A Simple Running Log

March 23, 2015

Shamrock Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 10:56 am

I did it! I ran a freaking marathon for the first time in two years!

After half-assing my way through my training plan all winter, I finished the Shamrock Marathon yesterday in 4:02. Much to my surprise, I didn’t really start to feel the lack of training until the final 10K or so, but when it did finally hit, it hit hard. I’m definitely training better for the next one!

The whole story starts back on Friday. It was the first day of spring, but we woke up to fresh snow on the ground and more coming down. It switched over to rain soon enough though, so it didn’t hamper travel plans, just made for a crappy start to spring.

I got all my stuff packed that morning, and then went to lunch at the Tidewater Inn with my mom, sisters and aunts. I had to pick up Clark on my way home because the stupid Crown Vic wouldn’t start for him when he went to leave work. So he was a little later than intended getting home and packed, which meant we left a little later than intended for Virginia Beach, but it was no big deal.

We stopped in Salisbury to pick up some beer from Cheers, and then made the long boring drive down the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We got to the expo at the same time as everyone else it seemed, because it took forever to get parked, but once I was in the convention center, packet pick-up was quick and painless and we were on our way again.

We checked into the Seahawk Motel and got a nice oceanfront room on the fifth floor, five blocks from the starting line of both races, and then went to dinner at Cactus Jack’s, where we had some really good tacos. I also had a couple beers, since I only had to run five miles the next morning.

Saturday morning, all the rain and crap weather from the day before had cleared out. I got up 45 minutes before the 8K start. Not having to drive and find parking turned out to be awesome. I didn’t think I’d care that much, but it was really nice staying so close to the start and finish of both races.

Though it was nice and sunny, it was probably the coldest it’s ever been in all the years I’ve been running Shamrock, and there was a bit of a breeze. I wore capri tights, a long-sleeved shirt and a short-sleeved shirt over top. Clark took this picture of me on our room’s balcony before I left.

me before 8k

I took my phone with me and got this picture of the Team Hoyt racers starting first:

8k starts

And then I got in the second corral (of 16!) and waited for the start.

8k starting corral

I didn’t have long to wait. The first corral was released, and then it was our turn. And the first leg of the Whale Challenge was under way!

I wore Clark’s Garmin, but I didn’t look at the pace while I was running. We had the wind at our backs the entire first two miles, which ran south down a street through downtown Virginia Beach. Then we got onto the boardwalk and ran back north, right into the wind. It was cold even after running two miles!

We ran past the Seahawk Motel and then turned off the boardwalk, continuing north on one of the streets. One last turn put us back on the boardwalk farther north, and we ran down it to the finish.

Coming to the finish line.

Coming to the finish line.

I crossed the line in 40:37, an 8:10/mile average pace, and the fastest I’ve ever run that 8K. Or any 8K, since that’s the only one I’ve ever run.

I got my first medal of the weekend, as well as some food and water and a can koozie, and walked right back to our motel. There were still plenty of runners streaming by on the boardwalk below our room when I got back:

8k passing by hotel

I changed into dry clothes and then Clark and I went to the beer tent. The past few years that I’ve run the 8K, we only got two beers each, but this year, they upped it to four. I was going to split them with Clark, but he didn’t want any yet because he wanted to work out when we got back to the room, so I downed four Yuenglings before 11 a.m.

post 8k beers

Jen got in town that afternoon. It was about lunchtime, so we walked down the boardwalk looking for an open restaurant with an ocean view. We wound up having to walk a lot farther than expected, but we finally found one. After lunch, Clark took this picture of the entire Loop representation at Shamrock this weekend:

jen and me saturday afternoon

Clark had asked me earlier that morning why I signed up for Shamrock even though I only knew one other person running it. Because it’s Shamrock! I hadn’t joined the Loop and didn’t know anyone else running it in 2010, the first year I went. It was a lot of fun the last few years when a ton of runners from the Loop came out for it, but that’s not why I kept going back. It’s my favorite race. As long as I’m running, I’ll keep doing this one, whether I know anyone else there or not.

The rest of the afternoon, Jen and I chilled out and guzzled water while Clark started on all the beer we’d bought in Salisbury. That evening, we met one of Jen’s friends, who was also in town for the marathon, for dinner at Mojito Cafe, this little Latin restaurant not far from the motel. The place was tiny and we had to wait more than an hour for a table, but once we finally got to eat, it was worth the wait!

We had appetizers of fried plantains, chorizo con pan and house salads. Clark also had a couple of spicy mojitos, which seemed to push him over the edge from happily buzzed to flat drunk. When the waitress cleared away the appetizer plates, he looked her right in the eye and said, “I don’t want any dessert.” She gave him a weird look and went on her way. When we told him we had entrees coming, he seemed really surprised haha. “There’s MORE?”

When the entrees came, I had shrimp in a garlic sauce with beans, rice and asparagus. It wasn’t the pasta dinner I’d normally eat before a marathon, but it was SO GOOD. I might have been a little worried about causing myself poop problems the next day during the marathon by trying something new, but I really didn’t care at that moment.

Back in the room, Jen and I laid out our stuff for the race the next morning and were in bed around 10 p.m.

I’m pretty sure we were all awake before our alarms started going off at 7:15 a.m. Once again, since we were staying so close to the start line, we didn’t have to give ourselves any time to drive in and find parking. And since we didn’t know anyone running the half, which started at 7 a.m., we didn’t have to get up in time for that either.

Sunday's sunrise from our room.

Sunday’s sunrise from our room.

As a result, it was a very leisurely marathon morning, so much so it didn’t really feel like I was about to go run 26.2 miles. I ate a plain bagel with almond butter and a banana and downed some more water.

It didn’t seem as chilly as Saturday morning, but it wasn’t supposed to warm up much more throughout the race, so I went with my capri tights again. Instead of a long-sleeved shirt though, I wore arm warmers with a short-sleeved shirt, and I wore throw away gloves, expecting to actually throw them away this time. (I’m pretty sure they’re the ones I bought for the 2013 Shamrock Marathon, which I wound up wearing all the way to the finish line.)

At 8:15 a.m., I kissed Clark goodbye and Jen and I walked down to the marathon start line. Since Clark would probably have to check out of the room before we finished, we checked bags for the marathon. That took two seconds to drop off and then we made our way to the corrals.

The marathon is the smallest race of the weekend, only 4,000 runners. (Compared to 10,000 each in the 8K and half marathon.) There were only four corrals. I was seeded in the first based on the 3:30 I’d put on my registration (back when I thought I was going to actually train — ha!) but I got in the back of the second corral instead.

The 4:00 pace group was starting right at the front of the third corral. I’d told Clark my pie-in-the-sky goal was to keep it under four hours, but I really didn’t know what to expect. It could take me four hours or it could take me six, for all I knew. The only thing I was sure of was that I wouldn’t be coming anywhere close to my PR of 3:40.

I think it finally hit me what I was about to do when I got in the corral and saw the big inflatable start line arch in front of me, with MARATHON printed on it. I got really nervous, really quick. Suddenly attempting a marathon after only running a few 10-milers sounded unbelievably dumb. It’s one thing when you’re sitting on your couch, weeks out from the race, thinking “Oh yeah, no problem, I’ve got this. Training shmaining. It’s too cold outside to run anyway.” It’s another thing when you’re standing in the corral, about to do it!

Well it was too late to back out now. The first corral was released, and then the second corral moved up to the start line. A minute later, the announcer counted us down and boom! I was running my first marathon in two years.

The first few miles were rough. Not physically — I felt totally fine — but mentally. I had no one to talk to and I never wear my iPod in races, so I had nothing to distract myself from the negative voices already filling my head. How far am I actually going to be able to run today? Ten miles? Fifteen? Twenty if I’m lucky? How long is it going to take to walk the rest of the way to the finish line? Why the hell am I here? Who am I kidding?

It was a miserable mental state to be in that early in a marathon! I talked myself out of dropping out so many times in those first few miles. In spite of that, those first miles slipped away easily enough. I was just below 9:00/mile pace.

I carried four GUs with me, planning to take one about every five miles, based on water stops. I also had salt caps, planning to take one after every GU.

I ate the first GU a little early, as there was a water stop at mile 4.5 but not again until 6.5. I walked through the water stop so I could make sure I actually swallowed some water, and to dig out a salt cap from the little pouch they were in.

We made a U-turn at about mile 5.4. Suddenly the wind was in our faces. A guy near me said “Geez, where did THAT come from?” The wind wasn’t as bad as it’s been the past couple of years, but it still sucks to go from running with it at your back to running into it like that.

After the U-turn, I looked for Jen, but I couldn’t find her, which, in that moment, was a devastating disappointment!

Right after that though, we passed the 10K mark, and a woman running near me said “Just a 20-miler now!” We were into training run territory! Not that I did anything close to a 20-miler in training for this one, but for some reason it really helped hearing that.

I started to come up out of my mental fog. I thanked volunteers controlling traffic and working the water stops. I gave little kids high fives. I smiled at spectators and they cheered me on by name, since it was printed on my bib. It was all helping, and I was finally happy to be running the marathon. Only took an hour or so!

After mile 7, we ran into Camp Pendleton, a small military installation. There were some DJs blaring music, and a lot of service members had come out, in uniform, to line the road and give the runners high fives. It was a pretty fun section of the course.

We left Camp Pendleton around mile 9, then headed back up and over the Rudee Inlet bridge. I ate my second GU on the way back down the bridge. There was a water stop right around the corner. I took some more water and took another salt cap.

Now we were past mile 10 and I was coming up on the longest distance I’d ran since the Rehoboth half marathon in early December. Those negative voices started to come up again. I tried to push them back down as we ran out onto the boardwalk.

It was the same stretch of boardwalk we’d run during the 8K the day before, just a lot less crowded! About halfway to the turn off from the boardwalk, I spotted my first half marathon runner on the side of the course, done with his race, draped in the beach towel they were giving finishers, with his shoes off. Oh my god I wished so hard I’d signed up for the half at that moment! I’d be done! But nooooo, I had another 15-plus miles to run. Oh well.

The crowds got thicker the closer to the turn off we got. Around 25th Street, we left the boardwalk and ran back through the downtown area. This was the best part of the course. There were plenty of spectators, including a ton of half marathon runners cheering on the marathoners.

The crowds thinned out again, we made a couple of turns, and then we were at the halfway point, where the half marathon had started. I walked through the water stop just before it, and crossed the halfway timing mat just under 1:58.

If I could do that again, I’d finish under 4:00, but I wasn’t sure I could do that again. I felt waaay better than I expected to at the halfway mark, but I could tell it wasn’t going to last another 13 miles.

Well now I had a new distraction — all the half marathon walkers heading back toward the boardwalk finish, as I ran out toward Fort Story. I also knew the marathon leader should be coming through soon, so I watched for him. I saw him pass mile 23 when I was at about mile 15.

Around mile 16, I ate my third GU, took another salt cap and drank some more water. I spotted a small bank of port-o-potties just ahead and thought maybe I should try to use the bathroom. I didn’t have emergency-level gut pangs, but I thought I might soon, so might as well take advantage of those nice empty port-o-potties. It turned out I only had to pee, but I felt a lot better after.

At this point, the course had left the out-and-back road, so there were no more half marathoners to watch. We ran along a tree-lined road, heading for the north gate of Fort Story.

I think it was around mile 19, just before we got into Fort Story, that I started to feel the first signs the wheels might be coming off. I was still running, but my legs were starting to get tight, and my feet were tired of being inside those socks and pounding the road.

I remember looking at my Garmin as I passed mile 20 in 3:02 and being amazed I had run that long, and I was still moving. At mile 21, we passed the lighthouse, which always makes me smile because it reminds me of Deirdre, who didn’t even realize there was a lighthouse there when she ran this marathon until she saw the photos haha.

I mean, look how small and inconspicuous it is!

I mean, look how small and inconspicuous it is!

I also took my fourth and final GU and salt cap at this point. I love the salted caramel GU, but damn I was sick of them after eating four in a little over three hours!

I managed to run the rest of the way out of Fort Story, past mile 22. I think it was just before mile 23 I had to take my first walk break that wasn’t at a water stop. I knew I only had a 5K to go, but things were really starting to hurt, especially my feet. It wasn’t the shoes themselves, and I didn’t have any blisters, but my feet hadn’t taken a beating like that for more than an hour and a half in a long time, and they were pissed.

Somehow I still managed to be running for all the photographers, which were pretty much all camped out along this stretch.

mile 23ish

But my face in this one, somewhere around mile 24ish I would guess, really says it all:

Everything hurts and I'm dying.

Everything hurts and I’m dying.

The 4:00 pace group passed me during one of my walk breaks. The pace group leader reached out to me as he passed and told me to run it in with them. My head was all “Yes! I’m coming with you!” but then my feet were all “LOL no you’re not.” I watched them disappear.

In spite of how much things were hurting, I didn’t feel too bad. I was only a couple of miles from the end! I really didn’t expect to make it that far before I felt like that.

So I was still smiling as I was passing spectators. Two women yelled my name as they saw me coming. One said “Look at you! You’re so perky and you’re running on your toes, this close to the end! There should be a law against that!” I wanted to tell her she should’ve seen my heel strike during the multiple walk breaks I’d taken just before I saw her watching me haha.

Now I was past the mile 25 marker and so close! I knew sub-4 wasn’t going to happen but who cares! I’m running this in the rest of the way!

OK, except for this last water stop at mile 25.5… gimme water. NOW I’m running it in the rest of the way!

Two quick turns and we were back on the boardwalk — the homestretch! I could see King Neptune on the left, just before that beautiful finish line arch, only six blocks away.

I heard some kind of weird crying-gasping noise near me, and noticed a woman, running, full-on sobbing. I couldn’t tell if she was in pain or just really happy or what. I said something encouraging to her, as did another guy running near us and pretty much every spectator who saw her coming.

Here, I’m crossing over a mat around mile 26, all smiles, with the crying woman just in front of me:


I picked it up for the last .2 to the finish, left the crying woman in my dust and held off that other guy at the line.

marathon finish

And that was it! I finally feel a marathoner again!

Officially, my chip time was 4:02:38, a 9:16/mile overall average, which I am insanely happy with.

I crossed the line with a huge shit-eating grin on my face and smiled all the way down the finisher’s chute. After I’d collected my marathon AND whale challenge medals, I posed for a finisher’s picture:

finishers medals

I got my drop bag and changed into dry clothes, and then found Clark. We walked back to my car so I could throw my wet running clothes in it, and then stopped at a bar on the way back to the finisher’s area so he could use the bathroom and I could get my first post-marathon beer, a Starr Hill Reviver red IPA. It was appropriately named, and delicious.

By that time, Jen had finished. She has always run a PR in this marathon, dating back to 2011, but yesterday was not her day and the streak was broken. So we took this picture with the PR bell on the beach:

pr bell

Jen’s friend had also finished, and we all hung out in the beer tent, which wasn’t very crowded by that time, since most of the half marathon runners had left. Jen’s friend also just happens to be allergic to hops, which means he can’t drink beer, but he was more than happy to get all four of his free Yuenglings too, and let us have them.

It was so great to hang out and drink beer and talk about how my marathon went again! I really missed it!

jen and me after marathon

clark and me

Oh, Shamrock. You’re awesome. This is why I will always come back.

The four of us got some pizza, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. The drive back was just as long and boring, but we had the NASCAR race to listen to, so that helped.

We picked up Pepper from Clark’s parents’ house and were home by 9:30. I was so jazzed up I unpacked everything, and still had trouble falling asleep. It was a pretty great day.

Anyway, here’s all the stuff I got from this race this year:

8K and marathon race shirts, this year's finisher's hat and a koozie.

8K and marathon race shirts, this year’s finisher’s hat and a koozie.

Beach towel.

Beach towel.

Bibs, finisher's and Whale Challenge medals.

Bibs, finisher’s and Whale Challenge medals.

And my official stats:

TowneBank Shamrock 8K

  • 40:37
  • 8:10/mile avg
  • 27th/827 F 30-34
  • 168th/5,514 women
  • 689th/8,889 total

Yuengling Shamrock Marathon

  • 4:02:38
  • 9:16/mile avg
  • 57th/165 F 30-34
  • 267th/946 women
  • 810th/2,185 total

Whale Challenge

  • 53rd/213 finishers (4:43:16 total time)

Today, I’m sore, but not too bad. I didn’t get any blisters on my feet, but I did get a little chafing on my back from the closure on my sports bra strap. Other than that, I’m no worse for the wear.

Next on the schedule is the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run on April 12!



  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! I always enjoy reading your race summaries.

    Comment by Laura — March 25, 2015 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you!

    Comment by aschmid3 — March 25, 2015 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

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