Shamrock Marathon Recap

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Never did I expect a race experience to exceed the one I had at Boston last year, yesterday though, at the Shamrock Marathon I had an experience that surpassed my expectations and will be a day I will not ever forget. While the time on the clock doesn’t show it, I do believe it was my best marathon to date.

First the stats, then the recap with a little backstory.  As you can see in the below picture, I was 3rd overall female. I think everyone is aware that I really wanted to make top 3, it determined our entire race strategy for the day but I’ll get into that later. I did not negative split like I had hoped. Weather conditions were unreal. Over ten miles of extreme headwinds with gusts of 30mph and side winds just as bad.  We did have a tailwind for the last three miles, which I was so grateful for. If we needed it anytime, it was then. So all things considered I am thrilled with my time, placing, and pacing.

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The backstory. Going into this race I was a bundle of anxious nerves. I knew I was fit and ready but the truth is, I hadn’t had a great marathon in two years since the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013.  I spent 2014 injured. I ran Boston 2015 coming off an injury and Philly 2015 was a bust after reaching for an OTQ and crashing bad. While I appreciate my experiences at Boston and Philly in 2015, they didn’t leave me with the most confidence. I fought so much self doubt these last few months. I confessed to close friends and my coach in private that Philly really messed with my head. The amount of mental prep that went into yesterdays race was extensive and necessary.

Last Tuesday we started getting hints of bad weather.  I felt awful for our out-of-towners, the volunteers, and the race staff but selfishly it took pressure off me. I know I can run in gritty weather. I had the advantage of knowing the course and training on the course in every element. I wasn’t worried.  That being said, we hadn’t anticipated the winds. There is always wind in Virginia Beach, there is always wind during the Shamrock races, not wind like this past weekend though. It was much worse and had everyone a bit worried. The gusts were knocking over port potties and even walking was difficult. So my coach and I talked the night before the race and we threw away the old plan of hitting the halfway mark in 1:25 and then slowly speeding up and making an attempt at a negative split and possible PR. With no real reason to hit a PR other than pride, the goal was properly placed on overall placing. I wanted to place as I high as possible.

Thank you to my friend, Megan ,who volunteered to help and was told to walk me from the race hotel to the start. I was a bundle of nerves and she was a calming influence. At the start I saw friends, Steve Speirs and Stacin Martin.  We decided to work together and that quick decision was one of the best I made all day.  I know these guys well. They are experienced, fast runners and I trust their judgement and pacing expertise. We stayed together for a good 15-17 miles and every time my mind felt a little worried or overwhelmed I knew I was just taking another brisk run on my favorite streets with friends.  They quickly became the leaders in our pack of 8-10 runners but by mile 18 we were all strung out. A few times I told myself out loud- “Nothing flashy” as a reminder that I needed to stay at a safe pace, nothing aggressive. Females 1 & 2 were already gutting it out minutes ahead of me and in the back of my mind I was worried I would hit a wall and be passed by other female runners. Nothing flashy was my way of reminding myself to race smart. I didn’t have much to gain but had a ton to lose by taking a big risk.

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I won’t go over the middle miles too much. My nutrition was good but I know I did not consume enough fluids, something that is sometimes difficult for me (those cups are so hard to drink out of while running!), and I paid for it later in the race. I should have taken more time at each aid station but I skipped many because I was so concerned about staying with my pack. I knew if I fell off the back end I would helplessly be alone for miles. At the halfway mark I felt AMAZING. I saw Megan and my husband Steve and I gave them a huge smile and wave to let them know that I was feeling fantastic. The amount of course support I received was unreal. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who cheered for me! Somewhere around 16 I saw my coach and he told me I was running a perfect race and that was a huge confidence booster.  Around mile 18 I started to tell myself that I only had an hour left and I could do anything for an hour. At that point I was still feeling very strong. Around that time period (I could be remembering the distance wrong) Steve Speirs surged ahead. My biggest regret is not going with him and instead choosing to stay with another group.  Not that I think I could have stayed with Steve, he was flying, but because it would have put some faster momentum in my legs.  The pain was starting to creep into my calfs but the end of the marathon is supposed to hurt real bad.  I didn’t hit the real pain train until mile 23ish and I wish I had been a bit braver a little earlier.  All good though, no point in overly analyzing it.

From miles 23 to the finish I was hurting bad. A good friend Cardave gave me some words of encouragement that I am so thankful for. My coach told me to race until mile 25 because I can always dig out another mile and that was a huge piece of advice. It’s so true. I got to see him twice in those last few miles and we were both smiling like crazy.  At the last stretch on the boardwalk I felt amazing.  My legs were in agony but I knew I was going to finish 3rd female and I knew that my friends and husband were at the finish line area waiting for me.  Best…feeling…ever.  It was arranged by the J&A Racing staff that my husband would be in the medal area and place my medal on me.  That was PRICELESS.  My heart was full giving a few of my training partners hugs and I just can’t even describe how perfect it all was. My legs were in agony but I had the happiest smile and tears. I had worked SO hard and it paid off.

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Many thanks to my running coach, Jerry Frostick, for telling me I didn’t need high mileage or doubles to be successful, that I am faster than I think I am, and that fast times aren’t the most important thing in our sport anyway; it’s the people and experiences that matter most. Thanks to the whole J&A Racing staff for another perfect event. Thank you to Running, Etc. for their support and endless advice. I love going into their stores and chatting running for way too long🙂 Thank you to Direct Performance, Raeswear, and Handful for helping me out this training cycle and a few others. And big thanks for my friends and family..you’ve all been amazing! Congrats to all the Shamrockers. I want to name specific names but there are too many fantastic ones to include. You were all incredible and this  entire Shamrock weekend was also incredible. We survived the storm! Celebrate well & enjoy your recovery! I got to celebrate with friends post race and last night and we obviously had fun.  Take care all!

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Shamrock Week

 

Here in the Hampton Roads area, Shamrock Weekend is THE weekend for our wonderfully large running community.  If you aren’t one of the over 20,000 people running, then you are usually volunteering, spectating, and/or cheering while sometimes handing out free beers to runners along Atlantic Avenue. As a runner, it’s easily one of my favorite times of the entire year, so much that I refer to the whole week leading up as Shamrock Week. Making these days even more special is that our youngest celebrates his birthday. Suffice to say, the excitement is brimming here in the Law household. We are all going to need a huge nap next week.

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Thanks for permission to use the above photo of the finish line area set up  Willian & Minday

This time last year I was coming back steady from yet another frustrating injury. I ran the Shamrock half and had a fun time with friends but I wasn’t able to race it (pic below). This year, things have changed. I had just started with a new coach and training plan that time last year, so the needed time to adjust has kicked in. I have completed an 8 week strength class that kicked my tail and kept up with the work. I’ve had a hiccup here and there but nothing the guys at Direct Performance could not handle in a matter of one or two appointments. If I combined my unplanned days off due to pains/sickness/travel/etc., I think it adds up to maybe 7 days in the cycle.  That’s pretty huge for me as someone who has gone through cycles of months off at a time. The consistency is there.  My mileage may not be in the 90’s like it was before my marathon PR but I have a good 18 weeks of steady, consistent training under my belt.

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Honestly I do not have a time goal for Sunday. The pressure is off to reach some magical number and I feel a huge weight of relief in that, JUST RACE. My main goal is to be competitive for 26.2 miles. Another goal of mine is to try to negative split.  I’ve had some fantastic races but I do not believe I’ve ever negative split a marathon. So with nothing to lose, the plan is to go out conservative (the OPPOSITE of what I did at Philly) and see where I’m at at mile 13-15.  Everyone says the halfway mark is the 20 mile marker in a marathon but I say it’s closer to 18.  Once you get there, it’s a grind no matter what. I begrudgingly did many a tempo on the hardest part of the Shamrock course so I have no excuses on race day.

What have I done this past week to prepare?  My mileage has dropped considerably, in the high 30’s with Saturday off completely.  Today being Thursday I will start adding more carbs to my diet and today is the last day I’ll be eating lots of salads and veggies to avoid stomach issues on race day (tmi?). I had one dry needling session which involved laying on a table with five needles up and down my left let.  I swear it sounds awful but I love it. Some people love deep tissue massage, some love compression gear, I think the dry needling works miracles for me.

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Also, earlier in the week I was grateful to attend a Shamrock Race Directors Chat with Amy & Jerry Frostick at Lululemon, Town Center VB. (pic above by Lululemon) We were given a fantastic list of tips and advice, like where to park, how long it takes each corral to start, and such.  Myself, being the run nerd that I am, wrote down a million of their tips on their handout and later after viewing what I wrote down saw  my own note to myself- “DON”T FORGET GELS AND HAIRSPRAY!”   These are my priorities, can’t forget the hair😉  Speaking of crazy hair, the weather is predicted to be not-so-perfect.  As much as I feel for the spectators and our awesome friends who will be working on race day, not-so-perfect would be perfect for me. My friends and I have literally trained through every race condition- snow, sleet, rain, heat, and winds that would knock you over.  Even with strong predicted headwinds, I feel confident that we are ready!

Alright guys & gals, I’m rambling but that’s what happens when you only blog once a month.  For those interested, I am bib number 7.  007 is my lucky number (James Bond fan!) so I am thrilled to wear it.  The marathon starts at 8:30 am on Sunday and I cannot wait to hear Leprechaun Bob (pictured below) to say my name as I cross that finish line as he has been doing for many years for as many runners as possible.  Wishing all the runners an AMAZING day!!  Very excited to see so many of you out there and meet a few new friends faces from out of town.  Happy St. Patricks Day all!

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What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. -Charles Bukowski

 

 

 

T-Minus 4 Weeks

Life has been flying by fast lately. I am in the midst of marathon training, which is something I love to my core, but the balance of family/life/run has been perfect making the miles an easy work load to handle.  A happy runner is a fast runner. I think many thought I would be upset about the Marathon Trials (more specifically my lack of qualifying) coming and going but honestly I had no bad feelings on that day. We were on vacation so I was unable to spectate but I had two awesome friends who gave me play by plays on FB messenger. It was probably a good thing I couldn’t watch live because I would have had a heart attack watching Shalane struggle the last three miles. Crazy. The Rio Olympic Marathon is going to be amazing and I was overjoyed to hear and eventually view so many friends race on Trials day.

What has been going on in my life?  Here are some quick and brief explanations. We can say that I’ve been checking off a few of my #16in2016s goals.

I ran a 100K Relay with some amazing friends-

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At that same race our team of friends was given the best awards I’ve ever seen. “I am a Winner” and “First Loser”🙂 (Our team was actually second place but we had a friendly competition with our above friends and so we had awards for our own race. Congrats to all the runners on that day, especially my friend Stephanie who destroyed the 100K race (not the relay, the entire 100K race!)

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I went on a girls only weekend where a little running and a lot of drinking was completed.

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We tried (and failed) to spell LOVE-

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I was on a boat-

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And watched one of my daughters dreams come true-

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With a guy I kinda like-

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I watched the sun set into the Atlantic Ocean from a ship in the Bahamas-

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I ran a little bit-

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And received the sweetest pair of racing flats from my favorite store-

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There are four weeks left until my goal race of the Spring, the Shamrock Marathon.  Training has been going wonderfully but more importantly, life has been going wonderfully. Without the pressure of an OTQ time, I feel free to chase the marathon in a different way (my way) and so in an effort of all-encompassing honesty and accountability, I would like to put it out there that my goal is top 3 females for the Shamrock marathon. I’ve run ten marathons and I have never placed higher than 7th place female so this is a scary one for me. Time is not a huge concern of mine (don’t worry I will not be complacent) but my main goal is to place high.  I recently read Esther Atkins blog post on goal setting HERE and loved it. Highly recommend reading it if you have a few extra minutes. I think I read it five times😉  Love her honesty.

Thank you all for reading. Wishing you all the best in training & life!

 

“You are not a wolf and this is a land of wolves now.” -Sicario

16 goals in 2016

The workout I have scheduled for today is a beast (2 by 4 miles, 12 miles total), so in an effort to allow my body to wake up a bit more and to let my warmest running jacket finish in the dryer, I’ll sit here and blog.

A friend of mine recently shared his 16 goals for 2016 on his blog. I thought it was a fantastic idea and a few of us are following suit. In an effort to hold myself accountable by the pressure of social media, here we go-

1.) PR the marathon.  This is a running blog and I try to stay on running related topics the majority of the time so I’ll start with the run theme. In no way does this mean this is my most important goal, its not, they are all jumbled randomly. After a string of 10 marathon PRs in a row, I’ve experienced 2 frustrating years of no progress in time. I believe I’m capable of sub 2:47 and would like this to be the year.

2.) More memories with the family. Our kids are at a great stage in life where they can now try new things safely. We’ve made plans to travel with them a bunch this year and try new activities (snorkeling, kayaking, etc.) that in years past was difficult to manage with 3 kids at the same age (twins + 1 a year younger). I am beyond excited about this one.

3.) Read two books a month.  With a kindle this is admittedly the easiest goal I have as I’ve already been doing this. Currently I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale. A bit depressing but eye-opening and hard to put down.

4.) Start a garden. 

5.) Sub 1:19 half.  This is a huge jump for me. I’ve yet to break 1:20 (current PR is 1:20:08) but I believe in scary goals.

6.) Learn how to cook tamales. What was I saying about scary goals?

7.)Stick with Strength Work. The twice weekly strength class I am currently attending is about to end and knowing my love of strength and core work I’ll have lost any progress I’ve made within a month. What a waste. I’m committing myself to 2-3 30 minute segments of strength work a week on my own or through my gyms class. No less!

8.) Camping.  We own a tent but have only camped in our backyard and at a wedding where camping was encouraged and we had indoor bathrooms, heat, etc. at our beckon. This year I want to try “real” camping somewhere amazing. Our kids love this so it’s more of a goal to support them. I’m more of a hotel girl myself😉

9.) Race a track 5K. I ran through high school and had a brief stint of running in college and in all that time never had the chance to run a 5000m on a track. There are no track 5ks that I know of around our area so suggestions are welcome.

10.) Continue with Church. I already attend weekly but this is important to me. I always leave feeling refreshed, peaceful, and ready to tackle another 7 days.

11.) Learn basic French. Our neighbors are French citizens working here temporarily for a few years. Our daughters have become best friends and long story short- We have promised our daughter that when she becomes fluent in French, she and I will go on a Mother-Daughter trip to Paris. I learned basic Spanish in high school but know only a few words of French so this #16in16 may be my most difficult…Oh Non!

12.) Blog twice a month. 

13.) Visit Friends & Family more often. As a military wife and mom of three, traveling solo hasn’t always been an option, usually requiring mass amounts of planning and occurring rarely. Now though, our situation has changed a little bit and I’d like to use that change to keep up with some amazing friendships and family love. I even have a weekend with close friends planned soon. This is huge for me! Nashville & Philly, I’m looking at you!

14.) Visit Top Golf.  At least 5 different people have raved about this place and guess what? I actually own pink golf clubs. Add those to the list of silly things I bought in my 20’s.

15.) Ocean Swim Race. We are beach lovers but I’ve never entered an official ocean swim race. I don’t plan on “racing” it. I’m actually a terrible swimmer but I’d love to try an official open water swim this Summer and not drown.

16.) Visit a new State. I’m pretty far along in my quest to visit all 50 states (I’m in the fourties), going to knock another one or few off this year.

There you have it. I’m sure I’ll think of a few more during my warm up today. Let me know if you have any great goals this year or what your planned run is for today. Have a wonderful day!