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!