Monday, March 21, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon, Part 1: The Pre-race

When traveling for a race, the race is only part of the total experience. In this case, the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon proved to be an adventure.

The plan was to eat dinner at the nearby Manchester Cafe, and then make the 5 hour and 45 minute trek to Virginia Beach, so as to miss traffic around DC. We hit a snag instantly when I realized I forgot my pre-race snack, so we got on the road around 6:30. The trip was long, but uneventful, and we arrived at Virginia Beach just before midnight.

On Saturday, we got up early, enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet at "Angelo's By the Sea", an oceanfront restaurant, and then headed to packet pickup at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Of all the parts of a race, packet pickup is one of the ones I'm best at. I've never failed to get my race bib and goody bag . Although we narrowly avoided getting line for the craft show instead of the race expo, I eventually got my bib, bag, and some nice Shamrock Marathon merchandise. It was a nice expo, with a good selection of vendors, exhibitors, and representatives from other races around the U.S, and we wandered through twice, the first by ourselves and then a second time with a friend and his family. It wasn't quite as big an expo as the one at the Philadelphia Marathon (and Half Marathon), but it was definitely enjoyable.

After a fruitless search for a soft pretzel, the perfect early afternoon snack for pre-race day, we had some snacks on the boardwalk and then played a round of mini-golf at Top Gun Arcade and Mini Golf, which references the region's military presence with mannequins and vintage recruiting posters.

It was one of the tougher mini-golf courses we've ever played, with every hole being set up on a mound. Miss the hole by inches, and the ball would roll several feet away. We did not make par for the course.

Following golf, Chris and I headed for my favorite part of race weekend and the one I most excel at: the carb-loading dinner. We had a 5:00 reservation at Il Giardino, and Italian restaurant on Atlantic Avenue. We enjoyed Peroni, one of our favorite beers from Italy, and had focaccia bread with oil and Parmesan cheese as an appetizer, and then each had Penne a la vodka as our main course. For dessert, I had chocolate gelato and Chris had the Napoleon. We found that by combining them, we could create an even greater dessert.

It was one of the best meals I've ever had, and I've had a lot of great meals!

Although we were tired from all the walking, and I wanted to turn in early since I would be up early for the race, our adventures were not yet over for the day. On Saturday, the moon was at its closest point to Earth in 18 years, and we had an incredible view!

There are many things photography does just not do justice, and this was one of them. It was an amazing end to very enjoyable day: expo, mini golf, carb loading, and supermoon.

How could the next day possibly live up to that?

Coming up in Part 2: The Not-So-Amazing Race and Aftermath.

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