Shamrock Half Marathon (1:23.21)

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:23.21)

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.

Questions for you:

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

What race are you most proud of?


Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

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?


Four Years of Shamrockin’

With one of my favorite road races coming up this weekend, I thought it would be fun to look back at my last four years of running of the Yuengling Shamrock half marathon.

Throwback Thursday or Thinking Out Loud?

Either theme works I guess.

I’ve run the Shamrock half marathon four years in a row. This year will be fifth Shamrock and 29th (?) half marathon.Shamrock half marathon VA beach

2012: 1:33.30 (recap here)

At the time, this was also my half marathon PR.  It was my fourth half, and I ran it while on college Spring Break.  I don’t remember a lot about this race except my brother ran the race the year before in a time of 1:33.31.  Granted he didn’t train, and I did, but it was sibling rivalry at its best.  It was my fourth half marathon at the time, and I was running it after taking four months off of running for swim team.

2013: 1:25.14 (recap here)

2013 remains my fastest time on the course.  While it was windy, I surprised myself.  I trained hard through the Upstate NY winter.  I didn’t race much (because racing in -20 stinks).  At the time it was a half marathon PR, although it was short lived because I Pred again a month later at the Nike Women’s half).

This was my favorite year, not because I Pred but because I got to watch dad finish his full marathon as well.

This photos reminds me it was very cold and windy

This photo reminds me it was cold and windy

2014: 1:25.29 (recap here)

2014 was a letdown race.  After my course PR the year before, I expected to PR again.  Looking back, I should have known I was not ready to PR.  I wasn’t in the same physical shape, and I also had a lot going on that weekend.

We had a huge Oiselle meetup, and I didn’t eat my usual evening race food (Similar to last week when I ate Octopus.  I swear it doesn’t happen often).  I felt lethargic and run down during the race.  In fact, it’s one of the few goal races I failed my nutrition goals. I put socializing first but honestly I had a great time with the team.  Even though I didn’t run to my full potential that day it was still a great event.  I went to PR at the April Fools half marathon two weeks later.

But I did get this sweet photo...

But I did get this sweet photo…

2015: 1:33.04 (recap here)

Last year I raced injured.  To be honest, it was dumb and set my injury recovery back more.  I ran the half at roughly the same pace as the first half of the Phoenix full marathon.  I had more important things to worry about that weekend like my final touches on our wedding and hanging out with both sides of my family.shamrock 3

One of my closest friends Kris ran the half as a tempo.  She ran an entire mile with me, and it was the closest glimpse to elite running as I’ll get.  Not sure if there is a reality TV show called “Running with the Stars” but sign me up.  (Kris is running the full this year…so missed opportunity).

shamrock 2


2016: ?!

Will I run a 1:25?
Will I run a 1:33?
Will I break this strange pattern? 

Who knows…It’s been two months since my PR at the Carlsbad half.  I’ve been training consistently with no major set backs, and Shamrock is a faster course.

However, it’s forecasted to pour rain.  You can’t control the weather so we will see how it goes.  40 degrees and pouring rain aren’t ideal for racing or for my hair (hashtag knot city).  My goal is to have fun, race as hard as I can for the day and to see as many of my friends as possible.

Shamrock is one of my favorite races and a race I recommend to anyone.  The course is flat, and crowd supported, plus the after party can’t be beaten.  Logistics wise, it’s one of the biggest races I run that you can find a hotel close to the start (or finish).

It was fun to look back and see my racing the last few years there.  I can’t wait to make it 5 in a row.  I think Shamrock is the only race I’ve been able to run that long straight (knock on wood).

Questions for you:
What is your favorite race? (Let me know if you are running this year)
Do you have any St. Patricks Day Plans? 

St Patrick’s Day and Guinness…

I had no idea what to post about on St. Patricks Day.

Yesterday I posted about how I began my running journey on this holiday.

I was actually inspired because while I’m not Irish, my two favorite drinks are Irish Coffee and Guinness.  If I’m having alcohol, it’s a 90% chance it’s either of those.

I like having Irish coffee because then it's "normal" to have whipped cream in it...

I like having Irish coffee because then it’s “normal” to have whipped cream in it…

As a wee lad celebrating my 21st, I drink a nice dark brew at a road race.

As a wee lad celebrating my 21st, I drink a nice dark brew at a road race.  #babyLOLZ

While googling St. Patrick’s Day Holiday traditions I came across this Buzzfeed article:

34 Ways to Add Guinness into your Recipes

I have added Guinness (talk about a throwback post) to my pancakes before and it gives it a slight dark taste.  I recommend adding Guinness and 1/4 cup cocoa powder.  You won’t regret it.

Another article: 11 Ways to add Guinness to your recipes

I enjoy cooking with Guinness occasionally because I think it gives it a bold, dark taste.  I also just like the taste…so today you learn nothing about my running but everything about my alcohol habits.

I don’t have any green smoothies or green oatmeal to post today because I’m not clever.  I’ll save that for instagram.

Since I enjoy my memes here are a couple: 

st patricks day meme

shamrock 2

I guess this is a super random post for today but that happens occasionally.  You learn my favorite drinks and that I occasionally cook with Guinness.  A few more fun facts in case you play jeopardy about my life…

Finally..stay safe my friends!

Questions for you:

How are you celebrating St. Patricks day?

I am working..wahoo…then probably hanging out a local bar.

What is your favorite beer?




My Start to Running.

Tomorrow is St. Patricks Day!

Since 2010 St. Patricks day has held a much more sentimental reason to me than drinking beer, wearing green and pots of gold.  Although if you would like to send me a pot of gold that is fine too!  Five years ago I ran a 5k in college that would change the path and direction of my life.

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

When I was a college sophomore, I saw a sign at the gym stating if you completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.  As a college student you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  My roommate appreciated my hoarding I guess.  I had plenty of short sleeve shirts but long sleeve shirts were something I was always looking for.  All I had to do was sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay sign me up.  Sign me up and I didn’t run an ounce beforehand.

Keep in mind my running history previous to March of 2010 was lackluster.  I failed the mile countless times in both middle and high school…or passed by a couple of seconds (passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12). Since 10th grade gym class I had avoided running like the plague.  The only two times I had run was to “impress” upper classman on the swim team.  It wasn’t impressive and I made a goober out of myself both times.

During the off season from swimming I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.  It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming but I didn’t use running as cross training.  Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself into but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.


The race itself is pretty much a blur.  I don’t remember much other than I didn’t really hate it.

A photo of me at the same 5k the next year...

A photo of me at the same 5k the next year…

I finished the 5k is around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time but I remember not dying, texting my shocked dad that I had run a 5k and picking up my tshirt.  (of course I didn’t tell my parents I was running this 5k…I didn’t want them to ask if I didn’t finish…).  DadLOLZ had a marathon the next weekend and I didn’t want the embarrassment that his daughter couldn’t finish a 5k.

I wore that tshirt all around the following day.  I was going to wear my badge of honor.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed in running.  I did realize it wasn’t all that bad and ran occasionally when it was nice out.  I ran 10-20 miles a week off and on for the rest of the spring.  When it was sunny I would run the same 5k loop around campus.  When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because after that point I considered myself someone who didn’t hate running anymore.  When you fail the mile test multiple times in grade school, it’s hard to like it.

I began to consider myself a runner:

I didn’t run everyday.

I didn’t run fast.

I didn’t log my mileage.

I didn’t run when it was cold, windy or not perfect weather.

I had no desires to run with anyone or at a certain time…

I didn’t run anymore races until July.

But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it. 

Questions for you:

When did you get your (workout) start?

What are you up to this St. Patrick’s Day?

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