Friday was an early morning, needing to catch the 6:15 am flight to DFW. Sandy and I managed to meet up at the parking lot and shuttled over to the airport. Strangely enough there was no line at the American Airlines counter so we were able to check our luggage and go on our way.
After my last disaster with American Airlines I decided to carry everything that I absolutely needed for the weekend, with things I only wanted in the checked bag. That meant I had to carry stuff for 2 races, food for the long day of flying, knitting, book, iPod, camera, etc. Again strangely enough, there wasn't really a wait at the security checkpoint either. We breezed down to our gate. Our flights were unremarkable, which for AA is remarkable. We got into ORF, Norfolk, late, but only by about 15 minutes.
It took about 45 minutes to get our bags, then another lengthy wait to get the car. I spoke with Heather and she was meeting us at the hotel; actually got there while we were trying to find the keys to the rental car. A winter storm was passing through the area and she had just spent a hellish afternoon driving through it on her trip from the Durham area. We finally got the car going and headed east. Trying to figure out directions, I kept reminding myself that "the ocean is east" "the ocean is east" "the ocean is east." It just seemed wrong.
We finally made the approach to the hotel, the Cavalier Hotel. It was dark and drizzly out, and the hotel reminded me of something. It was big, sitting on the hill, with very few lights in the windows. Now, where have I seen this before? Yeah, the Overlook! Great. Now I'll see blood running from the elevators and redrum on the door. Anyway, we went in and Heather was there! Yay! We got checked in and went up to our room. Down the looooong hallway. Where Jack was waiting with his hatchet. Or something like that.
The hotel wasn't really open for the season yet. All the extras were closed off. I didn't even know they had a pool until I just looked at the link! There were a couple of places we wandered into that were very pretty. Friday night it felt like we were the only guests in the hotel. Redrum.
The room was actually very nice. The bathroom had been renovated recently, with a huge whirlpool tub. Uh oh, that means after the race we'd have to climb up and over it to shower! Well, we'd cross that bridge etc. etc.
We needed to get to the expo before it closed, so we just dropped our gear in the room a nd took off. It was a mid-sized expo. Packet pickup was quick and almost efficient. We got our bibs for the 8k, our 8k shirt (a long sleeved black cotton shirt), got our bibs for the marathon, our marathon shirt (a long sleeved navy blue tech fabric, very nice) and our chips for each race. Heather was able to register for the 8k with no problems. I was also able to pick up Petra's race package for the half marathon, including her green, short sleeved tech shirt. Not my color, but she'll like it.
The only thing in the goody bag besides paper (ads, race brochures, etc.) was a can opener and a sample of cow balm. Hey, they lost points there! We didn't find anything at the expo that we needed to buy. That's what happens when you're at so many expos during the year. We finally headed out to look for dinner.
Not knowing the area, we just drove down the strip looking for something open. Apparently Virginia Beach doesn't really come alive until later in the spring. It looked like lots of hotels, lots of breakfast places, lots of pizza, not too many places for a pre-race meal. We finally decided on the Raven, just because it was open! We ended up with sandwiches; Heather and I had the crab cake and they were very filling. Our carbs came from fries. So sue me, our potatoes had some grease on them!
We returned to the room, set the clocks and went to sleep (well, I didn't sleep, just because I normally don't sleep, but that's not important now). The alarms went off early and we all prepared for a cold run. We walked over to the start, a little further away then we had expected. There was a big crowd, over 3500 people. We wanted to be in the back, but in front of the walkers. Always a tough placement.
Anthem, gun, and we're off. Slowly. We had to weave in and out for at least the first few miles. It was cold and windy but since we'd only be out there about an hour, we didn't fuss. I managed to keep up with Heather and Sandy and only had to ask them to slow down once or twice. I really didn't want to push too hard on the day before the big race. About halfway through we turned onto the concrete boardwalk and headed directly into the wind. Sandy's hat blew off twice; I kept holding mine to keep in on. It was pretty unpleasant. We finally finished, a mere (not) 1:02 after we crossed the start line. I don't think we'll have any pictures of that race since we all had jackets zipped over our bibs. We got our bottle of water and a bag containing a bit of food, walked over to the beer tent, decided to go get brunch.
Because it was convenient we decided to just have lunch at the Cavalier's beach front cafe. They had a very mediocre buffet but it was warm, so we were content. Afterward we all showered and got into warm clothes.
Unfortunately Heather had to scurry back home, so hugs and she was off! It was wonderful seeing her again. Heather was a perfect running buddy; we were the same pace and always had tons of things to talk about. We trained for several races together, and actually ran Honolulu side by side. I was very sad when she left. Now I'm just going to have to run lots of races in the east!
I got a text message from Petra that she had decided not to come, so we decided to return her chip to the expo so it wouldn't have to be mailed back. Since the forecast was for even colder weather, we both ended up buying running tights. I know, nothing new on race day. But I already own a couple of pairs of them (so why were they all at home??) and I'd worn them for long runs, so I figured it would be ok.
We drove around town taking a couple of pictures. Neptune guards the water. See the clouds? The dark sky? Not looking good for the clearing we had been promised. A large shamrock laden cow was lurking in a parking lot. The palm trees in the area were all gift wrapped. Can anyone tell me why? In California that would mean they had just been planted, but maybe it's a way to protect them from winter. Or maybe the urban foresters are into bondage? Anyone?
At this point the lack of sleep for the past week just overwhelmed me. I really wanted to go to a couple of yarn shops but I couldn't keep my eyes open. We went back to the hotel and napped for a while, until it was time to search out a place for a good healthy dinner.
We had seen a couple of places that looked like possibilities. On the way over we noticed some snowflakes drifting onto our windshield. Crap! We went to one nice looking restaurant, gave our car to the valet, and walked in. Without reservations they had a 2-1/2 hour wait! The very nice lady graciously told us we could wait at the bar. Uh, no. We left and asked the valet for a suggestion. He recommended Rudee's and gave us directions. It looked pretty crowded but we were able to get a table immediately. Yippee! I had a glass of wine, a nice piece of grilled fish, red-skinned potatoes, steamed veggies and a roll. It was perfect!
Back at the hotel we realized we didn't need to get up at the crack of dawn, like we usually would for a marathon. We got everything together and went to bed.
I'm not going over the race again except for yay me! Heh heh.
We decided to splurge on barbecue for dinner after the race. I hadn't been able to eat anything except a couple of cheese sticks, so I was pretty hungry. I used to always be that way after a marathon, so I wonder if it's something to do with how hard I run. I'll get back to you on that after some experimentation! We ended up at the Beach Bully and had ribs and beers. We got the last 2 Yuenglings, which was good since otherwise they just had Bud-ish beer. After dinner we wanted something sweet (and I wanted something alcoholic) so we stopped at the grocery and picked up some wine and a donut each. I swear, that donut was the best thing I'd eaten in weeks!
We packed, went to bed, got up at the unholy hour of 3:00 am, drove to the airport, flew home via DFW, got our cars, drove home. Whew! Long weekend over! Whew! Long weekend report over!