Two weeks and a day before Shamrock, I tweaked my right hamstring on my last long run, and hobbled ( ie walked!) home. A massage, multiple ART appointments, rest days and finally a few running days later, I decided to go for it – we were off to the Shamrock Marathon in beautiful Virginia Beach, Virginia. Unfortunately my body didn’t cooperate! Just a few days before the marathon, I came down with a monster sinus cold/virus. The day before we were to leave I seriously thought about canceling, but told myself – hey, it’s just a cold, how bad can it be? I didn’t realize how much the cold would take away from my energy.
DH and I left Saturday morning for the race - airplane flights when you have blocked sinuses? No problem! ( ugh – my ears now hurt). Amid much coughing, sneezing and blowing of noses, we landed in Norfolk and made our way to our hotel and then the expo. It was a beautiful day – sunny, warm, a little windy – but really, just perfect. We were told the day before had set a record for temperature – 83° ! but the day of the marathon was supposed to be cloudy and in the 50s. We picked up my number, did a little shopping, ( lots of gels and sports beans!) and then headed back to meet my friend Joe and his girlfriend for dinner.
Ah, dinner. The food was fantastic – the wait was long! We had reservations, but the restaurant was really overwhelmed by all the marathoners looking for pasta. After dinner I had an early bedtime while DH watched some NCAA basketball. With my body worn out from the cold, I had no problem falling asleep.
The next morning, I woke up around 6:40 and headed down to the lobby for breakfast. The marathon starts at 8am – the half started at 7am(in the dark!). I watched the sun rise over the ocean while eating my bagel – did I mention how our hotel room overlooked the ocean? It was beautiful to see and hear the waves crashing on the shore – but oh, that means it’s windy!! I hurried up to put on my running clothes and made my way down the street to the start. Those first few steps outside – brrrr! COLD and windy! Yikes! I had some cough drops and a packet of kleenex with me, an extra long sleeved tee to throw to DH when I saw him around 12 miles, but brrr – it was cold! I made it to the starting area only to hear the race was delayed for 15 minutes – something about construction, never quite figured that out. I found Joe, found the 4 hour pace group, got in the corral, and finally, finally, we were off.
The race first loops south, then back to the starting area and loops north. I passed DH at the one mile mark by our hotel, and knew I would see him again by our hotel as we were looping back. That first mile felt great – I felt strong, the pace seemed easy – I knew I was holding back, easily running with the pace group, thinking this was perfect. But by mile 2 I was feeling the effects of the cold – I suddenly realized my head and my nose felt horrible, I felt dehydrated from all the blowing of my nose, and my energy was zapped – completely gone. I just put my head down and stayed with the 4 hour group – there were a lot of us, and the two pacers were fun to listen to. We went up and over a bridge – the only hill on the course from what I’ve been told – and headed south a bit more. I grabbed some water at a water stop and fell a bit behind, but caught up again to the pacers after a bit. Then, around mile 6 or so, I could feel my hamstring – not a twinge so much, but an awareness that it wasn’t happy. The cold wind blowing on my legs kept them from warming up, and I think it was causing my hamstring to tighten up a bit. Around mile 8 I had already decided it wasn’t my day – my hamstring was tightening up more, I could run, but I could tell it wasn’t going to last the entire race: or if it did, I probably would be injured, and not able to run for most of the spring. So I decided to stop at the halfway point. Why at 13.1 miles? I don’t know – I could have decided to stop at our hotel, around the 11.5 mile mark, but knowing I at least lasted a half marathon made me feel better.
I saw my husband around mile 11 and let him know what was going on. I almost changed my mind – but knowing my goal is to requalify for Boston next year, I’ve already finished enough of these dang races to know what that feels like -and knowing stopping would give me another chance this spring, I walked off the course just after the 13 mile mark.
I generally feel pretty good about my decision – my legs feel fantastic today, I’m not sore one iota – but I kinda wish I had finished to get the medal to show my daughter! It really was a beautiful marathon, a beautiful town – I will definitely go back one day. Meanwhile, a marathon on May 15th is calling my name!