Friday, March 27, 2015

Race Recap & Review: Shamrock Expo and 8k

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.


Shamrock Man!

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 and Kathleen. 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.

Mandy!

Jason and Derek being creative master minds. 

Ambassador selfie.

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, Sarah, Lindsey, 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.

14 comments:

  1. Congrats on a killer PR!!! I know it was maddening to have to take time off for an injury but you handled it so well and clearly you're coming back very strong! :) It was so great to see you that weekend! -C

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    1. Thanks, Christine! I am still trying to find the balance of pushing myself and giving my body the time it needs to heal/be healthy. It was awesome to see you last weekend too!

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  2. Congrats again on your amazing PR! I know you were frustrated for so long with your injury and your recovery, but what a way to kick the injury in the booty!

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    1. Thanks, Kathryn! It felt good to finally feel "fast" again :-)

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  3. Congrats!!! So happy to read about you running again and killing it!

    In answer to your question, I ran an 8k in Baltimore last November and I really enjoyed It! The Zoo Zoom. I totally agree about the distance. I loved it!

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    1. Ooooh that sounds like a good one! Might have to check it out! And thank you for your support :-)

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  4. Congrats on that awesome PR! Shamrock seems like an incredible race weekend, definitely on my race bucket list. Can't wait to read your half race recap!

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    1. Thanks! I can't wait to write it! :-)

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  5. Great recap and pictures! So nice to have met you this weekend :)

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    1. YES! So nice to meet you in person! I hope we are racing together again soon!

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  6. Congrats on a great race! I love J and A races and can't wait to go back and do another one!

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    1. Thank you! I am already looking forward to Crawlin Crab and 2016 Shamrock!

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  7. It was so great meeting you and I LOVED my little pre race goodie bag you made me! Congrats on your PR!

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    1. Awww, I'm so glad you liked it! They were fun to make! It was great to meet you too. I hope we get to race together again soon!

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