Shamrock Half Marathon (1:23.21)

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

Shamrock half marathon is one of my favorite races.  I’ve run the race for the last 7 years and always enjoy myself in some sort of fashion.  Some years have been PRs, some have been proud to cross the finish line,  but every race has had enjoyable components.  I think J&A does an excellent job for runners of all speeds, paces, ages, and goals which is hard for any race director.  Not only that, but they are good people.  If you are looking for an 8k, 13.1, or 26.2 that if flat, fast, and fun, Shamrock is a great choice.  The weather has been good the last 5 out of 7 years I have run, which is high for a Spring Coastal race(and no they aren’t paying me to say that…sorry if you got the short end of weather in 2016/2017).


I had no goals for Shamrock.  I had run the Adrenaline 5k the day before.  Not only that but I was just tired.  Like I mentioned in my 5k recap, sometimes I underestimate life, and I thought I would actually get a good taper last week, but that didn’t happen.

After running the Adrenaline Run 5k in 18:29 on Saturday I drove back home to Shamrock.  I was lucky I remembered everything (which is atypical).

The drive was uneventful, I got to my parents, relaxed, and slept moderately well that night. Dad and I rolled up to Shamrock around 6:15.  This was the first year both the half and full went together, and the half start was pushed back to 7:30 (while the full was pushed forward).  Personally, I liked it because I got to see a lot more friends that way.

The weather looked ideal, and I was happy to enjoy the course because it wasn’t torrential rain this year. The weather was ideal for Shamrock and ideal running weather in general.

After taking too long, I pinned my bib and headed to the start.  I was able to see a lot of friends like my good friend Kris and Mollie.

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

After driving and feeling not the great the day before, I knew making a time goal was silly.  The primary plan was to have fun and run a strong race. Before the race, I walked around but didn’t jog or warm up.

Even though several thousand people are running, it’s always easy to use the bathroom, find your way to start, and not feel like a sardine. The gun went off, and so did we.  With the new addition of marathoners and halves starting together, it more packed and a much faster start.

I ran the first mile in 6:26 and was quite surprised.  I didn’t feel like I was about to randomly PR but I didn’t feel bad.  After the first mile, I began daydreaming about running my fastest Shamrock yet.  Then I told myself to wake the F up because I had run a race the day before.

The next couple of miles went by with no significant excitement.  I chatted with a few friends and saw one of my dad’s good work friends.  I hit the 5k in about 20 minutes, and we began the gradual climb over the next two miles.  As we started climbing, I began to feel even better.  I felt like my legs were opening up.  Despite the small and gradual climb, I hit the next couple of miles in 6:26.

Thank you, Ann, for the photo 

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

As we entered Fort Story, I saw myself getting in in the no man’s danger zone.  There was no one around, and Fort Story can often bring the most wind of any part of the race.  Last year there was sand blown across the course.

Luckily some men caught up with me, so I had a pack to run with.  They towed me along, and we began to slowly pick up the pace.  All of a sudden I found myself running 6:22s.  My body just felt good.

Around mile 9, I caught up with Katie who was leading the marathon for women.  She probably thought I was the most awkward, but I told her it was a dream to be running alongside her.  She looked as if she was just gliding along.

I hit mile 9 around 57 minutes, and I was ecstatic.  In every half, hitting mile 9 gives me a confidence boost.  Knowing I “only” have 4 miles to go seems manageable, and I then divide it into 2×2 miles.  Knowing I ‘only” have four miles to go, and feeling good feels even better.  I focused on making it to mile 11.

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

We began the long trek back to the finish.  I had entered another no man’s land of running alone, and for the most part, I just focused on the people about a minute ahead.  I passed a couple of people, but for the most part, I ran alone.

I hit mile 10 around 1:03.30 and told myself…I could run under 1:24 if you worked.

From there I just focused on the end.  I contemplated dropping my hat and gloves but decided to just keep them. I ran mile 10 in 6:11 and then entered my mindset of the “second 2 miles”.  Mile 11 for a half is always challenging.  You almost taste the finish line but then quickly realize mile 12 is still there.

Like usual, mile 11 was lonely, and I stared at my watch a few too many times.  There was nothing of note, and I caught a few people. Finally, I hit mile 12 in 1:16.30 and just told myself just go.  I told myself 7 more minutes.  I remembered in 2016 when I was passed by nearly 7 women (yes, 7) in the final mile.  This race was different, and I was finishing much stronger and over 3 minutes faster.

Finally, I hit the boardwalk and couple see King Neptune about half a mile away.  I stared longingly at him and powered to the finish. Along the boardwalk many people screamed “you’re almost there” and I bit my tongue multiple times. I never want to hear “almost there,” until my foot is one step from hitting the finish line.

I crossed the finish line in 1:23.21 and as 12th female overall.  I was shocked as it’s my fastest shamrock by over 90 seconds and was the least tapered I’ve been.  It was definitely one of the better weather days we’ve had (we had good weather the first 4 years I ran).

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

This race also gave me a lot of confidence.  I have been second guessing myself and wondering if Phoenix was a fluke PR and if I would be able to reach that again on a harder course.

I raced Shamrock 80 seconds slower, the day after I raced a 5k.  I tapered for Phoenix and did not for Shamrock, and I feel good about it.  To be honest, I feel better and more proud of my performances over the weekend and at Shamrock than I do about Phoenix.

shamrock half marathon va beach me running
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Questions for you:

What race have you done the most?  What is your favorite race?

What race are you most proud of?


  1. Training for my third Belfast Marathon on 7th May. Always a great event. My PB is 3:33:20 but would be happy with anything under 4 hours this year after injury and illness.

  2. So glad you have been training smart and that it’s paying off. You used really good mental strategies during this race, I might have to borrow them.

  3. I keep saying I’ll return to Shamrock, after running in (i think) 2014, and having the best time. Sooo after I got instagram-envious of all your Shamrocking this year, I decided to sign up for the 8k for 2019 and then plan to make fun signs and cheer my face off all day Sunday! It’ll be the best of both worlds for me, a little vaca with a tiny race in it, and still get to enjoy the spirit of the weekend.

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