Monday, March 26, 2018

Race Reports: 2018 TowneBank Shamrock 8k and Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon

We skipped Shamrock two years since I made my first visit for the marathon in 2011:  I didn't want to go down in 2014 since I was slated for surgery and grumpily limping through races, and last year we didn't go down as my wife recovered from complications from a broken ankle.

After so many trips down, Virginia Beach feels like home.  It was great to get back to Doughboys, Il Giardino, and Maple Tree Pancake House.  It was great to see Neptune towering over the boardwalk.  It was nice to get Duck Donunts again.  It was great to find new places, too, like the Military Aircraft Museum, Green Flash, Smartmouth Pilot House, and Home Republic Brewpub.  

But mostly, it's great to run almost completely flat races and with big free beer parties afterwards. 

TowneBank Shamrock 8K

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  This race is a blast.  It's an almost completely flat through downtown and oceanfront Virginia Beach, and I've had some of my best races here.  I hate-ran it in 2012, when I was supposed to be running the marathon again, and PR'd with a 41:10 that I'll be hard-pressed to come within 10 minutes of.  I've never approached that again, but I've had relatively good races there.  In the low 50s in 2013 and 2016, while in 2015 it was the only race that Spring where I wasn't having a relapse of compartment syndrome.  And, from a beer-per-mile standpoint, the 8K is really your best value of the weekend. 

I came in this year with a 57:04, an 11:29-minute mile pace.  I couldn't make up my mind about whether to press hard for a sub-55, or take it easy because I was going to push myself for a 2:30 half marathon the next day, and I really didn't do either.  As a result, I had a time I was slightly disappointed in for the 8K and was also a little gassed for the half the next day.  But, I enjoyed every second of that 57:04, especially since I was clad in the logo of the Superbowl LII Champion Philadelphia Eagles, and that's really what counts.

My only mild criticism -- and J&A Racing knows what they're doing -- is that it just takes FOREVER for the corrals to go off.  It's a 7:45 start time, but our corral (the last, to be fair), didn't go off until 8:30.  

The post-race party was fun, as usual, and we spent the rest of the day at the Military Aircraft Museum, with a quick pre-dinner stop at Green Flash Brewery.  Both great.

Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon

My best half marathon is 1:59:10, back in 2010, when I was young and dreamed of glory.  Since then, I'd ran the Wild Half in 2015 and Shamrock in 2016, never getting back under 3 hours.  I don't particularly care to speed train enough to worry about beating my old PRs, qualifying for Boston (which is nevah going to happen), or any speed metrics.  But, I wanted to see how fast I could finish this just so I could think about whether it was feasible to take another shot at the marathon.  I was a 5-hour marathoner when I was in my mid-30s and right at the middle of the bell curve in about every distance except the marathon.  Compared to my other distances, I was a bad marathoner.  I'm not shy about that.  But, I wanted to test whether a 5:00-5:30 marathon was feasible.  I just don't want to think about being out there for 6+ hours.  

With that in mind, my goal was a 2:30.  I thought that a perfect 12-minute mile pace would bring me in around 2:36, and I've been running pretty consistently at sub-11 minute miles, that I could bank some time and finish in about that.

The short answer is I was a little slower than I hoped, at 2:38, but that I'm also pretty happy with that.  I paced myself well and consistently, and ran the whole race until mile 11, when I needed to mix some in, even though I'd run an 8K the day before and my long runs had only gotten up to 8-miles.  

With that in mind, I've never hurt so much after a half, even when I ran at the edge of death to that 1:59.  I needed considerable help from the railing to get down off the boardwalk onto the beach, and when I tried to sit down in a corner of the party tent with a bowl of Murphy's Irish Stew, my legs cramped up and I had to stand back up.  (The very kind runners near me were concerned, but I was fine once I got some food in me).  After some soup, some chips, 4 Yuenglings (The new Golden Pilsner is ok.  It's like a better version of Bud Light, honestly.) I felt much better.And after a post-race trip to Smartmouth Brewing's Pilot House and Home Republic, I was feeling very good indeed.

For the first time, I officially scored a Dolphin Challenge medal, and J&A Racing did a great job as usual with everything.  It was bittersweet to leave Virginia Beach with our customary Maple Tree breakfast, but as I've already said, we'll happily be back in 2018.

My only complaint is that Town E. Bear was not as heavily involved in the post-race festivities as he was in 2016.  I find Town E. Bear hilarious, especially when I'm in a big tent drinking, and especially when a bear mascot gets up on stage and dances.

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