Sunday, April 8, 2012
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...
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.
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!