Monday, March 17, 2014

Birds of a Feather Flock Together at Shamrock

Pretty Birds

     I had been looking forward to this Oiselle Team meetup in Virginia Beach since last November.  Since being selected for this team in the fall of 2012, I have jumped at any chance to meetup with my teammates. 
    I drove down to Virginia Beach on Friday morning. The drive was long, it took 6 hours, but so worth it. I checked in to the Holiday Inn in Norfolk, then decided to head to the Expo at the Convention Center to pick up my number and hopefully meet up with some of my teammates.
  I was able to meet up with Ellen, Allie, Carolyn and Allison at the Expo, who had travelled from North Carolina. We picked up our numbers and beer bracelets (we showed our ID's so that we could enjoy some Yuengling beer after the race the next day), and perused some of the free samples.  Our favorite was the Post cereal. Hungry runners always need a nutritious snack! We posed for some silly leprechaun photos, and then decided to head out to dinner. We searched yelp for a local restaurant, and found Baladi's for some yummy Mediterranean food. It was one of the best wraps I have had: Tofu and Portobello wrap with tabbouleh salad. It was fun chatting with these ladies who I have only known from Twitter.  Allie was racing the 8K in the morning, so we planned on getting together the next day to cheer for her, and some other team mates and join some other ladies for a "shake out" run.
   When I got back to the hotel, I ran into Kristin Metcalf, who also happens to be our team manager. It was so nice finally meeting her. She came all the way to Virginia Beach from Seattle to support all of us runners and cheer us on. She is full of positive energy and her love for the team is immeasurable. We are all so blessed to have her leading the team.
  I had planned on sharing my room with Ashley, who I had never met before, but we had corresponded via email.  Her flight was delayed, so I was able to leave her a key to the room at the front desk so she could let herself in when she arrived at midnight. I left a welcome note for Ashley, and settled in for the night. With my earplugs in, I didn't even hear her arrive. The next thing I knew, my alarm was going off, and I was up and getting ready to head to the beach to cheer on my fellow teammates who were racing the 8K on Saturday. Ashley and I found our way to the meetup place, and were able to do a short shake out run while finding a good place to cheer.
It was a beautiful day at the beach, and we were treated to this sunrise.
Once all the ladies running in the 8K finished strong, a few of us headed for much needed coffee and breakfast.  Ashley headed to the Expo to pick up her number for the next day.  Once returning to the hotel, I took some time to rest, shower, catch up on computer stuff and prepare for the team dinner that night.  I also was invited to watch the movie Blue Jasmine with another team mate, Rebecca in her room, and I took her up on it. I have to say, it was a great movie, with incredible acting performances by Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins.
  The team dinner took place at an Italian restaurant named Bravo.  A local team member, Mollie organized the whole dinner, and it was a great time for everyone. We had not only the Oiselle ladies, but also some spouses, children, parents and friends. I love this shot of our "paparrazi" taking our team photo after the dinner:
The local paparrazi. Photo credit: Allie Bigelow

An early bedtime was definitely needed for the early morning awaiting us.  Ashley and I settled to sleep by 9pm despite our loud hotel neighbors, who were in town for a Mason's reunion.  These people liked to party!
  Wake up time on Sunday morning was 5:15 am.  Ashley and I donned matching outfits of Lesko Shimmel tanks and Distance shorts, with several warmer layers on top. We grabbed a quick breakfast and were on the road with Rebecca and Kristin, who graciously had offered to drive us to the start.  Traffic was crazy once we got close to the race. Kristin dropped us off several blocks before the start, so we started walking. We took a quick pit stop at a hotel, and then continued walking. Within a few minutes we noticed that the runners we saw were not carrying their dry bags. But where was the bag check??? Apparently, in our relaxed "have fun" weekend, we had forgotten to check where the start was, where the bag check was, and the deadline for getting your bags on the truck. Oops. 
  We saw a few trucks sitting there, so we asked what we were to do. They were set up for the marathoners, but thankfully, one lady on the truck said she would take our bags.  Thank goodness for nice people who take care of us spaced out runners.  By the time we checked our bags, we realized the race was to start within 10 minutes.  And we still had a long way to walk. So we walked fast. It ended up being a good warm-up for the race.( I like to think "glass half full"). We rationalized that it was chip timed, and our race didn't start until we crossed the line. True, but it would have been nice to be in our assigned corral, and to hear the national anthem. Live and learn.
  Rebecca took off, trying to catch up with corral #1 which had already started (we heard the countdown to the race). Ashley and I tried to catch up with corral #3. Navigating from corral #7 to #3 was not very easy. Ashley rushed ahead, but I decided to save my energy for the race. I managed to get into #4 before crossing the line. My Garmin watch gps kicked in just in time and I crossed the line. It was crowded for the first mile, but I didn't let it bother me. I did not have a specific goal in mine, other than "under 2 hours".  After running The Love Rox 1/2 Marathon in Richmond 3 weeks ago in my slowest ever time of 2:10, I figured anything better than that would be fine with me. I also knew that this course would be flat. The wind would be the only issue. 
  After the first mile (9:30), I settled into a nice pace (around 9 min/mile). I was feeling very comfortable, and knew that I could maintain this pace for quite a while.  The weather was good, partly cloudy, maybe 40 something degrees, and a bit windy.  I stopped to drink water at about every other water stop, and took Gu gels at 4.5 miles and 9.5 miles.  I was able to pass the 2 hour pacer group somewhere along Shore Drive, maybe at 4 miles in. I knew that if I stayed ahead of them, I would make my goal of under 2 hours.  Once we entered Fort Story at mile 5, the wind picked up quite a bit.  There was also a slight hill.  I managed to keep a steady pace, right around the 9 min range. I even saw some 8:5x splits in there, and I was still feeling pretty good.  I felt quite good until about mile 11.5 when I started feeling tired. I knew that I would make it, but my mind was starting to get the best of me. I pushed those feelings away and carried on, not allowing myself to slow down too much.  By the time I made the final turn at 12.5 miles and saw my team mate Paulette, I got a second wind and was able to push hard to the finish.  I saw Kristin and some other team members cheering just a few yards from the finish, and I smiled as I crossed the finish.  1:58:25 official time.
photo credit: Katie Anderson's fiancé, Drew
  Through the finishing chute, I collected my medal, beach towel (sweet!), running cap, granola bar, water and shamrock cookie.  I looked for the bag check trucks, but didn't see them, so I figured I would meet up with the ladies from Oiselle.  It was so cold by this time. Once you finished running, the wind was fierce, and freezing.
  I met up with them, and Kristin was nice enough to get this shot of me and tweet it:

A few minutes later, I was shivering. I wrapped my new towel around me, and Asher, an elite member from our team, was nice enough to wrap her French Feather fleece scarf around my neck as an attempt to warm me up. Thanks, Asher! We all soon decided to find my bag, and skip the after party, opting for coffee and breakfast instead.  I was able to locate my bag, after seeking out any UPS trucks I could find, and soon we were headed to the Java Beach Café, where we enjoyed coffee, breakfast sandwiches and wraps, served by friendly staff, and helpful neighbors that seemed to just drop in to help serve breakfast. Elderly neighbors, in tight sweatpants. I guess you had to be there....
Here's a photo of my room mate, Ashley, who definitely wins the prize for the glamor shot of the day. And this was POST half marathon.
How does she look that good after PR'ing by 2 minutes???
  Anyway, we had a great breakfast and then we were heading back to the hotel driven by Kristin, with some mad driving skills.  Rebecca had to get back to the hotel so that she could get showered and to the airport to catch a 2pm flight.  I volunteered to drive her, and was also promised a sweet set of Lux arm warmers if I could get her there on time.  I would have done it anyway, but I wasn't about to say no to some extra Oiselle gear.  Could this weekend get any better?
  We made it to the airport on time, without any crazy "Daisy Duke" maneuvers, and I hit the road for a long 6 hour drive.  I made it home safely, and was happy to be home with my family after a very memorable weekend.
  Once again, I am feeling very blessed to be part of the Oiselle Family.  It is a community of women runners who embrace each other, literally and figuratively.  No matter your age, size, or ability, we are all runners, with a passion for the sport.  We all put ourselves out there, toeing the line, to do our best. In some of the best gear a lady can find. 
  Special thanks to Kristin Metcalf who brought us all together for this Spring Team Meet-up.  Thanks K-Met for taking care of all us and making us all feel so special.  It wouldn't have been the same without you.