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Shamrock Marathon

Yesterday was like going back to work the day after Christmas. Lots of anticipation and excitement and before you know it, it’s all over. This weekend was my second experience with the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. In order to really appreciate this year’s run, I have the turn back just a few pages in history to last year. We had crazy amounts of snow here in southeastern PA and training was just plain difficult. I joined a Y where they had an indoor track, but it was only 1/16th of a mile so I spent hours running in that tiny circle. On top of that, I battled with some illness that really knocked me out. When marathon day rolled around, I felt like I knew how this race thing worked. I had my running clothes on with a ‘throw away’ shirt over top. An old long sleeved shirt that I was going to take off and toss along the street once I warmed up. By mile 2, I was feeling good and tossed my long sleeve shirt on the side of the road. This particular race starts in the middle of VA Beach, goes south out of town, makes a U turn, comes back through town and heads back out of town to the north, makes another U turn and comes back to the middle of town. Once we turned around and started heading north, there was about a 10 degree temperature drop and several miles of running against the wind. I was sure I would need to stop at the medic tent to get warm or some more gear and I was so cold I didn’t think they would let me keep running. Luckily, as we approached the starting area, lots of other runners’ ‘throw away’ shirts were still laying on the curb. I snatched one, put it on and felt a bit better. I was still pretty cold and fortunately enough, I found a pair of gloves as well. As we got to the next U turn, it warmed up but then very cold again in the last three miles. After the finish, I couldn’t get my warm clothes on fast enough.

Fast forward to this year, I had a long sleeved jacket, gloves, and a hat. I learned my lesson and I kept everything, knowing that even if I’m feeling warm now, that could change quite a bit in a few miles. I put my gloves on and off many times throughout the run and took my hat off only during the last two miles. Long sleeve jacket never came off. I am still scarred from last year and was not going to make the same mistakes again. Training this year was no walk in the park either. Record cold temperatures kept me inside on the treadmill. As race day approached, I was mentally preparing to not be able to finish in the time allotted. I even considered changing to the half marathon race, but I really wanted to make a go of the marathon and I am so glad I did. I recently purchased a GPS watch and was excited to wear it and know just where I stood throughout the race. During the first 10k, I was maintaining a beastly pace. In fact, had I been running a half marathon, I think I could have maintained for a really nice PR. Knowing that another 20 miles was ahead, that was not possible. I slowed down but kept a close eye on my pace and total time on the course. Around mile 10, I had my family set to hand me a pouch of almond butter and some gummy worms. That really helped me push through to mile 22ish where bananas, jelly beans, and pretzels are provided. I ended with a PR, 11 minutes faster than last year. I attribute this year’s time to a few things, my GPS watch, my extra cold gear, and knowing what to expect.

This year was so much fun, there is no doubt I will be registering for next year. Last year, I was happy to finish, this year I had so much fun running. The volunteers were outstanding and really kept up the energy throughout the course and since I didn’t have to use every ounce of energy to keep going on the freezing temperature, I was able to feed off the positive energy. There were runners of every shape, size, color, age, and speed. Since the half marathon course is the second half of the full course, there is lots of opportunity to see who all is on the course. There was so much encouragement as runners passing each other cheered each other on. I feel like the streets of a running event see more human spirit than a lot of people ever get to experience. If you ever feel that you’ve lost faith in humanity, do yourself a favor and find a road race to watch. It could be any distance at all, but I promise just minutes of witnessing the kindness the runners extend to each other, but spoken and unspoken, and the spirit if the volunteers will change your mind. Sunday’s run was a great way to kick off the spring and feel ready to get back to running outside in the fresh air on a daily basis and get me pumped for several more races on my calendar over the next few months.

Marathonfoto captured some fantastic photos. Pure Joy.

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