Am I really a marathon runner? Yuengling Shamrock Marathon 2015 Race Recap

This weekend I ran my first full marathon at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. I wanted to share my experience in this race because although I work in a gym, running has never come easy for me. No matter how many races I do, I still doubt that I’m really a “runner.” I have the same insecurities as everyone else. Even after training for the marathon, I got to Virginia Beach and felt really doubtful. I didn’t think I was the kind of person who could run a marathon.

Allow me a moment to explain just how impossible I thought it was to run 26.2 miles. A few years ago, I wrote out a bucket list. Number 19 on my list was “run a marathon.” I thought about it for a few days after I wrote it, and I considered removing it from my list. I said to myself, “I don’t want to be disappointed when I never cross that off. I probably can’t do it.” Number 35 on my list is “go to space,” but I never considered removing that. I seriously thought I was more likely to go to space than run a marathon.

1239371_10101812793394407_7006970070084625933_nThe Yuengling Shamrock Marathon weekend is extremely well organized and a great option for a first time marathoner. The weekend includes an 8K on Saturday and a Half Marathon and Marathon on Sunday. You can also participate in the Dolphin or 11084289_10101812840325357_6381370201316309645_nWhale challenge (8K+Half or 8K+Full). My friend Megan ran the 8K (she did awesome!) and I ran the marathon. We had a blast goofing off at the Race Expo, and as an added bonus there was a craft fair going on in the convention center at the same time!

 

After stressing out for most of Saturday, it was finally Sunday morning and time for the race. I couldn’t have possibly been more prepared for this race. I put on my Raw Threads shirt and Sweaty Bands headband and I was ready to go. I also packed a plastic bag with a banana, Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J sandwich (I eat one of these before every race – it’s a weird tradition), and a mylar blanket (I definitely recommend this to avoid freezing at the start line).

Waiting at the start line was really anxiety ridden for me. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon is a Boston qualifier, and because of this there are a lot of fast and experienced runners. It is very different from the runDisney crowd I know and love. To make matters worse, my corral placement was based on my half marathon PR last year. I was standing behind the 4:00 pace group, and listening to them plan their race really stressed me out. I felt so slow and inadequate! Right around this time, I happened to look over to my right. There was a shiny window a few feet away from me and I could see my reflection. I was wrapped up in the mylar blanket, my hair was pulled back tight and with the way I was standing, I could see the definition in my legs. All of a sudden, it hit me. I looked like a runner! I AM a runner! I was ready to crush that race.

Here’s a quick recap of the ups and downs on the course:

  1. Mile 1: Everyone passed me. I later saw some of these people walking around mile 18. I passed them up with my nice steady pace.
  2. Miles 7-8: We ran through a military base and I experienced my longest ever chain of high fives – all from military personnel in uniform!
  3. Miles 11-12: This is all on the boardwalk with a view of the ocean. I also saw my boyfriend Robert, my friend Megan and my two dogs here. They gave me a handful of macadamia nuts and Megan ran with me for a mile. I highly recommend having a good friend like Megan when running a marathon.

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    I found $20!

  4. Mile 14: I found $20 on the ground, and the photographer was there to capture the moment
  5. Mile 15: A lady handing out sour straws said she was really proud of me, and I had my first episode of tears.
  6. Miles 18-20: I felt awesome here, and I don’t know why. It was probably because of the lady at mile 15.
  7. Miles 20-22: This is the worst section of the course. It’s a restricted military area so spectators can’t get there. It’s also really boring. We passed a really pretty lighthouse, but that was about it. At a water stop, a boyscout leader told me I was going to make it to the finish. I answered, “I hope so.” He said “YOU DID NOT TRAIN ALL YEAR FOR I HOPE SO. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, AMANDA!” That got me through the next mile.
  8. Miles 22-25: I felt like I was going to die. My hamstrings were on fire. Megan ran with me for another mile, and Robert held the dogs up in the air. The course is a loop, so I passed the sour straws lady again. This time she was handing out twizzlers. She told me she was still proud of me and that I was making it look easy. I hope she knows how much she helped me.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to finish until I got to mile 25. The last mile of the race is down the boardwalk, past the statue of King Neptune all along the beach. The second

cryingyou get onto the boardwalk, you can see the finish line. I started crying the moment the finish line was in view. It wasn’t just one or two tears coming down, I straight up started bawling. The race is pretty small, so there were only a few other people finishing the same time as me. This means that people are really cheering specifically for you. The announcer had time to say “Please welcome to the finish line, Amanda Schmidt.” Everyone in the crowd was saying my name. “Come on, Amanda!” “You did it, Amanda!” I can’t think of many other moments in my life as amazing as this. I didn’t finisheven feel like my feet were touching the ground.

 

Here is the best part about the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon: at the finish line you get a huge medal, a beach towel, a finisher hat, AND a sparkly green shamrock cookie. You also finish on the beach and can walk right down to the sand.

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I know there are a lot of people out there who have already completed a marathon, and many of you have done one much faster than me. This part is for all the people out there who haven’t done one yet, but have some crazy distant dream of doing it. Go for it. There is no prerequisite. If I can do it, I guarantee that you can. There was a time in my life when I struggled to run even a single mile, and on Sunday I ran 26.2 miles. I will continue to post on this blog with as much advice as possible. And for all my runDisney friends out there thinking about doing a full marathon, it might seem impossible but in the words of Walt Disney, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

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Special thank you to Renata, Robert, Megan, my fellow Runs in Tutus sole sisters, my doggies Gordon and Ziggy and everyone else for supporting me throughout marathon training.

-Amanda

Comments

  1. congratulations! I had tears of my own reading your story! Way to go!

  2. Amanda,
    SO proud of you! My eyes were misting reading this post. I’m just starting to run, and have this distant dream of running a marathon. Like you did, I still feel as though it’s a semi-crazy unattainable goal, but I’m not crossing it off the list! Great work! Miss you!
    <3 Britt

  3. It was my first Marathon/race too! Finished in 3:48:03! I just got into MCM and want to keep the good times going.

  4. Hi Amanda,

    My brother and I were with you pretty much the whole race. This was my first marathon too and everything you said in your blog post were my sentiments exactly! A week later I am still in awe that I ran a marathon! Congratulations!!

    • runsintutus says:

      Nancy, that’s so cool!! I always feel like I bond with the people running with me even if we don’t officially meet. Congratulations to you too! -Amanda

Trackbacks

  1. […] For me personally, I’ve run so many half marathons that I can get away with very minimal training. I can always count on being able to finish the race with my average time as long as I do a couple of long runs a month or so before the race. I’ve decided that this year I want to avoid that trend and instead really challenge myself to break through new barriers. This year I will be shooting for a personal record at the Wine and Dine! My ultimate goal is to finish the race in less than two hours (this goal feels so much more attainable after finishing my first full marathon in March). […]

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