Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

shamrock half marathon me running 2017

Last year, at Shamrock Half Marathon I ran a 1:26.50.  This year, my chip time was a 1:26.49.  While not a course PR, I did beat last years time.  Despite the race conditions being very similar (I.E. awful), for me, the races themselves were drastically different.  My last mile last year was probably 7:30+ and this year my last mile was a 6:11.

So let’s start from the beginning.  Shamrock was never a goal race for me.  It’s a race I like to do and I was hoping to run better than last year.

How did I quantify running better? By not only having a faster race but also not drastically blowing up like last year.

So technically, even though I’m much faster than 1:26 fitness, I did achieve my goals. But to be honest, I’m effing tired of running in terrible conditions.  Over the past year, I haven’t many longer races that are in decent conditions.  Most races have been in either pouring rain, sleet, snow, high humidity or windy. The only good weathered race that comes to mind is the Runners World Half, but I ran a 5k the day before.

Enough complaining! Last Friday, I prepared for the worst weather and brought my thick mittens, waterproof Gortex jacket, and appropriate attire.  By now, I know I need to be overdressed in cold, pouring rain or I’ll be miserable.

My coach James Mckirdy, Heather, Dad and I got to the race around 6 am, and we were lucky enough to stay with a personal friend right near the start.  I warmed up with Mollie and Heather.  I rarely do half marathon warmups, but while warming up, I didn’t feel terrible or even that cold.  It was pouring rain, but I wasn’t “as” miserable as last year.

We got to the race start at 7 am, and we were quickly off.  The first two miles were into a headwind.  With the headwind, I began settling into a negative mindset.  I hit the first mile in 6:59.  I was devastated.  Another race I had tapered for only to be foiled by rain.  I tried to clear my mind but just progressed on.

In hindsight, it’s easier to look back and see…yes it was windy.  Yes, the weather was awful.  In the moment, when you look down and quickly see you aren’t hitting your goal, it stinks.  I ran the second mile in 6:58.  It was mindless, and I was just staying with a pack of people.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
So happy

As we rounded mile 3, I felt a wind break.  While it was still raining, it wasn’t as windy.  I ran a 6:54. Around mile 3, I wasn’t sure I would break 1:30 but I hoped I would be able to pick it up.  It’s a long gradual uphill from about miles 3-5.

During the fourth mile, one of the UGH moments of running happened.  My shoe came untied.  I was running in a new pair of Saucony flats, and while I did double knot them, they came untied.  Was it a combination of pouring rain and the material the shoe laces are made out of?  Probably because it happened 3 times and it stunk.  Looking closely at the shoe laces, the plastic coating seems to be the cause.

I stopped to tie my shoe and progressed on.  I didn’t catch the people I was with until around mile 5-6.  With the stop I ran the 4th mile in 6:49 but I was motivated because I knew I stopped for at least 15 seconds.  The race clock doesn’t stop when you tie your shoe, so neither does my garmin. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I ran the next two miles by myself.  I was alone and lost in my own thoughts.  The race conditions were awful, but I was slowly changing my mindset. I ran the next two miles in 6:30 and 6:36.

As we entered Fort Story, I thought about last year.  Last year, the wind from Fort Story broke me.  I went from running around 6:30 miles to running 7+ and crawling to the finish line.  I was determined not to let that happen.  The wind was blowing more through Fort Story this year, and it had blown sand across a section of course.  We ran through 2 inches of sand!

This year, I felt good during the middle miles, and I credit most of that to overdressing.  My other shoe lace came untied, and I briefly stopped to tie it.  I ran a 6:37 mile.  As I began thinking about the finish, I knew my body felt able and willing to run faster than a 1:30 than I had previously anticipated during the first few miles.shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed mile 9 in 6:24 and mile 10 in 6:25.  I began catching a few people, and one male was running with me.  I saw Chris who ended up finishing a few feet in front of me and 7th lady overall.  The man told me to “go with her”…

The last three miles were a blur.  I just found myself counting down the miles.  2 miles to go and then 1 and then the final mile.  I saw James and Heather with about .5 to go and shouted: “I’m not dying”.  I guess that is always a good thing for an athlete to say. I also saw my friend Sika, who had raced the One City Marathon the weekend before.

As we approached the boardwalk, I saw the finish line, and I knew it would be close to my previous time.  Until that moment, I hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility to actually run faster than 2016.

For no reason, I mentally separate a 1:26.XX half in a different category as a 1:27+-half.  I wanted to break 1:27 and sprinted to the finish. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed in 1:26.50…the same time as last year.  With chip timing, my official time was 1:26.49.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
My husband didn’t run but still came out to support us!


To be honest, I’m tired of racing in bad conditions.  While I’m proud of myself for handling the race well this year, I am also tired of not racing in good (not even ideal but good) conditions.  I feel as though I’ve been in PRing shape for the last 6 months but the weather has had other plans.  I’m hoping the April Fools Half Marathon will have better weather.

Questions for you:
What is the worst race conditions you’ve run in?
Which race have you done the most times?



  1. Woohoo! “I’m not dying” is too funny! That reminds me of a tri I did last summer when one of my coaches was cheering me on at the swim exit, and I gave him a fist bump. You truly overcame a tough series of obstacles–weather, shoes coming untied, etc.–and it’s only a matter of time before your bad-weather streak ends.

    I tend to repeat races from year to year, and although it’s tough to compare times (simply based on weather and course conditions alone), I do compare how I feel at the finish: did I execute more precisely, did I have more gas in the tank, did I stay mentally strong, etc.?

  2. You looked great out there!! And I hear ya. I’m so ready for a race when the weather behaves.

  3. WOW! Looks like you absolutely smashed it despite the horrid conditions. Do you think you might look into some of the upcoming marathons like the one in Berlin in September? The weather conditions are usually perfect that time of year!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Mike. I would love to run Berlin, however, that is quite the expensive trip over there!

      1. Haha true! A lot of people include it as part of a bigger trip I suppose. Great experience though if you’re ever in Europe! If you’re on fb at all, we have a great group of fitness enthusiasts who share tips and tricks with running/keeping fit etc. Feel free to join in and drop your article in there if you like –

  4. You did great out there.yeah my shoe came untied and I hate that cause it hard to be back into groove of running after stopping . That was a nice finish at the end of the race you did.
    I think the worst weather I ran in was last year on Valentine’s 5k day ,it was the coldest day of the was 6 degrees out and it never warmed up.
    The most races I did Will be the love run half. This Sunday will be my 3rd year in a row running it ..its one of my favorite events of the year.
    Happy running hollie..

  5. That’s truly gutting it out. Imagine if the weather had been ideal! A couple years ago, I ran a hilly half in Denver in 8º and “refreshing” breeze. I got there early and parked close to the start line and basically jumped out of my car about 1 minute before the gun went off…and right back to it afterwards! Assuming I finish next month (!), I’ll actually have done the Boston Marathon the most times. This year will be #3! I sure hope I don’t get Shamrock weather!

  6. You are so tough to have run through so many poor conditions on race day! That’s an incredible time, especially considering those first few miles as you eased in… fingers crossed that break through pr race is next!

  7. Despite the horrible conditions, you seem to have had a great race.. especially turning the negativity into positivity by the end. That being said… I love that jacket!! I want it! 🙂

  8. Holy crap Hollie! Your body and mind will be blown if you actually get to race in decent conditions!! I’m so sorry this weather was horrible once again and the shoe laces would have sent me over the edge but YOU DID IT! I’m so happy you raced better than last year and every second counts, right? Here’s wishing you nothing but nice weather from here on out!!

  9. I typed out a nice comment and wordpress told me it could not be posted. Crazy!

    Congrats on a great race on what looks like a terrible day with the wind and rain. Glad you did well and had so much support and you weren’t dying at 12.5 because that’s usually a tough spot in a half. Plus you need to find a prediction race since you ran the same time, but I agree time isn’t everything and your race this year seems smarter with the pacing. Sucks about the racing flats and you will probably review them and mention that because flats really shouldn’t come untied easily (no one wants to tie a shoe in a race and if you are wearing racing flats you’re probably racing).

  10. I do not envy your race weather luck one bit. Sending good vibes for some decent conditions for your next one! (Plus I have a half in Brooklyn that day along the water and would like some decent weather, it poured and was crazy windy for this race last year…)
    Also your “I’m not dying” comment made me laugh. My running team coach was less than .5 from the finish of the 5K that I randomly PR’d a couple weeks back and I yelled to her something of the same respect…but considering it was a 5K she told me after I shouldn’t have been able to complete sentences at that point haha!

  11. That looks so miserable. You are DUE for perfect conditions, Hollie. It WILL happen.

  12. I’m so sorry you had another rough weather day. Hopefully April Fools will be better this year, since I won’t be there. Congrats on the time!

  13. Hi – it was great to meet you briefly during the race. I’m sorry it was such a tough day, between the weather (sand dunes – WTF) and the shoes. At least it wasn’t your goal race. I can’t wait to see what you do fully tapered and peaking.

  14. I know a few people who raced shamrock and they were telling me the same thing about the horrible conditions – awful wind, pouring rain, freezing temps, and even running through blowing sand! Way to race through it though!

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