Shamrock was our first full marathon last year, and boy, did I crash and burn during that one. Finished about 1/2 hour slower than I intended, in fact. However, after Steamtown (my redemption) I came to the realization that I needed to keep it to one marathon a year. So I'm signed up for Wineglass in October, but I didn't want to miss the fun of Shamrock weekend. Also, I really love being part of Team LiveSTRONG, which is the premier charity of J&A Racing. So Doug, his bro (Nick), and I decided to do the Dolphin Challenge--8K Saturday and Half Marathon Sunday. Still felt a little crazy, but think of all the race swag: two shirts, two medals, two after-parties, and a Dolphin challenge pin to boot!
I'll post the race details in the next two posts, but I have to share a few things first:
- If you've never done a J&A Race in Virginia Beach (they also have the Wicked 10K, Surf-N-Santa 10 Miler, Virginia is for Lovers 14K, and Crawlin Crab race), you absolutely must. These folks really know how to put on a race, and Virginia Beach is so welcoming to racers. Both years that I've been there, Shamrock is incredibly well organized. I don't have a bad thing to say about the organization, except maybe that they won't hire me and relocate me to VA. :)
- I, like many others, was incredibly disappointed when the news broke about Lance Armstrong. I've seen him as a hero for a long time, and it broke my heart that he's been lying all these years. However, I was still very, very proud to represent Team LiveSTRONG for the 2nd year. Regardless of what Lance did on the bike, the organization he founded is still an amazing way to help those affected by cancer and their families.
- I'm really glad we've made this a family event. In addition to Doug, Nick and I doing the Dolphin Challenge, my mom ran the half (and got a new PR to boot!), and Doug's Cousin (Terri), his other brother (Shawn), and his parents did the 8K. I have to say, Doug's parents used to--and sometimes, still do--laugh at us with all this running. However, I'm so happy they're taking a proactive approach to their health by joining us. They run/walk it, and considering that Doug's dad has had surgery on BOTH knees, I think that's a great accomplishment. Of all my running milestones, getting so many friends and family members to join the fun is my favorite one.
Most race reports don't discuss the expo, but I love me a good expo--by good, I mean lots of fun/free stuff. This one definitely improved over last year. Packet pickup went fast and it was super efficient, and I really liked the shirts. They seem like they're better quality than last year's, too. It was a decent sized expo with lots to buy (somehow, I got out of there without spending any money), and had some samples from Nuun (yuck), an avocado company (pineapple guac--YUM!), and McDonald's. As for the latter, the irony is not lost on me. We made our rounds and left for the hotel.
Nick being Nick at the expo :)
We stayed at the Hilton Oceanfront this year, which is right at the finish line. While the Hilton is a bit more expensive (although it was way cheaper than their regular rates), it was totally worth it. After the half, Doug and I were able to run up to our room and quickly shower and make it back downstairs to see my mom finish. The hotel staff all wore Shamrock Marathon shirts and were extremely welcoming. They gave us Red Bull at check in--it was nice that they gave you something, but I definitely think Gatorade might have been more appropriate for the race. Nonetheless, I'm always grateful for little touches of hospitality, even if I don't partake.
View of the finish line (and beach) from our balcony
The family attended the Team LiveSTRONG dinner Friday night in the VIP tent (right behind our hotel--also convenient). It was a great dinner--kudos to the Bakers' Crust for excellent catering. Two women who became young widows last year due to this horrible disease spoke, and I was in tears. Their resolve to be strong for their young kids amazed me. They were truly inspirational women.
After dinner, we basically made our way up to the rooms and called it a night since we had a long two days ahead of us, with the 8K starting things out Saturday morning.