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Monday, March 25, 2013

Shamrock Marathon Weekend

It's amazing how less than an hour can dictate the feelings, and subsequent memories of an entire weekend.  When thinking back on my Virginia Beach and Yuengling Shamrock Marathon last weekend, the only thing that comes to mind is final part of the race: mile 21 - 26.  But I'll get to that in a moment...

The weekend started out extremely positive, hitting some specific geocaches on the way down, filling in some Counties, Cities and Delorme pages for VA that I've yet to find, and visiting an expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on a sunny Saturday afternoon with plenty of vendors.

Expo Entrance

Yup...looks like an expo

After getting our fill of cheap and free stuff, I decided to go for a short shake out run the evening before the race, down the boardwalk and snagging some "highly favorited" geocaches along the shore in the process.  Our hotel was right on the beach and extremely close to the start and finish of the absolutely ideal spot for all things shamrock this weekend.

Nice trident!

Enough bananas in the finishing chute to feed a small army

Here's a look at this nice biking path that goes along the boardwalk for quite a few miles

Pier view #1

Self shot (necessary for logging the virtual geocache)

Pier view #2

We had our pre-race dinner at a nice Italian joint and interestingly enough, our waiter had run two editions of the Shamrock Half Marathon a few years back.

Breakfast of (leprechaun) champions, green bagel and all.

Race morning started off great, although the weather could have been better: forecasted to stay in the 40's all day with a chance of rain.  I have to reiterate here how key our hotel location was.  I literally stepped out of my room 10 minutes before the gun was supposed to go off.  The race started a couple of minutes behind, so it worked out perfectly not having to brave the chilly morning temps.
I got lined up right where I wanted, between the 3:25 pace group and the 3:35

At least 10% of these people were shivering

The race started off great.  I didn't follow the "plan" of just going for a 155-160 BPM HR, but maintaining a 7:55/mi pace felt perfect, and even by mile 13, I felt like I'd have enough in the tank to push it down to a 7:30 or even a 7:00 during the final 10K.  Well, of course, that didn't happen...

Right at mile 21, like clockwork during the lonely stretch through Fort Story, I came face to face with "the wall".  I don't think it had anything to do with nutrition, rather, my lack of proper training over the past four weeks.  I hadn't run over 18 miles during a single run since the 50K back in January, and it really showed.  On this ridiculously flat course, my legs just quit and after a little research it looks like something to do with my IT band, but honestly I'm not sure.  It's sort of the same strained muscle feeling on the outside of my hips I get after a long day of backpacking.

Anyhow...I slugged through those final few miles continuing to run, but at the slowest pace imaginable, even though I'm pretty sure I saw a 79 year old lady in a walker pass me by at around mile 24.

I must have picked it up for the final .2 knowing about the enormous beer tent waiting after the finish.  It was a disappointing final time, but we got changed at the hotel and then made it over to enjoy the Yuengling brews and mass produced Irish stew on the beach.

Beach scene near the end of the finishing chute, outside the beer tent

Quality architecture inside the tent

"The Deloreans" rocking out some 80's classics

Though I didn't qualify for Boston this weekend (or even hit my secondary goal of 3:30), it was a fun time of geocaches and running.  The race experience was put together perfectly by J&A Racing, including the live race timing updates, and the post race party.  Thanks for a fun time this weekend, with the exception of that final hour of the race (totally not their fault, but not fun nonetheless).

Finishing off St. Patty's day right, with an amazing stout!

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