Shamrock Half Marathon (1:25.14)

I love Shamrock weekend.  I love it so much that I flew home to run the Shamrock half marathon, see my family and friends for a weekend.  I don’t love it because it’s an incredibly fast course or that I nearly froze my butt off at the start.  

But I do absolutely love seeing so many of my friends and this race is more about that than anything.  Running a race that it’s the ONLY marathon my dad trains for each year.  (I know shocker…my dad trains for only marathon and I don’t want to run a marathon)…neither of us are multiple marathoners per year.  It makes the travels all worth it (and for me it’s always worth seeing my family).

With that, I woke up at 4:15 (am I the only one who sets my alarm to a normal number these days?  Not 4:14 or 4:16…).  I had been very uncertain of what I wanted to eat beforehand.  You see, I have not had good luck with food during the last 3 longer races (half in late August, then in January the 20k, and Lake Effect last month) my blood sugars were very off (and I debated quitting in all three) and while my legs felt good in Lake Effect, nothing else did.  Nothing felt good in the other two.

So I decided to go back to what I had done for Plattsburgh when I had my previous PR and have a Panera bagel with peanut butter and no coffee (we were in a hotel and there weren’t any coffee options).  This race I clearly felt great so maybe I’ll just go back to that.    

I drove down to VA Beach from my house, secured a parking space in remote location and walked down to the start.  During that walk I realized it was very windy and dark and cold.  It was around 6:30.  I went up to check my bag and cried a bit while delayering.  I made some smartass comments about how I never get away from the wind and gave them my bag.

Though I kept my hideous too big tie die alma mater sweatshirt on as my throw away.  I would finally be able to get rid of that darn thing that people gave me so much crap for.  When it was a minute until race start I threw it off…freezing my butt off.  Only to have them delay the start for some unknown reason.  That 10 minutes was one of the most miserable times of my life…but I chatted with a few friends and pretended to be warm.

Then we were finally off and for some reason I had thought with daylight coming the wind would just go away.  It didn’t.  My first two miles were 6:42 and I was a bit upset (I normally have a couple of faster then settle into that pace to make up for when I will die later in the race).


Then we got to the only hill on shore drive…it’s more of a steady incline for a couple of miles.  Running in Oswego  has helped me because I run (when outdoors of course) 300 foot hills.  We don’t have anything more than a mile route without hills.  That being said I really don’t mind them and I was able to pass quite a few people.  There is no perfect race course, someone will complain about a perfectly flat and someone will complain about hills…most races you can look at beforehand to see if it fits your running style.

So anyways-hills and then around mile 4-5 we entered Fort Story.  The wind was blowing water in my face and I thought it was raining, I think I mumbled…oh I really do make it rain (no one approved of my humor).  Miles 4-9 were somewhat of a blur.  I just kept going feeling good and debating to take my gel.


Mile 9 we left the base and headed back towards the boardwalk to finish.  I kind of realized at that point I hadn’t died yet and I felt good so I myself at mile 10 I was going to crank it.  I hit mile 10 at 1:05.45.  I thought wow, if I run a 21 minute 5k, I could PR.  My mental talk when like this (though I could have said it out loud I don’t remember). You got this girl, your ass is already out…might as well faster.  (also I didn’t really think about how far below a 7 minute paced 5k I was already).

So at mile ten I started the “Heimertime Hammerdown” (don’t ask how this nickname even came…I think it’s because I seem to always have excess energy because I don’t start out fast enough).  By this point I got tunnel vision and focused on individuals in front of me that I wanted to pass.  I ended up passing about 10 people.

And also deciding to be socially appropriate by raising the roof before I crossed the finish line.
And also deciding to be socially appropriate by raising the roof before I crossed the finish line.

We turned on the boardwalk and got hit with the wind but I pretended I was a supermodel and they were blowing fan at my face so I wouldn’t think about my cold level.  People kept telling me to keep going as if I was going to stop.  (LOL, I love race spectators).  I high fived a little girl and then proceeded to focus on the finish.

For the last .3 you watch as King Neptune’s Statue appears to never get closer.  I watched as the clock as it went 1:23XX-1:24XX-1:25.XX.  Just not quite fast enough to break 1:25.

I finished with a 1:25.14 and 13th female overall (out of 5000+) and 4th in my age group.  I was greeted by a medal giver, water giver, cookie giver and snacks giver…but no pants giver.  I had to get those myself.

This is probably the reason my legs locked up post race.
This is probably the reason my legs locked up post race.

When they came over to give me a blanket (all finishers get a nice fleece blanket) I pulled the lady aside and said in a very Hollesc and serious voice: “I was hoping you were giving out pants”.  I think I made her morning and she probably told a lot of people about that…

I was greeted by Kris L and Renee H who both also PRed.  Kris ran a 1:20.XX and Renee a 1:17.XX.  I was like a little kid “oh my stars elite female runners chatting to me and I even got this photo with Kris as proof.”

Kris did you really just run a half?
Kris did you really just run a half?

And that is that.  I’ll do another post sometime later about my next few hours spectating the marathon and watching Dad and hanging out with friends but this is far to long.  You can know I’m entirely still sore and that is what I get for running 2 minutes slower per mile every day.  (10 miles  at 8:30 pace to 13.1 at 6:30…you’re going to have a bad time).

Questions for you:

  1. 1.       Did you race last weekend?  How did it go?
  2. 2.       What would be a perfect race course for you (or perfect workout)? 

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  1. girl you are speedy!! I’m from Williamsburg so I have always grown up hearing about the Shamrock– but it’s still so fun/interesting to hear each individual story. I am so impressed that you ran in those shorts– I would have just curled up in a shivering ball. and CONGRATS on the PR!!

  2. Congrats!! My goodness you are fast. Racing in the cold can be awful.. I totally think they should start giving out pants at the finish line. I would totally take a pair of sweatpants instead of a tshirt.

  3. CONGRATS GORGOUS! Sounds like a perfect race… minus the wind/cold. You are so inspirational to run that fast but train at an 8:30 pace–it gives me hope. My mind is what gets in the way… always saying “I can’t do this. I suck..etc.” But I’m getting better.

    I ran a HILLY 10k..managed to PR but it was still slower than I anticipated since the hills killed me and I may have walked a couple times… Need to get back into running shape. I hate hills. So I prefer flat fast courses. 😉

  4. Ha, I love the mental games we play with ourselves at the end of races. Your description made me laugh, as always. Congrats on the new PR!

  5. dude I bet you are sore but boy did you rock this. i can’t even imagine running that fast. I have been dying to do the shamrock though for a while, I had a number last year but had to give it up for a school event. lame way to go girl. I feel your races are going to be epic this year

  6. girl you are a superstar!! You rocked that race!! It was freaking cold this weekend so I could imagine the first 2 miles were tough!

  7. I think the soreness after this would be okay and rock… because you rocked it (err, shamrocked it, hehe). I love the pictures of you and the talk of what you ate and everything, I’m glad your food worked out as well too.

    Sorry there were no pants at the end for ya, though. I will say my race Saturday had kleenex in the race bag and that was a big help at the finish bc my nose always runs like crazy! But at least you got medal giver and cookie giver, hehehe. My race itself was okay, wasn’t very happy with my time but I can always improve.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of this about spectating and how your dad did too.

  8. I don’t know how you do it! Well, aside from being a talented badass that is. Appropriately I was green with envy for St.Paddy’s day 😛

    Also, you look amazing in every photo – about 1 in 10000000 (lots of 0s) people can pull off those shorts but you even made me think ‘hmm, they look extra comfy and stylish to race in.’ Then I remembered my legs are NOT made for teeny-tiny shorts haha.

    I think my ideal course would be a mostly flat trail – easier on my joints but without the knee-deep puddles (lakes…) and hills we get at trail races in my neck of the woods.



    1. LOL, I decided to choose the ones that I didn’t look like I’m vomming in. There are a few photos that I’m like uh better not post those. I think flat trail would be nice as well (not grassy…I’ll find something to trip over) but dirt.

  9. Amazing! Glad you had such a good race (and PR). I know what you mean about being freezing waiting for the race to start. On Suday I ran my first half and I was stood there for 15 minutes in the downpour of cold British rain waiting for the damn thing to start. But I loved every minute of it.
    I like your point about picking someone and running them down, I’ll take that with me for next time! It’s easy to just zone out a bit and forget it’s a RACE.

  10. Holy smokes, you’re fast! Awesome race, I don’t like wind but next time I will totally pretend I’m a super model too.

  11. You stud, you!! Super high five. I wish you would give your readers more credit for their attention span, because I want to read more details! Mile splits, play-by-play, HOW you ran the last 5k at your normal 5k pace! (did I do the math right?).

    questions: I know you follow an unconventional running plan (the no-plan-plan), which I love, because I also have no desire to get strapped down to plans, or a coach, and I run 80-90% of my weekly miles hellza slow. However, since you virtually do no speed work except for races, I’m wondering what you think the key is. Is it your core work? Is it slogging away on the elliptical? Is it high mileage? Is it PURE GRIT on race day? I actually enjoy the elliptical, so I kinda hope that’s your secret…now I will have an excuse to zone out on the thing 😉

  12. Lol! I love the raising the roof picture. I hate when it’s windy and I run but great job acting like ANTM. Tyra would be proud.

    I have no idea how you run in those shorts. I would get wedgie after wedgie and definitely would be picking at that shit. lol

    Good job!

  13. You’re living proof that you don’t have to run a tempo run every single day. I laughed a little at the picture of you raising the roof. It’s pretty funny and the fact that you’re able to be that good spirited and run that fast when it’s windy and a little cold in the rundies (which are the bomb, btw) is pretty impressive.

  14. You rock! And that time is awesome. I don’t know how you run in such little clothing! haha I would be frozen! Good thing you’re so speedy to warm up. I bet that girl loved your pants comment. And I bet you loved that fleece!

  15. Raise da roof! Woop woop! 😆 Awesome race, Hollie. It seems like everyone was running a race last weekend, but your time seriously blew me away. And every time I read these race recaps, I can’t help but wonder how the people running them remember every mile. I think the only thought going through my head would be “please don’t die… please don’t die…”

    Congrats again 🙂

  16. Oh my goodness Hollie you are one kick-ass woman and I am seriously incredibly happy for you, albeit JEALOUS for obvious reasons! Ahh well I will have to live vicariously through you 😉 Oh and let’s just say you are giving me further evidence here of WHY I chose you for ya know… winky wink wink haha. Had to. I enjoyed reading about the play by play of the race too, keeping it real as always and I couldn’t help but giggle at the make it rain part. If I had been near you and heard that, no matter what state I was in I would definitely burst out laughing. Or it would probably be a gasp/laugh but ya get what I am saying.
    Love the finish too, raisin’ the roof is one way to end it.. most people just look half-dead when crossing the line, I am including myself in that one! That is just an unbelievable time, and 13th female overall?! Heck yes 🙂

  17. You. Are. Awesome. That is all. I can’t believe you ran a killer race without coffee beforehand either! 😉

  18. Congrats again girl! I love how you’re able to recap your races so in depth! I would never be able to remember what was going on lol…I am total space case on runs. So what did the temp end up being that morning?

  19. Way to go Holz! You’ve done so much hard work and more than totally deserved this! Let’s catch up soon–I’ll blog soon lol

  20. Wooohoooo! I am so impressed. And I love your raise the roof photo – hot stuff. Did you get any awesome advice from the elites? I would have been totally star struck too.

  21. You are one speedy runner! But, more importantly, that raise the roof photo – signature photo right there. I expect one per race now.

  22. This is honestly my favorite race recap of yours since meeting you and reading about your running. It’s because I know the course lol and can picture you running there 😀 I have a few friends who ran this as their first half and LOVED it even with the damper weather. I am thinking you indeed made that woman’s day about the pants 😉

  23. That feeling of standing talking to ‘elite’ runner…yeah I got that when you and I first met. I was like damn this girl slaughters me in mileage and can kill me in races… be my friend?!?! bahha anyways….

    Glad you had such a great race, sorry that it was cold but sometimes that does help because you’re yelling at yourself to get to finish faster. I’m sure that woman loved your pants comment.

    Really looking forward to the 15k and breakfast in a few weeks! Bring warm clothes, last year it was really cold for the race! (I’ll make John wait with pants at finish!)

  24. Too bad there wasn’t anyone there to give out pants, that would have been a great after race gift! You make it all sound so exciting I almost want to do it myself, although I’m still back at trying to do my first 5K, but maybe someday I can get there and have awesome stories to tell like you

  25. Hahaha seeing someone bust out their moves towards the end of a longer race would totally make my race!
    Congrats on a speedy race!

  26. LOL I have to say, your race photos are just nothing short of epic. As are you! Great race despite crappy cold weather conditions – you are LEGIT and I see great things in your future this spring! 😀

  27. You are so inspiring! 6:30 pace is my 5k right now… I am in awe. Congrats on an awesome race, especially in the cold and wind. So funny the things spectators will say!! I’m glad you kept going. 🙂

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