I know this post is late, after all Shamrock was almost two weeks ago, but after the excitement of qualifying for Boston, a visit from my Mom and trying to get our house ready to put on the market, this was the soonest I could get to it. It has been, and will continue to be, a crazy busy time in my life.
OK, so on to the details..
Shamrock is a race I have always wanted to do. I have heard so many great things about it from a flat and fast course to great swag and spectators. I had signed up last November for the full marathon and made sure to book a room at The Ocean Beach Hotel which I was told was right at the starting line.
So on Saturday March 17, my husband Rob and I set out early in the morning to make the three hour drive from Northern Virginia to Virginia Beach where Shamrock’s been held every St. Patrick’s day weekend since 1973. We stopped around the half way point in Williamsburg at our favorite Restaurant Pierce’s BBQ for some of the tastiest BBQ you will ever eat.
We arrived in Virginia Beach mid afternoon and went directly to the expo at the convention center to pick up my race packet. Free parking was across the street and there was plenty.
We proceeded to check into the hotel and head up to our room. The hotel was more than we had expected and was indeed AT the Starting line.. here is a shot from the window of my friend Alison’s room.
It doesn’t get closer than that. The great thing about this was staying warm in the lobby and using a real bathroom right before the race started. I stayed inside until I heard the gun go off and then ran the few steps to the start line… bliss.
So, off we go. The first few miles were pretty crowded, I was finding it difficult to break away from one of the pace groups without breaking my own pace, so I just hung out with them until about mile 6. There was a pretty tight turnaround and I found it easier to loose the crowd then. Water and Gatorade stations were set up about every mile and half or so. After mile 6 it seemed to spread out a bit.
When they told me this course was flat, they were not kidding, there were only two small hills: first, going over the Rudee Bridge at mile 2 and, then going back over it at mile 10. Miles 11 and 12 were some pretty windy ones as they were on the Boardwalk and you got the wind coming off the ocean..but they were beautiful.
I approached the half and there was my husband and Alison who me for the second half. I was beginning to feel tired so I was pretty happy to see Alison, who I knew would perk me up. We set off into the unknown second half, the part of a marathon that you never know what might happen.. you might feel great or not. Again, glad to have Alison with me at this point. She handed me water, Gu’s and sour cream and onion Pringles (my favorite running food). I was slowing down but still hanging on through miles 17, 18 and 19 which were my favorite part of the course through a stretch thick with old evergreen trees.
Then we turned back onto Atlantic Ave. on mile 20 and my body had run out of fuel… I hit the wall. I wanted to stop but did not. Every step was painful but Alison kept me going. The spectators were sparse at this point but the scenery still beautiful overlooking the ocean and a Cape Henry Light house.
The part of the course I found most difficult was miles 23-26. It was getting hot (direct sun at this point) and we were running through a residential area with people offering beer and plenty ‘o’ cow bell.. let’s just say, I was not in the mood.. get your cow bell and beer outta my face! What can I say? I was deteriorating. Turning the corner back onto the boardwalk was uplifting because I could see the finish line at this point. Alison’s husband Stuart was on the sideline cheering my name and that is really what boosted me across the finish line.. thank you Stuart! I was glad to be done. Time: 3:53 enough to qualify me for The Boston Marathon. As I crossed, they handed me my medal (also can be used as a bottle opener), a hooded sweatshirt, and hat. Is the swag good? YES! Plus all the swag, I received a bonus gift at the end of this race..I was greeted by Krissy from Shiawase Life, she just finished a grueling race, PR’ed and had a huge smile on her face.
If I were not moving to Southern California next year, I would be doing this race again. By far the best race I have ever participated in. If you’re thinking of doing this one, I say DO IT! You will not regret.