Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shamrock Marathon Review

March 20, 2016:

The last few miles of a marathon are always hard, and I can't wait to see the FINISH banner ahead, but the minute it's over I'm just as glad that I've done it.  Groaning and whining back to the hotel with sore muscles and sometimes an upset stomach, it's still good.  Am I happy that it's over, or happy that I accomplished it?  YES.  A shower and some comfort from my sweeties, and back atcha, plus gluten-free pizza, lots of water, and a little beer, then crawl in bed, and all is well.

Preparing for a windy, rainy race.
Today, the day after the race, I feel wonderful!  I even ran a little, though very little.  No sense getting injured.  We are already planning to add another marathon to our schedule, which would make it a total of six for the first half of 2016.  Two down and four to go, if all goes well.

My Race:

Marathon number 93 is delivered! I finished in 6:43:51, not my best time but not my worst, and I did finish first of two in my age group of men 75-79. I'm happy - my world is still round.  The best news of all: NO BACK PAIN! All of my leg muscles hurt for sure, more and more toward the end, and that comes with the program, but not a peep from the myeloma.  Big YAY!

The real story of this marathon was the weather. Temperatures in the high 40’s would normally be fine for running, but the screeching 20 - 30 mph winds and sometimes rain made it feel MUCH colder.  I wore four layers up top and was glad for all of them.  For at least ten miles we ran directly into that wind – I must say I've never climbed such a long hill, even though the roads are flat and there are no hills on the shore of Virginia Beach.  First day of spring indeed!

At Mile 12, facing the wind
I did not bring long running pants on the trip, nor did I shop for any at the expo, thinking that I wouldn't need them in temperatures above 40.  I didn't take the wind into account, though, so my sweet daughter loaned me a pair of capris, which helped a lot.  Very fashionable ones according to my friend Greg, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

He and I connected and started running (mostly walking) together at about Mile 17 or 18, and finished together at 26.2.  He could probably have gone faster than I, but whenever I gave him a pass to take off ahead he stuck with me.  His company and our conversation  helped to take my mind off the muscle pain in the last miles.  Usually I experience that as muscle exhaustion, just weariness, but in this marathon it hurt - maybe because of the cold?  I did slow down a bit in the last five miles or so, and Greg slowed with me.  He seemed to enjoy the company too.  At Mile 25 we were at about 6:24 hours, as I recall, and I asked what the time would be in another 17 minutes at Mile 26.  He grinned "Hey, you're the engineer!"  We did solve the math problem, but this illuminates the fact that muscles are not the only body parts that can fade out after 25 miles.

Other whining: After the race, in the hotel room, I had a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee, possibly the ITB or a bursa.  It went away as soon as I took my dexamethasone (DEX), part of my Sunday night myeloma treatment regimen, and it didn't reappear.

The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon:

Yuengling is a venerable local brewery and has earned the "name title" as a sponsor of the race.  Shamrock is sort of the race theme - Irish because the race falls near St Patrick's day, I suppose.  It's easily one of the best-organized marathons I've ever seen, if not the very best, and that includes NYC and all of the Rock 'n Roll marathons, which are always well organized too.  I can't recommend it more highly.  It's FLAT as a pancake, save for one short bridge, and offers lots of great views of the Atlantic.

You can't blame the Shamrock Marathon for the weather.  The average weather for that date is perfect for a marathon.  Besides, we have a saying in our family, "Don't invite us to our marathon!"  Because stuff happens - we have stories.  I might write a book.

  • Sign: "What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover?"
  • Next sign: "A rash of good luck."
  • Road sign: "Street may flood."  We were never more than 40 feet above the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach.  Hurricanes happen.


Along the way quite a few runners came up to me and mentioned that they had seen me on Channel 10 WAVY  during their breakfast on race morning, before the race started.  That's one of the reasons I run marathons, not only for the pleasure of the travel and the running but to raise awareness about multiple myeloma. BTW it's Myeloma Awareness Month!  By all means take a look at the web site of the International Myeloma Foundation, myeloma.org.  Just as important, I advocate for new, innovative treatments and for insurance coverage to pay for those.  My own campaign is on Facebook.com/eracecancer and Twitter.com/eracecancer, plus I am strongly affiliated with PatientsRising.org.  Both organizations have goals that nicely match mine.

Insurance Companies BOO!

Insurance companies are increasingly trying to weasel out of paying for the newest, most-effective treatments.  They do this by requiring patients to try less-effective treatments first, or by charging their own customers as much as a 20% copay for the most expensive medications.  They know that many of their customers will not be able to pay that much, so they get off free, and then when the patient dies they have no further responsibility.  They don't care.  I'm a little incensed about this!  I think we all should be.  We pay premiums so that insurance companies will cover our backs, but they seem determined to cover their own instead, at our expense.

Seahawk Motel:

We have done this race twice now, and both times we stayed at the Seahawk Motel, nestled between the bigger hotels of the national chains, right on the "boardwalk" (long since paved in concrete).  Our room had a little kitchen, plus a balcony overlooking that boardwalk and the crashing waves of the big blue Atlantic.  I registered online, but I think I would have done them a favor by just calling, because they don't have their own web site.  Anyway you can't get the kitchen (the "efficiency" room) on the internet - you have to call, 757 428 1296.  I thought I had booked one, and was lucky they still had one when we arrived.  The SkyHawk is basic, clean, and reasonably priced.  We would go back in a flash if we ever do that race again.

Mile splits:

12:30, 13:09, 13:54, 13:27, 28:48 (2 mi), 18:21 (nature break), 13:56, 14:15, 16:40, 1:00:54 (4 mi), 15:22, 15:24, 17:17, 32:19 (2 mi), 14:48, 15:50, 16:11, 16:49, 16:53, 16:51, 17:17, 3:16 (0.22 mi), total 6:43:51, average pace 15:24.  Oh well.

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