Sunday, June 15, 2014

TowneBank Shamrock 8K Elite for a Day, Part 4

Shamrock 8k
Elite for a Day
Part 4

The Race
As I mentioned in the last post, I was all alone in the starting corral. If the elites were there, I had no idea where. Leprechaun Bob counted down my time and off I went. All alone, except for my two escorts. One stayed with me and one road up ahead to keep the course clear.

Here I am just after the start. Full of energy and smiling.

I ran like I had planned, steady and as even paced as I can get. The course was lonely and sparsely lined with spectators. Actually, I am pretty sure these people had no idea why I was running by myself. Has the race even started? One guy almost stepped in front of me while he was trying to get across the course. I did see my friend Jim about mile 1 and then again at mile 3. That was  nice surprise.  When I passed him at mile 3, he called my husband and said something about me not looking as strong as I did at mile 1.  Shocker. I am not sure what gave him that idea. Probably my exhausted look and labored breathing. I just took it mile by mile and tried to stay on pace and I was doing a pretty good job of it. 

Just before mile 4 the course crosses from the boardwalk onto Atlantic Ave. The crowd was big now and people were cheering for me!  It was such an amazing feeling seeing my family, friends, and total strangers cheering me on. I was almost done and I could draw on the energy of the crowd, so I thought. As I moved north the crowd disappeared and there is a break in the buildings which created a huge wind tunnel. I knew it was there and it still got me. My pace s-l-o-w-e-d, A LOT.
When I got to the turn that takes you back on the board walk, I had roughly a half mile to go. The wind tunnel was gone and I picked my pace back up for that last stretch to the finish. This is where I started to get nervous and wished it was over. I have run a lot of races at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  They all end at the Hilton where King Neptune's statue is located. I could see him in the distance, holding his trident. The problem is, that damn statue never seems to get closer. It stays a speck in the distance taunting you!
With about a quarter mile to go, I remember Jerry passing me going north on his golf cart. He cheered me on and said something like, "Keep going, you've got this!" Not two seconds later he comes flying back by me and yells "You need to MOVE!!!"
I managed to look over my shoulder  and saw the police escort's lights as the elites turned onto the boardwalk, soon the police passed right by me. I thought it was over, but they had left the elites to battle it out.  What I didn't know at the time, was that when I hit mile 4, I had about a 1:30 buffer if I kept on pace. My subsequent slowdown at the wind tunnel ate a huge chunk of this buffer. I had to dig deep and move as fast as my legs, lungs, and mind would let me.

Here I am closing in on the finish. You can see the elites behind me.

 I could hear Leprechaun Bob, he was cheering me on. I can't remember exactly what it was that he was saying, but I new the closer I got that I was going to do it! A smile so big took over my face as I crossed the finish line. A smile that I couldn't stop smiling for 4 days. True story!

I took a knee wanting a second to breath and thank God, but I almost got run over by the two elites who were fighting it out for second place, that's right second place! As I was hugging people, the only thing I could say was that "I did it."
Time for the pictures to do that talking for me...
Complete joy.

Patrick gave me my medal. I so wish I had a better picture of this. He is in the white jacket in front of Connor.

Amy F.  and me.

Getting a hug from Jerry F.

It was awesome seeing my friends at the finish line!

The Mayor presented me with my check at the after party.

Having a celebratory beer!
Mike and my father-in-law Gene.
Photo bomb :)
Some of my MRTT group.
TowneBank Bear, the Mayor, and me.


 If you aren't sick of seeing my pictures and reading my story, J&A made a video. It is AWESOME and I pretty sure the 550 of the 575 views are mine, lol!


Thanks again to J&A Racing, my family, friends, and everyone that cheered me on! It was an amazing experience! Thank you!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Elite for a Day, Part 3

Shamrock 8k
Elite for a Day
Part 3

Rise and Shine.
It's race day.
All I could hear was that alarm clock from Rise and Shine and the mans voice welcoming me to the grind. Finally. It's finally race day.
This is another moment that is a must share....My boys were with my in-laws and all I had to do was get food in my mouth and give myself one more chance to set the tone for the day. I couldn't think of a better way to do that than to pray St. Patricks Breastplate. As I sat alone in my kitchen I recited the prayer. It brought tears to my eyes and I knew that I was ready for whatever the day would bring. As soon as I made the sign of the cross my doorbell rang. It was only 5:50 am. I thought is was my friend and neighbor Julie to wish me luck. I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't right either...
I have the bestest friends ever! They had my yard Shamrocked!  I had no idea they were planning this. I thought I was set for the day, but then this happened and I was totally blown away. I had to win! I couldn't let them down!! I have to thank Meagan, Julie, Cathy, Helen, and Randi for doing this! I appreciated your support more than you will ever know!

Julie also came with this winner! It made me laugh and lightened the mood!

Love this!
Now here is where it starts to get to the race!
We arrived at the oceanfront well before race time. Did I mention I have the best husband and kids in the world too? Mike made big heads for the boys to cheer me on with! It is really funny to see yourself bobbing around!

 I meet up with the J&A folks. They are the nicest group of people. Although pre-race is extremely busy for the Jerry and Amy Frostick, they took time to meet me and wish me luck.

Jerry wishing me good luck.

I still remember what he said to me  and it felt like icing on the cake. "Courtney, you are good enough of a runner to win this. Just run it..." I have no idea what else he said. I just kept hearing "you are good enough a runner to win this." Coming from Jerry this is very flattering and believable!
There was also time to get interviewed. The videographer was really nice. After the interview he took footage of me warming up. It was really weird being watched and trying to act normal. I don't know how reality TV people do it.

I have no idea why I am standing at parade rest. I think to keep my hands from flying around, like this!

Just me. Hanging in the starting corral. Awkward. I don't think most people knew what was going on. The elites were still no where to be found.
Of course I have a million pictures. I will try not to share theme all, but most of them speak more clearly than I write, so here are a few more pre-race photo's.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Elite for a Day, Part 2

Shamrock 8k
Elite for a Day
Part 2

Even though I am writing this almost 3 months later, the memories of that day are so vivid. I would love to just spew them out like a broken faucet spews water, but it would be impossible and probably a bit boring for you. Plus I am a horrible writer and it would be a jumbled mess! But there are some things, some moments, I would like to share. The first being about my training. My mental training. I have been in a running funk for quit sometime. Doubting myself, thinking I have hit my peak and it's all downhill from here. I was just not having fun. You would think the opportunity in itself would be all the motivation I would need to happily lace up day after day, but it wasn't. I had to go deeper. 

Luckily, The Shamrock also happens to be during Lent. This year I took on a 40 days of Lent challenge. It involved daily tasks which were meant to help you grow in your faith.  No, I didn't simply pray to God for me to win the race. I prayed for strength and courage. Strength to get through the training. Courage to believe in myself and for God, The Saints, and my Guardian Angel to run at my side and give me strength when I needed it. Physical, mental, or both. You can draw so much strength from a simple bible verse, it's amazing. I had this hanging in front of my work station.

Ok, pretend the post-it isn't there. It was a little motivational quote my co-worker wanted to share with me!
I would read these periodically throughout the day and right before I would clock out and go for my workout. My favorites is; Be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded. Chronicles 15:7. That one gave me strength at the end of a long work day to get my run in.
On March 14th, the day before the race, one of the tasks was to pray the prayer taken from St. Patrick's breastplate. I thought how fitting that this would come today and how perfect it would be to also pray this on the morning of the race. If you don't know the prayer, here is an excerpt from it:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I drew so much strength from just letting it be in Gods hands. It took (some) of the stress off my shoulders. My faith in God gave me faith in myself. I think half the battle, well at least half the battle, with running is overcoming doubts and believing that you can do this. This being different for everyone. I believe my mental preparation for this race was more important for me than any other aspect of my training.  My this was believing in myself to keep a steady pace to cross the finish line before the Elites. 
Race Day coming up next!


Friday, May 23, 2014

TowneBank Shamrock 8k Elite for a Day

Shamrock 8k
Elite for a Day
part 1
Where do I even start?!?! I have run one of the Shamrock races every year except two since moving to Virginia Beach. They are my favorite. It's an all around great weekend put on by J&A Racing. The expo is top notch, the races are well organized, the medals are amazing. I could go on and on... I never thought I would not want to be part of this fun weekend, but I am slightly burnt out on the racing front and almost passed on this years event. I knew I wasn't going to do the half and decided that the 8k would be a good compromise.
I can't remember when I decided to sign up, but when I did, on the website there was an advertisement for the Elite for the Day. Intrigued and thinking there is no way they will ever pick me, I threw my hat in the ring to be the lucky runner who would have a head start on the elites for a chance at $1000.
This would be the inaugural year and how it would work would be that the "rabbit", a regular Joe Schmo, like myself, would get a head start based on their predicted finish time and the predicted finish time of the elites.
After a pretty disappointing finish to the MIYE series, I wasn't really focused on picking back up my training for my goal race, The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. I was half heartily going through the motions. Well, on Feb 12th that all changed. I got a call from Jerry Frostick, the "J" in J&A racing and he informed me that I was chosen to be their Elite for the Day! I couldn't believe it. I was so giddy with excitement that I giggled the entire conversation and was shaking from the adrenaline rush. I thanked Jerry and told him how excited I was and he said he was excited for me and that I would hear from his staff to go over specifics.

About 10 minutes after the conversation ended  and I had a chance to read the fine print about what I had agreed to, the excitement turned to a gut wrenching panic. Wholly cow. What did I just sign myself up for?!?!? Not only will I be running in front, by myself, while being chased down like a gazelle by hungry lions, I have to be available for PR events? What does that even mean? Oh boy. I think I even asked my husband if I should call them back and tell them I don't think this is a good idea. Thankfully, my husband is a very level headed man and told me to get a grip. Of course I was doing it! What an opportunity!!

I stuck to my training plan. I did the miles, even when I didn't want to. I tried not to think about it too much, but it was always in the back of my head that I would be in the spotlight, even just for few, and how much I didn't want to mess it up! I figured out based on my course PR from the previous year of 39:11 and the elites predicted finish time of 22-23 minutes, I would get a 16-18 minutes head start. (I was hoping for the later.) 

Luckily, the only PR I had to do prior to the event was write a short blurb about myself that they shared on their website and FB pages, but the stress was still sinking in. I had a constant tension headache and developed and eye twitch! True story.

Here is my race bio put out by J&A:

We are so excited to introduce you to Courtney McDonough of Virginia Beach, our 2014 TowneBank Shamrock 8K Elite for a Day. Courtney will take on the TowneBank Shamrock 8K on March 15, 2014, but will be given a head start based on her predicted finish time and past performances. If she can reach the finish line first, she will claim a $1,000 prize! All other runners start at the regularly scheduled time. Should someone in the field overtake Courtney and get to the finish line first, he or she will receive the $1,000 Challenge prize AND the 8k champion’s purse

After relocating to Hampton Roads with her husband in late 2005, the 2006 Shamrock 8k was Courtney’s first introduction to J&A Racing events. Since then, she has completed the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon and Dolphin Challenge, the Anthem Wicked 10K, the Bon Secours In Motion Virginia is for Lovers 14k, Surfin Santa and she will be running in her 7th TowneBank Shamrock 8K this year!
Running has become so much more than a mode of exercise for Courtney over the years. It has allowed her to make and strengthen friendships, release stress, and give her a great excuse to travel! When she is not running, she has the pleasure of working as a Certified Athletic Trainer for the United States Navy, and she enjoys spending time with her very supportive and loving husband, Mike, and two amazing sons Connor and Patrick, who are always at her races cheering her on!

As it was getting down to the wire I watched this motivational video about 900 times to help me focus! It really motivated me and helped get me in the right mindset. Maybe I am weird, but I felt like it helped me focus on my training and give me confidence that I could do this. I could win....


Stay tuned for part two!





Friday, May 9, 2014

MIYE 2104 Race #3

One of my New Years resolutions was to decrease my time on social media and to only blog when I felt inspired to do so. That resolution or lack of inspiration/motivation/or time left me with a 3+ month hiatus and a cliff hanger of a blog post. Well, I'm back. At least for now. Here is what happened at the MIYE....

The 3rd and final race of the 2014 MIYE Series. This years races have lived up to their names. Mud, mud and more mud! Plus the last race had lots of snow thrown in to keep things interesting. 

My back was feeling better, but I was still afraid that at any moment one wrong step would end any chance I had at finishing, let alone placing. The morning started out cold and the cross country trail through woods and across the campus of Virginia Wesleyan was snow covered. We had gotten at least 8 inches of snow earlier in the week and that is not something I am used to running in! 

My strategy was simple, stay within a quarter mile of my competition and I should be ok to place, after all I did have about a 1:20 lead going into the race. As the race started and a snow packed trail was formed, with most runners running single file, I fell into place just paces behind my competition. 

Forced to take two weeks off due to sickness and my latest back injury my endurance was lacking to say the least! I was sucking wind almost immediately and tried hard to keep pace with the pack of single file runners. I would love to tell you that the trails were beautiful covered in snow, but honestly all I saw was a white, foot wide trail as I stared at the ground for 5 miles. My stride was short and with every step I slide from side to side. Somewhere in mile 2 I left the pack of single file runners and trudged up ahead leaving my competition behind. I know this deviated from my strategy, but it wanted to get a move on. I was not enjoying this race and wanted it to be over. 

By mile 4 I was beat and my calves were on fire. It was obvious that my pace was deteriorating because more and more people were passing me, including my competition. I wasn't worried though. I figured with a 1:20 lead I would still beat her as long as I stayed close, we were almost done. 

Well, I was wrong. I played it too safe. I was so afraid that I was going to slip and re-injure myself that I was moving at a snails pace allowing that 1:20 lead to slip away. I didn't realized how slow I was going until the end when my 4 year old was yelling at me to go faster! Oops. I ended up falling to second place by 3 seconds.  3 fricken seconds.

Moral of the story, never give up until you are across the finish line. Only then is your time safe. Duh. Oh well, live and learn. At least I didn't hurt myself and I took home a pretty cool trophy and medal. Thanks Mettle Events!

Two Second Place Trophies, Individual 35-39 Female and Co-ed Team
Finisher Medal Center

My running buddy Randi took 3rd female overall!

Team Old and Slow took 2nd place.

This is a great race series and I had fun running through the mud and snow. It's crazy how our weather here changes so quickly and drastically in only a few short weeks. Race #1 was warm and muddy, #2 was bitterly cold and muddy, and #3 was cold and snowy. Never a dull moment! Hopefully, I can do it again next year.


Stay tuned....lots to catch up on including my 15 minutes of fame as the J&A Shamrock Elite for the Day!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow in Your Eye 2014

Tomorrow is the final race in the Mud in Your Eye Cross Country series, an 8k. 
I was feeling very good about my positioning going into this race, but the universe must have thought I was too arrogant and needed to knock me down a few pegs. If I want to win my age group I am going to really have to dig deep. My almost 2 minute lead might not be enough.
Last Wednesday I woke slightly sick and during a coughing fit I wrenched my back and that little sickness turned into a big lethargic fever that lasted for 3 days. The back pain, regardless of the 4 chiropractic sessions, muscle relaxers, heat, ice, electric stimulation, stretches, and anything and everything else I know to do is lingering.
Oh and if that wasn’t bad enough, did I mention the 8 inches of snow that Virginia Beach got in one fall?  Eight inches that has the kids out of school and work cancelled. That snow is going to make the course a mess. It was 33* yesterday, today it will be in the 40’s and tomorrow has the high near 60*! The course is going to muddy and therefore slippery, just what my delicate back does not need.
Snowmageddon 2014
So I am slightly undertrained, have a sore back, and the course is going to be a technical nightmare, everything epic stories or long winded rants are made of! Please wish me luck and send positive vibes my way! I’ll post the outcome as soon as I can! Hopefully, it will be a good one. 😄

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3

Sunday, January 19, 2014

MIYE 2014, Race #2

Mt. Trashmore
Race number 2 is in the books. In stark contrast from last week's warm weather, it was only 39* at the start. Cold for us coastal Virginians. The course was muddy in spots and the hills were steep to say the least. The route had us looping around and up the hills of Mt. Trashmore twice. I was really not prepared for those hills and tried to make up time on the flats as best as I could.
The first part of the race was flat and I tried to settle into a quick pace as I knew I would be slowing down once I hit the first hill. After that hill, which was short and steep, I felt like I had 10# sandbags on each ankle and was in desperate need of an oxygen tank. Unfortunately for me, it was nothing in comparison to the second hill that is so steep it has steps for people to climb. I swear it is a 90% grade. Mountain goats have trouble getting up it.
I passed these two on the first lap. They are agile, but not fast.
The third hill is long and gradual with a small bump in the middle, which only served to fake me out (twice), because at the end of the 3rd hill there is a quick steep downhill that I was really looking forward to. That hiccup in the middle had me thinking my reprieve was only steps away, which only served to crush my spirit once I realized it wasn't. :/ Somehow, I managed to go on. During the second loop, the oxygen deprivation was really doing a number on me. I was so zoned out I missed the turn to head up the really steep hill with stairs again. Or maybe it was my body's way of telling me that I really didn't need to go up that fricken mountain again?!?! Anyway, I realized my mistake quickly and made it up the Mountain, but not before a teenager galloped past me like a gazelle.
After a little more running and questioning myself as to why I inflict such pain on myself, I finally made it to the very top of Mt. Trashmore and pretty much the end of the course. All that was left was to cruise down the hill and through the finish line.  There were three men in front of me, including that 15 yo (to be exact). I picked him off first. He might be able to beat me up the hills, but I was going to beat him down. I trotted down that hill with big galloping steps picking off a 37 year old next. Did I mention I am 38? Then at the start of the finishers shoot I caught up to another guy, who didn't like that I was about to pass him and we sprinted it out. I did end up beating him and could hear him giving me props (thank you, btw). I wish I could run that fast an entire race. I did the same thing last week. I am starting to think I need to find some 40 yard dashes to compete in. The pain would only last a few seconds, rather than 30 minutes. 
I ended up finishing in 30:30 for an 8:11 pace. I really thought it was slower than that, but I am very happy with my end time, even though my pacing was all over the place and I walked twice at the top of the hills.
2nd out of 11 in 35-39 age group
9th out of  50 female finishers
41st out of 159 racers overall
Team place 1st!
One more race to go! An 8k on Virginia Wesleyan's cross country course in two weeks. As of now I should be the 5th place female by 36 seconds (#4 is in a different age group). Randi (my running buddy) is 3rd overall and in my age group. I would have to make up 1:59 to tie it up with her.  Hopefully, I will sprout wings and make up almost 2 minutes over the course of the race and move into 3rd or she will place overall and leave me to take first in our age group, IF I can keep my lead of 1:48. Such a close race! I love this series! Anything can happen!
Check back in two weeks to see how it ends!
You can read about the first race here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mud in Your Eye 2014, Race #1

MIYE #1, 5k
Bells Mills Cross Country Course
If memory serves me correctly, the last time I ran this race it was cold, the ground was frozen, we started at the top of a hill which we ran down. Other than that it was a pretty flat course.
I know I am getting older and my memory might not be what it once was, but man, I was not expecting that course. It was hard.  It was a wet, soggy, muddy mess and I believe by the end, I was just as muddy as some of the mud runs I have done. I slipped with every step.  I swear, not only did we start the race going downhill last time; there were more muddy hills to run up this time. (I am probably making the last part up. I am sure the topography didn’t change, but the start did. True story.)
Thankfully, it was at least warm, almost 70* by race time. It was overcast and the rain had subsided. But that didn't help the fact that course conditions had me huffing and puffing, like I was sprinting. In reality, I ended up pacing an 8:33 mile, for a 26:29 finish time.
2nd out of 14 in 35-39 age group
5th out of 58 female finishers
38th out of 140 racers overall
Team place ???

I didn’t beat my time from 3 years ago.  I guess that is ok. :/ The course conditions were way different. Mud = slow. I am about 40 seconds behind my friend for first place in our age group and the woman behind me is only 25 seconds back.

Tomorrow is race #2, a 6k at Mt. Trashmore. It is truly a hilly course. I just hope that it isn’t muddy. Right now it’s suppose to be 36* but clear at race time.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mud In Your Eye is coming up!!!

This weekend is the first of 3 races in the Mud in Your Eye Cross Country Series. I ran it for the first and only time in 2011. I was a novice runner and to didn't have many races under my belt.  Long story short, going into race 3 I was in third place for my age group, which I was ecstatic about! I couldn't believe it. I knew what I had to do to keep 3rd. The first and second place runners were minutes ahead of me so there was no catching them and the 4th place runner was minutes behind me. I felt safe, confident and happy that I would take home 3rd. To my surprise at the end of race three, while we were waiting for the awards, I took a quick look at the result sheet and I was in first. I was confused and thought it was a misprint or I was reading it wrong! Nope. #1 didn't show for race three and I think #2 rolled her ankle on a pine cone, because I ended up beating her by a considerable amount of time, pushing me to first and her to like 3rd or 4th. I felt bad for her, but as you can imagine, very happy for me and a first place finish.

This year I am looking to not only to improve my times on these courses by a good 2 to 4 minutes per race, I am looking to get a fair and square place, hopefully first place. I'm proud of my performance 3 years ago, but I am a much more experienced and fit runner than I was back then, so I am anxious and excited to see how I do.

Race #1 is a 5k at Bells Mill Park. Race #2 is a 6k up and down the hills of Mt. Trashmore (no that isn't a typo, it is landfill turned park). And race #3 is an 8k on the cross country course of VA Wesleyan College. I am looking forward to seeing how I have changed and improved in these past three years.

So much has changed in my life since then and I have so many races under my belt and miles on my legs. I do speed work and tempo runs now. My  running wardrobe has for sure improved! I now own tech clothes. I think I  wore wind pants, a long sleeve cotton t-shirt with a cotton t-shirt over that last time, maybe a hoodie? I didn't own a sweaty band or a Garmin and Lululemon might not have existed? At least not to me! It's funny how things change. Well, please wish me luck!

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we can not see. Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pretty Organized!

  I am determined to organize my running life! In the past I either wrote my training plans in my calendar. (You know, back when people used paper and pencil calendars. I really miss those!) Now that I use my iPhone's calendar to keep track of my appointments, kids games, etc...I have been printing monthly calendars from Outlook and using those to track my training. As you can see it's pretty messy and disorganized. Not something that this self professed neat freak enjoys looking at.
So when Run Pretty Far put out their 2014 Calendar and I saw how pretty it was, I knew that I couldn't go into the new year, with new running shoes, new goals, and new training plans, without it!
I uploaded the free pdf to Office Max. Ten dollars and a day later I came home with this little number.
Cute, right?
It has great motivational quotes, area's for your goals, mileage and recap area. Plus it's so colorful, who wouldn't want to use it?
Plus it's free! To get yours click here!
Thanks RPF!
How do you record your training plans and track your mileage? I'm not too much for online spreadsheets and programs, but I like organization. This keeps me organized and I get to write and doodle all I want. Reminds me of the good ol' days.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life. Psalm 138:8