Hot Irish stew at the finish line.
That was a first for me and mighty welcome as I completed the Shamrock 8k road race in Virginia Beach last Saturday morning, March 17, a few seconds behind my running buddy, Dave Klibbe. Both of us were pleased with our times on this fast, flat course, an out-and-back along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It was just cool and breezy enough that the soup really hit the spot.
There are moments, as I prepare for a race, from plunking down the money for lodging and plane fare to the hassle of travel, that I wonder why I’m doing all this. There’s nothing to get nervous about, yet I still have a hard time sleeping the night before a race—crazy!
But then the moment comes when I line up at the start and suddenly, it is all worthwhile and I wonder why I ever thought otherwise.
There were well over 7,000 people in this race, the first event in a weekend that included kids’ races and a half and full marathon the following day. Off-season in Virginia Beach is the perfect time to stage such an enormous event. The hotels and restaurants are plentiful and there’s a state-of-the-art convention center to hold packet pick-up, an expo and a slate of speakers. A Hilton Hotel has to be one of the most comfortable places ever to stay warm during the moments before the race start.
Sixteen “corrals” kept the runners separated according to predicted times and staggered their start so that the fairly narrow boardwalk area never seemed crowded. Runners celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with lots of “wearing of the green.”
Being part of the USATF (track and field organization) made this huge race seem small and intimate. A separate awards ceremony was held following the race for the couple hundred of us there from all across the country. Old friendships were renewed and there was the usual chatter about upcoming races and dealing with injuries. Runners are such a congenial crowd, it is a pleasure to interact with them.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend.
Dave Klibbe is happy the race is over. Waiting to board the plane for home.