A Belated Race Report: Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon

Last Sunday, I ran my eighth half marathon–the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

We came up on this on the beach near the finish line area the day before the race just as the guy was putting the finishing touches on it.

I’ll just cut to the chase.  While I did PR with a time of 2:13:20, I did not have the race or the outcome I had so hoped for.  So that’s how the story ended.  Now let’s start at the beginning.

It was a long haul from West TN to Virginia Beach.  I was pulling out of the driveway at 6:15 Friday morning, and D pulled us into the parking lot of the hotel almost exactly 15 hours later.  (We split the driving in half–5 hours me, 5 hours D, 2.5 me, 2.5 D.  That helped break it up some.)  We did nothing that night but check in and hit the hay.

The next morning I woke up and hopped in the shower because we had plans to meet Michele and her family at the expo as soon as it opened at 10:00.  When I got out of the shower, I could hear all kinds of hootin’ and hollerin’ outside.  I got dressed and stepped out on the balcony to find this going on right outside our hotel.

It was the 8K!  I had no idea it was running past our hotel or I would have been down there cheering them on!

So then we headed to the expo.  I’ll tell ya, the Days Inn we stayed in might not be fancy, but it was in the perfect location.  Ocean view, right on the strip and boardwalk, and within walking distance to everything–expo included.  We walked just a tad over a mile to the convention center and we were some of the first ones there.

No wait line for the packets, no waiting at the Solutions desk (so I could change corrals so that me and Michele could start together), and easy maneuvering around the booths.  Perfect!  I was super glad we got there early because by the time we left over an hour later, the crowds had already started filing in and things were starting to get tight.

The rest of the day was spent just knocking around the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.  Among other things, we walked down to the boardwalk to scope out the finish area.

They had already set out the food, water, and finishers’ hats and hoodies.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the hotel, get everything ready for the next morning, and turn in.

The outfit!

With the Irish mani as the final touch. 🙂

Five a.m. came way too fast, but it was just enough time to get up, get dressed, and walk to the corral for a 7:00 am start.

I fired my photographer.  He took this at the start and didn’t even get one at the finish.  Many thanks to Brightroom for the only proof that I was at this race.

Eventually corral 3 crossed the start line, and we were off.  The first couple miles felt effortless, and we kept having to reign ourselves in to keep from running too fast.  However, that feeling didn’t last.  Just to put it bluntly, that flat course beat the living shit out of me.  The course’s elevation chart showed that there was an ever-so-slight uphill grade for the first half and then back down the last half.  Well, damn, that first half I was thinking, “Man, I didn’t think I’d feel that slight of a grade!  If I feel it going uphill, I’ll be coasting downhill to the finish!”  NOT. THE. CASE.  I never once felt a downhill grade.  I guess after you run on flat for so long, it all starts to feel like an uphill battle.

We did fantastic for the first 8 miles.  At the water stop at about mile 8, we walked for just a minute to get something to drink and for Michele to grab her Chomps.  (I had been fueling with Shot Bloks as we went along.)  When we picked back up and started running again, we were still at a 10:01 average pace–dead on for my 2:10 finish goal.  And then from that point on, I watched it slip farther and farther away.  We never got our rhythm back. We ended up separating at mile 9.  Michele wanted to stop and walk again, but I was still hoping I could find my groove and recover.  (Remember, Michele is coming back from injury.  She had been running a max of 4 miles, then ran 9 once the week before the race.  So a huge KUDOS to her 2:18 UNTRAINED finish!)  Well, I never did find my groove.  I couldn’t get my pace back down to save my life.  My legs were toast.  My hammies and hips were desperately begging for a hill that never came.  I walked for a minute or so at miles 10, 11, 12, and even for 30 seconds at mile 12.6.  Right after that, we turned onto the boardwalk for the final stretch to the finish.  It was painful, but I picked it up to a sub 9:00 min/mile for that last half mile to finish in 2:13:20.

Note to self:  ALWAYS WEAR SUNGLASSES.  They go a long way in hiding pain.

So relieved to be done!
So, to sum it up, If I may steal a page from Adam’s book, while what I had hoped for was this,

what I ended up with looked more like this.

Quick, somebody call Guinness!  It’s the World’s Worst Race Photo EVER!  Even sunglasses couldn’t have saved this one.  It seriously deserves an award.  The fact that I’m even sharing it says a lot about my self-deprecating sense of humor.

So there you have it.  Overall the weekend was unbeatable.  I had a wonderful time with my husband and our friends, relaxed on the boardwalk and the beach (if only it had warmed up about 20 degrees after the race!), did a little shopping, and just had a glorious weekend away.  But if I’m being honest?  The race in itself?  Meh.  Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and all.  Great volunteers, great schwag, very organized… I just didn’t find that it lived up to all the hype.  The course was nothing spectacular, the spectatorship was spotty at best… I guess I just had it built up in my head to be something it wasn’t.  Maybe I’m just getting too old?  haha  I tried to take a nap after the race, but our hotel was too close to the finish line party.  I couldn’t sleep for the music.  So I figured, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  I had planned to after a nap anyway.  We just headed down earlier than I’d planned.  I really wanted to enjoy the post-race festivities, but the Yuengling just did not sit well on my belly.  Every racer was entitled to four free beers, and I ended up tossing mine before I made it through the first one.  If that’s not a sign of old age, I don’t know what is! Or dehydration.  Or exhaustion.  Whatever.

Me, sporting all my finisher schwag.

So HM No. 8 is in the books, and I have one more shot at my goal this spring–April 21st.  I can only hope that it isn’t 90 degrees by then.  The way this spring has been going so far, I wouldn’t bet against it!

A Packed Calendar

If anyone is looking to run a race in West TN, right now seems like the time to do it.  I’m completely bumfuzzled by the number of races going on around here in the next few weeks!  I want to do so many, but my poor legs and my poor checking account just can’t handle them all.

Since I’m racing out of town this weekend and obviously won’t be racing the following weekend either, let’s just start with the last week in March, shall we?

3/31 – I had been having a super hard time deciding what to do this day.  There are two half-marathons locally.  One in Clarksville and one in Jackson.  I’ve done them both before, and they are both excellent races.  And that would give me three half marathons in March, which I thought was pretty cool.  But there is also an 8K here in town that day.  I have never run an 8K before, so I had just about decided on that.  It’s closer and it’s cheaper.  But then today at work I was informed that my clerk will be unavailable to work that day.  So it looks like I’ll be slinging mail instead of pounding pavement.  I could have been the asshole boss that says, “No, you can’t have off!”  But this guy’s family time is more important than my race calendar.  I’m just a nice guy like that.

4/7 – Relay for Life 5K.  Since I don’t really feel like my last 5K is indicative of my training (nevermind the fact that it was a short course), I’d really like to do this one to see how it goes down.

4/14 – Fantastic Four 4-miler.  There’s nothing really special about this race other than it’s cheap, it’s local, and I haven’t raced a 4-miler since 2010.  So that PR is dated to the point that I’m running every 4-mile training run now at a faster pace than my two-year-old race pace.  I’d like to update that PR.

4/21 – Murray Half Marathon or Hushpuppy Dash 5K.  I ran the inaugural Murray Half Marathon last spring.  Until last weekend, it was my PR course.  I loved the course, loved the support, loved the field size, loved the fact that it’s local, loved the relatively cheap entry fee, loved everything about it!  And now I’m really thinking I’ll do this one since the 3/31 half marathon has been taken off the table for sure.  Although I hate to miss out on the Hushpuppy Dash 5K AGAIN!  If you’re not from around these parts, you won’t realize what a HUGE EFFING DEAL the World’s Biggest Fish Fry is.  Redneck?  Yes.  But nevertheless, a huge effing deal.  The 5K serves as sort of the kickoff to the week’s festivities, but I’ve had to miss it for one reason or another every year.  I probably won’t make the final decision on this one (another bonus of smaller local races:  no fear of them selling out) until the last minute.  Or at least until I see what happens at the Relay for Life 5K.

4/28 – Country Music Marathon – Okay, so I was never even contemplating that one this year, but it’s still out there as an option for some people.  Just not me this year.  🙂  I’ll be in Nashville that day but nowhere near downtown.

5/4 – Midnight Madness 5K – I’m not planning on doing this one either.  I’m just including it because I would seriously be considering it if I weren’t otherwise engaged.  A midnight 5K just sounds like fun!

5/12 – Now THIS one I’m doing FOR SURE!  It’s Pam vs. the Strawberry Festival 10K round 2.  I missed my one-hour goal by 34 seconds last year.  This year is my rematch.  Unless I fall and break a hip during the race (which, let’s face it, when you’re as clutzy as I am, is ALWAYS a possibility), there is no way I’m not beating that goal this year.

This seriously isn’t even a third of what’s out there.  These are only the ones that I would like to do.  After mid-May it starts tapering off because HELLO it’s Tennessee and it’s HOT in the summer!

Now that I’ve got it whittled down to these few that I’d LIKE to do, I’ve just got to decide on which ones I’m GOING to do.

Easier said than done.  If only my social calendar were this packed.

One Week!!!

Exactly one week from today, I will be sporting this medal

Do YOU have a race medal that doubles as a bottle opener?

(hopefully with a new PR that is just as shiny and awesome) and partying it up on the sands of Virginia Beach.  To say I’m excited about this race is an enormous understatement.

  • It’s a weekend away for the hubby and me.
  • It’s on the beach!
  • I’m running with the most awesome friend and running partner a girl could ask for.
  • We are both UNINJURED and HEALTHY!  (Although her goal of a sub-2 has been put on the back burner until the fall because she is just coming back from a knee injury after the Richmond half.)
  • The after party.
  • SOOOOOOO many more reasons!
I just keep looking through their Facebook page  getting more and more excited.  Shoot, I’ve already got most of my clothes and my race bag laid out.  It’s ridiculous, really, for a grown person to get this excited about dressing in green and running.  But I have no shame!  BRING IT ON!!!

Race Report: Little Rock Half Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Little Rock Half Marathon, which made half marathon #7 (and state #4 if anyone is counting) for me!

I left Saturday morning at 7:00, drove an hour and a half to pick up Mom, and we were back on road by 8:45.  We arrived in Cabot where her BFF lives at about 12:30, picked her up at her house, grabbed a quick lunch out, and headed into Little Rock for packet pickup.  The process was very efficient.  I grabbed my shirt and bib very quickly, and then we just wandered around the expo for a little bit.  It was Mom’s first expo, and she was just amazed at all the running-related stuff!  I didn’t buy anything (except some Shot Bloks and a GU), but I found this and I wanted it soooooo bad!  Except this was just a sticker.  I wanted the magnet for my truck (because I’m classy like that), but they were sold out!  All the other hoes beat me to them.  Mom was not upset by the fact that her daughter would not be sporting this sticker.

We headed back to Cabot, hung out around the house for a while then out to eat at a FANTASTIC mom ‘n’ pop Italian joint.  Too bad I can’t remember the name of it because I would totally recommend it!  I ate my weight in spaghetti marinara and bread.  After spending so many hours in a vehicle and then gorging myself on food, by 8:30 I could barely keep my eyes open, so I was in bed super early on race eve.  I wish I could say I slept well, but I didn’t sleep for crap.  My Tempurpedic mattress has ruined me for all other mattresses.  I woke up several times through the night, but eventually 5:30 came and it was go time.
The race started at 8:00, and we were actually running ahead of schedule.  We were in Little Rock by 7:15.  Since we weren’t sure how long it would take to find a parking place or how far away it would be, Mom and J dropped me off a couple of blocks from the start line and then went to park.  I hadn’t planned on standing in the corral for 45 minutes, so I hadn’t brought any throw-away clothes, so it was pretty nipply!  Temp when I got out of the car was 36.  As long as I stood in the sun I was okay though.
(Side note:  I met the most interesting woman in the starting area!  She has already run a marathon in all 50 states and this year is running one in Africa and Asia to finish up all seven continents!)
Finally 8:00 came and Corral A was turned loose.  I was in the open corral, so I was in the back.  As I was walking up to the mat, I caught sight of Mom and J.
The first mile was pretty congested.  There were times that I actually walked in that first mile because I just didn’t have anywhere to go.  But that was fine by me.  This was a training run, remember?
I sincerely wish that I could remember details of races when I run them, but I just don’t.  I couldn’t tell what you what I ran past, where we went, what I saw… When we got back to J’s house afterwards, her husband was asking me if I ran past this or if I ran past that… I had no idea.  Observation is not my strong suit.
So yeah, like I said, my goal for this race was to run it as a training run for the upcoming Shamrock half in two weeks.  I had absolutely no intentions of racing this race.  And now?  Now I kind of wish I had.  Had I known then what I know now, I WOULD have.  I don’t know if it was the fact that it was a race, the weather, my kickass playlist, the pre-race nutrition, or what, but I was just FEELING it, man.  I was just clipping right along, never feeling like I was pushing out of my comfort zone (okay, that’s a lie, there were a couple of hills that kind of got me), walked through SEVERAL water stops (it warmed up quickly to the mid-50s by the time I finished, and I was working up a pretty good sweat.), and I still ended up with this.

An accidental PR!

Garmin stats 13.27 miles in 2:14:22 for a 10:08 pace/Official stats 13.1 miles in 2:14:22 for a 10:16 pace.
Considering that I didn’t race and ran a 10:08 on a course that looked like this
and finished strong like this
I’m feeling oh-so-confident that I can run <10:00 at Shamrock, which looks like this.
But this report is about Little Rock!  We’ll talk about Shamrock in two weeks.
So about Little Rock… even though I suck at remembering the course, everything that I do remember about the entire experience was fantastic.  It was SO well organized.  The spectators and community support were like no other.  The course support was perfect.  More than enough hydration stations offering both water and Gatorade(?).  I loved the smaller field size (around 4,000 half plus about the same number of full marathoners, I think.).  Even though it was pretty hilly for the last half, it seemed to be just the right combination of up and down.  There was quite seriously not one single thing I could suggest to improve the race, and I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone and everyone.  I will most certainly be doing it again in the future.  And they had the coolest medal ever!
The “0” in the year is a spinning disco ball!  How freaking cool is that?!
And now you can feel free to close this screen because the rest of this is gonna be stuff that won’t be interesting to anyone else, but I want to make notes of it for my own future reference!
Prerace nutrition:  High carb, lowish fiber
Breakfast:  Caramel almond butter on whole wheat toast
Lunch:  PB/honey/banana on whole wheat bread with strawberries
Dinner:  Three slices of Papa Johns tomato/black olives/bell pepper pizza
No alcohol
Breakfast:  Cascadia Farms cinnamon raisin granola with soy milk
Snack:  Blueberry crisp Clif bar
Lunch:  Burger King veggie burger and fries
Dinner:  Spaghetti marinara and bread
One glass of moscato
More peanut M&Ms than I care to admit to throughout the day
Breakfast:  Cascadia Farms cinnamon raisin granola with dairy milk
30 min prerace:  5-hr energy drink
15 min prerace:  Espresso GU
Clif black cherry Shot Blok at miles 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, and 12
The most awesome, most random playlist ever: