(Editorial Note: Jerry & Ann hosted their breakfast finale on June 27, 2015 closing this chapter of Club history)
Reston Runners Changed My Life
I was an empty nester in 1992, alone in my four-bedroom town house in Newbridge Court in Reston – following my separation and a messy divorce.
After 25 years of marriage and three grown children out of the house, I needed to change my lifestyle and I wanted to do new and different things.
When I traveled overseas for work, I ran alone for exercise. I had run two marathons since I got to Washington in 1984 – but I trained alone for those races on the Reston streets and paths. I was a solitary runner.
During my lonely weekend runs in Reston, I saw packs of runners on the streets and noticed, strangely, one petite blond woman usually ran in the middle of the street straddling the lane line. (I never learned why.) Talking and laughing as they ran, they were obviously having fun. I caught up with the group one day and learned how to join the club. Twenty years ago, a phone recording by Sam at “437-FOOT” described where the runs would start each Saturday and Sunday. Now it’s all online.
Joining the running group made an immediate change in my life. I now had an organized activity every weekend. I liked the group. Members were of all ages and all backgrounds.
After running by myself all week, I looked forward to Saturday and Sunday mornings when I would meet and run with interesting and fun-loving people. I soon became a regular at the after-run gatherings. Post-run breakfast table talk was always lively with lots of joking and laughter.
I enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships that developed within the Reston Runners. And I was soon participating and car-pooling to races with other club members around Reston, Herndon, Leesburg, Rockville and Washington and some as far away as the Annapolis 10 miler, Last Train to Boston Marathon at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD, Metric Marathon in Colombia and the Shamrock race in Virginia Beach.
I religiously followed the club’s unchanging Sunday morning Marine Corps training schedule. It was the only marathon most of us ran in those early days. And Connie S faithfully hosted a post-Marine Corps Marathon party. Each year after I reached the finish line at the frigging top of that miserable Marine Corps Memorial hill, I swore I’d never go through that pain again. But at home I soaked my weary body in an epson salts bath and soon couldn’t wait to put on my race tee-shirt and finisher’s medal and rush to Connie’s to brag or give alibis about my run that morning and predict my time for next year’s marathon.
Usually weekend post-run breakfasts were at MacDonald’s, Roy Rogers or Lake Anne Pharmacy luncheonette, depending where the scheduled run was held. Reston Runners usually shared the drug store counter with the local AA group as their meeting broke on Saturday morning just as we runners arrived. Service was deadly slow – but it was the only breakfast action in that part of town.
After a couple of months, I was surprised when the scheduled run was to be at Newbridge Court, where I live. I volunteered to host a breakfast at my home when the next Newbridge Court run was scheduled. My offer was accepted. I was told no one had ever done that before.
Before the start of the next Saturday Newbridge run, I invited everyone there to breakfast at my home. Bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, coffee and more. A hungry crowd of sweaty runners and walkers squeezed in my town house that day. It was a success. They ate everything I put out. And I continued to host breakfast every time a five-mile Newbridge run was scheduled. It became a tradition. The crowd seemed to grow larger with each breakfast. Some club members didn’t run, they just showed up to eat.
“Jerry’s Fabulous Breakfast,” as it came to be called, became ‘an event” for the Reston Runners. I hosted about four or five breakfasts a year. As the tradition continued, I added other foods – trail mixes, dried fruit, cupcakes and delicacies. Once I tried to handle making waffles, by myself, on two machines. Between pouring batter and making fresh pots of coffee, refilling juice pitchers, it got too complicated for me. Batter overflowed, waffles stuck and burned – and it was a tough cleanup. I never did waffles again.
I always set out a dozen or two “Little Miss Debbie’s Swiss Cake Rolls”. It became my trademark. Not only were three pounds of smoked salmon stacked up next to five dozen bagels, three boxes of Philadelphia cream cheese, six different jams and preserves and four types of juices – but the 79 cents box of Miss Debbie’s Rolls were my staple treat. When anyone said, “Uggh!”I explained, “You gotta get your trans fats somewhere!”
 They cost $1.79 a box now.
On one Saturday morning post-run breakfast, I heard one of our runners, Dennis Hays, was about to depart in a few days to begin his assignment as Ambassador to Suriname. I quickly made a hand drawn letter-size bon voyagesign, scotch taped it on the wall, blew up some balloons to make my place festive – and we toasted him.
For my next runners’ breakfast, I drew a six-foot welcome banner to put on my front fence so Reston Runners could find my house when they came from the pool parking lot after the run. I added some lettering to the banner below,”Welcome Reston Runners,” and drew, “Dennis Hays Commemorative Post Run Breakfast.” From then on, I numbered each “commemorative run”.
I left Reston in 2000 for a three-year assignment in Egypt. I understand that in my absence the runners missed the odor of perking coffee at the Newbridge runs but still banged on my door to get in. My son, Steve, never answered the door.
Upon my return in 2004, Newbridge breakfasts resumed with my life partner, Ann B, now assisting and enhancing the offerings. Her specialty is cooking up batches of hot pancakes – with and without chocolate chips – to all comers. A welcome addition to the menu.