timing, our intent that morning was to grab breakfast and then take a trip to the Washington Monument to ceremoniously culminate our Amerithon Challenge by walking the last mile to the Washington Monument. We had our medals in tow and I was so happy that my beau (the sentimental one in this duo) came up with the idea. Okay listen, it was COLD as —– that morning. Yet, we found parking, gathered our medals, and the Garmin watch. Quickly snatching off one glove, he set it to “walk,” pushed “start,” and then we scurried through the parking lot, braving the wind and the bitter cold, as we walked the distance to the Monument. If it weren’t so friggin cold, I probably would have shed a tear. It was so monumental (pun totally intended) to finish this race and complete this challenge with him!

AMC-WM-Collage1

Team Love is Bliss