Finally a good half marathon! Today’s race was my eleventh half marathon finish. I was really nervous about the race for a lot of reasons. It was the longest distance I have run since the last half marathon I did in December. The longest training run I did was 9 miles and I had to do that on the treadmill two weeks before the race and I stopped several times. All of the training runs I have been doing I’ve been going at a really easy pace because my ankle has still been hurting until the last couple of weeks. I was confident that I could finish, but wasn’t sure of my fitness level. My friend Becky was hoping for a 2:05 finish time, and I was hoping to be able to stay with her, and luckily we stayed together until the last mile, and we both hit our time goal! My finish time was 2:04:14.
The last post I wrote I raved about the Tim Kennard 10 mile race. Luckily I can do the same about the Shamrock race. It is an awesome race, and if you ever have a chance to run a J&A race in Virginia Beach I can’t recommend their races enough. Top notch all the way around. The Shamrock weekend is a lot of fun, but the races are really big. This year’s half had almost 9000 finishers, and it’s a different experience than running with just 400 people.
I met up with Becky and Melissa at the expo Friday around 7:30. Last year I tried getting to the expo at 3:00 thinking it wouldn’t be crowded and it was bananas! Crowds are not my favorite, so going at 7:30 was much better for me. It was still crowded but not nearly as bad, and I got suckered in by the Newton shoe company and bought a pair of new shoes!
This year I only signed up for the half marathon. Becky did the Dolphin challenge, where you run the 8K on Saturday and the half on Sunday and you get an extra medal. The dolphin challenge medal was really pretty and I was really wishing I had signed up, so maybe next year I’ll add on the 8K because the medal was really nice. I like bling! With Saturday to putter around Virginia Beach and weather that was 100% gorgeous, Jeff and I hit the Bayville frisbee golf course. Felt really good to get outdoors, and fling some discs! They have updated the course and put in all new cement tees if you happen to be in the area it was a fun short course.
Jeff, my husband, took this picture this morning. He is a trooper and I’m really thankful that he comes to races with me. He’s almost always waiting at the finish line for me, and I love that. While the temps said it was in the upper 40’s the wind was really cold and had really strong gusts. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for standing out there to cheer us on, hand out finishing goodies and take pictures. J & A races have some of the best course support of any races I’ve ever run. Lots of spectators really help keep you pumped up along the way, and I really enjoyed the DJ’s and the bands out on the course this year. Becky’s Dad was also out riding his bike, and he’d meet us every couple of miles to see how we were doing which was so awesome.
This year I had the great idea to not stay on the waterfront and instead drive to the race and park in the morning in a parking garage. I think that at least 5000 other people also had this idea to get to the parking garage when it opened around 6 which was a little bit stressful, but this year I’m glad I didn’t jog 2 miles to the start line. The awesome thing was the parking garage was right around the finish line so we also didn’t have to walk far from the finish, so that was great because the wind was really gusting. I did have to jog to the start and hope to meet up with Becky and Melissa. I was sure that it would be easy to find them, but I was running a little behind getting to the start. This was the first time that I’ve used a gear check at a race. I’ve never done that before, but I was also so glad that I had extra clothes to put on at the finish because it was so windy. I was able to meet up with my friends at the start, and we were all so excited, and had just enough time for some quick pictures. There is so much energy at bigger races, I always feel this electric feeling in the air at a start line. I love that feeling, it’s a nice little rush right before you start.
Overall this was one of the most fun races I’ve had. I think the weather was good once we got going. Most of the race course was buffered from the major wind until the last part of the race on the boardwalk. The course support is so awesome, Becky and I chatted away and got into a groove right at the pace we were going for and I was so thankful to finally have a race where I was feeling good. I was happy that my ankle seems to be recovered and didn’t hurt at all the whole time. This race was also full of inspirational people, like I’ve said before, most races are. Melissa saw a blind runner out on the course this year, and we had several military out on the course cheering us, as well as Team Hoyt. So awesome. What I really wanted though, was the finisher beach towel. At the J & A races you get an awesome medal, and a running hat at the end of the race. Then to top it off, they give you a special gift of some kind. Two years ago it was a sweatshirt, last year was a fleece blanket and this year was the towel. I didn’t care if I had to crawl to the finish I was getting my medal and towel! haha I’d still run if I didn’t get these things but I can say that getting goodies for running 13.1 miles does make a girl happy!
The other great thing about the Shamrock is the post race party. They setup a huge tent about half a city block in size and put in a stage where they have several bands, food and my personal favorite post race treat – beer. I don’t drink a lot, but I love having a beer after a race, even if it’s 9:30 in the morning. I didn’t stay at the party very long, you can see from the photo below that Jeff is not thrilled about crowds either and really wasn’t a fan of the 9:30 beer idea. haha Overall great day. I feel blessed to be able to Shamrockon another year, and can’t wait to go next year!