This year I was lucky enough to be picked as a social media ambassador for the Shamrock Marathon. Although my race entry was free for this race, all thoughts and opinions are my own. You know I always #keepitreal!
Happy Wednesday! This weekend I participated in the Shamrock 8K and Marathon. It was a fun whirlwind weekend full of races and miles. Let’s discuss!
On Friday morning we headed out to the airport to kick off race weekend. After a very annoying Delta flight (we had to switch planes and left almost 2 hours late) we arrived in Virginia Beach around 11am. Luckily we were able to check into our hotel early so we dropped off our suitcases and headed to lunch. After lunch, we walked over to the expo at Virginia Beach Convention Center.
The expo was a decent size (not super small, but not big either). I found the booth for the Whale Challenge. I loved that I was able to go here to get both my race bibs for the weekend as opposed to going to two different booths.
After picking up our race shirts, my mom and I did some shopping and took a few photos. We weren’t at the Expo that long, but I did get a chance to hear part of Bart Yasso’s talk (always great to see him at an expo!) and I was able to try a sample of the beer that would be available on the course. It was the Yuengling Golden Pilsner. Now I’m not a huge beer drinker, but this stuff was good! Here are a few fun photos from the Expo 🙂
Friday night came and went, and then it was time for the 8K! After a short walk to the race start we were off and running!
I really enjoyed the course for this race. We started out by running down Atlantic Avenue so there was tons of crowd support. After mile 2 we turned onto the boardwalk. I can’t put into words how pretty this part of the course was – I liked looking to my right and seeing the water, it was so peaceful! During this part of the race I just found my groove and stayed there. After mile 4 we went off the boardwalk and back into streets for about half a mile and then turned back onto the boardwalk for the finish. You can check out the course map here.
Of course it was time for a mini-photo shoot after the race.
Since this was my first 8K race, it was an automatic PR (dontcha just love when that happens?)!
I spent the rest of Saturday off my feet and relaxing. My allergies were acting up a little bit so I tried to get that under control as well. I hydrated like a boss, enjoyed some pasta for dinner and then went to bed. The big day was tomorrow!
I woke up around 5:45 and started to get ready for the Marathon. Luckily my friend Jacinta and her mom were also staying in my hotel so we all took an Uber over to the race start. The weather was picture perfect! This race has been notorious for horrible weather (super cold, snow, sleet, torrential rain, etc), but we REALLY lucked out this year! There weren’t many corrals (I think there were 12 or 13), which was nice because that meant we would not be standing outside for too long. I crossed the start line at around 7:50 and it was go time!
Miles 1-3 were great! I settled into a good pace around mile 2 and I was able to take in all the energy of the race. I really focused on not starting out too fast since I seem to ALWAYS do this! These miles through a few neighborhoods and the scenery was great.
Miles 3-13.1 were primarily on Shore Drive. There were tons of trees and great scenery, but not any crowd support. Thankfully by mile 10 we left Shore Drive and we were back in areas where we could see spectators. I don’t necessarily need a bunch of crowd support, but it is nice to have words of encouragement from time to time. We split from the half-marathoners around mile 12.5. I was SO tempted to go left but decided too right and finish the marathon, haha. The amount of runners dropped dramatically and it felt like I was only running with a handful of people. It was a weird feeling! I hit the 13.1 mark and still felt pretty darn strong. I had run a very good first half and still didn’t feel tired.
Miles 13.1-16 were great because we were on the boardwalk. Unfortunately my back started to act up around this point. This was not a surprise since I have been experiencing back pain during my long runs right about this time as well. It was more uncomfortable than painful, so I was able to power through it. Luckily I saw my parents and sister a little past mile 13 and that was a great boost! I also saw Jennifer around mile 14. It was awesome to finally meet her in person! I was so thankful that she came out to cheer me on – it was so nice of her!
Mile 16-23 were where the wheels fell off for me. I was plugging along, thinking that I might get a very unexpected PR, but then mile 17 happened. Somewhere between miles 17-18 my legs were like “no thank you”. First I got a cramp in my right calf and then I got a cramp in my right glute. I’ve never experience cramping during a race so I was not only surprised but confused on what to do, lol. I tried to run and rub out the areas. Then I moved to a run walk method. Then I stopped and tried to massage the areas. Nothing worked. I hobbled along for a few more miles and watched as my miles got slower and slower 🙁 That was disappointing, but I only allowed myself to be sad about it for a minute. I wasn’t going to dwell on something that I couldn’t control. Around mile 20 a very nice spectator was giving out pretzel sticks and those were awesome! I felt a little better after that so I’m thinking that maybe I needed salt for the cramping? Besides the cramps, I found this to be the most boring part of the race course. It was an out and back so I was sad to see people on the other side of the line because that meant they were about 5 miles ahead of me LOL. We were near army barracks for this portion of the race so it was super quiet and there wasn’t much to look at in terms of scenery. We also had to go up and over Rudee Bridge twice. Now granted it wasn’t a huge bridge at all, but any incline at that point in the race feels like climbing Mount Everest.
Miles 23-26.2 were slow but a little better. We were back on the boardwalk (my favorite part of the race) and looking over at the water and the beach helped me not to focus on the amount of pain I was in. Around mile 24 I came down wrong on an uneven part of the boardwalk and felt a sharp pain in my hamstring. I thought that I had pulled a muscle. I literally had to walk for 5 minutes straight before I was able to run again. I’m just happy that it wasn’t anything more serious. At mile 25 were off the boardwalk again and I ran past my hotel. My mom was there and she ran a few minutes with me to give me some encouragement. Man was I hurting bad! I knew there was only a little over a mile left so I shuffled along and before I knew it, the finish line was in sight! Anytime I see a finish line, it’s cause for a celebration. This was especially true this time after running 31.2 miles over the course of the weekend (ouch). Here’s a link to the course map if you want to check it out.
Honestly I didn’t go into this race expecting a PR because of my back and knee issues, so overall I am happy and proud of myself! I ran a really strong first half and based on that, I should have PRed by about 30 mins, but you know that they say – you’ll never know what will happen on the day of the marathon. I started slowing down a little bit around mile 15 and then those leg cramps at mile 17 were ultimately too much to come back from. Even though I was deep in the pain gave from mile 17 onward, I still kept a positive attitude and just focused on putting one foot in the front of the other.
Too me, this race was never about a PR. It was about proving to myself that I could actually run a marathon. After Chicago, I had a lot of doubt and didn’t know if I could do it. Sure, the leg cramps sucked, but mentally I didn’t give up and that’s the big takeaway from this race for me. A positive mindset is everything! I have really worked on that these past few months and I’m glad that it paid off. I even finished the race with a smile 🙂
After I showered and rested up a bit, I walked down a few blocks to Ben & Jerry’s and treated myself to this lovely cup of deliciousness.
With any race there are always Pros and Cons. Here’s my list!
Race photos – You could purchase digital downloads of all your race photos for $30-$50. Since I ran both races, I received my 8K photos for free by buying the digital package for my marathon photos. I got 20+ photos for $50. Compared to other big races, I think these prices are very affordable.
Generous Beer Tickets – Do you like beer? Then this is the race for you! The bibs for all the races came with 4 beer tickets! The beer was also delicious 🙂
Race swag – OMG…so much race swag! For the 8K I received a cotton long sleeve shirt. For the Marathon I received a tech long sleeve shirt. After completing the marathon, I also received a beach towel and a hat. At the Expo, you received free beer koozies with any purchase, so I picked up two of those. I also received 3 medals – 8K, Marathon and Whale Challenge (for doing both races).
Hotels – There’s an abundance of hotels for this race. My hotel, Hyatt House Virginia Beach, was within walking distance of the 8K start. It was about a mile from the marathon start so I did take an Uber to that race start. The hotel was literally a 2 minute walk from the 8K/Marathon finish (both finish lines are the same). I can’t tell you how awesome it was to finish both races and be SO close to my hotel!
Restuarants – While I didn’t get to venture out as much as I would have liked (wanted to save my legs), there were tons of restaurants within a 1 mile radius of the race. A lot of those restaurants also offered delivery if you didn’t feel like leaving your hotel room.
Blue Bracelets for Beer at Expo – At the expo, there was a section to receive blue bracelets. Volunteers checked your ID and then gave you the bracelet. These bracelets served as acknowledgment that you were over 21 years of age when going to get beer after the race. I thought this was really smart and definitely saved time. It’s so annoying when I have to dig into my SpiBelt for my ID after a race so that I can get beer.
Virtual Goodie Bag – We received the virtual goodie bag the week of the race. It had some great coupons and offers for other races in the area. If I was local to Virginia Beach I would have definitely taken advantage of some of the offers.
No Heat Sheets – While the weather for the race was great (no rain or snow), it was still under 50 degrees. I definitely would have appreciated a heat sheet at the finish.
Runner tracking – While I didn’t personally experience this, my friends and family told me that the tracking was not good. It was very delayed and just overall really annoying to use. For instance, my mom saw me at mile 25 and the tracker told her I was at mile 22.
Gear Section at Expo – I picked up a few items at the expo but I wish that the gear section was a little bigger.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my LONG recap! If you’re looking for a Spring race, I would definitely recommend the Shamrock Marathon. The race was super well organized and all of the volunteers were simply amazing and so encouraging when we were out on the course. As long as the weather is decent, it’s also definitely a nice fast and flat course for a PR.
Thanks to everyone for all of your encouragement throughout this training cycle and on race weekend – I really appreciate it!
Question – How do you recovery after a marathon? I’m taking the week off running but I still want to do some low impact exercises starting today (Yoga, etc).