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!