Monday, March 21, 2011

Shamrock Half-Marathon

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is". --Kara Goucher

This quote PERFECTLY describes my experience at the Shamrock Half-Marathon.  It certainly wasn't my fastest race, but it was one of the best race experiences I've ever had.  For some background on this race, you can look back to this post to see what happened to me last year at this time.

I went into this race with no expectations.  I had hardly trained at all, and I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the moment (oh, and not oversleep it!). :) Here's Mathis and I with two of our good friends, Jed and Stacie at 6:30am that morning...

We had several friends running this race, and my friend Hannah and I decided to run together.  Here we are waiting in the corral ready to run...

Y'all, it was SO WINDY as we waited for the race to start.  I don't think I've ever experienced such crazy winds.  We were FREEZING!!!!  I had planned on wearing only a green shirt to the race, but thankfully I had packed my Disney Marathon jacket and decided last minute to wear it.  I hadn't expected to need long sleeves at this race, but the wind made the 40-50 degree temps that much colder.  I get pretty hot when I run, and I usually err on the side of wearing less than more.  It's always tough for me to decide if I should wear a jacket or not, but this time I was so glad I did!  Note to self: Always pack multiple weather options when traveling to a race!!

The sun was coming up right before the race started at 7:00am.

We finally got started, and the winds already began to die down a bit.  It was pretty crowded at the start and it stayed that way throughout the race.  I felt pretty sluggish the first few miles.  We took it easy (our plan the whole race), and I finally started feeling better once we passed miles 3 and 4.  This is typical for me -- I always take awhile to warm up and start feeling good.  At the half-way point we were on target to finish around 2:15... we stopped to stretch, and we were feeling great!

Right after we stopped to stretch we came across a great view of the water!  Most of the course was inland, but it was still really beautiful and FLAT! :)  There was a slight cool breeze -- thankfully the crazy winds from earlier were gone!

Hannah and I talked the whole time, and I felt like the miles were going by really fast.  I think the marathon gave me such a wonderful base for running.  Thirteen miles no longer seems as daunting, and although I wasn't fast by any means it was relatively easy for me to run the half.  This surprised me since my training had been so minimal.  I love that I have a strong base for distance, and it's definitely something I don't want to let go of.

Once we got to mile 10 we did walking/running intervals.  Eventually we saw the marathon runners... look at this guy in orange - he was in first place!

The final stretch...

The whole race was just fun... lots of people, entertainment, and great weather.  I love the camaderie of being around so many other runners.  It's just a neat feeling to know that so many people have trained for this one day -- each with their own unique story!  I remember being so happy to be there, to be healthy and running with my sweet friend Hannah.

Mathis and Hannah's husband, Chris ran most of the race together, and our friends Jed and Stacie rocked their first half-marathon in style.  They were in a corral behind us, and right at the end they passed Hannah and I up -- total running rockstars! ;)

We ran on the boardwalk towards the finish, and I was so proud of Hannah and I for running the half together.  It's always the best feeling when you see the finish line ahead of you and you cross it!  There were a ton of volunteers at the end passing out medals, water, and food.  In addition to the medal we also got finisher's long sleeve t-shirts and a running hat... love all the gear!  We finally met up with our hubby's and went straight towards the tent on the beach...

Yuengling is a beer that Mathis and I had not heard of until we moved to Virginia.  It is hands-down the best beer (in my opinion at least)!  It's only sold on the East Coast, and we love it.  Yuengling was the sponsor of the Shamrock Marathon, and runners get free beer at the finish.  They actually pass out beer throughout the course, but I waited to celebrate until after I was done running.  We met up with Jed and Stacie in the tent, and talked about the race.  Eventually we headed out to take pictures on the beach.

It was such a great weekend, and I definitely spent a lot of time reflecting on how much has happened in the last year -- both in running and in life as a whole.  A year ago, 10 miles was the longest distance I had ever run.  Since last year I have run two half-marathons and my first full marathon.  In the past year Mathis and I have developed really close relationships with the friends around us.  A year ago it was just Mathis and I in Virginia Beach, and this year we were there with four of our closest friends.  It was a really neat moment, and I feel very blessed.  Cannot wait to see what the next year holds for us!

Miles: 13.1
Time: 2:32:49

Miles this Week: 13
Miles this Month: 55

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