2012 Shamrock Marathon Race Report

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I registered for the 2012 Shamrock Marathon the same day I finished the Charlotte Thunder Road Half Marathon last November as an impulse decision, still all jazzed up on my runners high and clearly not make sound decisions. As my second marathon, I knew how miserable the distance could would be and that it would hurt no matter how well I prepared. I began training seriously January 1st and put in over 200 miles between January and February, most of which consisted of race pace miles with hills included in the runs and the occasional harder/higher effort tempo run. When comparing my training for the Shamrock Marathon to my first marathon, the Suntrust Ricmond Marathon, I was much better prepared.

My race weekend began Friday afternoon driving the 160 miles stretch I frequent from Charlotte, NC to Radford to pick up Michelle. The next morning we began the long 360 mile drive to Virginia Beach, VA  around 9:30 and arrived in Virginia beach at the Virginia Sports Expo a little before 3PM. The sports expo is always fun with good deals to be had and lots of people amped up about running, although the more races I do, the more these expos lose their appeal. There were some cool things about the expo though, like the fact they had the courses up on the wall using projectors, at this point everyone was still all chipper and happy.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The course maps.

The marathon course.

Schedule of events for the weekend. We missed Saturday's events but were only there for the marathon anyways.

After packet pickup and wondering around the sports expo a bit we headed to the hotel to check in before grabbing and early dinner. Dinner was simple, grilled chicken over penne with a red sauce and some bread sticks from the OG, not the original gangster but instead Olive Garden, I know much less exciting.

Michelle and I did have some fun at the expo, here we're getting in the spirit for St. Patricks Day at the Operation Smile booth. 

We finished up dinner just before six and picked up some necessary supplies for the race run the next day, mainly band aids to prevent nipple chaffing, it's a serious issue; no one likes bloody nipples and band aids are a must to prevent it. We still had time left in the evening thanks to daylights savings time and I wasn't a fan of going back to the La Quinta (classy, I know) to sit around and stare at ugly walls, so I opted for catching a movie at the theatre close to the OG, I suggested 21 Jump street. Win.

(If you're still reading here you're a champ and I promise, there is some running to come)

We got out of the movie around 9:15 and headed back to the hotel to prepare for bed and lay out everything for the next day. The other thing I bought when purchasing anti-chaffing nipple covers (a.k.a band aids) was batteries for the Garmin HR monitor. First fail of the weekend. Previously, Garmin battery covers could be removed with a penny or coin and a simple half turn, not so much with my current HR monitor which requires a small glasses style screwdriver to remove the battery cover, bad Garmin. The hotel came through on this one and had the screwdriver delivered to my room, preventing what could've been a huge fail on my part. With everything laid out and my bib pinned I turned in for the night.

Hipster Instagram Photo - I always try to represent Virginia Tech.

(Insert annoying alarm sound here) 5:10 came early the next morning, suggestions say to eat a full three hours before your run. My breakfast consisted of a banana and almond spread on a cinnamon raisin bagel and some Gatorade. We were checked out by 6:30 and on our way to the race and parked by 7. The next hour and half consisted of a bathroom break and playing the hurry up and wait game, my favorite. Around 8:10 I headed out to the race start and found coral 2 and the 3:45 pace group in the back of the coral. After the national anthem and the start of a few special groups including Team Hoyt and a tether marathon team attempting to break a world record (which they did in a convincing fashion, breaking the previous record of 3:26 by 20 minutes!!!), we started a few minutes after coral one.

Headed to the start.

Apparently, at this point I was still thinking this was a good idea.

Michelle grabbed this photo of me looking pensive at the start, I think I'm beginning to realize this was a foolish decision.

The first 5 or so miles were just getting into the groove. There were huge crowds on the streets going out of town and we continued heading south for 2 miles before we made a few loops, went by our first water stop and then headed toward the out and back segment. Its a shame this point of the race is so early, as it would be pretty cool to see people coming back later in the race, you do however have this opportunity around miles 13-15 where you see the leaders at 23-25 and they're about to finish, kind of disheartening.

Around mile 5 I stopped for a nature break and caught back on with the 3:45 pace group by the 7 mile water station. A few more curvy swirls and we headed back down Atlantic before hopping onto boardwalk. It was at this point that I was ahead of the 3:45 group and really dropped down the pace to allow them to catch me, as I had lost them going through a water station. Unfortunately, it took almost the whole stretch of the boardwalk for them to close the gap and I was out in the wind the whole time, I don't think this affected me too much, but I'm trying to run smarter not harder. At the halfway point our split was 1:54.

EDIT: Came across some photos from the run

I managed to muster a jog for this half-decent photo.

I'm not sure where on the course this photo was taken but I had enough energy to point out Virginia Tech!

Once we started the second half of the race and headed into the long lonely back section of the course, where for me, the trouble began. The first indication came around 13 miles, but just a little "hello, I'm here to ruin your day" in my right calf, not a cramp or pain at this point. At mile 16 I knew leaving the group was inevitable but wanted to stay in as long as I could before I cramped. Right around mile 17 I stopped and stretched each calf for 30 seconds, I continued on a kept the 3:45 pace group in sight until around mile 20 or so, having to periodically stop and stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The support along the way was fantastic, but at that point in the race the last thing I wanted to hear was another "your close" or "almost there."  It's tough to keep your head held high in that type of situation.

When I was running, I had no problem with energy and could run 8:20-8:45 pace when not cramping. The next 6 miles were a mix of walking, stretching, running briefly, cramping, and repeat. At the end of the day, it simply wasn't my race. As I watched my goal time fade away doing mental math for times of 3:50, 3:55, and within the last 200 meters of the run the 4:00 pace group went by. With all my effort I gave it one last hard effort, only to cramp and barely muster a jog the last 100 meters. My final chip time was 4:01:55.


These really illustrate how terrible I was feeling the last 200 meters.

Finished my second marathon!

The real agony ensued following the finishing shoot, where I couldn't find anywhere to take my weight off my feet. Michelle, the amazing woman she is was there to put up with me, take my stuff and help me feel better after a miserable race run. All I wanted to do was sit, but with the race finishing at the beach, seating was hard to come by and I had no desire to be miserable and sandy. The nice lady at the American Cancer Society booth inside the finishing tent let me borrow a chair where I moaned like a little baby for the next half hour.

Running. No pain, no gain.

This was at my worst right within five minutes of crossing the line and feeling awful.

Feeling better after finally finding a spot to sit that didn't involve getting sandy. As miserable as I was, I wasn't about to sit in the sand.

Finishers tent. The festivities included music, Irish Stew, and a whopping 274 kegs of Yuengling consumed by the runners.

Two cups of Irish Stew later I was ready to stumble my way to the car, a long...very very long 13 blocks away.

Amazing sand sculpture.

Me with the true champion of the weekend, as Michelle drove the entire 5.5 hours back to Radford so I could sleep.

As my second marathon, I learned a lot from this run and know that I need to address nutrition while training for future marathons. I'm also convinced that foam rolling during training is essential to prevent trigger points in muscles that create blockages which prevent essential nutrients from reaching the muscles and causing damage and cramps. I have at least two more marathons on my schedule for this year, including the Marine Core Marathon in October.

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