This was my 8th year running the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon. Many long term readers know but I grew up in the greater VA Beach area. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend is always a lot of fun.
There are several events from the “Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile”, to the Townebank Shamrock 8k, leprechaun dash, and of course the Yuengling Shamrock Half and Full Marathon. Usually an elite comes out and it’s been Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, and Shalane Flanagan, to name a few. There is something for everyone. My time at the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon: 1:29.52 is neither my fastest nor my slowest. It’s on the slower side, but that’s okay.
Last year I had an incredible experience that would be hard to beat and ran a 1:23. This year the goal was just to finish healthy. My training over the winter was nothing to write home about, and I’ve come to terms that this Spring might be a rebuilding season for me (something I personally seem to need after every marathon?).
Anyway, I arrived at the start around 6 am. The weather was ideal. It was low 40s, some wind but not much. Most importantly, it wasn’t raining. Two years ago,it poured rain and was low 30s.
Before the race, I met up with my good friend Jen. We haven’t seen each other since we both lived in NYS. We’ve both since moved, but it was nice to catch up. She ultimately ran a 1:18 and placed 3rd.
After that, I tooled around and got to the start about 5 minutes early. I talked with rabbit teammate, Nick, and by the time I knew it, we were off.
Since the Yuengling Shamrock half and full start together now, it was crowded. Right off the bat, I felt decent. Plus unlike the day prior, I remembered to start my watch. Since the marathoners and half marathoners are running together, it’s a bit more crowded. I plugged along and cruised the first mile in 6:44. I was near a lot of males wanting to use the race to qualify for the Boston Marathon (and run between 3-3:05).
I felt good and realized a sub 90 minute half was doable if I continued to feel okay through the race — a great goal to make a mile 1.
At mile 2, I saw my dad’s friend and waved. I started getting into a rhythm. The next three miles were relatively boring. The Shamrock half is a scenic course but there are always a few boring miles. I logged 6:44, 6:44, 6:40 (mile 4 on the gradual uphill was my fastest), 6:44. At mile 5, I was feeling good. I thought wow, this is much faster than I anticipated (I didn’t have a goal prerace, but didn’t anticipate being that fast either).
Then we entered Fort Story, and it all changed. Fort Story is a lonely part of the race. Unless you have a military ID, spectators can’t get on the base. It’s right along the water so extremely windy. In fact, one year there was a layer of sand across the entire course.
Miles 7-9 broke me both mentally and physically. I didn’t feel good, and I was running alone. There was some wind but nothing terrible. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel good because I had raced the day before, I just mentally felt disconnected and my legs felt stale. I told myself, make it to mile 10, and you’ll be heading directly home. I ran a 6:55, 6:59, 6:50, and kept it barely under 7 minutes.
I knew the 90-minute pace group was probably catching me soon. Around mile 10, a man started talking to me about “my form”. I wasn’t feeling the greatest and not in the mood to chat. We kept plugging along.
Mile 11 went down with nothing major. I ran a 6:55 and we had some wind at our backs. At mile 12, the 90-minute/3 hour marathon pace group engulfed me. I thought, wow I really did slow down. I also felt my shoe beginning to come untied, and it just felt like the wheels had come off.
The group engulfed and went around me and it stung. I hit mile 12 just over 1:22 and I knew I was still at 1:30 pace. Now I was just much closer than the start of the race. It made me feel a little better the group was ahead of their goal pace.
The last mile goes to directly into the wind. When you’re close to a time goal, running into the wind the last mile is the last thing you want to do. You can see the tent and King Neptune and it just never feels like it’s getting closer.
Then at mile 13, I saw it click 1:29:10. I needed the luck of the Irish for a sub 90 minutes.
I tried to sprint as hard as I could to the finish. I didn’t have much gas left but it was enough and I crossed the finish line under 1:30. After that I headed to the post-race party and finish line celebration on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The race gets you four free Yuengling beer tickets and have Murphy’s Irish Stew (which is always delicious). I waited and cheered for some of the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon runners.
I’m pleased with the race but know I have a long way to go fitness wise. In all, another good Shamrock Half Marathon. It’s one of my favorite races of the year and I always enjoy seeing local friends as well as others that come from far.
Questions for you:
Have you run a race for several years in a row?
What is your favorite race?