Shamrock weekend is officially over. Some remnants of the festivities still remain. The city crews were out this morning removing the “road closed” signs and cones. Guests have checked out of their hotels and are headed home. Construction has resumed on the North End and it’s business as usual here in Virginia Beach. I am enjoying what I feel is a well deserved day off. The small set of stairs down to my rental are quite challenging today. Slow and steady, which is exactly how I tackled the 1/2 marathon yesterday.
The day started early with a 4:45 wake up time. Coffee, bagel and Vitamin Water was the menu for my breakfast. I met my coach/dad promptly at 6:00 so he could drop me at the starting line by 6:30. I arrived right on schedule for one last bathroom break and time to find corral 4. I started at the back of the corral. I was feeling lots of emotion. It was overwhelming. This was not my first 1/2, but for some reason, it was very emotional. I felt a mix of part extreme happiness and part of me was fighting back tears. Over the past few months I have faced several personal challenges. When I first signed up for the race, it was in an attempt for me to focus on a goal and focus on myself. And I had done that. The day had arrived to prove it. I was choosing only to race against myself, which if you are like me, I am my worst critic. The weather was a comfortable 54 degrees at the start. I took off with a great pace of a 10 minute mile. Then after a good 3 miles, there was my coach right where he told me he would be smiling and cheering. I would pass him in the same spot about an hour later. I kept that pace up for the first 7 miles. I then began to slow a little, but felt great. I had great tunes and great scenery through the fort. I ran by the athletic fields where I had played kickball years before and reminisced. Exiting the park, I began the home stretch. Popping my jelly beans for the last hope of some energy. Passing my coach, “3 miles to go, looking good!”, he said as he gave a high-five. I would see him one last time at the 12 mile mark. I knew I was moving slow, never an option of walking, I am sure my shuffling barely qualified as running. 37th street, 36th street, 35th street…I see the finish! Usually giving one last push, I was doing good to keep the pace going on the same boardwalk I train regularly. The boardwalk was lined with hundreds of cheering spectators, just as I had been the day before for the 8k event. Strangers began to call my name from my race bib. “Go Jess”, “You got it Jess”, “Way to go Jess!” To all of you, thanks for that. It means to world to us runners. If I had more breathe or energy yesterday, I would have thanked you. Crossing the finish line at 2:28 made me happy. I was hoping to break 2:30 and I had done that. It wasn’t my best 1/2 time. But it also wasn’t my worst. I felt impressed and proud of myself! Any of you that have set a goal and get to the moment of achieving it, you know exactly what I am talking about. Especially if your goal requires you to push your body to limits it isn’t accustomed to doing. My complete respect goes out to all the marathon finishers as well.
Special thanks to J and A racing for putting on an awesome event. With all the fanfare, you managed to help keep a smile on my face through the long run. I loved all of the fun signs and jokes on Shore drive. I had an awesome time! I loved the swag at the end too. Great hat and sweatshirt! Having run the 8k 15 times before, this was my first Shamrock 1/2 and it definitely was one of my favorite races.
The song I repeated several times during the race was Stronger, by Kelly Clarkson. I will leave you with one of the lyrics that moved me, literally. I even found myself singing while I ran, and at one point, even bouncing a little. Great words that parallel running.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter, footsteps even lighter, doesn’t mean I’m over cause your gone
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger, just me myself and I
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone”
Happy running and hope to see you at the next race… Spartyka Wounded Warrior 5k this Saturday!