Saturday, March 22, 2014

Race Recap: Shamrock Half Marathon

My Shamrock Bling collection!
Finally wrapping up my Virginia Beach race weekend... If you missed part one, click here to read about the race expo and the 8K run last Saturday.

Sunday, March 16...
My morning alarm went off too quickly. I didn't feel well rested, and a quick glance out the window told me the wind had not eased up.  The half marathon started early at 7am (the full marathon was later at 8:30am). I grabbed my ClifBar for breakfast, only to realize it had chocolate in it (I gave that up for Lent!). Ah!  Thankfully, I had a sample-size granola bar from the race expo.

Temps were in the low 40's (which is my favorite race temp), but that wind had a chilling effect on me all weekend. So I grabbed a long sleeve tech shirt that I just bought at the expo. Hubby drove me to the start line - about 15 blocks down. I had originally picked my hotel based on the starting line for the full marathon, which was a different location than the half, also a different time.  We arrived a 1/2 hour early to meet up for the Half Fanatics and Tough Chik pictures. While hanging out in front of the Cavilier, I found a bunch of other online friends too!
Team Tough Chik!
Online friends finally meeting in person!
I was having so much fun chatting with my new friends that I almost forgot the time on the clock. By time I walked to the portapotties, it was less than 5 minutes to the start. When the gun sounded and the first corral set off down the street, I was literally inside the toilet. First time for that.  I found my way to corral 4 in the nick of time.

My goal for the Shamrock Half Marathon was to maintain a 10 min/mile pace for the first 10 miles and then see what I had left. It was essentially a long training run and a little test to see where my endurance was at. My legs weren't exactly rested and didn't feel as fresh as the prior day's 8K, but I felt good.

Hubby found me first near mile 2. Once running, I warmed up quickly and was second-guessing my choice of long-sleeve. The wind just didn't feel so bad once we were running in mass.

Hubby jumped in the car and caught me again at mile 3. He typically catches me a 6-7 times during a half marathon. But being a cheerleader in a car proved to be a difficult task at the Shamrock Half Marathon. The north side of Virginia Beach is a narrow area and most the roads were closed off for the race. There just wasn't a way around unless you were on bike.

I skipped the first water stop because it was a cluster, but then quickly reminded myself, "Don't be stupid. The majority of my hydration yesterday was beer. Take the damn water."  From that point on, I snagged a water cup at every water station and drank on the run.
Mile 1 - 9:54
Mile 2 - 9:54
Mile 3 - 9:49

After mile 3, we veered off on on the heavily wooded area along First Landing State Park. I loved this stretch, probably my favorite of the whole race. Three miles of quiet woods with a wide road to spread the runners out.
Mile 4 - 9:49
Mile 5 - 9:58
Mile 6 - 9:54
bad photo on-the-run, but you get the idea...

I was unglued from my watch most of the race - just trying to maintain a comfortable pace. Every once in a while, I'd look down to check a mile split and always happy with what I saw... nice and even. After mile 6, we entered Fort Story, a joint Army/Navy base. As we broke out of the wooded area and approached the Atlantic Ocean (large sand dunes blocked any views), the wind gusts slapped me in the face.  For the most part, the miles through the base were rather boring, except for when we passed between the old and new Cape Henry Lighthouses.

I was feeling really good and took my first and only energy gel to make sure that feeling would last. As we rounded the coastline and headed south again, I started to itch for the finish.
Mile 7 - 9:53
Mile 8 - 9:57
Mile 9 - 9:53

Coming out of the base, I grabbed a cup from one of several 'beer stops' along the course. Hmmm, it tasted good; a sneak of what was to come at the post-party. I was trying to hold myself on-pace until the mile 10 marker; but once that beer went down, my patience wore thin. I slowly stepped up my pace, plugged in my music for the first time... and the fun began.

As tired runners slowed down, I picked it up and began passing people non-stop. It takes control and patience to hold a slower pace early in the race... but this is the reward. It is so wonderful to feel strong and in-control at the end of 13.1 miles. I found my tempo pace and picked people off one by one. I even dropped the hubby a couple texts to let him know where I was. He had grown weary of the traffic rat-race and just took the car back to the hotel. I got a good laugh when he texted me (at mile 5), "Hurry up! I'm at the finish!"

I felt taxed in the last mile, but was determined to make it my best split of the weekend. The course zigzagged back towards the beach. We rounded the last corner onto the boardwalk and got our first oceanview of the half marathon. The strong wind put a damper on any kind of finishing kick. The flags waved us in for the finish, but that final stretch seemed to stretch on and on.
Mile 10 - 9:31
Mile 11 - 9:18
Mile 12 - 9:31
Mile 13 - 8:58

VIRGINIA - State #20
Official Chip Time 2:07:40
average pace 9:44
overall #3443 of 8936
F35-39  #300 of 921
Female  #1594 of 5510

This is nowhere near a PR for me (1:56), but I was really happy with my run at the Shamrock Half Marathon. I've been slow coming back from plantar fasciitis - building endurance and my speed again. A 9:44 pace for this distance is good for me right now... so I was all smiles with the results. I should mention if you are pushing for a PR, this is a great course. Seriously, the FLATTEST 13.1 I've ever run!

The race was fun... but the post-party was awesome!  We immediately went to the big warm tent on the beach. What a set-up inside! Hot soup, cold beer and a complete concert setup with four great bands throughout the day.

One of the best things I did the day before was buy a cheap sweatshirt. Sweaty and now cold, it felt awesome to put that sweatshirt on. We hung out for an hour before walking back to the hotel to change and try to catch my friend Patty in the midst of her full marathon. After a change of clothes, we returned to the post-party, waited for Patty to finish, and drank Yuengling beer until the band played their last song - 4:00 in the afternoon!! I loved one of the Irish bands so much that we followed them to Murphy's and celebrated our Shamrock runs well into the evening.

I had such a fabulous time at the Shamrock Marathon events. It lived up to its well-deserved reputation and I was extremely pleased that I chose this event to fulfill state #20 Virginia on my journey to Race All 50. Not only was event execution flawless, but the swag involved with these races was stellar!

Thank You Virginia!


  1. Great race Jess!! Sounds (and looks) like a lot of fun!! :) Congrats on state #20!! :)

  2. Let me try again: you look great in green! Did they really give you a towel AND a green cowbell? Where did you get the shamrock eyewear? Congrats! You shamROCKed it & succeeded in making me want to run it, too. Is it basically flat?

    1. OMG, I totally forgot to mention... FLATTEST half I've ever ran!! The glasses were a pickup years ago in a dollar store. :)

  3. I REALLY want to run this one next year! I've had my eye on it for YEARS, but as a teacher I can't take time off so I would have to do the 8 hour ride twice in one weekend! Hopefully the stars will align next year when I'm staying home with my little guy!

  4. Sounds like you had a great race! I think I may do this race next year. :)

  5. I ran this race last year and loved how wel organized it was and also all the race swag. Great race. Unfortunately this year a 16 year old girl died at the finish. So tragic!

  6. Way to go rockstar! I had a couple of beer shots at my ultramarathon in February and they were awesome - made me relax a little :)

  7. LOVE that you got a (beach?) towel, epic. I always wanted to run this race and someday I may cross this off my list.


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