No… not Smurfette at a leprechaun bachelor party! Me at the start of the 2013 Shamrock Half Marathon!
Ok, so my jokes aren’t so good, but more about that later. Although this was not my first half, it was my first in a LONG time. So I didn’t have too many expectations, especially since I was using this as a training run for the Eagleman 70.3.
The race was well organized, except for the 15- minute delay at the start. For St Patrick’s sake, lad, it was 33 degrees out and windy! All I wanted to do was run; run my little arse off (Ok, Ok, my Irish accent isn’t any better than my jokes)! Anyway, with the coral starts (I was in coral 2) the start wasn’t bad at all. There was approximately one minute between corrals and you moved up to the start line in the interim. The first mile was not like some races where you’re participating in some odd combination of a conga line and a kitten chasing a laser. The crowd cleared up pretty quickly and I was able to settle into a comfortable pace. My wife, Noel, who was running with me, instead of making fun of me as usual, peeled off at the first set of port-a-potties. I have to commend the race director, there was a crap ton of port –a-potties. Instead of waiting for her, like a gentleman, I decided to trudge on (I needed the extra minute or so, anyway, to ensure I beat her)! Over the first few miles I enjoyed the scenery: lots of supporters lining the course, runners wearing funny green tutus, kilts, Irish maiden outfits… wait a minute… did that sign say FREE BEER? Crap, it’s all the way over on the other side of the road. Well, maybe it isn’t such a good idea to have a beer a mile and a half into the race. As I contemplated my somewhat regrettable decision to skip the first beer stop, I followed the course down towards Ft Story.
At about the three-mile point, I was regretting the cup of coffee I drank before the race and had to stop at the port-a-potty. I swear I peed for about a minute straight. All I know is that it sounded like a fight was going on in the john next to me! Banging, doors slamming, someone talking to themselves… I guess whatever it takes to get through the race! After my marathon pee, I exited the port-a-potty and got back on the course, checked my Garmin and decided to pick it up a little to make up for the stop (turns out the potty break was my slowest mile at 9:00). Continuing down the road towards Ft Story, there were some great placards along the side of the road… what do you call a place where lots of leprechauns live? A lepre-condo! As I ran, the joke took my mind off the run, even though it was quite enjoyable. Another placard… what kind of music to leprechauns play? ShamRock-n-Roll! At this point, I thought I heard some wailing in the near distance. I figured it was probably one the bands on the course. The song sounded vaguely familiar, but not quite right. As I approached where the band was set up, I expected to see some rockers wailing on their instruments, but to my surprise I think it really was a leprechaun! I couldn’t really tell because, again, I was on the wrong side of the road, but the lead singer was only about three and a half feet tall… I think his/her (?) guitar was taller than him! Like I said, I’m not sure, but I think it was a leprechaun… I do know, however, that the singer sounded like a leprechaun with his Lucky Charms stuck in his zipper!
What does a leprechaun take to get to the moon? A Sham-rocket! I love these jokes! All races need funny/punny signs along the way! So, about mile 5.5ish we turned onto Ft Story. The sign said, “Stop. Wait for the sentry to wave you forward before proceeding.” So, my sarcastic self, thought about either stopping and waiting for him to tell me to proceed or yell at the other runners for not following directions. Well, to my disappointment, I did neither and just kept going. I grabbed whatever gel packet they were handing out at about mile 6, Boom, I think. I got apple cinnamon, not my favorite, but what the heck. It tasted like applesauce and wasn’t too bad.
At about mile 7, we turned back into the wind… Dang! I had forgotten about the wind. Wait let me see if I can think of another leprechaun joke… What happens to a leprechaun when he falls in the creek? He gets wet! Ok, that took my mind off the wind for a second or two. Then I saw the Marines and wondered why they weren’t running and when did they get so young? Huh… ohh, there’s the lighthouse, that has to be a good sign! Uh-oh, what is going on in my stomach? I think the Boom wants me to make a “Boom-Boom”! I backed off my pace for a few minutes and my stomach settled down some. By the time we departed Ft Story my stomach was felling better and I thought the rough times were behind me.
At approximately mile 8 or 9 there were spectators lining the course again (not so many on Ft Story) and I was feeling a little better. My feet hurt, I hadn’t run that far outside in a long time, but I was in good spirits. I did some more people watching, wondered why a guy in a kilt with a Rangers Lead the Way shirt was walking and ohh… FREE BEER… and I’m on the right side of the road! So, like a good Irishman (ok, I’m Scottish, but close enough) I stopped for a quick pint, I mean cup. Ahhh, what a race! Back on my way again, I check my Garmin and for a minute thought I could finish at 1:45, but that would mean no more beer. So, I quickly trashed that idea and stopped at the next beer stop. Like a dog with a squirrel I am easily distracted!
So, about mile 10 my stomach started grumbling again. Dang applesauce! I know it wasn’t the beer… couldn’t be. I back off my pace a little again, but kept plugging away, telling myself only a 5K left to go! By mile 11, I was feeling better and there were lots of spectators out cheering. I unconsciously picked up my pace and cruised for a while feeling pretty good. I turned onto the boardwalk at mile 12.75ish and pushed on through the finish line… totally missing the huge Poseidon statue! But I did hear them call my name.
All in all, it was a very well organized race. It was flat and easy to run with lots of distractions (except on Ft Story). The beer/stew tent after the race was crazy and I bet if I hadn’t lost my Sherpa/brother and not found him for 1.5 hours would have been a blast. Great race, I recommend it to anyone, but especially to first time half marathoners and those looking for a PR. Oh yeah! I beat my wife by one minute! Thank God for the long line at her port-a-potty!