Flashback: I did this race last year and I think of it as my “turning point.” Prior to Shamrock 2009, I was a runner (and a very new runner with just one year of running under my belt). One month before that race, I joined MMTC because my brother wanted me to do a triathlon with him. After Shamrock 2009, I got on a bike with gears for the first time in my life. Hence began my triathlon journey.
Back to 2010: Despite the crazy weather we had this winter, I was able to stay on track with my running. The only change was that I sometimes ran slower than planned due to icy roads, darkness, snow covered routes, etc. I spent the winter building my base; therefore, going into the race, I felt prepared to go the distance without any problem. I was just worried about my speed since this was the area of my winter training where I spent the least time.
This is a fantastic race - well supported, great expo, nice venue, entertaining signs/jokes along the course and lots of very creative outfits worn by the runners and the volunteers. The best part - the finish line is along the boardwalk and the race is sponsored by Yuengling (translation - free beer). Volunteers even had beer stops throughout the race. The course is flat but the wind can be a factor.
The plan: start slowly, work my way up to “goal pace”, hold steady and enjoy the race until the last mile where I would pick it up slightly to finish strong. I started out as planned - slow and steady, gradually working my way up to my desired pace. Got there with ease, was comfortable and held strong until the middle of mile 8. At this point, I felt like someone swapped my legs out for ones that had been running nonstop for days. I was surprised that this feeling came on so suddenly. Soon after, I turned into the headwinds and I felt like I hit a wall. The winds were not gale force but for some reason, they affected me more than the hills of Howard County. From that point on, I intermittently struggled with trying to pick up my pace to reach my goal versus just easing back enough to finish the race comfortably. I was able to pick it up ever so slightly at mile 12 but I was working hard and pushing with every ounce of physical and mental strength I could muster.
As I crossed the finish line, I looked at my garmin and realized my time was just one second off from my time last year. Talk about consistent!! I was disappointed that I did not hit my goal time but also very pleased that I stuck with my plan as best I could. I gave it my all during the entire race and I left everything on the course. At one point during the race (about mile 10), I felt like I was working harder than I ever had during a race and felt like the race was slipping away from me. In the past, I would have let it. While I have never imagined quitting, I would have slowed down to a pain free pace and just accepted that I was doing what I could. Not this time, I pushed harder and held on to my pace as best I could. I remember Chip telling me “it’s not going to be easy and you are going to be working hard the entire time.” So I pressed on, giving it my all the entire 13.1 miles. At first I was very disappointed that despite my hard work both in training and in the race, I did not hit my goal. I thought that this race was not a success for me. What I later realized was that this race was a huge success as it was the first time that I pushed harder when it was getting really tough.
I spent the next hour on the beach drinking free beer, eating Irish stew, hanging out with family and friends and playing in the sand with Thomas. Beautiful weather, great venue, fantastic workout with 7500 people, one of which happens to be my favorite triathlete (my brother), finish along the beach and drinking beer all before 9:15 am...what’s not to love about this race?
Just before writing this race report, I was reading through other race reports from the Shamrock Half Marathon and Marathon. As I was rereading Mark Yost's race report from the 2008 Shamrock Marathon, I felt like he had written my race report for me. Mark's comments: "Not sure what happened in the final 4 miles....Pre-race went like clockwork.....I'm also not sure why the quads overreacted..." Granted had I been running Mark's pace for a marathon distance, I would not be wondering anything other than when I was going to wake up from my dream.....but very funny that I had the exact thoughts, on the same course, with the same amount of miles left.
Now if I can have the same experience Mark had the following year....in 2009 Mark hit his goal of going sub 3 in a marathon (I want to go sub 2 for a half), beat his 2008 time by almost 6 minutes (I would "settle" for 3 minutes) and PR'd....Could you send me some of that Shamrock Karma, Mr Yost?