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?”

 

Kissed the Asphalt

Not to worry, despite the title I did not do a face plant! I did, however, score a new personal record (PR) during the Bishop’s Events “Kiss My Asphalt” 10K in celebration of Valentine’s Day. The event (which included a 5K race) was in partnership with the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Green, Red, Yellow

The theme for this race was pretty clever. Runners that were single had the option to select a green shirt (“go for it, ask me out”). Those in a relationship could select red (“Ummm…no thank you, I’m with someone”). Finally, those in a bit of a pickle could select yellow (“It’s complicated…apparently”).

Connecting with Mother Nature

It was a cool 40 degrees this morning and there was no indication the sun was going to make an appearance. The weather forecaster predicted rainfall beginning around 10 am and I can attest, the sprinkles seemed to fall right around that time. The rain fell harder after I made it to the turn around point and remained consistent throughout the rest of the event. I must confess that I truly enjoyed the rain. I just feel more connected with mother nature and even the occasional sloshing through a shallow puddle doesn’t bother me.

Run in the Rain

Picture Courtesy of Run with Jess

The Body will Achieve what the Mind Believes

I credit my PR to a wonderful lady named Mary that I’ve had the pleasure of running with a few times over the last month. She is such a beautiful woman and a wonderful spirit! She is a fast, strong, and passionate runner who has even qualified for Boston (at least once). But she’s very humble and takes time to get to know runners (of various paces) within our Mom’s Run this Town chapter. During our first run, I learned about how she developed a love for running and somewhere along the way she said something that has stuck with me “the body will achieve what the mind believes.” She was very attentive throughout our run and could tell when I needed words of encouragement. When we finished, she grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said “MeMe, you’re faster than you think you are, you did great!”

Today, I did not set out to accomplish a PR, I only intended to run my race, without assessing myself in the moment. There were moments where self doubt drifted in my head, but then I thought of Mary. I smiled to myself as her words reassured me, “MeMe, you’re faster than you think you are … the body will achieve what the mind believes!”

The Finish Line

Standing in the rain, at the finish line was my beau … smiling and taking a photo of me as I crossed. He told me “Good job babe!” while simultaneously conducting his typical quick assessment of my physical well-being and asking if I needed anything. Standing a few feet away under their umbrella were my Sole Sisters (Tamara and Monique) who ran the 5K, smiling at me with their finisher medals around their necks.

A special thank you to Armour, Mary, Monique, and Tamara … they were the reason I smiled today.

Kiss my asphalt

I always seem to have that same look on my face at the end of a race …. LOL!

 

 

 

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