This was my first Shamrock marathon and also the first one that I really trained specifically for. I chose the Shamrock after hearing about the scarce elevation change and being warned about the wind. I had the goal of getting a BQ time but it’s a lofty 3:10 for my AG. My last marathon was the Marine Corps in 2011 where I finished with a 3:26, so I had plenty of work to do. So I turned to an expert for help. Thanks Mark Yost for the plan that would give me a good shot of meeting the goal.
The training plan was different from other triathlon plans I've followed in the past. Plans I followed in the past were more intensity based plans and not so much of building the base type plans. During IM training most of the heavy weeks would get me to a total running mileage of 35miles max, where this marathon plan had me running more than 50 miles a week. I looked forward to training from a different philosophy where I would start to build the aerobic base or the diesel engine as I heard Macca call it once.
During training I felt the mileage like never before. Several times I had heavy and tired legs that was a different tired feeling I never had before. Mark said the taper would bring them back and sure enough, during the taper week I finally felt them starting to come back.
The morning weather wasn't ideal. It was 40ish (felt colder) with 10-20 mph winds. I was bummed when there was no 3:10 pace group, just 3:05 and 3:15. Based on training and how I felt going into the race the goal I set was to squeak under the 3:10 BQ time. I started just behind the 3:05 PG and wanted to go steady. I thought about starting with the 3:15 group then leaving after the first 4-6 miles, but I didn't because I didn't want to be in the wind alone. The wind was NNE so it was with us at the start and finish but against for the long trek north to Ft. Story. I found a couple of guys to hang with during mile 4. We all had the same goal. Soon the group swelled to over 10. That one thing about the course is that there aren't that many 26.2 runners as compared to the 13.1. So that in conjunction with the wind, there were times where there were large gaps in front and behind us. The group worked well for the most part. I did some time at the front, but not a large amount with all the people in the group. I was feeling strong and in good spirits by the 10k mark. I usually stayed in the 2nd or 3rd row and on the leeward side of the crosswind. Miles 6-15 were into the wind, so thank goodness for the group.
By 20k, I still felt strong and just had the feeling of "wow this is a long way to run". I was just happy I found the group and was able to feed off them. Miles 16-22 are the circle of Ft. Story...this is where things started to change. When 30k passed, I thought this is the proverbial "line" that is spoken about in the IM marathon where people go down, but I still felt strong. Mile 20 the "line" in the marathon was similar. I still felt good. A little tired but not too bad.
In the beginning of the loop around Ft. Story, I just had the same feeling of it being a long way to go still. It didn't help that you run on this 2 lane road closed to traffic and you are in the woods with only the breathing and the pattering of the feet from the runners in the group breaking the silence. The wind here was the lightest of the race and it was the warmest too. During this stretch is when it started to get hard. After an aid station there would be a small gap between me and where I'd want to be and I had trouble closing that gap. I didn't want to burn too many matches considering the late stages of the race, but at the same time I started to feel difficulty. It wasn't anything I couldn't push through though. But by mile 21 and 22 I started to feel twinges in the right calf, hamstring and both biceps and forearms. The arms weren't a concern, but leg cramps could derail everything. This has happened before at Eagleman and IMWI. But I knew my splits up to this point would put me on the wrong side of 3:10 and I would need a big push to the finish over the last 2 miles. So I planned to just keep running at a steady pace and not push it too hard. At this point, was already running a 7:30-45 pace and knew if I pushed now I would cramp. But by mile 23 my body decided it was time and the hamstring cramped (not the one that bothered me during training). On the way to the finish, looking at the Garmin file, it looks like I stopped 8 times to stretch, walk, rub, punch or do anything I could to get the leg to cooperate. But in the end it was to no avail.
Just like an IM...after the race I thought, "I'm done with this distance", but then I started thinking about the next one. Thanks to Deb Taylor I found it. Today I registered for the Potomac River Run Marathon, so I can give Boston another try. Thanks to Mark Yost for all the help in getting a big PR.