Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Shamrock Shake

 There is something different about running a marathon for someone else.  Your focus is different, and instead of listening to the patting of your shoes on the pavement, or the in and out of your own breath, you're listening to the breath of another.  Suddenly the race is not so long or hard for you, and you are paying attention to how difficult it is for those beside you.
 On March 18, 2012, I ran the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.  It is a great race, and I set out for Virginia Beach with my friend Wayne on Saturday to check into our hotel and join the Team in Training festivities.  We are both Team in Training coaches, but we are also running an ultra marathon together on April 21, so we thought this would be a good way to train for it and assure ourselves that 31 miles can't be so much longer than 26.2.  We decided to run with some of the Team in Training members who had raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, instead of going for speed.
We checked into the Red Roof Inn 12 miles outside of the Beach, because all the hotels at Virginia Beach were over 100 dollars a night, and required a two night stay.  Wayne and I were having none of that, and we both reserved rooms at the Red Roof Inn for around $50 for the night.  Now, we were expecting some pretty questionable digs.  The ratings and comments online made reference to someone being murdered in this inn, cockroaches, and general filth in the bathroom and bedroom, but when we got there, the staff was polite and conscientious, we were checked in quickly and efficiently, and our rooms were pretty decent.
   Now, there was one questionable stain in my bathtub, and I certainly didn't sit on or blacklight my comforter (some things are better left unknown and undiscovered) but my bed was comfortable and the room was warm.  Perfect for me!
  We had dinner with Team in Training that night and gorged ourselves on pasta and breadsticks.  At any point in your running career, if you find yourself eating a ton before a race that you think you won't find strenuous, stop.  You won't feel good the next day, and you won't be able to justify the calories.  I definitely didn't take my own advice, and continued eating bread sticks like I was watching a slow motion train crash.  But I'm not the worst offender.  I once watched in abject horror and hilarity as my roommate consumed an entire loaf of garlic bread the night before her very first 5k.  That's 3.1 miles.  Literally 2,000 calories for 3.1 miles.  I should have stopped her, but I just sat there open mouthed as she continued to eat slice after buttery, garlicky slice.  And she didn't even offer me any...
  ANYwho, Wayne and I headed back to our luxurious Red Roof Inn rooms at around 9pm, and I drifted off to sleep immediately.  One benefit of being a J.D./M.B.A. student is that when the opportunity arises, i can sleep anytime, anywhere, in any position.  This was one such occasion, the night before a marathon, that I was only too happy to go to sleep super early.  My bed was SUPER comfortable, and I therefore suggest to you that you consider staying at this Red Roof Inn.  The service was great and the beds were comfortable, and Virginia Beach was close enough.
  The next morning, Wayne and I met at my car at 6am to begin our dreaded parking search.  Virginia Beach has a terrible parking set up, and on a busy weekend it is next to impossible to find a place to leave your car. We found a spot about a mile away from the start line, which was not ideal, but it was ten dollars for the whole day, and I didn't want to risk looking for parking closer.  As we walked to the Holiday Inn, where our running buddies were in their hotel rooms getting ready, I wolfed down a couple energy bars and a bottle of gatorade with only a little bit of nervous energy.
  We ended up running with a group of girls who were hoping for a five hour time.  As we kept trudging along, three of them dropped off to stay with one girl who was having digestive programs.  That left Wayne, me, and Dana, a two time Leukemia survivor.  Dana is a tough broad, with a filthy sailor mouth, and it was blissfully distracting to hear her yelling the F-word near the end of the race because her legs were hurting so badly.  She pushed really hard, and Wayne and I reined ourselves in to keep up the 11 minute mile pace the whole race.  By the end, she was stopping and going a lot, running about 200 yards and then stopping short to walk again.
  What she learned the hard way, is that sometimes that late in the race, you are hurting no matter what, and it is better to just put one foot in front of the other to finish instead of stopping and going.  That can be really hard on your body.  I know it was REALLY hard on us!  At one point, around mile 23, Dana's shoelace came untied.  She looked at us helplessly and I bent down to tie it for her.  Even though I wasn't super tired, and even though I was having a good time, there is something about kneeling to the ground after 23 miles that makes it near impossible to stand back up again.  I managed though, and also managed to gulp down a half of a cup of Guiness that some frat boy at the sidelines at mile 25 handed me.  Wayne looked at me in shock and slight disappointment, while Dana moved to the side expecting the Guiness to make a reappearance, but the cold, dark beer was the most refreshing thing I could have had after miles of heat and sun and that yucky new thicker Gatorade and papery water.  It was just what I needed when Dana decided she wanted to sprint in the last .3 miles out of nowhere, and just what I needed to wander deliriously through the finish line walkway and collected all my free schwag.
  It was a great race, and I had an awesome time running with friends.  Most importantly, I hope it means that Wayne and I are ready for our Ultra marathon in t-minus 2 weeks.  Yikes!