Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Shamrocked the Shamrock Half Marathon!

The title may give you some hint of how my race went last weekend: it was absolutely amazing!  Buuut let's not skip any of the important details.  I made you guys suffer through 20 weeks of training, so it's only right that I make this post extra long and detail filled.

Friday night I vowed to get a good night's sleep.  I've been fighting a miserable cold for the past couple of weeks and figured that a good night's sleep would be the best thing for me.  They (who exactly "they" is is unclear) say that it's not the night before the race, but the night before the night before the race that counts.  Maddux had other plans.  He decided to choose the most important night before the night before the race to not be able to sleep and make sure that I couldn't get any rest either.  If you wanna hear God laugh tell him your plans, right? 

Maddux says everything I tell you is lies.

Saturday morning came bright and (way too) early.  Maddux and I hit the road for Newport News where we were meeting up with my roommate who was nice enough to take my pup in for the night and my best friend who was riding out to Virginia Beach with me.  Traffic was a bit of a beast, so we only had a few minutes to chat before heading out to the expo.  I can't think of anything super exciting about the expo other than the smoothie and cereal samples, but I was really excited to get my number and my insanely bright shirt.  (Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever be able to wear it.  I tried and it gave me a headache it was so glaringly bright.  I've also been sick, so I'm hoping I will stop being a pansy soon.)  

So happy to be at the beach!!

Guys, let me just tell you that my best friend is seriously the best.  After the expo we checked into our hotel and I was thankful she was with me!  I wouldn't exactly call it luxury, but it was right across the street from the finish line and I was able to walk to the start.  The front desk lady was so incredibly nice, too!  Combine that with a late race day check out and I am sold.  After checking into our hotel we decided to stroll down the boardwalk and find somewhere to eat dinner where we could get a good pre-race beer.  I remembered eating at Abbey Road years ago with my dad and figured that we would probably be in luck with a good beer selection and I was right!  My best friend patiently listened to me switch on and off between "OMG I'M SO EXCITED" and "OMG I'M SO NERVOUS" and then we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep.

Bestie says it's easier to listen to me blab on about running when she has a drink in hand.

At 5:17 (random, I know, but it was already set from another time I got up too early so I rolled with it) the alarm went off and I started my pre-race prep.  I ate a peanut butter power bar while drinking a crappy cup of hotel coffee and put on the outfit I had laid out the night before.  Here's where my issue was: It was supposed to be around 50 degrees by the time I finished the race.  I get SO hot when I run so I figured I would be ok with just a short sleeved shirt and shorts (when I ran the Crawlin' Crab in 2012 I wore shorts and a tank top in similar weather and was fine).  Long story short, my arms were SO cold during this race.  The rest of me felt fine, but my hands were not cooperating because they were so cold and it took me a little bit after the race to get normal function back in them.  I ended up having to hold my Shot Block baggie in my hand towards the end because I was so sick of trying to mess with the zipper on my pouch.

Best friends wake up with you and freeze so you don't have to start the race alone.
They also surprise you by telling you they packed you extra tissues!

Back to before the race--We made it to the start line in plenty of time.  The corrals were well marked and each section had a glorious row of portapotties.  At the last minute possible I handed off my layers to my best friend and headed to my place.  I was really nervous, but  before I knew it, we were off!  I think my corral (5) started about 7 minutes after the initial start.  There were a couple of signs that said "You are no where near being done!" and "Only 13 miles to go!" Soon after that, there was a house handing out cups of beer.  I wish I was confident enough in my ability to run after drinking a beer, but my mom would probably be proud I didn't take drinks from strangers, so I guess there's that.

The race was pretty uneventful.  I enjoyed the course, but thinking back there weren't any super interesting or odd things about it.  I liked the signs that are on the course with jokes and quotes and laughed around mile 5 because during my first half marathon that's where my brother stopped for the bathroom line and I semi freaked out about running the last 8 miles by myself.  As the miles clicked by I saw that my pace was faster than I intended.  I kept trying to slow myself down because I hadn't been running that fast in my training runs lately, but as each mile passed I was staying at about the same pace.  I figured it was what it was and if I totally lost steam at the end of the race then that's what would happen.  I skipped the first water station, but got a cup or two of water to follow a shot blok at all of the remaining stops.  I've been cramping up terribly lately so I avoided the gatorade (and sadly the oreos).  Around mile 6 or 7 we rounded the corner in Fort Story and I got a glimpse of the ocean which gave me a little extra boost.  I laughed a little bit because I heard a couple of girls talking about how you never realize how hilly Virginia Beach is until you try to run.  This course was as flat as a well made pancake.  

Finally we reached mile 11 and some one yelled "It's almost over!"  It kind of hit me then that everything I had worked towards was almost over.  It also hit me that I had hopes of coming close to my old PR (2:06:??).  I picked up the pace and cranked out that last mile at an 8:58 pace woohoo!  I felt amazingly strong as I did the final kick on the boardwalk and crossed the finish line at 2:04:50, a brand new sparkly PR!

I was absolutely elated and the best part?  I felt great!  My best friend and I headed to the post race party after I got my photo snapped and grabbed my snacks to celebrate with a beer.  I ran into Colleen and her sweet family on the search for the beer line.  (I met them last weekend at the ZOOMA Kickoff party!)  Finally I was ready to warm up a little (the post race party was in a tent, so we escaped the wind, but I was still a bit chilly) so we headed back to the hotel and I grabbed a shower before we went to the amazing Pocahontas Pancake house.  Our race was on the marathon course, so it made perfect sense to eat pancakes while we waited for the roads to open ;-)

Pretty sure I PRed in breakfast, too.

So folks, there it is!  Thanks again to J&A Racing for another incredible race experience!  A HUGE thank you to all the volunteers who helped the event run smoothly and who helped cheer us all on.   And last but not least, thanks you all of you for all your words of encouragement as I trained for this race!  I can't wait to come back next year!


  1. That sounds like an awesome race - congrats on the PR! And I actually had pancakes after my first half marathon too, it's the best way to go!

    1. Thank you! I was a very happy girl! And pancakes are the perfect way to refuel ;-)

  2. Hooray! That hat is super dorky, but your picture is cute :) And as always, so is my nephew pup. So glad you had an awesome race! You worked so hard, you totally deserved to have a race go perfectly.

    (And, I feel I must point out, that girl can eat!)

    1. Thank youu!! I can't wait for my next race! And pup was NOT so cute the night he couldn't sleep, but I guess I'll keep him. :-) You better believe I demolished pretty much every bite on those plates haha!