RR: Shamrock Marathon

In a very last minute decision I decided to run the Shamrock marathon. I needed to get out of Pittsburgh and Isaac, Michelle and Mike made the stars align. I’ve never run two marathons twelve days apart so I didn’t have any goals. The course was flat and the weather was supposed to be perfect; I just wanted to have fun.

Pre-Race

I split from Shell, Ike and Rob who are running the half. I hang out in the lobby of Craig’s hotel so that he can get some extra sleep and I watch the sun rise over the water while making friends with the runners. I head up to Craig’s room about a half hour before start to see that Mike and Irene have just arrived. Craig offers me a pair of throwaway gloves and a throwaway hat which I am enormously thankful for since the beach start is going to be colder than the Antarctica start.

Craig and I before the start.

Race

The gun went off so quickly my Garmin didn’t have time to find the satellites. It can’t take more than a minute to cross the start and the crowd is thankfully thin. In the first half mile I meet Scott, a Marine from Maryland who I run with for the first 10 miles. In contrast to MCM there are very few spectators and the hotels aren’t very inspiring. Through mile 5 there isn’t anything too interesting until the lead runners start to pass us after their turn-around. I see Mike, a fellow Antarctica runner (he finished fourth overall) and scream and cheer for him like a madwoman.  Shortly after, I see Jerry and Craig and exchange high fives. I’m keeping up a pretty solid 9:45 pace and I keep feeling like I should reign myself in. We turn into Camp Pendelton and there is no way I can reign myself in. The soldiers are out in force, and there were times when I high-fived so many soldiers that it actually slowed me down. They are cheering and chanting and it was my favorite part of the course. There was so much energy it was just incredible.

We head towards the boardwalk and Scott runs ahead as I slow down. It’s only mile 10 and I’m discouraged that my pace is already starting to lag. The loss of my marathon buddy, the absence of spectators and doubt about running 2 marathons in 12 days begins to creep in. Ok, it doesn’t creep, it smacks me in the face. I’m considering pulling out of the race at the half, but at mile 12 I see Mike and Irene and they look so happy that I just can’t quit. I tell myself I’ll run to mile 15 when I can stop to take my inhaler (I’m starting to wheeze a bit) and eat a bit of a granola bar.

At this point the winners are finishing the final miles and it is inspiring to see such athleticism. There are a few more spectators and it is starting to warm up to be a spectacular day. As I walk, I try to eat my granola bar, but can’t stomach it. Every pea-sized nibble is a fight to keep down. I’m a bit demoralized but I cheer for the halfathon walkers, the marathon leaders, thank the volunteers, and encourage the spectators. As we head into Fort Story I am cranky and bored. Around mile 17 I (gasp) begin to listen to my iPod. I am very anti-iPod for races because I feel like it detracts from the experience. However, the way things are going, I’m willing to make a concession. The iPod is incredible in that I start running more than walking and by mile 20 I have a second wind. Around this time I realize that the 4:30 pace group hasn’t yet passed me. In my first marathon, I lost the 4:30 pace group at mile 20 and in my second marathon, the 4:30 pace group passed me at mile 20. I can hear them behind me but have a new goal of holding them off until mile 21. Mission accomplished.

I feel strong. It feels odd to feel so strong. Around mile 23 we rejoin spectators and volunteers. I’m cracking jokes with everyone while my pace drops into times that start with 9 again. I’m having a blast and loving life. Around mile 24 I pass a man who asks if I was the one “rallying the troops back there” I slowed a bit to chat with him, responding “I was trying to, at least!” and he encouraged me to go forward, telling me to “Go kick @ss, girl.” I follow directions well. I keep second-guessing myself. I feel great, but it’s mile 24 of the marathon. Surely this can’t hold up? Let’s try. Mile 25 and 26 have a 9:45 average and as I run down the home stretch I realize I’ve PRed. The icing on the cake is seeing Mike, Irene and Craig and then seeing Ike, Shell and Rob. I scream that I PRed to my friends who have waited for me to finish and race through the chute for a final pace of 9:00. My time was 4:31:07, a PR by over 11 minutes.

Me coming into the finish after shouting to my friends that I had PRed

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