What started off as an innocent suggestion by my friend Lashell (in September 2016) to run the Adams County Half/Full Marathon in 2017, snowballed into a lobstah and hill-fueled race-cation full of shenanigans in the easternmost point of the US this past June with our ‘#LubecPartyOfThree.’ A girl’s getaway to allow the three of us – who have spent countless hours of messaging each other online but much less time face-to-face interactions due to our locations of Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Grand Cayman – the chance to run, share some hugs, make memories and just enjoy a little break from the challenges we were each experiencing in our own lives. This weekend was meant to be all about the bonding and the experience, and after a couple weeks of much reflection on the adventures, I can with confidence say that the purpose was achieved. And it left us wanting more, to be honest. More of the place, more of the weekend, more of time in each other’s company.
I look back at our messages (both private and on Facebook) in the week following our trip, and we just went to town remembering the laughs and the emotions that came about in our group. We balance each other in some unique ways;I loved getting to know more intimately these friends who inspire me as a person and as a runner. I’m very blessed to have them in my life; at this point, I don’t really remember a time when we weren’t a little trio, planning an adventure in Maine. Funny how that happens.
Without further ado, here is what has been simmering in my mind since the Bay of Fundy International Marathon weekend. It’s not going to be a perfect recount, but I hope it helps you see what a gift this weekend experience was. (For a full race report for the Bay of Fundy International Marathon, please click here.)
Meet the trio
Lashell – a sassy southerner who has the BEST accent. Lashell was having a rough spring race season that was plagued with a nagging calf issue. She somehow still ended up running her first back to back half marathons on two consecutive days in March. Lashell wasn’t sure how things would go on this hilly course, and in the end, she had her best race of the season. Lashell also likes to take pictures and was on top of our hair dryer situation on this trip.
Sharon – Sharon and I share the fun fact that the first marathon for each of us was the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon and we are both from the same area in Maryland (originally). We didn’t meet up during that race, unfortunately, but we had our long delayed meeting at the Chicago Marathon (2016) and then again at Richmond a month later. Sharon loves horses, and she has a way of finding small things – such as a slightly raised hearth – to trip over. Sharon, also lovingly known as ‘Sharo’ ran such an incredible race on this challenging course that she placed fifth in her age group.
Robyn (me) – I think you all know me by now. I’m Marathon Maniac #12339, and I have now completed 14 marathons. As Lashell and Sharon found out (as did the people at the Fairfield Inn Portland Maine Mall), I do a lot of online shopping before a trip (six packages at the hotel plus what Lashell and Sharon each hauled for me from their houses – I owe you guys one). And I definitely enjoy my craft beer. It was only fitting that I had to run the full 26.2 mi after dragging these ladies into a difficult race with me. Lashell made her feelings on the matter quite clear in this photo (left).
Selecting the race
Initially we all planned to ‘run with the Amish’ in September 2017 at the Adam’s County Marathon (Ohio). Until they announced that the race wouldn’t happen after 2016. In looking at alternates, I suggested Bay of Fundy Marathon. Somehow the elevation profile was not looked at in advance. Well, I kind of knew it was hilly, but I didn’t say anything because I knew it would be a beautiful course. Maine in summer is breathtaking. At some point in our discussions, this one was agreed on as a ‘good fit’ for us – timing was perfect, it was a new location for all of us, and it offered both a half and a full option (and an ultra option, but no one in our group took them up on that). When registration opened, we jumped to action as we knew there was a max of 350 for each distance. Then we booked our cabin and flights, and we were committed.
The lobster dinner also was a selling point.
Laughs we shared
Lashell and I actually had the same flight from Atlanta to Portland, so we got a little jump on the laughs, which didn’t end until we were all home the following week. From that first late night (hello midnight arrival time) when we stayed up chatting like kids at a sleepover party to shopping the next day (Friday) and seeing the Port-Con attendees in full dress (of course we got our photo with them!), to lunch at the airport with our very ‘friendly’ waiter who intentionally squirted ketchup all over the counter as he so eloquently showed Lashell how the new ketchup bottle worked (he was a jerk, in case you couldn’t read my sarcasm), and then Sharon’s arrival, where we almost paged her on the loud speaker (but we were laughing too hard to go up and ask the woman to do it for us) and then took 10 minutes to try and get our first selfie of the weekend. This was all before leaving the airport.
It got funnier. At least to us. Sharon was our official driver for the weekend (bless her, as Lashell and I both have tendencies to get car sick), and we really enjoyed the roomy feel she gave to the car. After two hours on the road, we stopped for dinner in Bangor, and I insisted upon a stop at the police station (I follow their well known Facebook page). Sharon was getting uncomfortable with the situation as we made our second loop around the police station before finally chatting with an officer – who by the way was NOT concerned about our stalking. We apparently aren’t the kind of people they worry about. Perhaps they should reevaluate.
After dinner, we continued on. The closer we got to Lubec, the foggier it got, to the point where we could barely see 20 feet in front of the car. Sharon did an ace job of driving, by the way. Shortly after midnight, we made it to the road that lead to our cabin rental. We couldn’t see through the fog. The road was more of a gravel ‘suggestion’ of a road. So we drove there in our non off-road vehicle, arriving at a gate. Someone had to get out and try for the key. Oh, did I mention it was sprinkling at this time? Someone, possibly me, started humming the ‘Dueling Banjos’ song, and Sharon jumped out to open the gate and get the key for the house. The gate was really just a metal bar going across the ‘road’ and as we continued toward the cabin, Lashell started asking things like, ‘do we know if this place even has electricity?’ I truthfully had to say that I hoped so, because this just seemed so far back from anything that might have electricity.
Then the car lights had a small structure in sight, which someone piped up ‘I hope that’s not it.’ Turns out it was the shed. The cabin was just beyond it. We parked (keeping the car headlights on because it was DARK) and started to gather our things. Some references to horror movies were made as in the fog, we still could see very little, and we were all a bit punchy at that point. With bags in hand, we got to the porch when Lashell said, ‘ wouldn’t it be just perfect if there was an ax somewhere.’
Be careful what you put out into the universe.
Because next to the door was an ax. This had us all dissolving into laughter as we entered what was an awesome cabin – our home for the next three nights. The name of it was ‘Haven of Rest’ but given our arrival in the rain and seriously dense fog, we lovingly referred to it as ‘Haven of Final Rest’. Our evening came to a close once we each found our bedrooms and got settled in for sleep. And yes, we had electricity.
I won’t bore you with anything else here, but do feel free to ask any of us to elaborate on any of the following – and much more. We may laugh a little bit in the telling, and it might not sound as funny when you hear it from us. (I have a feeling that many of these things are of the ‘you had to be there’ variety.)
Our 5K run the day before the race, where us in the back had no idea where we were going (and the organizers, who were clearly local) didn’t check to make sure we could see them. We almost ended up running a much longer route.
- The ornament gift I gave to each of them (they in turn gave me lovely, inspirational gifts; I however, went for the laughter inducing gift)
- How to spot a woman from Maine
- The cat shelter
- A random guy on the bus who told Sharon he was going to beat her in the race, not once but twice
- Cyclists who (don’t) love Trump
- Angela at the Campobello Gift Store and the smallest graduating class of Campobello Island
- Lunch at Etna Village Variety
As you can see, we had a lot of fun. So many things made us laugh that weekend – and whether they were truly funny or just us embracing and enjoying the gift of time together, we certainly made the most of it.
Lessons we learned
Step out of your comfort zone – Sometimes we just play things too safe. But how do we ever really know how to grow if we don’t take risks? I’m happy that all of us took risks on this trip – from trying new foods to running without a Garmin (shout out to Lashell for the last minute adjustment) to slowing down and being OK with a much slower run. Sometimes the comfort zone is pushing limits in one direction; sometimes it’s pushing it in another direction.
Hills are just a temporary obstacle – No one could say that course was comfortable, not with all those hills. However, at some point, you reach the pinnacle of a hill – or you finish your run on the course, and the hills stop all together. In life, almost any situation really is just a ‘hill’. Of course, some hills are steeper or longer than others, and they can wear you out more quickly. But when you have people supporting and encouraging you – or better yet, travelling with you, you never have to go it alone.
Slow down and smell the lupine – We always seem to be in a rush to get somewhere to achieve something that many times, enjoying the process is overlooked. I know I had the humbling lesson of needing to really slow down (to one of my slowest marathon times by a long shot). It could have been a disaster for me as an experience because of this, but when I slowed down and joined forces with someone else, I took time to really chat with another runner about so many things. We laughed a lot, we talked about our favourite races, we took time to make the most out of a difficult course. I fully know that if I had high expectations and wasn’t prepared to enjoy this run, I would have been miserable for a good 14-15 miles of the race. Thankfully, I realized early on that it was going to be a good thing to slow down and soak in the experience to really appreciate my time in Maine.
We’re all just a little too hard on ourselves – It seems that we are our own worst task masters and critics. Our friends may be the best people to help us take a deep breath and realize it’s ok to fall short of a goal. That the way we see ourselves is very different from how others see us. And that the people who love us won’t think anything less of us if we are actually human. Maybe it’s time to ease up on ourselves, just a bit.
Never say never – So at our dinner the night of the race, we all sat at a small family style restaurant in Campobello Island (BYOB, in case you wanted to know), and we ALL said that we would never come back to this race again. Never. It was crazy hard. I immortalized those words with a reply to a Facebook post.
The next morning (Monday), as we drove back towards Portland, all three of us fessed up to the fact that we thought it over during the night, and something about this race was drawing us each back for a return attempt. Chalk it up to unfinished business on my part, or a passion for enjoying such fantastic small town hospitality, or maybe just the medal really is that cool (it is, trust us), but all three of us have decided we want to do this one again. The question was posed, ‘what is wrong with us?’ as part of the discussion, so don’t think we didn’t recognize our own crazy. But we ended our time together trying to figure out which year we would all likely be able to return.
A few days after this trip ended, posted to my Facebook wall was a screen shot of this online interaction (below) Because Lashell is that kind of friend. Just ask Keith, Ken, Pam, Julie, …
Rest assured, Lashell will be running this race with me again. I will not let her get out of it. She also said she would do it again. Sharon is my witness.
Before this weekend even arrived on the calendar, we had all already committed to running in the Baltimore Running Festival (October 21, 2017) and we will all be at the Richmond race weekend (November 11, 2017). Lashell and I will also be taking on Kiawah together in mid-December, and are still optimistic that we can convince Sharon to join us. You can bet that we will be planning another weekend like this together in 2018. Because that kind of soul-filling and refreshing time with your girlfriends is priceless. And sometimes, it’s just what you need to balance everything else life throws your way. So stay tuned for our upcoming adventures. They are sure to be a continuation of #LubecPartyOfThree.
Our weekend was at its core a friendship building experience. We just happened to run as part of the getaway. Each of us came there with our own goals and expectations, and we each left with our own reflections and memories. Yet all of these are inextricably linked. We shared a weekend together…and so much more.
I’ve seen a lot of people use the words ‘sole sister’ when referring to someone with whom they share a friendship and bond in running. I threw that word around a few times, but I can honestly say that these two women showed me the best definition of that word. People who let you guide them to a crazy race. People who wait almost two hours for you at the finish line (in alternating high temps and chilly breezes). And people who open up and share – and let you share – all manor of thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, laughs, insecurities, accomplishments and tears. If for some reason we never have the chance to do this type of adventure again with each other, I have been enriched beyond words by our time together.
Thank you to my sole sisters, Lashell and Sharo. Running has given me many things, but friendships like what I have with you are the most treasured.
Have you done a race-cation with friends? What are some of your best memories? Lessons? Laughs? When is your next one? Or where should our little group consider for a future outing (assuming the police department hasn’t already been warned about us…)?