I don't even know where to start with this epic weekend. It was the first of many amazing things. First year the whole family ran a race including the 8k and Leprechaun Dash on Saturday and myself running the Marathon on Sunday. I couldn't be more happy with the outcomes with PRs for the whole family.
First and foremost though I need to thank a few people. I can't say anything without thinking about thanking Jerry and Amy Frostick aka J&A. They are probably two of the most epic people I have ever met. You know when you start in the Shamrock Marathon and #shamrockbob announces your name is pretty awesome, so thank you Bob. Ryan Conrad, thank you for being an amazing friend, amazing coach, and amazing leader. Josh Wade, you are an inspiration and many thanks for all that you do. Rob Hunter, thank you for everything you do. And last but not least, there are not enough thank yous that can go around to my wife, Lori, and our kids. There are a lot of things I give up and they give up for me to train and also be a pacer.
So now onto the races.
So Saturday started with the 8k running with the family. I pushed Avery and we had a blast. We also ran with Becky and Steve Wyatt. Sometimes as you train hard and race you forget about the fun moments. It was a lot of fun to be able to run with Lori and Tim on their first Shamrock race. They were there when I did my first Shamrock 8k two years ago. I don't get to run a lot with Lori because I am either training or pacing the training team. The best part was that Lori PRed her race by several minutes.
After the 8k we had a few minutes to get ready for the Leprechaun Dash. It was pretty hectic. It was so crazy I forgot to put Avery's bib on her and had to run back to the tent to get it and put it on her right before. Then because of all the chaos we didn't get a good picture of Avery running. She was pretty quick though. I think she was the fastest in the first corral if it was time. Just saying. But the fun part was that all the training team members got #teamnugget shirts for our kids. Avery loved it and it was adorable. Who doesn't love watching an almost 2 year old getting a medal and a bib with her name? It just shows how important family is to Shamrock Weekend and J&A Racing.
So here goes the Marathon part. Two years ago I was scared to run the 8k and here's me going for a 3:30 Marathon. Who goes from a 12 minute pace to a 3:30 Marathon in two years? Building up to this marathon I had everything lined up. I know 18 minutes was a big gap for my goal but I knew I had it in me. The week leading up to the race was pretty stressful. The weather changed everyday. As a pacer for so many, I wear my heart on my sleeves and this being the first race I was finishing in front of them was a lot of pressure. I didn't want to let anyone down. I didn't want to let Ryan down, the training team, my pace group or my wife. I know I shouldn't feel this way but I always carry my team and friends on my shoulders.
So the weather sucked. Let's just put that out there. It wasn't fun for anyone. Not the half or full was any fun. During the marathon we had 30 mph winds in our face for most of the course from mile 8 to 18 and then right on you in Fort Story. But weather is always there good or bad. You just need to be prepared.
I started out with the 3:35 pace group. It was pretty large and they stuck together most the race. I stayed with the, into the first 10k then left them to get to my pace. The only thing I would regret is not staying with them because it probably would've been easier in the wind through the middle quarters. I felt strong. The first 6 miles was with the wind in your back. It was pretty awesome hearing my name from #shamrockbob. I fueled like I trained and everything went well. As we went out of on my own I was with a small group. We got back on General Booth and crossed our final bridge. A few of us traded blocking the wind onto the boardwalk. It worked out well until me and this little lady were the only ones taking the lead. The other runners just used us as blockers.
During this part, either the runners were getting faster or slower. It was pretty frustrating going on the boardwalk and back onto Pacific. We basically had the wind in our faces at 30 mph the whole time. I stayed on pace until mile 20ish. By this time we were getting into Fort Story and it didn't fail to show us how tough the environment is through there. Fort Story is the toughest section of the half and full at Shamrock. But on this race day, the wind was right on you. It literally was pushing you sideways or in your face the whole time. A lot of runners were either slowing down or walking for small parts. I decided to slow my pace down and stop fighting the wind. What would 30 seconds slower for a few miles do anyways. But around mile 21 I cramped up instantly. So I decided to stop and stretch my hamstrings. My right leg had nothing left but I knew I needed to keep pushing.
At this point I was freaking out internally. I was thinking I was going to crash like I did after I finished Detroit. I was also freaking out because everyone was waiting for me and expecting me to finish at 3:30. As I headed out from Fort Story and reminded myself that I got this, I have been through worse and I can do this. From this point on it was a fight of me versus me. I stopped and stretched basically every mile. But when I got back on Shore Drive I remember seeing some of my teammates heading North. I was hurting so bad but seeing them motivated me. I remember seeing Sarah and reminded myself I got two miles and she has over 10. It was what I needed to keep moving. I wasn't going to quit. I wasn't going to let the bad wolf win. I wasn't going to let the weather beat me. I was going to win. As I got closer to the boardwalk, I saw one of my teammates Shannon cheering. She ran with me and put a smile on my face. As I ran onto the boardwalk I started to go through an emotional hurricane. I could see King Neptune and I knew my team was waiting there for me. I was so pissed because I couldn't kick up the speed. I tried to pick up my pace but my hamstring wouldn't do it. So I just stuck it out.
As I finished I could first see my teammates on the left, my family on the right and my coach right there at the finish. I barely made it across the line and basically fell into Rob and Ryan. I was cramping badly and they walked me to the fence. My wife Lori yelled, I love you. I told her that back. At this point I was so emotional. I stretched and finally got to give my wife and kids a hug. Ryan wanted me to go to the medic tent and I told him, NO. I was going to enjoy this one with my teammates. And right there, Elizabeth, one of the ladies I paced who got injured finally put my medal on me. It was an honor to have her do that. And across the other side was my pace group and teammates waiting for me. There isn't a feeling that I can describe that was like seeing the people you pace each and every weekend there to cheer you on. I gave them a huge hug and I probably cried (I deny it).
There are some photos that perfectly show the emotions of the race and I got one that was perfect. I might not of hit my 3:30 but even in my blog when I announced it, I said I would be happy with anything in the 3:30s. And that I did. 3:39:21. I PRed by 9 minutes and crushed my goals no matter what. Jerry Frostick said it best, it's not always about PRs. It's about moments, it's about people, it's about everything that surrounds you.
I did learn a few things out there this weekend. I learned that no matter what, running a marathon is epic. Doesn't matter your time. I also learned that sometimes the weather is something that you can't plan for. My legs gave me all they could. I think they just got exhausted fighting the winds all morning. But I don't have any regrets. I gave it my best. 3 years ago I was 330 pounds (probably 339 at some point) and yesterday I ran a marathon in 3:39. So I am changing my official goal to #339for339. I am pretty happy with that.
The best part is I got to party and celebrate with my friends, family and teammates. Shamrock weekend wasn't about me. It was about everyone that is around me. My wife PRed, My kids PRed. #teamawesome all had amazing races. And at the end of the day everyone on our team had smiles on our faces.