She won!

I heard the text ping as Mike and I headed into the second mile of the Shamrock Run in Richmond, VA.  Although I didn’t look at the message then, I was pretty sure I knew what it would say. When Amelia ran back to us from the direction of the finish line she confirmed what I had quietly been anticipating.  She was the first female finisher!

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We had known that Richmond would be the site of our Virginia race ever since our niece, Annie, moved there a few years ago. When we chose this race in late January, Amelia signed up for the race, as well, and Hannah and Todd signed on for the trip. Having run the majority of our quest races on our own, it was such a treat to have Amelia’s husband, Matt, Hannah and Todd, and Annie and Sam braving the chilly temperatures and cheering us on.

Having personal photographers was an added bonus. Annie snapped this shot of Amelia at the start.

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And Hannah captured this photo as Amelia zoomed to a win and PR finish. I love the outline of her shadow.

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Amelia had been putting in the miles and hard workouts to attempt a PR.  We were thrilled that she had accomplished her goal and that we were all able to celebrate with her.

My winter training was decidedly less stellar but we had a good run and were pleased with our finishing time.  I even ended up with third place in my new age-group.

Hannah took this photo of Mike and me finishing. We’ve decided she should always come along.  We love her company and she took one of my best finish line photos.  Plus having her take pictures alleviates the need for our signature awkward post-race selfie.

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I think that the person behind us looks a bit like a leprechaun, albeit a big one.

We were a bit dismayed to hear the announcement at the starting line that they wouldn’t be holding an awards ceremony after the race as they had advertised on their website. They had also promoted post-race live music at the brewery.  That didn’t happen either. But since we had our own enthusiastic crew to celebrate with we toasted Amelia’s win and enjoyed having the opportunity to share our race experience with family and friends.

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We had plenty of time for other fun throughout the weekend. Annie and Sam provided outstanding hospitality and expertly steered us to one perfect restaurant or activity after another.

Lunch at Union Market,

fabulous ice cream at Charm School,

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Charm School is filled with nifty old school (literally) touches.

cocktails at  the Quirk Hotel

 

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and dinner at Vagabond on Saturday topped off with a leisurely visit to Carytown on Sunday provided us with a well-rounded sampling of some of Richmond’s delights.

Sure, venturing to unfamiliar locations, exploring the local venues, and chatting with strangers on our own has resulted in many memorable adventures on our quest. But having the opportunity to spend the weekend with people we know and love and celebrate Amelia’s win truly made completing our 28th state race awesome.

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State: Virginia

Quest Race Number: 28

Date Run: March 12, 2017

The Bottom Line: Running a race accompanied by family and friends is something we hope will happen again.  With 22 states left on our quest list there should be plenty of opportunity for more festivities, great photos, and fast finishes.

Texas!

After weeks of training on snowy roads

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in single digit temperatures,

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clad in our special winter running gear,

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with our bodies covered in snow and our faces numb from the wind

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we were rewarded with 13.1 miles of running in nearly perfect racing conditions.

The Houston Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon provided this much needed respite from our extra intense Maine winter.  Mike and I chose this race for our Texas race because it gave us a wonderful opportunity to visit with great friends, Bill and Terry (who also happen to be Amelia’s in-laws), another dear friend, Rebecca, and my cousin, Janet, and her husband, John.  As an added bonus, Amelia signed up to run the race, too.  When Mike and I have traveled to new states to do races, we have often traveled by ourselves.  Having family and friends to visit on this trip truly made it much more enjoyable.

We flew into Houston

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 and immediately understood why they say “everything is bigger in Texas”.

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Stepping out of the airport into the sunny 70 degree weather started the thawing process. We traveled to Bill and Terry’s lovely home and eagerly ventured out for a walk, daringly leaving our boots and coats behind!

One of the aspects of traveling that we love is having the opportunity to see regional architecture, landscaping, and sights. Finding palm trees lining the spiffy retail area virtually around the corner from their quiet neighborhood was really unexpected.

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Bill and Terry took us to Central Market which is a short stroll from their home. We enviously surveyed the vast array of fresh produce, meat, fish, bread, cheese, wine, beer, and so much more that the market offers.

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 We bought a local beer and some Texas grapefruit to bring home to Hannah.

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 Dinner was at the renowned Goode Company where we enjoyed some authentic Texas BBQ.  This photo isn’t too great but the food certainly was!

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The next evening we were enjoying a glass of wine in the living room when four tuxedo-clad men walked into the house and announced that they were there to serenade Amelia with love songs!  Her husband, Matt, had arranged this special Valentine’s Day gift.  It was a charming experience to listen to this a capella quartet sing beautiful songs just feet from us. Afterward we were treated to some of Bill’s exquisite cooking as we savored a delectable Mexican dinner.

Our race was the next day.  Amelia, Mike, and I couldn’t stop commenting on how novel it was to be outside dressed in only shorts and a shirt.  The weather was perfect for our half marathon.  Cloudy skies and low 60 temps were just what we had dreamed of as we had pounded the pavement slogged along on snowy roads in Maine while training for this event.

The half marathon course was a double loop which was mostly flat.  The only hills occurred when the road dipped under overpasses.  There were several bands along the route which made for a festive run.  We loved being able to see Amelia three times when she ran past us on the other side of the course. She looked awesome each time we saw her which was especially terrific since it was her first race after coming back from a serious injury after running a marathon.

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Bill and Terry had biked to the course and cheered us on each time we ran past.  This was such an added treat since we are almost always running in areas where we don’t know anyone. They even took pictures!

It looks like I’m praying but I was actually just clapping.

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Here Mike has apparently abandoned me and has taken up with some other women!

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One of the perks of this race is that you can download all of the professional photos for free. This is one they took of Mike.

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Amelia finished first and took some photos of us as we neared the finish line.

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Amelia had a great race, missing a PR by just a few seconds.  Our race started out strong but I faded near the end of the race. Mike gallantly slowed his pace and stuck with me till the finish.  We nabbed our spiffy spinning guitar medals

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and headed to the food and beer tents with out little “good for one beer” ticket that had came with our race bib.  BUT they were out of beer!  How could that happen?? It seemed that everyone would be guaranteed their token (literally) beer with the ticket system.  Alas, this was not to be.

Although I was not thrilled with my run, we did get a snazzy shirt

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a bonus hat,

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and the especially terrific treat of having Amelia with us.

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Later that day we were greeted with more Texas hospitality when we arrived at Janet and John’s beautiful home on the outskirts of Houston.  They more than made up for the missing race beer by providing us with a vast array of new beers to sample.  Dinner was an “epicurean triumph” to use our grandfather’s famous phrase.  Once again, having a chance to visit with family added a wonderful new dimension to our racing quest.

A visit to the St. Arnold Brewery the next day continued to compensate us for our missed race beer. We signed up for the tour which includes tokens to sample four of their numerous beers.

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Although all of their beers were fantastic, Janet and I enjoyed their Weedwacker brew, Amelia loved the seasonal Spring Bock, and Mike and John seemed to be especially fond of Ale Wagger Brown.  St. Arnold Brewery donates a portion of their proceeds from Ale Wagger sales to local animal rescue organizations.

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We flew home on Fat Tuesday which was highlighted by our gate attendant’s attire.

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Our flight was delayed several hours due to weather-related issues but we were generously compensated with vouchers for use on a future flight.  This was a perfect way to end the trip to our nineteenth quest state as we look forward to our next adventure.

Where should we run next?

State: Texas

Quest Race#: 19

Race: Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon

Date Run: February 15, 2015

The Bottom Line: It was worth training in tough conditions for the reward of running in a warm climate.  But the truly best part of running in Texas was having a chance to visit with family and friends!