Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.50)

What to say about this race? 

The time 1:26.50 is respectable, and I gave it my all that day.  Was it a PR or a time I’m happy with? No. The Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon will always be one of my favorite races: good races and bad.

I knew it was supposed to pour rain at Shamrock, but it didn’t hit me until it actually began pouring rain at the start.  Prior to the race, I checked the weather most days and it indicated it was supposed to rain and be cold.  It was never a secret the weather was going to be awful but I chose to ignore it and pretend it wasn’t real life.

The day before the race the weather was fine. 

The drive to start was windy but fine. 

The walk to the start was windy but fine.

At the start, it began to downpour and made it as miserable as possible. I questioned why I was even there.  To set the stage, it was also 40 degrees and windy.  The wind made the “feel” temperature around 30 degrees.

The half marathon started at 7 am and it was still dark.  As we counted down the start, I stared at my watch and decided not to use it.  I made a quick decision to race on feel and be blind to pace and time.  I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast race, and it was better for me not to worry about it.  My watch has died during several races including my first full marathon, so running blindly doesn’t bother me.

There were three clocks on the course at miles 1, 5 and 10.  Except for that, I had no idea of time.

The first mile was rough.  I questioned my racing flat because I could not get enough traction on the ground.  To be honest, I contemplated dropping out of the race because I wasn’t getting enough traction. I think if I had a do-over, I would have worn a trainer with more grip.  I was sliding around, and I thought I was going to fall and take other racers out too.

We hit the first mile in 6:10 which was shocking.  I started way too fast for the conditions. It didn’t feel that fast either. #sillyLOLZ

The next two miles I ran with a pack.  I felt decent, but the rain began taking a mental and physical toll on my body.

Before I knew it, we were at mile 4, and the pack dropped me.  I was running alone, which is where I stayed for a long time.  I knew I shouldn’t try to maintain the pace because I want to chase a PR on a better day.

Around mile 6, my friends Howie and Mike caught up with me. They passed me, and I found myself at the hardest stretch of the race.

I ran mile 6, 7 and 8 and nine by myself.  There was no one within 30 seconds in front or behind me.  This also happened to be the windiest stretch of the race.  Every year, the wind in Fort Story is bad.  2016 was one of the windiest years.

The wind blew my hat off around mile 8. I ran over and collected it, only to realize, I had no idea what was going on with my hair.  It had ripped my scrunchie and ear warmer off too.  I never stopped running during the fiasco; I just slapped my hat over everything prayed for the best.  I didn’t know if my hair was up or down…just that it was a complicated mess.

As we left Fort story around mile 9, several people caught me.  It was like a relay of people catching and whizzing by.  Most people said “nice work”.  I tried to mutter “you too” but honestly, my mouth was frozen.  I’m sure I appeared to be a negative nancy when all I could muster was a grunt.

At mile 10, the clock read something like 1:06.  I knew it was slower than normal but at that point, I was so delirious it didn’t matter.  It honestly felt similar to the last 10k of both marathons I’ve run.  I was cold, miserable and in a dark spot.

shamrock marathon 1

When I entered the boardwalk at mile 12, I didn’t feel a final push like I normally do.  In fact, I felt the opposite.  The last .2 didn’t feel like it was coming any closer and several people flew by me.  My legs were heavy and locked up from the cold. My mind was in the twilight zone, and I didn’t notice much. Five women passed me in the final stretch but honestly I didn’t care I just wanted to stop running.

When I finally saw the clock, I was surprised. It felt as if I was inching along slower than a slogging recovery run. I crossed in 1:26.50 and my body immediately locked up.  My legs felt stiff; my calves tired, and I was cold.  I went through the shoot, tried to smile at friends and booked it straight to get warm clothing.  (By booked, I mean hobbled slower than a senior citizen).

Normally I cool down after any race, but I didn’t have the energy.  I didn’t have the energy to stay at the post race party and hang out like I wanted.  I drank some of the Murphys Irish Stew and Gatorade, picked up dad and Heather, and we went home.  Shamrock zapped most of my energy and looking back I realized the rain had made me hypothermic as well.  I finished the race feeling like I had just run the Shamrock full marathon.

Thoughts:

I don’t know what to think.  It always feels crummy to have a negative race.  I have been on a steady half marathon progression since last August.

Without hard races, we cannot have the races that feel effortless.  Until next time Shamrock Half Marathon.

Final stats: 

shamrock stats

As you can see, I significantly slowed down in the second half.  My average for the second half was probably above 6:50 with 7:00-minute miles too.  

In the end, I know I’m in better shape than 1:26.50.  It doesn’t define me, my running or racing.  It’s just a single race.  Hopefully, I’ll have another half marathon that builds back my confidence before the summer.  Looking back, however, I don’t think the weather was the only thing that affected me that day.  It was the primary factor, but I also believe my legs were tired and not as rested as I thought.  Would I do Shamrock again?  Of course, you can’t control the weather.  I raced to the best of my abilities for the day, and I’m glad I still showed up.

The local news wrote an article making runners feel more badass than normal.

Questions for you:
Have you ever raced in the pouring rain?
Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?