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.
|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!|
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!