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At the Races

Shamrock Marathon and Anthem Half Marathon, Virginia Beach, VA, March 16, by Paige Sato

Comparison is the death of joy, according to Mark Twain.

This past weekend I traveled to Virginia Beach for their annual Shamrock Marathon/Half Marathon. I went alone, but met up with about 20 members of my running club, the majority of whom were running the marathon; I was signed up for the half.

I had no idea what to expect–the race is considered flat and fast, but given our lovely winter weather and my shortened (due to my ankle injury) training schedule, my training wasn’t quite at the same level it was for Philly.  That being said, I set a goal of 2:05, which would give me a 4 minute PR, and programmed my Garmin with the different pace ranges my coach provided.

After a great team pasta dinner, I went to bed too late Saturday night (binge watching Orange is the New Black) and my 5am alarm came much too soon.  Temps were hovering in the mid-40s (a treat!),  and I left my hotel (about 6 blocks from the start) at 6:45 for the 7am start.

I ran my race.  My goal for my first 3 miles was 29 minutes (9:40 pace). I came in about 28:11.  By mile 6 I should have been at 57:30; I picked up the pace a bit and hit that target exactly at 55 minutes.  At the 10 mile mark, I was at 1:32:29 (ahead of my projected 1:35), and I wrapped up the last 5k with a 2:03:19 chip time! A 6 minute PR!

Woo-freakin’-hoo! Aside from my first blister ever (yes, you read correctly, my first blister ever), this was the perfect race. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, and my last mile (9:03) was my fastest mile in the second half of the race.   After going through the chute (where I collected, in addition to my wicked heavy medal, a hat, several bananas, pretzels, water, a granola bar and a beach towel), I headed back to my hotel, stretched out, texted the Mister with the good news, ate a leisurely breakfast, had a great conversation with another runner at breakfast, packed up, and headed back to New Jersey.

I was pumped, singing along with radio, and then I stopped to fill the mini with gas. Of course, I checked my email while waiting, and there was my “finishers’ certificate” from the race officials.

And my bubble burst. Yes, there was my time: 2:03:19, but whereas I thought I had kicked some serious butt, comparatively my results were worse than mediocre. I finished 113th in my age/gender group.  Out of 179. Overall I came in 2926th place (out of 3891 finishers).  In my gender I was 1295th of 1877.   I could have sworn there were more than 3891 runners, and I seriously began to doubt why I was even participating in this stupid hobby when apparently EVERYONE ELSE IN MY AGE GROUP, NO STRIKE THAT, THE ENTIRE WORLD, IS SO FREAKIN’ SPEEDY.

Let me tell you, it’s a good thing I had 5 more hours of drive time to sort this out in my head, and by the time I arrived Chez Sato, I had calmed (slightly), and was more determined than ever to break that 2:00 mark, to ramp up the strength training, and to be more mindful of all the good that running brings to my life–good health, good friends, good opportunities. But at the same time, I think I was ready to put running in a time-out.

Monday was a rest day (and for good reasons–a 7 hour drive home in a standard-transmission mini cooper does not make for the best post-race recovery plan).  I headed into the city, slightly subdued, for a database training.  When it was time for self-introductions, I left out “running” as one of my hobbies, claiming only knitting and reading. (which, in hindsight, is a bad, bad idea when you’re clearly the oldest person in the class by at least a decade or so.  Those hobbies just cement you in crazy cat lady territory).

At lunch (which I ate alone, knitting, because I think the hobby thing scared my classmates), I was going through my email.  Another “finishers’ certificate” from the race director.  With dread, I opened it and scrolled down:

Hallelujah (oops it’s Lent–WOOT)!

Gender/age group: 113 of 603.  Place: 2933/8936.  Gender Place: 1298/5510

Oh thank god, I don’t suck.

And thank god I read. Because Mark Twain was sooooo right. I think I’m gonna wear my medal to class tomorrow.  Because that will really want to make them eat lunch with me. The crazy reading knitting runner.

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NYC Marathon Bus

NYC Marathon Bus

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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