So this is over a week late and for that I do apologize. I think subconsiously I was waiting until I had filed the race under "pleasant memories" :) It WAS a good time - but had it's painful moments too.
The Shamrock is truly a weekend event. It starts with the race expo opening on Friday afternoon, some races on Saturday (the 8K and Final Mile), and finally with the marathon and half-marathon on Sunday. And I went every day....it's the most amazing atmosphere. I haven't done a TON of races, but I have done a few, and this is by far the best time.
I went on Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet and to shop at all the vendors. I bought a new Shamrock jacket - my old one is 6 years old and too big for me now. I got to pick up my training team t-shirt also, which only those of us who did the J&A racing training team got to get.
Then I went on Saturday! I had seen a running belt while I was shopping on Friday that holds a phone, iPod, GU's, etc. I decided on Friday night that I really wanted it (since none of my running pants or shorts have pockets), so I took M to the expo on Saturday to pick it up and to go out for Mongolian at my favorite place in VB - DW's (it's the only Mongolian in the area that has tofu and water chestnuts!).
Sunday, of course, was race day, so I kinda had to go on that day.
The race was on March 21st - 10 days ago. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Best weather I remember over the past 6 years of doing this run. It was sunny and a high of 70 that day, so during the run it was in the 60's. I actually dressed perfectly - a pair of capri's and a technical t-shirt. Green of course ;)
D dropped me off a few blocks from the race start - and I was cutting it close. I got there about 5 minutes before the gun went off. I blame myself for the 7-11 pit stop on the way there! Guess I should have skipped the beer at the party D and I went to Saturday night.
I had my usual pre-race traditional breakfast of a Clif bar. As usual, it did me very well.
I had momentary panic because I was having a hard time figuring out my new Garmin just before the race start. I swear - I was running to the starting line when it finally started doing what I wanted it to. Guess I should have done a better job of reading the instructions.
The first 9 miles were great. I had a good pace. Slow, but steady. I had my belt with my phone and ipod, as well as my GU's - which I ate every 45 minutes as instructed. I had great energy through the whole thing, so my Clif bar/GU combo is a keeper.
Between mile 9-10 I was trying to decide if I was still having fun. By mile 10, I came to the conclusion that I was NOT. Miles 10-12.75 were pretty brutal. I had blisters the size of meatballs on both heels and in the arch of my right foot, and each footstrike was ridiculously painful. I took many walk breaks.
I rounded the corner onto the boardwalk and decided I would be too humiliated to walk it, so I picked it up until the finish line. A very good friend of mine came to see me (first time anyone has EVER come see me), and I cried just a bit when I saw her at the finish line cheering for me.
So now for the pleasant parts....and what made me overall really enjoy the day....
There was a grandma running - with an American flag on a pole. We leapfrogged a lot, but it was amazing to me. Here is this 60+ year old woman running what I was running - carrying a bloody flag!!! ON A POLE. All I was carrying was my own body weight. And an iPod. It was quite motivating. She stopped a lot so people could take her picture.
In the last 3 miles as I was looping to the finish, I could see the first wave of the Marathoners....and it was cool. The first few that went by barely looked like they were breaking a sweat. The second wave were the wheelchair participants - and I'm telling you... If I have a perfectly-abled body...I have no excuses whatsoever. It was one of the most incredible things to see. The other waves I past looked like I felt....and I was nearly done! I can only imagine what it must have felt like to run twice as far as I did.
There were literally thousands of people - which does a whole lot for motivating you and pushing you along. Every possible shape, size, etc - all coming together for a common goal.
There were people lining the race course just cheering you on. Local school's cheerleading teams were there, random people just watching, family and friends holding signs for their loved ones - and every once and while, I'd hear someone yell "Go Christine!!!" (our names are printed on the bibs, so it freaks you out at first, but you get over it). And it always made me smile - and run just a bit faster.
DJ's. They had DJ's every few miles playing music and cheering us on. That was pretty neat too.
Water stops. There were dozens and dozens of volunteers manning the water/gatorade stops who would walk out and hand them to you. Always smiling, telling you how amazing you were doing - and offering something to drink! No beer stops during the race though. They actually make you finish before giving you beer.
Seeing the massive finish line where an announcer said your name as you were crossing over. It felt good to hear him - because I knew I was done!
The walk after the run - where you get your medal, finishers t-shirt, water, pretzels, granola bars, bananas, BEER....
And seeing my friend - cheering for me and knowing we were going out to breakfast and for bloody mary's right after :)
So H took me out, we ate and drank, and she brought me home. She told me how proud she was of me (and how cute I still looked even after running 13.1 miles) - which only another girl would say. That's me - a running girl with cute hair!
After I got home, I took a shower - and then a 3 hour nap. And then I laid in bed pretty much the rest of the day.
The next two days my legs were killing me, and stairs seemed insurmountable. By Wednesday, my legs were back to normal, so I figured it was time to start planning my Chicago Marathon training plan.
As it happens, Final Kick Sports is having an event tonight to teach people how to use their Garmin's! I'm signed up and ready to go. I'm excited - it can do so much, and I know it'll help me with my upcoming training.
So that's it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat - and I know I will. Over and over again.