Shamrock Half Marathon (1:29.52)

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:29.52)

This was my 8th year running Shamrock. Many long term readers know but I grew up in the greater VA Beach area. 1:29.52 is neither my fastest nor my slowest Shamrock. 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.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

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 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. I plugged along and cruised the first mile in 6:44. 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.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

At mile 2, I saw my dad’s friend and waved. I started getting into a rhythm.  The next three miles were relatively boring. 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.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

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.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

Then at mile 13, I saw it click 1:29:10.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

I tried to sprint as hard as I could to the finish. I didn’t have much gas left but it was enough to get right under 1:30.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running


I’m pleased with the race but know I have a long way to go fitness wise. In all, another good Shamrock. 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.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach

Chilling on the beach with Nick

Questions for you:

Have you run a race for several years in a row?

What is your favorite race? 


Exploring Cattus Island Park in Toms River

Exploring Cattus Island Park in Toms River

Last week, I took a drive out to Cattus Island Park in Toms River.  Originally, I wanted to enjoy the shore while still doing something active.  While laying on the beach is fun for some, it isn’t all that fun to me. I get bored after a few minutes. One of the parks I’ve wanted to get too is Cattus Island in Toms River, so it worked out.

Cattus is an easy trail suitable for a leisurely walk, small kids, or pets.  You hike through the Pinelands, on a boardwalk, and along the beach.  There is even a massive Osprey nest! The hike itself is one of the easiest I’ve done, with a mix of sand, boardwalk, dirt, and pine needles.  If you combine all of the trails, it ends up being about 6.9 miles.

One thing I appreciated about Cattus Island Park was the map available at the front.  Obviously, everything is available online beforehand, but it’s nice to have a paper copy out.

I did hike most of the trails, but it got to be a bit windy along the shore, and I was getting cold.  Plus, I also wanted to beat the traffic on route 70.

Starting along the boardwalk

Cattus Island Park toms river
You can see the Osprey nest in the background.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Marsh and Wetlands

Cattus Island Park toms river

Then all of a sudden the trail went through the pines.

Cattus Island Park toms river

And along a small creek.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Then all of a sudden I was along the shore.

Cattus Island Park toms river

Cattus Island Park toms river

This is when things got windy.  It got cold quickly.  It’s hard to believe because the rest of the week has been so warm!

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Windy day down the shore.

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Cattus Island Park toms river

Cattus Island Park toms river

In all, I had an excellent time hiking, and I’m glad I went out there.  Cattus Island Park is a beautiful, leisurely park and I highly suggest it.

Spring 2018 Hikes I’ve Done:

Cattus Island Park (Toms River)
Turkey Swamp Park (Freehold)

You can see all hikes here.

This Spring and Summer, I want to get to as many NJ parks as possible.  Now that the weather is nice, it’s been great to be outdoors!

Questions for you:
What was the last park you’ve been too?
Do you have any plans this spring and summer?

Belmar 5 miler (33:04)

I was excited to run the Belmar 5 all month.  The plan was to get a gauge of where my fitness was.  I was ready and prepared until last Tuesday when I got a stomach bug.

As I said yesterday, I’m not usually a runner with stomach issues but last week I felt like I got drop kicked in the stomach.  I took both days off from running but even stretching my legs out on Friday didn’t feel great.  I knew I would have to change my expectations and goals for racing but it still didn’t take the sting away.

I got to the race around 7:15.  Since I was unfamiliar with the area of Belmar I wanted to get there extra early.  I arrived with plenty of time to spare.  I did a 2-mile warm up, dropped my bag off and headed to the start.

Nice views

Nice views

The weather was hot and muggy.  It’s July, it’s on the shore and the sun was out.  It’s not like the weather was a surprise.  The majority of the race course was on the boardwalk so it was flat but with no shade.

The race started a few minutes behind schedule.  Once the race began I realized I had started too far back again.  I had made a conscious effort to get towards the front but I guess I didn’t start far enough forward.

During the first mile I passed a lot if people.  It was very motivating because I was passing people but I didn’t feel my best.  I knew I could gut out a five-mile race but that was my limit. Anymore miles and my stomach would have said no thanks. I hit the first mile in 6:27.

The second mile headed along the shore with the direction of the wind.  I felt good but it was because we were going the same direction as the wind. I hit the second mile in 6:27.  I was actually shocked with how fast I was running and how many people I was passing.  My stomach was holding up well too! I thought I might be able to still reach my goal of 32:30.

As the race began to turn and go around a lake, I realized why I felt so good in the beginning.  The wind began hitting us in the face.  Luckily I was near people and could see I was not the only one struggling.  I hit the third mile in 6:48.  I felt awful, I looked awful and I was defeated.

The fourth mile went back on the shore and was going the opposite direction as mile 2.  The wind continued to hit us. Running on any boardwalk can result in lots of wind.  Instead of focusing on the wind, I had my eyes set on a pack of four females about 30 yards in front of me.  I wasn’t getting any closer to them but they weren’t getting any further.  The fourth mile was uneventful and I ran it in 6:47.

At the beginning of the fifth mile a man was calling out places of women. I was surprised when he said I was number 14. I was expecting somewhere in the top 30 but not that low. When I heard I was 14, I decided to make it my goal to be in the top 10. There were four women not to far in front of me.

The last mile was in the neighborhoods with almost no wind. It was flat with minimal turns. I continued to pick people off and ultimately found myself battling for 10th at the final stretch. I sprinted as hard as I could to the end. My last mile was my fastest and I finished it in 6:24.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 6.37.58 AM

I finished the Belmar 5 in 33:04 and 10th women overall. It was a little bit off my goal but due to my stomach and the wind I’m satisfied. It was a great experience for me to get more familiar with Belmar as well. I’ll be returning there for the Belmar Chase 5k on August 22.

Greta finished 3rd and I finished 10th!

Greta finished 3rd and I finished 10th!

Questions for you:

Do you like running along the Boardwalk?

Would you consider yourself to have a “stomach of steel” or can you only eat certain things?

Honestly, I can normally eat about 1-2 hours before a run and feel fine.

Weekend Trip to Cape May

T and I had a lot of fun just enjoying our time together and relaxing. We are quiet individuals and don’t need to fill our time with a ton of things to do to be happy.

That being said we took a weekend trip to Cape May. That’s an area of NJ neither of us has been too, so it was nice to explore the shore. Despite currently living 30 minutes from the shore, we aren’t beach every weekend people. I always found myself saying that in VA Beach too! I lived about 30 minutes from the beach but only went a few times per year.

Time for a road trip.

Time for a road trip.

Don’t get me wrong both are gorgeous vacation places but I have no interest each weekend to go. We decided to stay at the Rhythm of the Seas. It was so cute and an easy mile walk to the boardwalk.   If you ever vacation or stay in NJ, I would recommend this bed and breakfast.  It is absolutely perfect and I cannot sing it enough songs.

Cape May

My family and I used to stay in bed and breakfasts when we lived in England. The only memory I really have is fried tomatoes. I would 100% recommend Rhythm of the Seas.

As recommended by a friend, we ate (and drank entirely too much) at the Blue Pig Tavern. I refrained from drunk tweeting and blogging (since I’m out of college now…) but I had a great time exploring the town.

Tim and I one

Blue Pig Tavern

I was really proud that I was wearing flip flops walking down the beach while someone else (who I only know this due to the footprint) wore UGGS.  It was probably more funny because when I drink everything is more funny.

I was really proud that I was wearing flip flops walking down the beach while someone else (who I only know this due to the footprint) wore UGGS. It was probably more funny because when I drink everything is more funny.


I really like Cape May and I had a great time.  Maybe next year we will make it during “normal” season.

A photo next to one of these things....

A photo next to one of these things….

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to Cape May?

Have you ever stayed in a Bed and Breakfast? 

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:25.29)

Shamrock half marathon in summary can be known as all of the following races (for me).

The race with the most friends.


The race with the most side fives.


Side fives for everyone!

The race where one of my best friends depanced me and I made it to the start with one minute to go.


The race that I zoned out the most.  Was this really a half marathon, I don’t remember? 

I think those are all of the one line summaries I can think of.

Let’s get to the actual race recap though.  Due to my phone deleting about 90% of my entire iphone photos and contents I have to rely on other people’s photos.  (I’m still trying to figure out what is going on with that). Thank goodness there are a few.

I got to the race an hour before the start.  While walking to the starting line I was trying to connect with one of my best friends Theresa.  I finally met her at the baggage check and starting line.  I was lucky she stood in line for the porta potty with me.  At exact 6:55 am I realized that there was no way I would make it to the front of the line before 7 nor would I make it to the start before the gun went off.  I still had all my clothes on and was 9 people in front of me in line.

Thank you to the very kind lady who let me quickly go to the front of the line and use the restroom.  I hope I can find out who it was and personally thank you, it was so nice! I will not be able to thank you enough and I hope we are able to connect at some point.  While standing in line, Theresa quickly de-panced me and with my runderwear ready I hopped the fence and was there approximately one minute (if that) before the race went off  (that sounds like an epic youtube video).  It gave me hope that maybe I could be hurdler without breaking something.

I began running with Mike.  (someone I normally run the majority of VA Beach races with…he is slightly faster than me).  We caught up on life and just chatted for a mile or so.  We logged the first mile at 6:40.  I wasn’t feeling great but not awful either.


Mike and I post race.

Mile 2-3 were somewhat blurry and I logged a 6:27 and 6:31 mile.  I chatted with a few racers, sponged off the energy of the crowd and just kept running.  I was able to chat with someone who said they knew me from the internet.  She later (I believe please let me know!!  went to break 1:25.).

Oh look friends!

Oh look friends!

All of a sudden I looked down realized we were at mile 5.  (This never happens and half marathons are normally a mile by mile race for me).  I hit mile 5 at 32:40.  From mile 4-6 there is a gradual uphill.  Nothing crazy but it’s a slight uphill.  I honestly wish I had something exciting or eventful to report but I don’t.  Both miles were 6:27.  I chatted on and off with fellow runners around me.

Mile 7-10 were on the base.  I was running with a pack of people (both male and female) and together we were like a cluster of wind blockers.  It was windy on that stretch.  (But to be fair we had a tailwind at the start).  I found the race to be windy but nowhere near as much as last year.  It wasn’t too bad.

I hit mile 10 at 1:05.15.  I changed my goal to breaking 1:26 at that point.  I didn’t really do any calculations, I just thought that seemed like a good goal.  I really struggled the final 3 miles.  I didn’t feel great and I just wanted it to be over.  I don’t really have a sappy story about how I overcome the difficulties but I just kept counting down the minutes.  Tick tick tick.  (Photo credit thanks to Amelia)


Mile 11 tick tick tick. 6:31  Hitting mile 11 is my favorite because I know I have less than 15 minutes to go.  In some home workout DVD or P90X I did they say “You can do anything for 15 minutes).  It’s always stuck.

Mile 12 tick tick tick. 6:31

No really...side fives for everyone.

No really…side fives for everyone.

I began to see some Oiselle teammates at 12.5 that really lifted my spirits.  I was able to capture some side fives and then just focused on the last half mile.  One woman passed me in the final home stretch.


I always hate the last .3  of shamrock because it’s on the boardwalk and you can see the finish line is about .3.  It’s a solid 2-3 minutes staring at the finish line.  I saw Mollie, my dad and then crossed the finish line.


Finish line yet?

Finish line yet?

I crossed at 21st woman and 100th overall.  After I finished this race I felt okay.  (After I finished Lake Effect I thought I might peel over).


Though I went the same time as the Lake Effect, this race was different on many different levels (indicating I’m making progress).

  1. At Lake Effect, I felt amazing.  I felt great the entire race.  At Shamrock I didn’t feel great.  At all.
  2. At Lake Effect my mile splits bounced around from 6:15 to 6:40.  At Shamrock my mile splits stayed very consistent between 6:27-6:29 (except for the first mile).

Similarities: Both were windy but not awful.  The race conditions were not bad in either race.  Lake Effect was little more flat, a little long of a course but Shamrock was a little more hilly and windy.

In summary I am happy with a consistent half marathon time.  Everyone wants a PR but it was not my day.  I know my fitness level is a bit faster than this right now so we shall see next time.  I’m happy with this time and happy with the friends and family I saw (and wish I had gotten to see more people).  Thank you everyone for your support.

Edit to add:  I received an email with the official time saying I finished in 1:25.29…so 2 seconds faster than Lake Effect.

Questions for you:

1.       Have you ever run the same time before?

2.       Do you like out and back courses or big loop courses? 

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