RR: Shamrock Marathon

This year has been good to me. My Drink Beer and Run a Little training plan has gotten me a 50k PR and a 5k PR. Not bad considering those are the only races I’ve done in 2012 (besides my blizzard Pikermi PR at the Manhattan Half). 
But I wasn’t so sure about the marathon. My last 3 marathons had all been with someone. The last time I did 26.2 alone was MCM 2010 and it was a death march. I was dressed as Snooki from Jersey Shore and I’m pretty sure the guidette herself would have pulled off a better performance. SUCKFEST! How was I even going to come close to my PR, which I set in Philly with the amazing MK with me every step of the way?? Doing it alone freaked me out…a lot.
I dont know why I was worried….it’s Shamrock. My fav race ever!
If I had to do it over again, I would have rearranged my schedule to get to VA Beach in time to cheer for the 8k. I’m sad I missed out on the fun! I got to the Expo around 1:30 Saturday afternoon and met Biscuit Pusher and her husband. It was a quickie since we both needed to check into our hotels. My scatter brain was all over the place and I forgot to get a pic!! Luckily the Expo is small and didnt require any thinking. Another good thing about a small expo – no temptation to buy things I dont need!

Lots of people forgot to wear green on St Patty’s Day…I was tempted to pinch all of them
My room wasn’t ready when I attempted to check in so I killed time walking around the Boardwalk. The weather was a lot nicer last year during the same walk…but I was happy for the cooler temps, even with the wind. My ideal marathon temps are 40s…Being cold during the walk felt great!
Cold and Windy….with a view of the post race party tent. 
Dinner was a blast, as expected. I only wish I had remembered a camera! I only had my phone, which as you can see from above doesnt take the best pics. I loved everything about dinner – the food, the beer, the conversation. I had met most of the Loopsters before so it was a nice family reunion. I really dont think life gets much better than walkin into a room full of Loopsters. Hugs all around!
Most of you have read LoopRock reports by now and know what and awesome job MJ did with the awards. But wow!!She blew me away! I won The PunkRock award for being the Biggest Partier. I dont know who voted for me…but apparently it was a landslide. HA! I dont think I had much competition for that one πŸ™‚
LBC members with our prizes…and some of Jeff’s πŸ™‚ Wearing an IU shirt to show my boys some love (they won that night!)
Unlike last year, I slept like a champ that night and woke up before the alarm. Gotta love an 8:30 start (even when it comes back to bite you later!) 
Good morning, Sunshine! Now get your butt behind those clouds!
It was a foggy morning, with humidity at 100% but it was still cool. Not cool enough though. I didnt even wear a throwaway shirt! 
I lined up in the back of corral 3 and looked for a familiar face. In my I-dont-wanna-run-alone panic, I reached out to the Marathon Maniacs to see if anyone was planning on a 4:35-4:40 time. My plan was to hit the half at 2:20 and negative split from there…and a nice man nicknamed MikeDaMarine stepped up saying “Look for the yellow singlet and a kilt.” Armed only with that description, I found him pretty easily with the 4:30 pace group. He introduced me to some other maniacs in the 4:30 group and we talked until the start.
First mile with Mike was way too fast. Looking back, I think the 4:30 group took off way too fast too because I couldnt even see them after a half mile but when Gary told me 10:16 for mile 1, I told Mike to leave me. It sucked….but I knew if I stayed on that pace I’d blow up. 
The next few miles I spend trying to do 2 things – 1 SLOW DOWN and 2. Find a friend. Pacing was the easier of the two. I was talking to people, and making good convo…but none of the “Lets spend the next 4 hours together and hold hands as we cross the finish” kind of friends. 
Around mile 5 I spotted DReyna coming from the opposite direction and cheered. From the reposnse I knew there were people with her…but I didnt see them. How fun that the Lady Loopsters were together! A bit farther down the road, I passed a girl who was cheering like a mad woman for every Maniac she saw. Thinkin she was a maniac I  said tried to start a conversation and gave my number…and she looked at me funny. Silly me, I thought she was a maniac. Turns out she wasnt one and it was her first marathon. Now it was my turn to look at her funny as she screamed for anyone in maniac gear…and it went from fun cheering to “wow…you’re getting more weird” I decided maybe being friendless was better.
Passing mile 7, we headed to the Marine camp. Camp Pendleton is my least fav part of the RnR VA Beach course…but at Shamrock, it’s one of my fav. The young marines line both sides of the streets and you can give them high 5’s as you roll through. They cheer and call out your name, which really brightens the ugly scenery. 
As we rolled back up towards the boardwalk, I still didnt feel like I was doing a marathon that day. I still felt pretty good and really wasnt thinking how many miles were left. 
That changed when we actually hit the boardwalk and into the strong headwind. Miles 11-16 were my slowest splits. The wind was crazy and it was an endless straightaway. Even with the ocean to my right, I couldnt wait for this part to be over. The only highlight was seeing Forwill and his family walking back after his Pikermi finish!
The turn off the boardwalk finally arrived and with it came some crowds. It was mostly people who had finished the Pikermi and probably a few Yuenglings. The were happy and encouraging, with most using your name and telling you how strong you looked. The wind was still coming in, but it wasnt as bad once I hit the half way point. I kept thinking about how nice it’ll feel at my back in the later miles. 
At Mile 16 we turned down a gorgeous street covered with a canopy of trees. Some people find this stretch boring…but I think it’s gorgeous. I love playing in the woods!! Despite loving the scenery, I was having a lot of trouble picking up the pace. My race plan revolved around picking it up at this point. I didnt want to be a slave to the garmin, but people were slowing way down and I couldnt gauge myself against them. 
Finally around mile 17 a couple passed me looking very strong. They werent talking but they were obviously together. So I creeped in behind them.
Stalkin my prey like a honey badger…
And creeped some more.
I dont give a sh!t if I’m creepy! 
A little after 18 I passed Mike and cheered for him. He looked like he had been walking for a while and I was glad I dropped back when I did, or I might have blown up too. Talking to Mike totally blew my ninja cover though…and I felt like I had to finally announce to the couple I was stalkin’ that I had been attached to them for a mile. I asked them what their goal was (4:45) and a did the whole where are you from, etc. We chatted a little and continued through Ft Story together. Thank goodness I found them…almost everyone seemed to be walking and I def would have slowed down more if it wasn’t for my new friends.
I think I’m slightly less creepy here…dont you?
We exited Ft Story around mile 23 and I decided it was time to pick it up. I left my friends and tried SO HARD to move faster. The sun was right in my face, which made it so, so, so hot! The wind, which had knocked me down on the way out was completely non existent on the way back. I wore black thinking it would be overcast – I was burning up!!  
Gary laughed at my attempts to speed up. I kept trying to do the math…was 4:40 still within reach? Could I at least PR? I had given up hope until I saw a nice volunteer at the last aid station, who looked right at me and said, “Jennifer, you’re beautiful.” She didn’t cheer it…just said it and it seemed so sincere. Even though I was sweating like a pig and being pretty was about 5 squillion on my list of desires and it’s possible she was hitting on me, it put some extra pep in my step. Less than a minute later I passed two of the people I had met earlier that morning in the 4:30 pace group. Again, it made me happy I opted out of sticking with the group. I said hi and complained about the heat..and moved on. 
I’m pretty sure its a grimace, not a smile!
I couldnt kick it..and I had the most pathetic bangle pump in the history of marathon finishes. I didn’t care about the final time…I was sad my negative split plan had failed. See how BLAH I felt?
Double peace….the faker’s Bangle Pump
4:42:40. It was a PR…..by 55 seconds. Kind of funny I had a bigger PR in the previous weekend’s 5k. I must have looked bad…because a woman on the side asked me if it was my first marathon. I said #7 and she looked really surprised. Eff you, lady…where’s that one who thinks I’m pretty??
Ok, so I do pretty much look like death 
Luckily Jeff’s daughter was on the ball trying to spot people coming out of the finish chute because I walked right by her and Alice! YAY smiles and hugs! I needed the positive energy.
After getting my stuff, I checked my phone and felt a little but better about my time – My half split was 2:21:33. Perfectly even splits. If you really wanna get technical – a 26 second negative split πŸ™‚
Next up – my fav part of Shamrock. While on the course, I sometimes forgot why this is my fav race….The after party quickly reminded me – Shamrockers like to have fun! It’s such a feel good race. 
Beach, live Irish music, beer…
 Signs of a great party – strollers and party hats included.
I took a video on my phone but the sound is horrid….so take a look at this from last year. It was pretty much the same this year, except the tent kinda smelled so we gathered outside. . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPoNvXf2EiE
 We had made a plan to get sober-me-up dinner before heading home so Alice, Deirdre, MJ, Abby and I all went to Murphy’s for some really yummy food…and more live Irish music. One of the band members had even ran the half that morning and was wearing his medal! A great end to a great race. I really can’t wait until next year!
Post race random footnotes:
  • Even though I was initially BLAH about the race, I felt better when I saw the splits. Other than the freak  first mile….my splits were within 30 seconds of each other (fastest – 10:24, slowest – 11:01, which was my only split starting with an 11!). So although I didnt run quite the way I wanted to, I was SUPER consistent, which is something that I’ve struggled with in past races – splits being everywhere! I’m happy now. 
  • What made me even happier – running the next day at the club run at a sub 10 pace. I’ve never ran the day after a marathon, and it didn’t feel as horrible as I thought. So, given that I passed my test, it’s official – DOUBLE MARATHON WEEKEND! RnR Savannah on 11/3 followed by Raleigh City of Oaks 11/4. Awww yeah!!
  • Trail 50k Sunday. Can’t wait!

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