After a long and snowy (!) drive from Pennsylvania, Jen
and I finally arrived in Virginia Beach, VA for the 43rd annual Shamrock Marathon Weekend
! Jen went to the hotel to check in and I headed straight for my shift at the J&A Racing booth. As an ambassador, one of my duties is working the expo and helping to answer questions about the weekend and other J&A events.
|Snow on March 20!|
As usual, the expo was amazing- lots of cool vendors and lots of space to move around. One thing I love about Shamrock is that they check your ID at the expo- no need to carry it on race day to get your four complimentary post-race beers!
Once my shift was over, and Jen and I got all our bibs, shirts, and packets for the weekend races, we headed to dinner with some of my friends that live in Norfolk and Hampton Roads. It was a great way to unwind from a long day. But we couldn't stay out too long- the 8k started at 7:45!
|Lots of free stuff at the J&A booth.|
The next morning, Jen and I were up and out the door by 5:45 am. Since I was running, Jen decided to volunteer at the finish line handing out medals. We parked at the Convention Center (about 20 blocks from the start/finish line) and took the volunteer shuttle up to the start. Jen headed off to her volunteer duties while I found a hotel lobby to keep warm in- it was 38 degrees!
|Jen and me reenacting scenes from Frozen.|
While waiting for the race to start, I got to see my friend Sid Busch- he's run 198 marathons and almost 500 half marathons! This race, he was running as "Shamrock Man" with two beer bottles in his holster :-) It was nice to catch up with him. Around 7:20, I headed over to bag check to drop off my sweatshirt and meet a fellow ambassador to give him his bib- his flights had been cancelled and delayed and he didn't get into VA Beach until midnight the night before. With all my errands out of the way, I made my way to corral 12.
There were approximately 10,000 people running the 8k and there were 16 corrals. I was placed into 12 due to my expected finish time- I finished last year's race in 1:01:41. It took about 35 minutes for our corral to get to the start line which wouldn't have been as bad had it not been so cold and windy! I was wearing a singlet, arm warmers, a jacket, a long sleeved shirt, capris, knee-high compression socks, gloves, and a hat. And I was still chilly!
|Ready to go!|
At long last, it was corral 12's turn! Knowing I was running the half the next day, my strategy for this race was simple- just finish. I wanted to run a good race and feel strong and fast at the finish. I had set up my timer for 1:1 and felt really good when we started.
This race is pancake-flat. Like super awesome flat. It's a simple two miles south, turn around, two miles north on the boardwalk, then a quick little out and back and then finish on the boardwalk. An 8k is 4.97 miles.
I checked my watch at mile 1- 11:13- way, way too fast! I tried to slow down a bit and just enjoy the chilly run. I had planned on throwing away the long-sleeved shirt I had on but I never really got warm enough to part with it. I did take it off around mile three but then put it back on after the race.
Right around mile four, I realized that if I kept the pace I was running, I would hit a major PR for this distance. It was the best feeling. Since my stress fracture
this fall, all of my runs have been easy- I haven't pushed the pace for fear of re-injuring my foot. But during this race, I pushed. And I ran hard. And I crossed that finish line at 57:29, a full four minutes off my time from 2014.
|Medals are delicious in the morning.|
What could be better than a PR? Getting your medal from a friend! Jen was still on medal duty so she put this glittery new medal around my neck. I headed into the party tent to grab my free beer and ran into Kathryn
. I met both of these lovely ladies through twitter and Disney- it was great to catch up with them and chat about the race! Jen met up with me later and we ran into two friends from work- Sara and Steph. After chatting for a while, we started the mile walk back to the car- I had another expo shift at 1:30.
|Kathleen, me, and Kathryn. Thanks to Preston (Kathryn's husband) for this picture!|
|Steph, Sara, Jen, and me. Beach selfies for the win.|
I love this race for a lot of reasons but here's my top three: 1. It's an unusual and challenging distance. Not a 5k, but not quite a 10k. 2. Beautiful medals! 3. Flat, flat, flat course. Excellent for trying for a PR.
My expo shift that afternoon went really well- I got to chat with Bart Yasso and take a #Bartie, we built pyramids with J&A cups, and I got to talk to SO many people about running. It was awesome. And, my brother arrived from NJ! And several other friends came by the booth to chat- including some co-workers that I worked with 10+ years ago! Pretty dang cool.
|My bestie, Bart Yasso.|
|Jason and Derek being creative master minds. |
|He absolutely didn't want this picture. But I made him. That's what big sisters do. |
After some final expo purchases, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and an early bed time. Luckily, our hotel had a great pasta buffet in the restaurant so we didn't have to travel for dinner. After a leisurely meal, we set out our clothes for the next morning- it was going to be a big race for so many reasons :-)
Have you ever ran an 8k or another unusual race distance?
Disclosure: As a J&A Ambassador, I received a complimentary race entry. As always, all opinions are my own.
Interested in more Shamrock Weekend fun? Check out the 2015 Shamrock Race Recap
linkup below, hosted by J&A Ambassadors Nan
, and Jennifer
If you wrote a 2015 Shamrock Race Recap (spectator and volunteer recaps are also welcome) feel free to add your blog post to the linkup:
- Link back to the blog host(s) in your recap so your readers can find the list.
- Love reading recaps? Here is a one stop shop for some Shamrock goodness!
- Not a Shamrock related post? Linkup hosts have the discretion to remove your link
Note: This linkup will be open until April 22, 2015.