The weekend that I ran the 4 Miler was also a fun trip to Lynchburg—after we finished the 4 Miler we had the rest of the weekend to eat delicious food, explore downtown Lynchburg, and hang out with my family and H’s family. Lynchburg is the quintessential small town, so I saw tons of old classmates and family friends at the 10 Miler and 4 Miler. Downtown Lynchburg especially is way cooler than it used to be, so we always have to check out what’s new.
H and I drove to Lynchburg on Friday afternoon, and his mom and stepdad drove down separately. H’s brother was going to run the 4 Miler as well, but at the last minute he couldn’t get away from work. We didn’t get to Lynchburg in time for dinner, but we were there in time to go to bed early in preparation for the race the next day. One of my favorite things about being in Lynchburg is padding downstairs early to drink coffee with my mom before everyone else is awake, so on Saturday morning I woke up a little earlier than I needed to and had coffee with her. I also knew I would feel better during the race if I drank a little bit of coffee and water that morning.
My dad drove H and me to the high school where the race would start, and as we warmed up and made our way to the starting line I started to see people I knew everywhere—we stopped to talk with one of my friends from school and found out that he’s married and has a son already, which is wild! Lots of people who have ties to Lynchburg like me come for the weekend to run the 10 Miler or 4 Miler.
The race is very serious and well organized compared to other races I’ve run. The 10 Miler and 4 Miler participants start separately from the people who are doing the 4 Mile Walk, and there are no baby strollers allowed. They don’t expressly forbid running with headphones in to listen to music, but it’s strongly discouraged—H and his mom decided to listen to music this year, and they said it detracted from their experience since they didn’t feel as connected to the race. Needless to say, no one wears costumes.
Once we started running, I was thinking about the official mile markers but also keeping track of when I would run by a friend’s house and be sure of a familiar face cheering for me. Many of our family friends live along Langhorne Road, and everyone sits outside their houses in lawn chairs to watch the race. My parents, who live along the course, were cheering when I ran by, and my mom was furiously ringing a cowbell that the city sent everyone on our block after an elderly neighbor who had been ringing a cowbell during every 10 Miler since the race started in the 1970s moved into a retirement home.
After the race, I perked up, got myself a tiny paper cup of water, and stood at the finish line to cheer for H and then his mom as they finished the race, although I don’t think they heard me with the headphones in! While I was waiting at the finish line, I also saw a good friend from high school finish the 4 Miler. Neither of us was very athletic in high school, so seeing each other at the 4 Miler was totally unexpected.
H and his mom and I walked back to my parents’ house from the finish line to join the watch party. H’s stepdad was already there with my parents and other friends and neighbors that came over for the race. There were still runners on the course, since the 10 Miler participants double back and run past my parents’ house again, and a few people were still running or walking to finish the 4 Miler finish. Near the end of the race, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece came over as well.
H and I were both ready for some serious carbs after the run, so we showered and headed downtown for brunch at Market at Main, one of my favorite restaurants in Lynchburg. The restaurant is a converted warehouse with beautiful old wood floors, huge rotating ceiling fans, a long wooden counter, and an open kitchen. We sat at the counter and inhaled some well-deserved brunch (chicken and waffles for H, eggs and a biscuit for me). While we were checking out, I started chatting with a group of runners who had done the 10 Miler that morning and turned out to be from Raleigh. They hadn’t run the course before this weekend, so their coach got in early on Friday and drove the course to check it out. I was amazed that people without a connection to Lynchburg came from so far away for the 10 Miler.
For brunch, I wore jeans, a cream-colored camisole with a denim shirt over it (that’s right, double denim), and suede boots. There was still a morning chill in the air, so I was glad I had brought layers. We strolled along the Riverwalk after brunch and stopped in a cute bookstore downtown. Afterwards, we headed back to the house for some rest and quality time with my parents.
Rooftop Happy Hour
H and I lazed around that afternoon (there may have been a nap or two) and then went back downtown to meet his mom and stepdad at the Virginian, the beautifully redone historic hotel where they were staying. I decided my brunch outfit was not going to cut it for Lynchburg’s only rooftop experience, so I changed into the same white eyelet sundress that I wore to dinner on my birthday, gold sandals, tortoiseshell sunglasses, and a denim jacket. Looking back on Saturday, it sounds like a Southern Living travel itinerary—we went to one place for brunch, another for drinks before dinner, and then actual dinner at a different place.
H’s mom and stepdad were going to meet us at the Skyline Grill, the rooftop bar at the hotel, so we staked out a table and had a glass of prosecco while we waited. We had an amazing view of the series of hills that make up downtown Lynchburg, especially Monument Terrace, the historic Courthouse, and Church Street. The day had gotten significantly warmer since the race that morning and the rooftop was bright and sunny, so I needed my sunglasses but not the jacket.
H’s mom and stepdad joined us and we enjoyed talking about Lynchburg and the race until it was time for us to meet my parents and my brother and his family at Isabella’s, our favorite Italian restaurant. We had one of the big tables in the back of the restaurant (unlike Easter, when I forgot to make a reservation until the day of and we had to sit at the bar). The food was delicious, and it was fun to get everyone together. Going to Isabella’s together the weekend of the 4 Miler might be a new family tradition!
H and I went to church with my parents and then got straight in the car to drive home. I wore a dark floral dress with the same denim jacket and suede boots from brunch the day before to be comfortable during the car ride. We left Lynchburg in time to make it to Bodo’s, the best bagel place, for a late lunch in Charlottesville on our way home.
I saw so many old friends, albeit briefly, during the 4 Miler and 10 Miler that it was almost like a high school reunion. H and I also had a great time Saturday hanging out downtown with his family and my family. This weekend was the perfect ending to a busy September.
Where is your favorite place you’ve gone for a race? Have you ever been to Lynchburg? Let me know in the comments!