Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shamrock Marathon 2015 - Marathon #8

or how I PR'd when I didn't train to!

I signed up for Virginia Beach's Shamrock Marathon last fall as soon as I realized that it FINALLY fell on a weekend that I don't work.  I even talked my best running friend to sign up too. I had a plan to train to PR. Then I got a stress fracture in my right foot after Wineglass and after much discussion with Coach Heather, decided to train to make it to the start line healthy. As a result, I trained very conservatively. I mean, when I started my training cycle my longest run in 2 months was 4 miles.This has been a bucket list race for me.  I have a history of repeating the same race over and over again.  Seriously.  I had 7 marathons in the bank from 3 races.  I was ready for something new and just plain fun.

March 22, 2015...beautiful!
Fun is what I got! We left early Friday morning in a snowstorm and a 7 hour trip turned into 12...which sucked in so many ways. But we finally made to to snowless Virginia Beach.  I get the hotel booking award for finding a hotel that could not have been more perfect.  I left my room at 8:12am for an 8:30am start with time to spare.  Never ever has marathon morning been easier.

Virginia Beach is every bit as kitsy as you'd imagine but I didn't care.  It was a lovely snow-free paradise.  We hit the hotel bar for drinks and a snack and were in bed early.  We woke up to the sounds of the 8K going past our hotel window on the boardwalk.  I got up to see what was going on and saw all the frontrunners go by! They were smokin' fast! I decided to go harness some race mojo and we got changed to run a shakeout.  I ran an easy 2 mile shakeout along the boardwalk in the opposite direction of the 8k race. We then changed and hit the expo where Trail Buddy renewed her friendship with Bart Yasso and I got some race course advice from him! What a great guy!

Race morning I was up early but headed downstairs to the hotel breakfast for a leisurely meal and chat with fellow runners.  I still had no idea how the day would pan out.  Coach Heather had given me 2 race plan options but both were based on simply trying to break 4:30.  I had only had one 16 mile run that went well and I wasn't really sure what I could pull off.  At the last second I decided to go with the negative split to see if I could do it but overall I just wanted to have fun in the race and enjoy it.  I started out in Corral 3, said goodbye to Trail Buddy and put on my game face.  When I crossed the start line I just went with the flow and what felt easy.  Just keeping it easy as much as possible....there were a lot of miles in front of me. The energy was fierce! So many spectators and volunteers cheering us on! It was great! The first out and back brought us out over a bridge, past a residential area and the aquarium and then through Camp Pendleton where so many soldiers were out to man water stations and cheer us on! It was fantastic!

10K 1:02:47

By the time we got back to the main strip
we were at mile 12 and we got to channel a ton of the energy of the half marathoners crossing the finish line! So awesome! I reached the half feeling stronger than I anticipated.  I decided to just keep plodding along and see what happened.

13.1: 2:10:49 (Much faster than I had planned!) Feeling good.

We headed south now...opposite the last of the half marathoners who were walking it in for the most part.  I tried to cheer them on as best I could.  Suddenly I see the winner coming at me and wouldn't you know, it was Brian Morseman from my hometown! Woohoo for the hometown boy!If that doesn't bring a spring to your step I don't know what will!

Just letting the hammer down now and going for it as long as my body will allow. Bart (yeah we're on a first name basis ;)) told me that wind was coming around 19 so I just figured I would continue to give it as much as I could and see what happened. The stretch out to Fort Story is very slightly up along a long lonely road. It would have been easy to back off....especially when I could feel the first twinges of my knee and then my quad (wtf?!?) starting to burn like crazy. But then I turned into Fort Story and the wind wasn't that bad.

19.3: 3:13:57

In the pain cave knowing a PR is close!
Just before I passed the lighthouse I saw Team Hoyt. What an inspiration! How could I back off? I was really starting to hurt and I did log a couple slower miles but I just tried to push through as much as I could.  As we entered town again the crowds picked up again. I got a lot of support along the last hard 3 miles. People would count down the blocks til we turned to the boardwalk. At this point I knew it would be close but a PR was possible. Then my music died. Almost stopped to figure it out. Told myself I'd be mad if I missed a PR because of it. Off with the earbuds and kept burning the legs as best as I could. I turned the corner to the boardwalk and wouldn't you know it, there was Trail Buddy waiting for me! I gasped that a PR was close and she told me to just GO! And go I did down the longest finish sprint I've ever done. It looked so close. It wasn't. I crossed the line doing an 8 something pace and seriously considered just collapsing into the arms of a medical volunteer.

Finish: 4:23:42
(My Garmin logged my @ 26.41 miles which is a 9:59 pace! My first sub-10 marathon!!!!)

At first I thought I had an 11 second PR. I  looked it up. It was 2 seconds. Seriously. 2 seconds. If anyone ever tells you seconds don't count in a marathon I'm here to say they're wrong. Most fun, most unexpected PR. So very satisfying.

Trail buddy came in behind me and we collected our medals and then the awesome finisher hats and beach towels! Great SWAG!!!! Then it was photos and the best beach party and beer I've ever had. I wasn't sure that 4 free beer was the recovery drink of choice but let me tell you that 3 slid down mighty easily. 

#8 is in the bank. I am seriously considering going back next year to complete the Whale Challenge. So. Much. Fun.