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.


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?


  1. I agree that Shamrock was pretty terrible this year. I think you did a great job considering the conditions. I love the article you posted. I’m glad the weather was much better for the marathoners, but I wish it hadn’t been so bad for us!

    1. I agree that I was happy it was better for the marathoners. I wish it had been warmer or less windy I think.

  2. Our races sound almost identical. With pack until 4. Alone. Then getting passed. Way to tough it out. Mental strength built up for another race

    But bummed I missed you.

  3. The race was brutal and is no reflection on your fitness level. Some days you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on to the next one. Hope you recover well. That cold rain certainly took a lot out of everyone.

  4. Sounds like super tough conditions!! Race times don’t define you– you are in great shape and weather can have such a tremendous impact (I felt the heat in my last race, for example…the opposite from rain but made the race much more challenging!). You did amazingly well given the conditions and should be proud!!! There are many other races out there 🙂

  5. I’m so sorry this race didn’t go good for you. I had a hard race this weekend too and can relate to those feelings. I’ve luckily never raced in the pouring rain. I’d take cold and snowing before rain any day.

  6. Girl, that sounds like a tough race! Wind and cold rain are miserable. The nice thing about racing so much is that you have a good idea of where your fitness is and one bad race doesn’t have to be a confidence killer. Way to shake it off!

  7. Congratulations on finishing the race in the crazy weather and not feeling well. Everything I have read about this race- and I’ve read a lot of recaps- makes it sound like the weather was absolutely miserable, and your face in that picture confirms it!

    It stinks that you had a bad race, especially coming off of good training and lots of great 5Ks lately. Wind, rain, and cold are pretty rough for any race distance but especially a half, and it stinks that you couldn’t enjoy the after party and other fun little things. I do hope you have a speedy recovery from it and get back out there soon!

  8. dang Im sorry the race was so rough. rain definitely has a negative impact on my runs i cant imagine running a race with conditions like that. there are always other races though im sure you will find another half to get that better time i know you have fully trained for!

  9. I’ve been lucky enough to not have any super bad weather days. The worst I had was the Tulsa marathon when it was cold and windy and just misting, fortunately not full on rain! Great effort in a tough race! Don’t let it get you down, it will make the good races even better!

  10. Just looking at that picture makes me cold! You should just be proud you finished. Especially if you were slipping. That sounds miserable…..

  11. The conditions at Boston last year were similar – it makes what we are already doing that much harder! You are so amazing. This was probably the worst day to be running a race and you still smoked it. I know you are in faster than 1:26 shape but to run a 1:26 in those conditions (or in my case, at all) is nothing short of incredible.

    1. I’m the same way and I’m definitely a running diva. I don’t think I would have raced if it wasn’t my favorite race.

  12. You should be super proud to have finished the race in those conditions! It will only make your next great race feel even more special.

  13. 1:26:50 is a great time for those conditions! I’m proud of you for finishing despite the wind and rain!

  14. Wind, cold plus rain just sucks! Kudo’s to you for running an incredible time in it! I ran a marathon in Montana under the same conditions and my mouth was literally frozen shut too! I had to make hand gestures to the aid station people to please rip open my gels for me! You will NEVER forget that race Kiddo…it’s those ones that give you incredible mental strength. xoxo

  15. Major props for getting through what sounds like a super tough race, Hollie. I know it’s always a bummer to not see the kind of performance you wanted, but you definitely had some pretty big odds to battle against, and you -still- managed a great time. You should be proud of yourself.

  16. Wind is the worst to run in! You ran a great race and your effort certainly reflected a faster pace than your time – the wind can significantly slow runners down. Plus those tough and disappointing races always make the good races even better!

  17. That weather sounds miserable! It’s hard to have a negative race. I had an absolutely horrible death march of a race last fall – it was crazy humid out, but I was just mad at myself that I couldn’t go any faster. You can’t control the weather, but it’s still frustrating!

  18. 1:26:50 is an INCREDIBLE time!!!!! Honestly, that’s better than I could ever hope to run. Let that frustration you feel just motivate you to train harder 🙂

  19. I think your time is great considering the circumstances. It can be disappointing when you font reach your goals. I’ve run in the rain by the lake in Chicago and it can get cold and windy. Take a long steam bath and you should recover nicely. Keep it up your doing great!

  20. You did amazing despite the weather girl!! I ran the Townebank 8k the day before and almost did the Half marathon, but I had just ran the DC half marathon the week before and did not want to over do anything!

  21. I had targeted this half for this year, finally; it’s the half I want to do in VA & I have a runner friend who lives in VA Beach. But the beginning of the year was very stressful for me, and I just didn’t have the heart to start training for a half so soon.

    I really regretted it, when our winter was so mile. But I believe things happen for a reason, and I probably wouldn’t have been happy with those weather conditions, either.

    I did one half where the weather was like that, only not quite so bad. It only rained the last 4 miles and it wasn’t a downpour, and it actually was a good race for me.

    “Without the hard races, we cannot have the races that feel effortless”

    I’m not sure i’ve ever had an effortless race, but it’s true, we need the hard ones too!

  22. ugh..i hate these races, but they are the necessary evil to build a stronger mental game. I still think you ran a good race given the conditions, but you can definitely see how it took a toll if you felt like you ran a full marathon afterward. Recover, regroup and figure out the next step!

  23. Sounds like a tough race, but you still pushed through and finished. I ran a marathon one year in similar conditions and it was pretty miserable. I don’t mind the rain but when its pouring, windy, and cold, it can be tough to stay motivated!

  24. Those conditions sound brutal. I ran a 5k in the rain last June. It was chilly but not as cold as your race. Still, I hated it. I felt like water was sloshing around in my shoes. I eventually gave up avoiding puddles because I was soaked anyway.

  25. Wowza. You made a great decision to run the race “blind” without a watch. I did that today too (although I had my watch on to record the data, I did not look at it), and there’s something to be said for racing by feel. You are much, much fitter than this time indicates, and there’s no doubt you’ll smash the next one. 🙂

  26. Hollie, what an awesome race! Even if you’re not super excited about your time (which I think is crazy fast!!), I think you did amazing for giving it your all, running fast, and dealing with the weather!

  27. Holy wind and rain!! Wow, Hollie. I give you so much credit for powering through despite the crazy conditions. It takes a lot of heart and guts to run in freezing cold, wind and rain. I know it wasn’t your fastest time, but you should be so proud of the effort. WAY. TO. GO.

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