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.

    photo-2

    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.

unnamed

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.”

11079619_10101814802268607_1103208546775331089_n

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

Introducing Amanda…

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda! After several years living in Washington, DC, I recently moved to beautiful Southern California. I’m lucky enough to have two amazing big sisters (Melanie and Christine) who run races with me multiple times a year. These mostly take place in Disney World or Disneyland because we LOVE magic and happiness. RunDisney has been a huge blessing in my life. These races help me stay active and healthy, but most importantly they make me feel closer to my sisters. Since we started doing runDisney races together several years ago, we see each other more often, we talk on the phone almost everyday, and we get to celebrate each other at every finish line.

I get to use these cool bright green drum sticks to teach POUND – a workout inspired by drumming. 🙂

Outside of my runDisney life, I’ve worked as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for almost a decade. In 2017, I opened my own company called Soul Lift to help people improve their health, nutrition and fitness. I also teach classes like Barre, Zumba and POUND. A couple years ago, I was selected to be a Master Instructor for POUND, which means I get to travel all over the country training new instructors.

Since my main expertise is fitness (I’m getting better at crafts and costume making but Melanie and Christine are the real experts in that), I hope to offer as many tips as I can to help with race training and staying strong and healthy as a long distance runner! I hope we can all still be running races in Disney World when we’re in our 70s!!

10559815_10101463398444687_6646586566208368343_n

Main benefit to having a childhood filled with gymnastics classes: adulthood handstands on the beach.

So what is it about running that keeps me signing up for races? I’ve been active my entire life. My childhood was filled with gymnastics competitions, figure skating competitions, cheerleading and just general hyperactivity. Then, I grew up, went to graduate school, studied a lot and stopped moving. I loved my graduate program, but during this time I became very unhealthy and fell into a deep depression. Unfortunately, my depression went untreated for a couple years and resulted in a suicide attempt.

That’s when I started running. I found that the only time I felt sane was when I was moving. I didn’t want to stop moving and I didn’t want to lose that feeling, so I ran 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 4 miles, then in 2011 I ran my first half marathon with my big sister Christine. For all of you who have completed a race, you don’t even need me to describe the feeling I had at that finish line. For those of you who haven’t, here it is: sheer bliss. I run because it makes me love to be alive. Getting to share that experience with my sisters is just the cherry on top of the cake.

-Amanda

180905_690580778604_3620363_n

The feeling you get at your first finish line.

Meet Christine!

Nice to meet you, Internet. Welcome to Runs in Tutus!

I’m Christine. I am a craft-lover, nerd, workaholic, wanna be ballerina (because tutus), and redhead. I am also big sister to fellow Runs in Tutus bloggers Melanie and Amanda.

photo

Drinking princess tea at the Garden View Tea Room in the Grand Floridian

You will notice I did not use the word “athlete” to describe myself. I started running in 2003 when a friend told me she was doing a marathon. I thought it sounded like fun, so I signed up too. My running experience prior to marathon training included the Presidential Fitness Challenge in elementary school.  After months of training, I finished 26.2 miles at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. That race still remains on the list of my favorites because I crossed the finish line at that race in celebration of my first year of cancer survivorship!

Running got even more exciting when I did my first Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2011 because I discovered the joy of running in a tutu! Since then I have done multiple runDisney races every year. I just can’t get enough of the magic!

Tutus and Disney aren’t the only reasons I continue to run. Here are a few other reasons I love to run:

1. I like athletic clothing (especially the sparkly, pink kind)

2. Traveling to races makes me take time off of work

3. Running seems to help with my mood

4. I like to eat Blizzards, cookies, and other foods that require a certain level of athletic supplement

5. I love crafting, and every race gives me an excuse to make a cute race mini book and race countdown

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more craft tutorials, travel itineraries, and tutu tips!

– Christine