Wednesday, December 24, 2008

coming back via Kiawah

It's Christmas Eve... the family has congregated at the Franklin, NC homestead. There is a Charlie Brown style tree lit and decorated (my dad cut the top off a fallen evergreen), Sally is making her way through a book of Christmas carol lyrics (well... she's getting the words right, at least), my sister and her boyfriend are playing wii bowling, Granny's chillin' on the couch (no doubt thankful I kidnapped her from Rolling Green Assisted Living).

Granny and I arrived around noon today... and after unloading and catching up with the family, I had to get out for a run. How often can you run in the mountains, on an overcast Christmas eve (58 degrees), in short sleeves & shorts?! It was spectacular.
No, I'm not fully recovered in the clavicle region... but, things are getting better. I even managed a decent race at Kiawah Island (1/2 marathon). With no real prep, I joined 2 of my good girlfriends for a fun weekend at the beach. I told myself to consider the "race" a "Saturday morning long run."

Caralyn, Bea, and I had a blast! We made our way from Greenville to the coast on Friday morning (day before the race)... plenty of time to pick up packets and walk along the beach, then cook dinner and relax. Caralyn's parents have a gorgeous house right on the beach, and we were fortunate enough to stay there for the weekend. Another G'ville couple: Tim & Babs joined our house party late Friday night.

(stepping on the beach - right at sunset)

(Team "blue windbreaker" ready to go)

Race morning provided perfect weather. I saw 75% of the Greenville running community while making my way to the start. I should have known better, but when the gun went off I got excited (too much pent up race energy - after missing many late season tri's)... The course was amazing, my Garmin displayed a pace I had no business trying to hold for 13.1, bongo players added to the excitement at the 1st major turn, I felt good... it felt so good to be running, racing with many familiar faces.

Making our way to the turn around, I saw G-man right behind the lead female (I know I yelled something about him getting "chicked"... fyi, he did end up passing her toward the finish)... I also saw the 2nd place female a short while later. Then, there was one girl right in front of me. Amazing, I was in 4th.

I caught up with the 3rd place girl and we ran together from mile 6 to 9.5 or so. She was great, perfect to run with, and we actually passed comments here and there.

With so many G'ville people in the race... I heard many "Go Ashley's" after making the turn. So many friends yelling, that 3rd place chick laughed and said, "I think I'm going to pretend my name is Ashley." Ha, that was right before leaving me and going ahead.

Great support out there Greenvillians!!!

Then I got to mile 10... in PR time. OUCH. Never again will I go out that hard, under prepared for a race. I was toast and still had a 5K. Normally, that's my favorite time to pick it up... whoa, notsomuch at Kiawah '08. One girl passed me around mile 11... and I had nothing to try and keep up with her. Then, a girl came up on my side and passed: with the finish line in sight! I gave this race my all, finishing 6th (and made some obvious mistakes, from which I learned)... 3rd-6th female only had a 50 second differential.

Not a stellar race... but awesome for many reasons. I love this course, and loved being back in a race! I hope to be back at this one next year.

Now, my friends Bea and Caralyn were doing the marathon (2 loop course). So after getting myself under control, I did a "cool down jog" (I use that term loosely) backwards on the course. I found my girls at mile 11. Bea was already hurting (nursing an IT band problem)... I tried to get her to pull out at the half, but she would hear none of that.

I left them to continue for the second 13.1... and I made my way to the car to change.

The rest of the day was cheering friends in and hanging out at the finish.
Everyone did AWESOME:
Sara, G-man, David, Tim, Caralyn, Bea, Mike, Kerrie, Kyle, Jeni, Jimmy, Brad, and others.

For the rest of the weekend: we celebrated. From a house party stocked with wine and food to an organized group dinner at Shrimpers, to a trip to The Sanctuary (a five star resort on Kiawah). Then, after a coma-like sleep (early race + watching for 4 more hours + party + wine + dinner + more wine) I woke up at the beach. Not ready to leave... I asked Tim and Babs if I could ride back with them later in the day (Caralyn and Bea had to get back to G'ville early).

(At The Sanctuary.... many glasses of wine since finishing the race)

Per Tim's marathon training, he had to get geared up for a 2 hour run. Not wanting any of that action, Babs and I hopped on beach cruising bikes and rode while he ran. It was the perfect way to see the Island. What a neat community. Even in the winter months, this place is magical.

After our jaunt around Kiawah, we packed up and got on the road.
Then, I heard the line that would make this weekend Perfect.... "Ashley would you mind if we stopped at Waffle House for lunch on the way back?"
Had sweeter words ever been spoken? I think not.

A trip to Kiawah Island with 2 fantastic friends.
Staying at an amazing beach house (THANK YOU Mr. and Mrs. Hagy)
Wonderful race and finish.
Fun times at parties and with friends.
Pedaling a cruiser with ocean in sight.
.... and a stop at the 'ole W.H.
Life is good.

Thank you Caralyn and Bea. It was a special weekend - one I'll cherish forever.