5 miles easy- I have not done this yet and it’s going to be ugly. So sore!
Yesterday I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon here in Virginia Beach as a Boston Marathon prep race. It went well and I could not have asked for a better race execution ….well maybe 8 seconds faster 😉 I missed sub 1:20 finishing in 1:20:07. It was a 2 minute PR for me and an 8th place finish in a tough field so I will not drag myself down over 8 little seconds.
Race morning started early. I woke up at 4:45 to eat my usual breakfast- toasted, buttered everything bagel with large red Gatorade and loads of coffee. I put on my new green Running, Etc. singlet and green bunhuggers. The race is Shamrock themed and everyone goes all out for it. I was supposed to meet friends, Renee and Rob, at the starting line at 6:00 and I managed to be 10 minutes late trying to check & recheck everything I needed. Then during our warm up I realized I let my gel, sunglasses (crucial for blocking wind!), and lucky Twin Cities ear warmer in my checked bag. I left our warm up early thinking I could get the bag back…no luck! Luckily a friend lent me a gel but obviously I was feeling a bit squirrely with pre-race jitters.
None of the nervous tendencies mattered though. When the gun went off my mind immediately focused on executing a solid race. The Shamrock half course is perfect for that. It can be broken up into nice, even segments: 5K until we turn left onto Shore Drive, almost 3 miles until we turn right onto Fort Story, etc. The course is almost flat but the wind can be brutal. The race organizers J&A Racing gave the elite athletes a folder with course review and wind directions inside. It was such a thoughtful touch and it kept my mind busy during the race. I always had a small distance to mentally work on and never allowed myself to panic when the head winds were terrible (as they were) because that little course review had told me the wind direction would change. Little things like that can make a big difference.
The big starting crowd started to thin out just past the 5K mark. I hit that target on time but there was a strong headwind. I had the choice of slowing up and running alone or speeding up and running with a pack, so I sped up. Around 5K I found a pack of about 4 guys to work with. Despite trying we never could block the wind for each other along the Fort Story stretch (a military base along the beach with strong winds) but the pack allowed me to focus on maintaining a good pace. If I was alone in that wind I may have slowed but I forced myself to stay right with them and tried to take my turn leading too. We hit the lighthouses which are around the 8-9 mile mark and I could start to see two girls a few hundred feet in front of us. I kept my head up and eyes on them and slowly tried to real them in leaving my pack in the process. Whatever it takes to keep that mental focus. In the past I would have been hesitant to leave a safe pack of guy runners but I was feeling strong and brave. I passed the girls right before we turned left onto Atlantic Avenue and when the bands and crowd started cheering for us I couldn’t help but show a huge smile. I was working it and hurting but I knew I was heading for a big PR. My form was still strong and I was confident I could up the pace a bit. Coach Hadley had prepared me well. From Mile 10 on each mile was faster and faster. We did have the wind on our side but the faster pace was also do to all of Coach Hadleys reminders to practice negative splitting on each and every run. It is now programed into my mind and legs. I focused on the street signs, knowing we had to run from 77th street down into the low 30’s (33 I think?).
With two miles to go I KNEW I was cutting it close to 1:20. I was digging deep and my final sprint on the boardwalk to the King Neptune Statue finish line was as fast as I could muster up. I glanced at my Garmin and it read 5:25 during the last 700 meters. I gave it all I could so while I missed sub 1:20 by 8 seconds, I am thrilled to have run faster than I ever have by two minutes. I crossed the finish line and high fived a bunch of volunteers. I was so darn happy! 🙂 I saw friends and hugged them, grabbed water, gatorade, pretzels, cookies, bananas, a Shamrock Hat, and a great finishers item…a fleece blanket. Perfect for a cold day at the beach. J & A Racing does races right. When I saw Renee and Hollie and learned they both PRed too, it was icing on an already great day. We took some pictures and I went to the post race party. Here are my final race stats and a picture of Hollie and I. I’m only wearing forty layers in that picture.
Now it is time for me to rest up and focus purely on Boston. Thank you for reading everyone and thank you for your support!