Virginia Beach, Virginia
Friday, March 16, 2012 - Monday, March 19, 2012
If there was a 'planning in advance' award as far as races go for Jill and I, this one would win! I actually registered us for the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon in August of 2011, as a birthday present for Jill. Probably one of the most popular full and half marathons on the east coast, outside of the Disney races of course, this one surely fit the bill - so much so, we are already planning on a return in 2013!
We left on Friday morning/mid-day, driving as far as the Philly area where we stopped at Chickie's and Pete's by the stadiums for lunch. From there, we completed the 8 hour drive to Virginia Beach. There's a reason we had never been to this area before, and the drive was it! We made it to Virginia Beach in enough time to hit up the expo before it closed, so that we did. LONG line at the Shamrock store, so this took up a good bit of our expo time. Hit up some of the vendors as well before heading out in search of some dinner. We found Big Sam's Raw Bar and Inlet Cafe, and after a short wait (and a couple beers) found that it was worth that wait! After dinner, we made our way to the hotel - Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront - which was the host hotel for the race (and where I had made reservations the previous August). One issue we found with this hotel, after getting a lay of the land over the weekend, was that it was quite a distance from the start/finish/finish line party. In 2013, the plan is to stay closer to the action.
On Saturday we slept in just a little bit, and then headed out of the hotel. Found a Food Lion to grab some yogurts for breakfast, then headed back to the expo again to hit what we missed the day before. Found that the line in the Shamrock store was even longer today (apparently, this is an issue from year to year). Having our fill of the expo, we went out in search of a cupcake store Jill wanted to find. The Flour Child Bakery is one that Jill follows on Facebook, and prior to opening this bakery the young lady that owns it had a cupcake blog that Jill followed regularly as well. We grabbed up three cupcakes and a shamrock cookie - all were very good! From there we wandered to a mall, the hit up the Firehouse Subs for lunch, then back to Virginia Beach to the lululemon store to wander. With some time to kill, we parked near the Triton statue on the beach, and walked around there for a short bit - pretty cool breeze blowing off of the ocean. Figuring it was St. Patrick's Day and all, and it just didn't seem right to not have at least one libation! We tried going to Murphy's along Pacific Avenue, but it was clearly amature day there, so instead we went to Harpoon Larry's on the advice of a running friend of ours. A couple of beers and a couple of appetizers later, we were satisfied that we adequately honored St. Patrick.
Back to the hotel for a reset, and to figure out dinner. Our first choice for dinner proved to be closed for a private function (on a Saturday night, on the weekend of a major race in town, when everyone would be looking for pasta!), so The Pasta Bowl was checked off the list - for this and any future trips. As luck would have it though, that establishments loss was our gain! We found Salvatore's a short drive away and were very glad we did! There was a bit of a wait, but while we were waiting, the owner (Salvatore maybe?) was there handing out glasses of Prosecco (we had two during our wait); then, when we finally sat, he brought us a free appetizer (bruschetta) as well! The food was just what we were looking for as well - all in all, a great experience and a place that WILL stay on our radar for future trips! A quick stop for something warm and throw away at a Target, then back to the hotel for some sleep.
Sunday morning - race day! We decided to drive and park the car in one of the ramps downtown instead of taking the shuttle. For the most part, this proved to be the right choice. The shuttle stop was quite a ways from the finish line party, and although we had to do some creative navigating to get back to the hotel, it was still worth it having the car closer. The race itself was great. Good, flatish course, well supported with water and Gatorade. There were even three spots where people were giving out beer! Was a great race! At the finish, not only did you get the finisher's medal, but a tech hat and sweatshirt as well. PLUS, there was Irish stew and FOUR beers for every finisher!! Well worth the money!! Jill and I had our post race beers (not all four a piece, but that was only because we had some driving to do!), and then decided to head back to the hotel, shower, get dressed, and check out. We stopped at Harpoon Larry's for some lunch (it was 'okay', but we would probably check out somewhere else next time), and then started to make the drive north.
On Sunday evening, we made it as far as Dover before stopping. We stayed at a Country Inn and Suites, in the shadow of Dover Downs. Monday, early afternoon (after Jill finished a couple of work meetings), we grabbed lunch at La Tonaltec near the hotel before making the rest of the drive home. We arrived home about 6:00 on Monday evening.