Saturday, September 13, 2014

11th Event of 2014: Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon


11th Event of 2014, the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon: A Family Affair

Friday, August 29th:

Jim and I left Greensboro early in the morning in an attempt to be at the race Expo, being held in the Virginia Beach Convention Center, by noon. The hope was to put myself in position to get some media there in advance of Sunday's big race. Thanks to the Labor Day Weekend's heavy beach traffic (along with the congestion caused by thousands of runners like ourselves making their way into town) our plan was slightly derailed; we arrived a bit late but to no great loss as there were no news teams anywhere in the vicinity. I think everyone was trying to avoid the beach traffic.

We took the opportunity to grab a quick bite near the Expo as I waited "on call" for any news from our PR team. Knowing that the restaurants along the beach near Atlantic and Pacific avenues would be jammed we opted for a great local spot on Mediterranean Ave instead.
Nat's On Mediterranean doesn't look like much from the parking
lot but the food is good, the fish is fresh and the prices are just right.



I ordered the special of the day, recommended by the bartender on duty:
Blackened Tuna Bites with wasabi and soy. These were perfectly cooked
and absolutely delicious.

From Nat's we went into the Convention Center to pick up packets and to see if any news teams were there for their 5- or 6 O'Clock live spots. There was none there so we made the decision to get our race gear and quickly head south to my sister's house--we were coming back to the Expo on Saturday anyway so we opted for family time tonight instead. My stepdad and mom are already in town and also staying at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, Becky and Pete, along with my 2 nephews, Jackson and Joey. Tonight my cousin, Sandy Wacker, is coming in and staying at the house as well...followed by my older sister and her boyfriend, Maria Knoll and Mike Fitzgerald, who will arrive first thing in the morning. The Kubin house is going to be at maximum occupancy this year!

Saturday, August 30th:

After a nice night and early bedtime at "Camp Kubin" we awoke this morning to perfect beach weather. We spent the early hours hanging out with my nephews and then made our way to the Expo where we planned to meet Maria and Mike after my folks picked them up at the airport (Sandy rode along to meet Maria's flight and then spent the rest of the day with us.)

Friendly faces! We ran into my sister's neighbors (who are also now good friends of
ours), Sharon and John Yager. For the last 2 years we've stayed with them--together they've
run all 14 years of the VaBeach RnR Half Marathon!

Next we find Maria and Mike at the packet pick-up station. Mike is an experienced
triathlete, marathoner and Ironman. Maria will be running her first-ever half marathon
tomorrow. She's displaying complete confidence...or maybe that's terror.
:-)


Another friendly face! Emily Schulte is now officially Emily Underwood, thanks to her July marriage to Kyle.
Congratulations, Emily!


Choices, choices!
Sandy and Maria are wishing Merle was here (and so am I!) so they purchased their Sweaty Bands
 in her honor instead of getting to buy them directly from her.


Wonder Women, ready to ROCK.
We left the Expo after about an hour of shopping there and decided to go back to Nat's for a late lunch. Maria and Mike were starving and we didn't want to risk having long waits near the waterfront. Jim got word then that our favorite Canadian and fellow RnR Gypsy was in the vicinity so he met us at Nat's as well.

Big Dave, the Clydesdale Runner, pulls up in his rented "2-door Spec". Ha!
He looked like he had to fold himself up to get in and out of the car.


Jim decides he can lift the tiny car up and move David into the next parking spot.
After lunch my family had made plans to meet at the new Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium a few miles south of the Convention Center. Since I am the only one in our race crew technically working this weekend I had to remain close to the Expo in case of media (as per usual for every event weekend). Luckily the Adventure Park was close enough for me to make it back if necessary so we loaded up the car and met the rest of my family at the entrance.


Jackdon and Joey enjoy a leisurely paddle in the wooden canoe while Becky was in line getting tickets
for the Ropes Course and Zip Line park.



Apparently my nephews were having so much fun that the rest of the gang had to try it out.
Front to back: Sandy, Mike, Maria, Jackson and Joey.

The Kubins have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this brand new attraction.

Jackson has had a little bit of Ropes Course experience but Joey is new to it all
and needed adult supervision. Luckily his mom (my younger sister, Becky, of course!)
is always up for a new adventure!



This is the bridge from the Aquarium to the Ropes Course/Zip Lines, which you
can barely make out in the distance.

Jackson getting harnessed for action...


...and now Joey gets harnessed. The fear of climbing, rappelling and zipping
were beginning to show on his face at this point.

After the guides get everyone into their safety gear, the next stop is the training area.
Behind this sign there are practice elements raised only slightly off the ground so that
the climbers can get used to the safety systems, the tree platforms and the various
styles of elements.

It was hard to capture in photos just how large and elaborate the Adventure Park Ropes
Course actually is. These are the easier elements (the ones about 10 ft off the ground) but
apparently the levels of difficulty go all the way from the
easiest (yellow) up to Double Black Diamond levels which are for
only the most experienced climbers...


... which these two were not.
:-)
But, they are ready to learn and eager to get higher up off the ground.

I watched as the guides provided about 20 minutes of instructions and was almost
overwhelmed at the amount of information disseminated in such a short time.
I was also very impressed with how quickly
even the younger kids picked up on the concepts. Rules for platforms, rules for the
acrobatic elements, guidelines for the color-coated challenge levels, getting from
element to element & height to height, zipping or belaying back down--
then words like tweezles,caribiners, canopies and belays--
these are all completely new concepts to most of the first-timers.

I think this is the moment it dawned on Joey that if he didn't want to fall
(albeit with a safety harness attached) he would have to pay closer attention to the
facilitator's directions.

Looked who showed up for the fun! At Danielle's insistence, she and David had an
adventure-in-the-treetops on their agenda for the day!
I didn't get to see the entire 3 hours of my sister's and nephews' fun in the trees but they said they had a blast--and were utterly exhausted by day's end. Danielle and David reported a great time as well...so much so that I'm going to add this to my to-do list the next time I'm in VaBeach for a visit. For a good read on this type of Adventure Park, read this link (the paragraphs towards the end are the most enlightening in my opinion):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventure_park

By late afternoon my Uncle Dan (mom's youngest brother, Sandy's dad) finally made his way from Potomac, MD to VaBeach. As each of us finished our activities and responsibilities for the day we all made our way back to the Kubins for a pre-race, family-style dinner.

While Pete, Becky, Maria, Mike, Sandy, and the boys were at the Adventure Park and while Jim and I were working the media circuit, Mom and Bob had been slaving away in the Kubin Kitchen preparing a fabulous meal for all of us.

The menu:
2 versions of healthy, whole-grain pasta--one without meat for the vegetarians
Fresh grilled salmon with lemon, garlic and lime
Homemade pesto bruschetta
Garden salad
Avocado slices with balsamic glaze

Thank you to my wonderful parents for providing us with such scrumptious pre-race fuel!!!







Dining was 'al fresco' courtesy of the Kubin's new'ish screened-in back porch.

The "adults table"?

As usual, we were having more fun at the "kids' table".
By the time dinner was done and we had finished cleaning up it was time for us to hit the sack. 5 of us were running tomorrow and we had a departure time of 4:45am. Goodnight, all.

Sunday, August 31st: RACE DAY!!!

The 5 of us (Maria, Mike, Jim, Sandy and myself) were dressed and in the car promptly at 4:45am--nice going, gang! We had a parking spot right at the finish line in a lot that closed at 6AM, but this lot usually fills up by 5:30 so we took no chances. We pulled into our space at 5:10 and were greeted by plenty of runners already there and more still steadily rolling in. Also right on time was Uncle Dan, the only one in our troop not staying at the Kubins, who came out to cheer us on this morning.

From the finish line it was about a mile's walk to the start line but mid-way we have a favorite pre-race coffee shop called Bad Ass Coffee where we planned to hang out for a bit. All of us had VIP passes except for Mike which meant that he couldn't use the indoor bathrooms or partake of the pre-race breakfast so this coffee shop was a great option for him. Most businesses in the area are still closed on race morning but for years Bad Ass has opened early and allowed runners to use their facilities. (Hopefully I'm not ruining a 'best-kept secret' by writing about this!)

In addition to my GetBackUP running message, I also made a personal commitment to
run for a great little kid named Andrew. I was paired with him through the "I Run 4 Michael"
organization, which partners runners with children dealing with chronic illnesses. My sister,
Maria, is helping me with my sign this morning--I spilled water on it in the car and made
it completely illegible.
(For more info on the I Run 4 Michael group, here's the link:
http://www.whoirun4.com)

My uncle is a real trooper! I think this is the 4th race he's been to in support of Sandy. Each
one has begun at 0-Dark-Thirty so we'll forgive him if he doesn't appear to be awake just yet.

Jim and Mike...don't ask me what they're up to because I have no idea.

Hi, Andrew--this is for you! We are ALL running for you in VaBeach today--wish us luck!
(I posted this picture via social media to Andrew's mom so he'd know where we were today)



Thanks to the breakfast spread and coffee at the VIP room in the Convention Center, Uncle
Dan is finally waking up.


Gypsy-sighting! Joe Harris made the short trip from DC to be here this weekend.

Sandy looks so fashionable in her new Sweaty Band!

I can't head to the starting corrals without my hug from Joe.


A family affair!


For Sandy it's "Bring-your-Dad-to-Race Day".  To my Dad--and Suzanne--we miss you
this year! Suz, I know you're wishing you were here right this minute but Dad, I know you
may not even be awake by the time we finish so I know you're in your happy place right now.
:-)



Rock'n'Roll Gypsy love!

Finally, a sunrise.

Always one of the most crowded Half Marathons in the RnR Series.


I love my cousin!

I love my sister!


What a good-looking' band of Gypsies.

Carter, you're back from Dublin and the Irish Sea and now enjoying the Atlantic Ocean shores!
(Jim with his ever-present accessories showing support for Carter's Challenge, CMTA and TeamUP)

Potty break at the biker bar, Boneshakers, at mile 6! So far Maria is totally cruising
through her first half marathon.


The 3 of us stuck together for a slow run all the way. Mike has an Ironman Triathlon next
weekend so this was just a casual stroll for him, while my goal was to get Maria across the
finish line without stress or injury. Mission accomplished! 


As soon as I crossed the finished line I was back to work with media.
For some reason our Get Back UP message always seems to resonate with the VaBeach media. I had a radio spot during the local NPR's lunch-hour show before my arrival here and today we got great coverage from TV3 and WAVY-TV. Woo-hoo!!


And the longer story, from which we got many calls asking for more info about Allard's brace, from WAVY-TV News:

Thank you to the media teams in Virginia Beach for continuing to help us share the GetBackUP message! Thanks to you more and more people in the greater Hampton Roads area are finding the technology and support they need to get back to a better quality of life.

And a great day was had by all.
Although I didn't get photos, our entire family--and then later Danielle and David--met at Chick's Oyster Bar & Marina for a fantastic late-day lunch on the water. I didn't get photos of the meal because we were all busy enjoying our meal and loving the wonderful family time.

Chick's has been a favorite spot of ours since my sister first did her law-internship here about 20 years ago...here's the link: http://www.chicksoysterbar.com/index.php

Jim says that next year he's going to be out there while the rest of us are running.

Sunset over Chick's.

Great to see you David and Danielle! Safe travels back to Toronto and we'll look forward to seeing you at the next
stop on the Rock 'n' Roll Tour.

The best treat of the day, as with every year here in VaBeach, is a dip in the Yager's pool post-race. Thanks, Sharon
and John, for always including our family in your celebration and congrats on your 14th consecutive RNR VaBeach
Half Marathon!!!
Ok, so not everyone enjoyed the pool this evening.
:-)
Thanks, Dan, for your wonderful support and company this weekend. I love that I
get to spend so much more time with you now that Sandy's been bitten by the run-bug.

The Half Marathon medal.

The bonus "Super 6" medal for completing 6 RnR events in 2014.

Next stop, (a non-RnR Series run): Michelob ULTRA Half Marathon in 
Boston, MA!!