Lucky Me!

What’s big and purple and lies next to Ireland? Grape Britain!

I thought I’d start this post with a joke because I figure you’re all expecting me to start with “I PR’d!!!” – which I did (as you can see by the new marathon PR listed on the right!), but the PR was just part of an amazing and very fun weekend in Virginia Beach with my family and triathlon team.


Grimacing in the final stretch

The joke, by the way, was one of several that were posted on signs along a quiet, spectator-free section of the Shamrock Marathon course. They were what kept me going from miles 16 – 19 and I remember several of them. This stretch was so quiet that when someone behind us burped everyone started roaring with laughter. It kinda broke the silence and I started chatting to the guy next to me, with whom I’d been in step for a while. I needed to talk, because I was starting to hurt. We chit-chatted for a while and then another guy came up to us and said, “do you know when this hill ends?” (“What hill?” I thought. Aside from a bridge that you run over and back, Shamrock marathon is pancake-flat.) “Uh, soon, I think,” the guy next to me said. Then, when “hill” guy was out of earshot, he turned to me and said, “what hill?” “Exactly.” I said.

So, how did my “training run” go? Well, basically I tried to slow myself down for 20 miles and then speed up for the last 6. I was literally “swallowed” by the 3:40 pace group, which descended on me at mile 8 like a pack of wild dogs, and which I rejoined – and passed! – at mile 21. Sweeeet.

Recapping an entire marathon is hard and probably very boring, so here are the answers to questions I am presumptuous enough to assume you might have:

– Yes, I went out too fast, even though I swore I would not. My splits were 8:29, 7:59, 8:00, 8:07, 8:20, 8:11, 8:18, 8:10, 8:06, 8:08, 8:11, 8:16, 8:14, 8:17, 8:14, 8:13, 8:12, 8:19, 8:06, 8:19, 8:10, 8:24, 8:14, 8:09, 8:20, 8:07, 7:13. Altogether, my pace was fairly even  so I don’t think I messed up. I went through the half in 1:49 so I did run a negative split – by a hair!

– Yes, I peed while running. And I laughed out loud at people wasting time standing in the porta-potty lines on the course.

– I ate 5 (five!) GUs and a pack of Honey Stingers. This is way more than I’ve ever eaten during a marathon and I think this really helped me in the latter stages.

– Even though I used a significant amount of body glide I still chafed. Lesson learned: you can never use too much body glide.

– The day before the race I ate oatmeal for breakfast, blueberry pancakes for lunch, and pasta with meat sauce for dinner.

– There is a point during the marathon when everything hurts. You will always want to stop or at least slow down at this point. Run through it. Deal with it.

– I had a weird pain on the outside of my knee between miles 3 and 4. I had the exact same pain at about the same point in the Philly Half Marathon. The pain intensified, became excrutiating, and then went away during that race, so I hoped it would act the same way this time. It did. It went away after about a mile and didn’t come back. I don’t know what caused it. I’ve had the same pain running on the treadmill, which is why I no longer run on the treadmill. Odd.

OK, so if you have a burning question about my race that I didn’t answer, please write it in the comment section and I will be sure to respond!

So, what else made it such a great weekend? My husband ran his first 8K in an awesome time and made it look easy! Next time he says he’s going to run it faster!

My kids, who “hate the beach” and “can’t stand sand” spent several hours digging holes, fishing stuff out of the ocean, playing frisbee, and making sand volcanoes.

Finally, to cap it all, the day before the marathon, I got an e-mail from Cathy Pugsley at Potomac River Running inviting me to join their Age Group Racing Team! Of course I was interested but I didn’t think I was =PR= material, so I sent them my PRs just to be sure they really wanted me and they replied YES, they would like me to race for them!

Lucky me!

Ok, one more: What do you get when you cross a shamrock with poison ivy? A rash of good luck!


About racingtales

Runner, triathlete, writer
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17 Responses to Lucky Me!

  1. Lisa Rini says:

    Great race recap, Alison!!! 🙂 Congrats again- way to go on the PR!! So you’re going to be sporting a =PR= singlet for races?? You are such an inspiration, and I can’t wait to read about how your upcoming 50K goes. I know you’re gonna rock it!!

  2. Beth says:

    Congrats on the PR!! I am hugely impressed by your consistent splits that end in a 7:xx!!! Amazingness!

  3. racingtales says:

    Thanks, Lisa and Beth! Lisa – yes, I will be wearing a =PR= singlet but the good news is that the PR Racing Team is sponsored by Brooks so I’ll still be able to wear Brooks shoes, shorts, etc!

  4. Sarah says:

    Nice job! And good to remember about everything hurting and dealing with it.
    I’m still not sure I’m comfortable peeing. I might wear Depends.

  5. Brian says:

    Great recap and congrats on the PR! That’s an awesome time. I was probably the one who asked you about the hill — it seemed to me like most of the last third of the course was ever-so-slightly uphill, but it was my first marathon and my first 20+ miler (due to an injury, not intentional undertraining) and I think there was a lot I could have done better to have left me with more energy at the end.

    • racingtales says:

      Hey Brian

      Well I actually feel a bit guilty about the hill comment because when I looked at the elevation chart later I noticed it does climb ever so slightly until just before mile 20, when it starts to drop…ever so slightly. I think it isn’t noticeable to anyone who trains on hills but you’d notice it if you live and train in a flat area!

      Congrats on completing your first marathon. It’s a learning experience. This was my 5th and I have learned a lot since my first…which was pretty disastrous!

      • Brian says:

        Actually, I train in a really hilly area of central PA — I think the incline was only noticeable because the run northbound on Atlantic Ave (the part where I was thinking “this is easy!” was slightly downhill). Don’t feel bad about the comment! It was just the distance (hadn’t been able to get enough or long enough long runs in) and my own tactical errors (didn’t hold back enough in the middle third of the race) that killed me. I normally eat hills for lunch :-), and next year, I won’t notice it either.

        Thanks for the response and the blog — it’s a great read!

  6. Congrats on the PR and the opportunity to race for PRR!

    Sometimes its those races with little pressure that end up in the best result. I’m guessing your good experience with the race likely glossed over the crazy winds that greeted us race morning or the gradual uphill (yes, it did exist!) from Miles 16-19. I suffered from both during the race (and also wish I could p while running), but still managed to finish with a PR. Nowhere close to where I wanted, but a PR is a PR. I also must have been in a serious world of hurt, because I never saw those signs on the course!

  7. lester says:

    congrats Alison you are a running machine, and I remember that 5 miles hill (from 21 to 26) . Something else Alison, I don’t know if is something wrong with my Garmin but it was more than 26.2 …..more like 26.6 , it’s that correct?

    • racingtales says:

      Hey Lester

      Garmins rarely match the course distance, and the further you go the greater the discrepancy. Mostly it’s because courses are measured via the shortest possible distance, i.e., using all the tangents. But when you run you don’t always do that. You might run over to the side to get a drink, move around to get a better position, etc. All this is extra distance. In addition, Garmins are great but they’re not perfect. I know mine will measure a little long and so I keep the pace it displays slightly under what I want it to be!

      • lester says:

        make sense, I was all over the place cheasing sexy’s girls. (kidding) but I went to the bath room couple times and taking the long side of the roads. Thanks!!!

      • Brian says:

        LOL…mine was .3 off for most of the race and then .5 by the last 2 miles. I love it when I’m not in a race, but when it’s far off from the race distance I want to throw it in whatever body of water is nearby.

        During the 10-mile Broad St run, in 80-some degrees the whole way, it was 1.1 miles off, probably since I zig-zagged to run through every open sprinkler on the course.

  8. Mzungu Mike says:

    Awesome. You have inspired me to eat more during my marathon in two days.

    • racingtales says:


      Eat a lot and start eating early, too. I started 30 mins in. It felt like a lot – in previous marathons I’ve eaten as few as 2 GUs and definitely suffered more towards the end. BTW, I had oatmeal for breakfast 2 hrs before and a few sport beans 15 mins before the race start.

      Have a fantastic race Saturday!

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