Shamrock Half Marathon 2016 (Virginia Beach, VA)

Shamrock weekend in Virginia Beach is one of the most anticipated race weekends. It is like the kick off to the season of racing here in the Hampton Roads area. There wasn’t anything that was going to keep me from attending and racing, including gale force winds.

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This year I participated in the Dolphin Challenge (the 8K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday).

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Saturday morning the temperatures were in the low 50ºs when we started out, but the winds were gusting across the oceanfront. There were times it would rip across you, and you literally would start running sideways due to the wind pushing you. A gust head on would push against you, and you knew your legs/feet were moving but you GPS on your Garmin said otherwise. My face was wind burnt, and while I tried to enjoy the festivities in the finishers’ tent – my thoughts were drifting to what tomorrow would have in store for us. The weather reports were forecasting worse weather…

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Two very different races less than 24 hours apart, and here is what I have learned… I am stronger than rain, cold, and wind – but not faster. 13.1 miles in 42° temperatures, 22-24mph winds with at times 40mph gusts and BONUS… heavy rain. At one point my borrowed poncho was no longer around my body, but flying high behind me like a cape. I must be Wonder Woman by this point right, or at least that was my thought? At the start of the race I found myself mentally comparing it to the Harbor Lights half marathon walking up to the starting corrals, thinking “Harbor Lights was cold, it poured down rain, and I never quit. If I can get through that, then I can finish this?”….right?

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With few exceptions, we did not have strong winds and it was 10° warmer. It may not seem like a lot, but when it’s blowing harder than what seems like CAT 1 hurricane at times you begin to question your judgement. Yes, I know I’m exaggerating – but seriously I think snails and turtles could probably move faster than I was. The only reassurance was my “ride or die half marathon sidechick” Angela (aka Pea) pushing along right next to me, and seeing the J&A mile marker flags flapping away in the wind. With everything being said, finishing the race only 3 minutes slower than Harbor Lights is an accomplishment. I tried not to focus on my overall time, and instead enjoyed the spectators and the company around me.

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While it wasn’t a PR for the course, it was for the conditions – and I’m pretty damn proud of myself that I didn’t end up with a DNR or DNF. If you ran at Shamrock, whether you finished in the top or if it took you the entire course time limit – you’re a hero in my book for sticking it out and finishing what you set out to do. I also have to give a huge thanks to all those who set up stations, and volunteered their time in those conditions. As always, J&A puts on an amazing event (regardless of the weather conditions which are beyond anyone’s control) with a rocking afterparty, great race swag, gorgeous finisher medals, awesome finisher items, free race photos, and excellent course support. Registration for the 2017 Shamrock weekend is now open (http://www.shamrockmarathon.com), and I guarantee you will see me out there. This course and I have unfinished business…

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