Event: Shamrock Half Marathon
When & Where: 7 a.m. Sunday, March 16 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Results: 1:52:14 (8:35 pace). 41/492 females age 35-39 and 280/3,162 of all females.
As I started planning a spring race calendar, I earmarked the Shamrock Half Marathon as a goal race. The course is fast and its St. Patty’s Day party atmosphere is energizing and fun. Most of my local running friends would be participating in the 8K, half marathon, or marathon. Shamrock and I have some emotional history too: I had a breakthrough half marathon here in 2006 that started the quest to qualify for Boston, which included an injury and DNF in 2007’s marathon.
But then race week 2008 came.
My body felt like a sluggish sack of potatoes most of the week. A few minor aches and pains I’d had after runs calmed down with lots of ice and a few easy days, but shook my confidence. Race-day weather wasn’t great, but nowhere near as wild as forecasted. It could have been a PR day conditions-wise.
I got wishy-washy on my plans to shoot for a new personal record. I am a planner who performs best with a strategy to follow, but Saturday night at dinner was saying things like “Eh, I’ll see how I feel in the morning … at the start … at mile 3 … halfway through … at mile 10.”
So, how did I feel?
In the morning:With a great night’s rest in the comfortable hotel bed, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to greet the day at 5 a.m. Some good coffee, conversation with roommie Amy, and encouraging text messages did the trick.
At the start:The all-night rain stopped, winds subsided, and an 8:20 pace felt easy. Not a bad way to get going. Hmm, I kind of miss my music, though. It is too quiet as we count the street numbers heading north on Pacific Avenue.
At mile 3:We head into 3 miles of road surrounded by pretty coastal forest. Here organizers attempt to entertain us with non-sensical signs like “Man running behind car gets exhausted.” Ba-dum-bum. I wish I had music. It is too quiet.
Half-way through: It is St. Patrick’s Day, not Halloween! Why do I feel like a zombie with these achy heavy legs? I spot my friend Noel ahead and dig in to pass her, which helps for a couple miles. She catches me at mile 9 and we give each other a boost and pick up our paces together.
At mile 10:My knee feels a bit tight, so I reluctantly let Noel go. I am excited for her though, as I’m pretty sure she is on pace for a new personal best. It is still too quiet as I count the street numbers heading south on Pacific Avenue. Finally, music! I run by a bunch of Team in Training volunteers who are cranking 11th grade cruising tunes “Nothing But a Good Time” and “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison. Thank you, Bret Michaels! Between the hair band and tail wind I manage to feel more like my usual pumped-up racing self until paying respects to the huge King Neptune statue that reigns over the Finish line.
So … I don’t really know what was up with that.
It might have helped if my head had completely been in Virginia Beach, rather than jumping forward to Boston. In the past I’ve struggled with letting self-talk affect my running, but have gotten much stronger about that and wasn’t battling negative thoughts at all. Mentally, I haven’t felt tired of training at all. But I have learned that I need to be personally motivated to race well, and right now am more excited by of course Boston, and also the idea of trail running and ultras.
Simply, it wasn’t my day to show the half marathon who’s boss. Instead, I got a decent marathon-pace workout.
The best thing to do is leave a so-so race effort behind, focus on the considerable fun had during the weekend, and keep moving forward.