Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shamrock Half Race Report

After the race this past weekend I realized there was NO WAY I could only write one post about the Shamrock Half.

I did a 1,2,3, punch of posts on Monday about:
Did I mention yet how much I LOVE THIS RACE? Maybe because it was my first half. Maybe because I think Yuengling is delicious. I'd have to say [nationally] this race is REALLY a hidden gem. We get running magazines at the gym where I work. The Rock n' Roll races and Disney races tend to get a lot of advertisement. I'm not actually sure which company puts on the Shamrock but I know it's different than the company that does the VB Rock n' Roll. As far as I know... this company puts on the Virginia is For Lovers 14k and Blue Moon Wicked 10k. I'm not sure what else.

I'm a big "holiday" person. I guess I never fully grew up because anything that involves dressing up/themes/or costumes sounds like a great idea to me! I think part of the reason I like the Shamrock so much is there is a VERY clear theme going on in this race. The race technical shirts are green, so even people who didn't go out and buy a green running outfit are "dressed up." That said: A TON of people dress up for this race. At the very least a green shirt. Many more go for goofy costumes. I have no clue how they do that for the full 13.1 miles. But its one of those things where you are scared you could look stupid, until you show up at the starting line and then start questioning what ELSE you could have done to be more festive/tacky.

There were 4-5 DJs along the course and a Live Band. The crowd really gets into it! For example there were a bunch of teenage girls spectating dressed up as super heroes. A guy in a Banana costume. And a few "beer stands" along the way. (We opted to pass on the beer until the end). There's also quite a few signs with fun phrases on them. Basically, just as you are starting to get bored, something is ahead that interests you. (Not quite the band at every mile that a Rock n' Roll race would have, but still a fun and VERY FLAT course.) The race starts on one of the main streets in Virginia Beach (Atlantic Avenue), goes onto what looks like a closed off interstate(Shore Drive) then you run through a base (Fort Story), past a lighthouse where you can see the water, through the neighborhood streets on the base, then back down Atlantic Avenue, before your turn to finish on the Boardwalk.

The finish line celebration is superb. There's a huge "party tent" on the beach with a live band. You can have up to four free Yuenglings or Yuengling Lights on draft. There is Irish stew. And you are on the beach. Really I can't think of more that I would want. Except maybe a long sleeve finishers t-shirt!! And THAT was what they gave out this year instead of a lunch box!!!

The race also emphasizes "going green" and has made a lot of green efforts. If you are into that sort of thing.

On the morning of the race we woke up at 5 AM and starting getting ready. We found one of the most random radio stations ever to listen to. One of those "we play everything" stations. So I got ready to songs I hadn't heard in a loooooong time.

Oh and I had my half marathon breakfast of champions:
Vitamin Water XXX and a Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar

I discovered a year ago this works well for me and I'm a creature of habit.

I drove us all to the starting line with these pre-race Jams blaring:

Bad Romance
Tik Tok
Party in the USA
Ride Wit Me
Sweet Caroline

One of my favorite things about races is probably the car ride there with music blaring when "normal people" are sleeping. I always have too much adrenaline to realize I'm tired or for it to feel early. Parking was a bit of an issue. We had to park 10+ blocks from the starting line and got to the starting area later than we wanted. We were in the Port-a-Potty line when the National Anthem was sung and the "Elite" runners started. I think we actually ended up starting with Corral 5 (instead of our own Corral 4). Not that it matters because of the shoe chip.

Mile 1:
We took it easy. Just chatting away. There were lots of people around us. It felt slow to me, but I knew I was running at a slower pace than I had been training. I looked at my watch at the 1 mile mark...never before reaching the marker. I did a [mental] Janice "OH. MY. GOD." when it read 11:45. There is pacing yourself and then there is running entirely TOO SLOW. This probably happened because of the mass of people/starting with a slower corral.

We passed the first of a few "beer stations" that had been set up along the course.

*Also worth nothing, Meghan and I do a Hi5 after every mile. We each take a turn on top then fist pound with an explosion :)

Mile 2:
The only thing I was thinking about was getting our time more "on track." Even though Meghan wasn't worried about time, I wanted us to finish in under 2.5 hours. The main reason being that I think if you run "too slow" it really just makes the entire experience more painful/longer than it needs to be. Once we could see the mile 2 marker we kind of sprinted to it. My watch read 22:something. My thought was "Okay, that's better." We were now going at a faster pace.

Mile 3
A DJ was playing the YMCA. This was really fun since everyone still had a ton of energy. Picture yourself in a pack of runners (all wearing green) doing the YMCA. That was me.

Mile 4
The Biggest Loser theme song was playing? Kind of cool since I love the show. It made me wonder if a previous contestant was running the race. Then the thought crossed my mind if one wasn't...WHAT was this DJ trying to say....regardless Meghan and I ran by waiving our hands in the air and got a shout out from the DJ

Mile 5
My favorite mile! There is a live band that plays Irish Pub Songs. I got a compliment on my hair from some random runners. One told me never to dye it. "I said I'm not. Then it wouldn't fit the theme of this race." This got more laughs than one. I didn't really think my comment was all that funny so running boredom must have been beginning to set in.

Mile 6
Boom energy gel was passed out! I think the race info said it was supposed to be at mile 8. This was really surprising. Meghan and I each frantically grabbed a Watermelon gel for later. There was also a DJ playing Eye of the Tiger. That song could never, ever get old!

Mile 7
We were now running on the base. Meghan and I did our signature singing/screaming of "Whoaah we're halfway there. Whoaaah living on a prayer. Take my hand and we'll make it I swear.Whoaah we're halfway there!" This actually pumped both of us up. And I think the people around us.

Slightly after mile 7 was the first time I drank something :-/ I skipped the water station at mile 5. I wasn't that thirsty yet, not thinking I'd have to pass the mile 7 mark before I could get Gatorade. I chugged this and felt sick for one second. Then I kept running.

Mile 8
I ate my Boom! gel for the course of this mile. Watermelon was a good choice because the flavor wasn't too strong. I was starting to get hungry at this point. There was a girl who had gotten sick on the side of the course and an ambulance was called. We ran on grass for a little bit to get out of the way of the ambulance. Once we got back on the road we saw our friend Sarah. The lighthouses were fun to look at from this point of the course.

Mile 9
We stopped at the waterstop. I drank water this time instead of Gatorade. After the waterstop we lost Sarah. BUT we saw my parents! We also talked to this guy running in a beer bottle costume who tried to card me. I told him to look at my shoe tag.

Mile 10
Meghan and I did a "HOOAH!" cheer in honor of the Army 10 miler
We saw my parents AGAIN. They had gotten in their Jeep and driven down to the next mile. I wasn't expecting that.

Mile 11
Guess who we saw? My parents. I can't believe they were at three different spots! There was a sign that said you're almost to the beer. I also sang one line of Don't Stop Believing. We met two ladies in their 30's who are running partners. Meghan told one it was her first and last half marathon. One of them said "Never say never." I said I'd never do a full and my friend pushed me to do the Marine Corp Marathon. She was wearing a 26.2 shirt.

Mile 12
Meghan and I sang a little Party in the USA. Meghan started to tear up a little when she realized she would actually run the whole race. I kept screaming "We're almost to the beach!" "We're almost to the beach" "You look awesome!" "You're so hardcore!" "You are SO legit."

A random girl from NJ started talking to us. She said she loved our halfway point song. It helped her. And she had lost her friends. This was her first half. I started telling her she looked awesome too. The course turned onto the boardwalk! 6 blocks to go! A spectator was chanting "Yueng-ling!" "Yueng-ling!" "Yuneg-ling!"

Mile 13-13.1
We sprinted. Meghan sprinted FAST. Haha. I sort of wasn't ready for how fast she decided to take off. I was lost in the realization "Oh my gosh. I could keep going! I'm only stopping because the finish line is there." I'm not sure how much farther I could have ran but my guess would have been at least 14 miles. Or to the 15 mile mark.I felt great! I had been jogging at a slower pace than I usually do. We finished in 2:26:32 (Chip Time). That was 45 seconds faster than I did it last year and I felt like I was on a jog. Not about to cry/die.

This was my first taste of "I should go for a full." I know I'm not fast enough yet. Or mentally ready for this commitment.But I've said I want to do one in my lifetime and for the first time it truly seemed possible!

After the race I had 1.5 beers and ate the vegetables/meat out of my stew. The first Yuengling I POUNDED. (Whoopsies.) My friends were taking slow sips and mine was gone ;) One beer after a race is so refreshing much more after that makes me start to feel gross.

We hung out on the beach for a little while. And took fun pictures

I'm for sure doing this race again next year. I still haven't decided IF I were to commit to a full which race I'd pick. Originally I was thinking a Rock n' Roll could be exciting. Or Disney. And the MCM gets a lot of praise. But honestly, I love the Shamrock so much that might be the full marathon I'd pick. Not sure when. But if anyone is looking for a full marathon to sign up for next March... Based on the half experience I've had, I'd say the full has to be double the fun. And wow, Yuengling really does a great job of marketing itself. It's everywhere in this race.

I'm pretty pleased I had enough energy to be a goof the entire time and didn't burn out. I'm still smiling thinking about Sunday!


Adam said...

What a riot! It sounds like you guys had a really good time. I'm sure that with your red hair you really did blend into the crowd - and too funny that you had a guy comment on you not dying it!

NewbieRunner said...

Wow! How fun. I am SO excited to experience my first half in 2 weeks. Especially after reading your posts. PS- sorry about Kansas and your bracket. My twin brother went to KU and I went there often to visit. I heart Kansas and was SUPER bummed by their defeat. :(
Anyway, I've never been to Virginia before but the race sounded awesome. Makes me want to visit VB and run in a race. How many people run in that race? I hope the St. Louis half is just as much fun as your race! I know St. Louis is up to 13,000 just signed up for the half. It doesn't include all the marathon runners or the relay runners. I know it'll be a slow start for us too with all the people but I'm so excited for it. Thanks for all the inspirting posts and comments! I'm excited to see how your next training goes. If mine goes well, my plan is to run in another half in October.

Anton said...

What a great race report. Sounds like an awesome run and so much fun. Roll on the 26.2 huh??

Christy said...

You are amazing! All i cn say is...GO FOR A FULL!!! You can do it!

Julie said...

What a great race report!! You did so good:) I love the pictures!

Racn4acure said...

I enjoyed reading your race report. I was down there with some friends for the weekend specifically to cheer for all the Shamrockers. I put a bunch of photos on my blog, including a few of the amazing costumes. Art