What an incredible weekend! When I look back on the whole experience I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing women. From the moment I arrived at the hotel all the way up to the moment I left on Sunday after the races, I was surrounded by women who love to race, who love being a part of the run community and who love Oiselle as a product and a company. These are the reasons Sally started the Oiselle racing team several years ago and to see these principles in motion together in one place was awesome!
Saturday morning our half marathon racers met up with me to cheer on the 8k racers. Besides meeting Nicole Hart and Rebecca Trachsel the night before at the hotel, this was the first time I would meet about 18 of our team members – in person! So many of us have said this before, but every time I meet a Oiselle runner for the first time, I feel like I already know them. Obviously I don’t know everything about them, but I already feel connected to them.
And every time, I walk away thinking to myself, "Wow, they are cool!"
The 8k was awesome! We had four women finish in the top 20: Aubrey from WV was 7th looking extremely strong and fluid, Heidi from OH was 12th and everyone who saw her pass thought she looked like a gazelle and potential model, Asher from GA right behind her in 14th sporting the New Lesko Shimmel and Indigo buns (side note: Asher is in graduate school for PT and just finished finals week). She has done a couple workouts, but not a ton, and she pulled out a solid 8k to finish third for us. Then we had Allison from WV in 16th with a PR. Our first Masters runner was Allie from NC. I’ve met Allie several times before and when she told us that she was just going to run the 8k because she hasn’t been able to do many workouts leading up to VA Beach, I kind of just smiled because this women is a fierce competitor from what I saw at Club XC Nat’s in Bend this December. And just like that, she finished a minute back from these youngsters and the second Masters runner in the field! Amazing. We also had Colleen from DC and my fellow west coaster, Paulette. Both of them were pleasantly surprised with their races and loved hearing the Oiselle cheers throughout their race.
Later that night, after refueling and resting, our entire group came together for a team dinner at Bravo Italiano. We had about 42 people together for dinner: team members and some of their friends and family. Mollie Turner and Stephanie Viloria, sisters and teammates who I wrote about in my Pre-Virginia Beach blog, organized a nice dinner for us. It was incredible to have a chance to talk at length with all of these women and learn a little bit more about them before their half marathons the next day.
(photo collage done by the absolutely fabulous - Ashley Fincher from Alabama! - thank you Ashley.)
After our bellies and hearts full, we headed to bed early to prepare for another early morning. The half marathon started at 7:00am on Sunday, followed by the marathon at 8:30. We had 16 women in the half and Courtney Dredden in the full. The 8k crowd and I met at 6:45 to get a little jog in before the team cheer at the starting line, fueled up with some coffee, and made our way out to the 12 mile mark on the course. The only downside to the weekend was that we couldn’t cheer for the half marathon gals in more than two places because of the nature of the course. We had a blast cheering for all of the racers out there! After a significant time at mile 12 we headed close to the finish line to try and get some awesome finishing pics of these ladies. Katie’s fiancé Drew got the best shots with his super duper cameras: thanks Drew – lot’s of new profile photos to come this week!
Last April in Eugene was the first time that I cheered and watched both a half and full marathon – meaning being out there cheering for four plus hours…it is an experience everyone should have. You see determination at its fullest. The most rewarding spot to cheer folks on…where they have a view of the finish! Watching their faces light up as they near the finish line is like no other motivational tool out there: it is inspiring to see folks work so hard to achieve their goals. If these people can do it – so can I! So at the end of the day, we had some superb performances. We had five women in the top 50th with Kelsey Markham leading our charges in 8th place at 1:20:35. We had 10 Personal Records: Kelsey, Allison Camp, Ellen Moss, Lisa Holt, Stephanie Viloria, Danielle Heffernan, Carolyn Huang, Phyllis Ying, Michelle Witten and Prianka Nandy. A big shout out to our sole marathoner for the weekend: Courtney. Courtney showed up to dinner Saturday night after having a 24 hour flu bug Friday. She was determined to race Sunday despite not much food in her system. She is tough. She went 16 miles and then decided to listen to her body saying…"Enough! Stop here please!” She is tougher than me, I think I would have stayed in bed!
I have to mention the post race festivities! Well, the wind was so cold out there for this one…I mean cheering is lots of fun but when wind is slapping ya in the face for at least three hours…well, that’s when a cold beer isn’t going to do the trick! We had a impromptu meetup at an amazing local café: Java Surf Beach Café! Wow, the owner was incredibly friendly, we had great hot coffee, scrumptious breakfast sandwiches and (as always) great conversation with our crew!
Side note: We made fun of ourselves and had our waitress take a photo of our group at breakfast - this captures our brief obsession with getting caught up on each other's Twitter photos! It was sort of brief..and then we were back to talking in real time! TJ's son Baxton was not impressed with our twitter obsession!
Thank you to everyone who came out for Shamrock Virginia Beach: what an incredible group you are. We are extremely fortunate to have such awesome people out there in their communities spreading the word about Oiselle. Congratulations to everyone on training hard and putting their best efforts forward. That’s what it is all about – one foot in front of the other, day after day, with determination and commitment.