On Saturday, March 18, I participated in the TowneBank Shamrock 8k. This is just one race in a series of races for Shamrock Weekend in Virginia Beach.  The weekend includes an 8k, one mile fun run for elementary age kids, a 26.2 yard run for pre-schoolers, a half marathon and a full marathon.  They also offer 2 different challenge packages.  The Dolphin Challenge (8k and half marathon) and the Whale Challenge (8k and full marathon). The weekend’s events are put on by J&A Racing. I have participated in several events in this area and can say with assurance that J&A Racing is head and shoulders above the other race organizers in this area.

The weekend starts with the race expo held in the Virginia Beach Convention Center.  I went to the expo on Friday to pick up my race packet as well the packets for my daughters that were participating in the Operation Smile Final Mile. The expo was very well organized and had a great variety of vendors and speakers.  I was in and out within about 30 minutes and that included stopping at the J&A booth to register (at a discount) for the Anthem Wicked 19k in October.

I got up early Saturday morning to head down to the ocean front for the 8k race.  Temps were in the 40’s, but the wind was up.  It was certainly a little bit chilly.  I managed to snag a few pre-race photos including one with my local running group, The Running Turtles and another with a fellow Extra Mile Podcast contributor, Scott Perkinson.

So now for the funny part of this race story.  When I registered for this race, I did very bad runners math.  Having never done an 8k before, I very poorly estimated that an 8k was roughly 4.3 miles instead of the 4.9 that it actually is.  Consequently, I put an estimated finish time of 40-42 minutes instead of the 45-48 minute range that I would have most likely anticipated for this distance. Recent training runs have had me in the 9:15-9:30 minute pace range. I decided to set a goal for myself of 45 minutes. I figured I would have to push a little bit, but with some adrenaline and will power, I could hang on for that finish time.

The race started at 7:45 and I got out of the gate with no problems.  I settled into what felt like a pretty comfortable pace and just tried to lock in there. Mile one arrived and my watch had me at 8:30.  I was a bit stunned considering the weaving in and out that happens out of the start. I figured anything between 9 and 9:10 would be realistic.  I decided that I felt comfortable with where I was so I just tried to hold it and see what would happen. Mile 2 clicked off at 8:26.  OK, this was unexpected.  Let’s keep at it.  Mile 3, 8:29. AT this point, I knew that barring a disaster, my time goal was going to happen. Needless to say, I was feeling fantastic. I saw a race photographer and decided to have a little bit of fun.

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To finish the race details up, I crossed the finish line in 42:35 officially. That boiled down to an 8:34 pace. At the finish line, I received my medal, a drawstring bag, water, a banana, and a cookie.  It was easily one of the best finish line assortments I’ve seen for a shorter distance race.

As I said earlier, this was my first crack at an 8k race.  I most definitely enjoy this distance more than a 5k. I need a couple more under my belt to decide how I would compare it to a 10k,  J&A Racing did a fantastic job hosting this event and I definitely plan on doing this race again next year.  Here’s the race shirt and finisher’s medal.

The 8k wasn’t the end of my Saturday at the beach. I ran home to pick up the girls so that they could participate in the Operation Smile Final Mile. It was the first organized run of any kind for my girls and I was so proud of them.  For participating, they received a shirt, drawstring bag, and a finisher’s medal.  Here’s a pic of them before the run.

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It felt great to get my first race of the year under my belt. Up next is the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon on April 8.

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