Now, not only am I thrilled with my 8K PR and the race I ran, more importantly it allowed me to feel like -- and actually be -- a participant in Shamrock Sportsfest and not just a spectator. The post-race party is what really distinguishes the Shamrock races, and we got down to business! It was a warm morning for running, but a perfect for a post-run party that spilled out of the giant tent and onto the beach. My work was done, my only remaining responsibility was to help make sure the beer didn't get skunked.
After cleaning up, we made our way to Abbey Road, a Beatles-themed Belgian beer bar. That combo is awesome, but I admit I was a little beered-out from the post-race party, so I stuck with water and, "The Beatles Burrito", THE BEST BREAKFAST SANDWICH I'VE EVER HAD.
After brunch (it was really lunchtime, we just both got breakfast foods), we drove back over to the Expo. We'd gotten our packets and some Shamrock merch the night before, but hadn't really had time to look around before the expo closed. It was a nice expo, but you've seen one expo, you've seen 'em all. I'm glad we looked around, but neither of us saw anything we had to get.
On Saturday evening, we carb loaded. Chris because she was running the Half, me because I love carbs. We returned to Il Giardino, our Saturday night dinner spot from last year, and had the exact some thing: 1 Peroni each, penne ala vodka, and for dessert chocolate gelato for me and napoleon.
We were tried from our 8K, post-race party, and carb loarding, and Chris needed to be up at 5:30 the next day for a 7:00am race start, so we spent our St. Patrick's Day evening in bed by 8:00, watching March Madness followed by an episode of "Too Cute", an Animal Planet show about adorable kittens.
On Sunday, we headed over to the Half Marathon start at 6:15, and arrived at around 6:45. I said goodbye to Chris as she headed to her corral and got a vantage point just past the start. It was fun to watch the elites go by, and amazingly, I did see Chris as her wave went by. I started my stopwatch and walked back to our hotel to get breakfast.
Because I wanted to avoid the feelings of regret that I'm sure walking by the marathon starting area would foster, I walked mostly on the boardwalk and took pictures of the sunrise over the beach and the famous Neptune statue. Here's the one that I think turned out the best:
Breakfast was amazing. The coffee was amazing for how bad it was -- I should get a finisher medal for drinking it all, but I'd been up since 5:15 so it was much needed. The positive amazing part of breakfast was the advanced technology deployed by the hotel's breakfast buffet: A pancake machine! It was like a copier that shot out pancakes. Awesome! (The pancakes were pretty good, too, though not as good as I'd have the next day...foreshadowing!)
I killed a bit of time reading in our room, watching the clock to see when I should head down to watch Chris finish. I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get a good spot. A little while after I'd grabbed a spot along the railing at the 13 mile mark, Chris ran by sooner than I expected to see her!
I know she'll blog about her her race and share the pictures she wants to share, but I want to just say that as cool as our PRs in the 8K were, she annihilated her half marathon PR by an amount that was ridiculous! A very emphatic highlight to our trip to Virginia Beach, and we celebrated accordingly again in the party tent.
This was the highlight of our trip, but our fun hadn't quite ended yet. After a walk around Atlantic Avenue and the boardwalk and some rest, we headed to CP Shucker's, another favorite from last year, for dinner. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures, but Bay Chips=awesomeness.
It turned out my work wasn't quite done, after all, either. I'd hoped to take a run on Monday morning, and I did get myself up early and head out for 6 miles. I'd planned to run loops along the boardwalk, but as I headed out I realized that I wanted to try to recapture a little of the feeling of my marathon finish one more time and finish my run heading south on the boardwalk past the statue. So, I headed about 2.5 miles north on the boardwalk and Atlantic, ran about a half mile into and out of a nature preserve past the entrance to the Cape Henry Trail (I didn't want to do any trail running, since it had rained overnight). I ended up finishing my six miles just past the statue. It was a good run, especially given the humidity. Though hopefully next time I run by Neptune, it'll be the end of a much better run!
We finished our visit to Virginia Beach with delicious breakfast at Maple Tree Pancake House, and then headed north. At the advice of a friend, I chose to take the Bay Bridge Tunnel and head up the Delmarva Peninsula rather than brave 95 again. I think it was wise; we slid in the home stretch just ahead of Baltimore rush hour traffic. A great trip all around.
Now I feel like I have a little bit of closure on my marathon DNS, too. I'd been afraid that being down there without running in the marathon would just make me feel sorry for myself, but except for a little while at the expo (which you'll see in a separate post) and while I was walking up the boardwalk on Sunday morning on my way to breakfast, it never really hit me. Instead, I just had too much fun running, post-race partying, eating, exploring Virginia Beach, and watching Chris destroy her half marathon PR. I'd debated whether to sign up for the 8K, and I'm so glad that I did.
All that said, though, being down there motivated me even more. The hotel reservations are made already. The race entry is a done deal (deferred from this year). The running itself seems like it's starting to go well again. I hope to be in Virginia Beach again in a year, picking up a new marathon PR to go with my 8K.
(I'll be back!)