March 17, 2014

Shamrock Anthem Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Shamrock race morning started like most - an early wake up call and my standard pre-race breakfast of bagel (or English muffin) with peanut butter and a banana.  I headed down to the beach a bit early, knowing that parking is always a challenge and I'm glad I did.  Because the 25th street lot was closed, the 31st street area (which is near the finish) was a mess so I headed further south and easily found a spot at the 19th street lot.  Being that the starting line is at 42nd street, I had a pretty decent walk but I figured it would help get me warm and get my muscles moving.  I found out that Sarah and Matthew were taking refuge in a hotel lobby and joined them for a moment before we headed to the starting line.
We rock race morning throwaways like Gucci
We made our way to the starting area and went our separate ways to the corrals. 
The iconic Cavalier Hotel - it's gorgeous!
 I elected to drop back to corral 3 to run with the 1:52 pacer, who was supposed to be at the front of the corral.  I did a lap at the front of the corral and still couldn't find any sight of the pacer and started to get worried.  Alas, a few minutes later, they both showed up and the pace group formed.  We started a few minutes after 7 at the very front of corral 3.
Atlantic Avenue is completely closed for race morning so runners start on
both sides of the street - it really is a parade!
I settled into the pace pretty easily for the first few miles and tried to soak up all of the local cheerleaders at the North End.  The perk of running with a pacer is you really don't have to think about how fast you're running and I tried to not expend too much mental energy early on.  As always, when I passed 72nd street, I thought of my dear friend from middle and high school and her parents who still live there.  It was a nice emotional boost, even if I didn't see any of them - thinking of them made me feel joy.

The first 5 miles ticked away very easily and at mile 6 or so, we made the turn into Fort Story.  Immediately, we faced a significant head wind which was worrisome.  I felt myself working much harder to maintain the pace.  As we approached the gel stop at the halfway point, I found myself in the middle of the road and quickly tried to get to the side to grab water and a gel.  It was a disaster - I had to walk for a bit to avoid other runners to get water and ended up grabbing a gel out of a box because the volunteers had just given theirs to other runners.  I panicked a bit as I watched the pacers' orange singlets fade from my view.  I immediately picked up the pace to catch them but it was really tough.  I was running a 8:10-8:15 pace just to slowly close the gap...and that was with the headwind.  I kept reminding myself that I needed to give myself a mile to catch them and it took me just about that long!  I heard other runners with the group complain of the same problem after the gel stop.  The next few miles were very challenging and I found myself wondering if I could stay on pace for the next 6 miles.  

Once we made it through Fort Story, it was much less windy.  We made the turn back to the North End at around mile 10 or so and I felt a second wind...the caffeinated gel I had just taken didn't hurt.  I decided to go with it and pulled away from the pacers.  A few other girls started to pull away as well and I tried to pace with them.  A mile later, I found myself feeling a bit fatigued and I couldn't hang with them but I told myself to keep grinding.  I was having a hard time not counting down the streets or constantly looking at my Garmin for the mileage.  Clearly I was tired! 

At last we made the turn onto the Boardwalk and we were less than a mile from the finish.  The wind picked up but I didn't let it get to me.  I worked hard to get my legs moving, but quite frankly I didn't have much left.  I managed to knock down the last 0.16 to 8:04 pace and that was all I had!  As soon as I looked down at my watch, I was shocked!  I had a 1:50-something on my Garmin and my official time ended up being 1:51.17, which was a 12 minute improvement on my half time and a 17 minute improvement off last year's Shamrock Half. 
Pure joy!
I immediately called Dad to let him know and enjoyed some post-race snacks as I made my way through the chute.  I headed to retrieve my bag and found masses of people everywhere.  I soon learned that my bag check truck (the one for people in corrals 1 and 2, aka all the recent finishers) had a 40-ish minute wait.  Note this was my one major complaint from the race - it was total chaos!  I was so cold that I decided to go into the post-race tent to get warm and see some friends. 

 I was thrilled to run into Jess of Run with Jess almost immediately after entering the tent.  She is very friendly and I enjoyed meeting her!  I saw Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes and we celebrated our PRs before I caught up with some local friends and celebrated more PRs!  I swear almost everyone I know PR'ed in this race.  I had a little mishap where I thought I lost my car key so I left the tent to try to retrace my steps and ran into Kristina and Joe.  It's hard to believe we live in the same town and the last time I saw them was at Dopey.  We must change that!  They both had fantastic races - more PRs!  Luckily I found my car key a little while later...chalk that snafu into post-race mushy brain and me forgetting I'd moved it to a different pocket in my skirt. 

Kristina and I
I headed back into the tent to get warm again and enjoyed my post-race Yuengling beers and slowly started eating my snacks...I always have a little trouble eating post-race.  Before long, I saw Sarah (of Sparkly Runner) and Matthew and learned that Sarah earned a PR and Matthew ran a really strong race.  So much awesomeness, it was hard to process.  At some point, Mom called me and told me that she BQ'ed and I screamed "we're going to Boston" on the phone.  A lot of people looked at me funny but I didn't care.  I was SO very proud of her!  She worked tremendously hard for that accomplishment and I'm looking forward to reading her race recap and seeing a few photos.

Despite trying to meet up all weekend, I finally met Colleen of Live Free and Run.  We had a blast chatting and enjoying the band and our post-race beer.  I also ran into a few local friends and shared laughs, hugs and a few toasts to race day.  I'm convinced that everyone I know was at Shamrock yesterday! 
Post-race party tent selfie!
Before long, it was time to go check on my marathoning friends and I timed it pretty well.  As I made my way toward the finish, I asked a few runners their finish time and they ranged from 3:37-3:40 which was perfect since I was waiting on the 3:45 pace group.  I overheard several runners tell their family and friends they BQ'ed which was magic.  I congratulated everyone I saw and could see the fatigue on their faces.  The major difference between the half and full marathon finishers was the noticeable hobble of most of the marathoners and the salt caked on their faces.  Before long, I saw both of my marathoners and learned that my new friend, M, who I met during our shakeout run with Bart hit her BQ and Lacey ran a really strong race despite not feeling fully trained.
Proud of my marathoning friend, Lacey
Lacey and I were both pretty tired so we didn't stay at the post-race party much longer.  We shared a celebratory hug and parted ways.  I made the long walk back to my car and reflected on the day.  It's hard to believe I ran a 2:08 PR last year at this race and in the course of a year, dropped 17 minutes off my time and about 1:20 or so per mile.  Hard work definitely pays off!  I truly love this race weekend and can't wait to come back for more next year...perhaps I'll tackle the full!



Until next year, keep on shamrockin!
{Christine}

41 comments:

  1. Way to go, Christine! You rocked Shamrock and your hard work definitely paid off! That finish line party looks like it was a blast. Its interesting that the gear trucks were divided by corral instead of the usual last name. I would think that would help with the length of the lines after the race. Regardless, it looks like Shamrock was awesome, and I'll definitely have to consider this one next year.

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    1. Thanks Kathryn! It's a fabulous event and I would definitely recommend you guys run it some year. They've added the challenge events too which seem to be popular...no surprise there!

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  2. Best race weekend post EVER! Seriously, great job Christine - I am so excited for you! And huge congrats to Pam as well for BQing!

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    1. Thanks Lauren! It was a fantastic race day :)

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  3. I was so excited when Lacey told me the news about your PR and Pam's BQ!!!! So glad that you gals were able to meet up this weekend. I love race weekends at VA beach and can't wait for RnR again! I love that last picture of you Christine!

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    1. Thanks so much Meranda! :) I loved getting to hang out with your sis!

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  4. I can't say it enough, you guys both TOTALLY ROCK! I am so inspired to start working harder for a spring PR now that I've seen all your hard work pay off - CONGRATULATIONS again!

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    1. You are so sweet! I know you have some very fast races ahead of you...when the snow melts! :)

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  5. Congratulations! Are those surfboards on the medal or is it something else?

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Yes, surfboards - I love the beachiness of it. And there's a bottle opener at the top...I don't know if I'll ever use it, but it's nice to have I suppose. :)

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  6. Great job on the PR and Pam on the BQ!

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  7. What an awesome job girlie!! Congrats!

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  8. What a great recap! Congratulations, you've certainly earned it. And congrats to your mom on her BQ! So much awesomeness!

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    1. Thanks Jaime! It was nice to see all of the hard work from training come together on race day.

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  9. Congratulations! I was at 37th where the runners turned to go to the boardwalk volunteering. It was FREEZING with the wind tunnel there. It was fun watching everyone get so close to the finish and know they were almost there. I did hear that one girl died after the race. How sad.
    @heatherlas

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    1. Thanks Heather! I stood at that spot to cheer for the 8k on Saturday and even with the sunshine and warmer temps, I was freezing there. It was definitely a wind tunnel.

      I heard about the girl who passed - such an awful thing to happen and she was so young. :(

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  10. Shamrock weekend was amazing, but I agree that wind was SO tough! Soup next tasted so good after! Congrats on your PR!!

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    1. Thanks Lindsey! Yes, the wind was really tough and I was glad I ended up wearing a long-sleeved shirt because I definitely got chilled in Ft. Story. How was your race?! :)

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  11. Congrats Christine! That's an amazing PR! Especially considering the windy conditions. Great job girl!

    I've always wanted to be an official pacer and a race asked me once, but I honestly don't think I could run an entire 1/2 without stopping for food + fuel. Even if it was a significantly slower pace -- not sure how other runners do it!

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    1. I would love to be a pacer someday as well but I'm with you - I could NEVER get through 13 miles without water. One of the pacers didn't even carry anything. The other guy carried a small handheld and he snagged a Gu at the fuel stop but kept moving. Pretty amazing.

      And thanks for your sweet words - I'm still pretty excited! :)

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  12. This race looks like so much fun. Congrats to you on your awesome PR and to your mom too for the BQ!!

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    1. Thanks Kristen! It is an awesome race - I would highly recommend it.

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  13. I'm so, so, so happy for you!!!! And, next year, I definitely need to run it!

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    1. Thanks friend :) Yes, definitely come join me next year. Lisa and Christine run Shamrock full marathon together? :)

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  14. AWESOME JOB CHRISTINE!!! I am seriously so excited for you! You worked so hard and it absolutely paid off! You give me hope for my race in April :) Now take a little rest - you sure deserve it!

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    1. Thank you Megan! I would not have made it through the training without you. <3

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  15. Wow Christine!!! What an amazing PR!!! Congratulations!!! And that sand sculpture is awesome!!!

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    1. Thank you Mindy! They always have an amazing sand sculpture on the beach near the party tent - it's an awesome post-race photo spot.

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  16. great job and a great race! i agree that j&a put on a fantastic set of races. congrats on your HUGE PR!!

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    1. Thanks Courtney! Hope to see you at another race :)

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  17. Wow, you really ran hard! Congrats on your PR... that. is. HUGE. I'm so thankful you spotted me in the beer tent!! You're so darn sweet & I loved chatting with you. We stayed in the beer tent until nearly 3:30 that afternoon!! OMG, yeah, I had a few more than my allotted four beers... hee hee! :) We had a blast in Virginia Beach though!! Great town!

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    1. Haha I can't believe I didn't see you again! I stayed until about 2:00 to see some friends finish the marathon. Glad you enjoyed the race (and VA Beach)! It was SO fun meeting wiht you - really enjoyed chatting! :)

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  18. Christine, I ran with you in the 1:52 pace group and we spoke at the finish line. Man, running with a pace group is awesome! I stumbled upon your blog looking for info on pace groups for the Dismal Swamp Stomp. Congrats again on a fantastic race - WOW!! Hope to see you out there again soon. Betsy

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    1. Hi Betsy! :) Of course I remember chatting! I loved running with a pace group, but I was less than social haha! Eyes on the prize for this entire race. :) If you have any questions about the Dismal Swamp half, feel free to email me (werundisney@gmail.com). It's a really great local race and definitely a fast course.

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  19. just re-reading this as motivation and I love it! SO excited to race this weekend!

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