Shamrock Half Marathon 2012 in Virginia Beach, VA

Today marked my 5th anniversary of running at the Shamrock weekend, and the 4th Shamrock Half Marathon in a row. This was my 12th half marathon, and my 23rd race. Those statistics continue to blow me away. While races can be costly, I’m intrigued to see how many races I can do, but I don’t want to foreshadow any possibility of something inhibiting me from running by setting a deadline to meet said goal.  I’d rather just continue to run for the rest of my life!

Today couldn’t have been a more ideal day to run. The weather was perfect! It was in the high 50s, eventually getting up to the low 60s, and overcast for most of the run. The sun came creeping out from behind the clouds as I got closer to mile 9.  After the first mile, I was glad I opted to run in a running tank instead of doubling up with a long sleeve shirt. I would have been way too hot if I had.

I have to confess that my knee had been bothering me for several days prior to this race. It wasn’t really hurting per se, it just felt like there was pressure just under my knee and across the top of my shin.  I tried icing it, massaging it, taking ibuprofen, and even topical pain relievers. Nothing really seemed to help. My last thought was to switch out my shoes, every day, up until the race, in case it was, in fact, my shoes. When I woke up this morning, my knee wasn’t 100% better, but the pressure was way down, and I barely felt it as I walked. So, with a sore knee and a sour stomach from the day before, I was worried that this race wouldn’t be all that I wanted it to be.

I could barely stomach the oatmeal I made for myself this morning, and ended up throwing half of the bland oats away. Sometimes you really have to pick your battles. This morning I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to focus on how my knee or my stomach felt, but on putting one foot in front of the other, and breathing in deep, belly breaths, and slowly letting them out.

As always, I was super early to the race, and had plenty of time to get stretched out and warmed up. This time, I had company to walk me to the starting line! I’m so thankful for the friends who support my running endeavors, and for those that can come to the races! It means a lot! 🙂 I always get nervous as I’m making the way to the starting line. Did I go to the bathroom often enough? Did I eat enough this morning to keep my body fueled for the race but not enough to make me sick? Are my shoes double-knotted? Is my mp3 player ready to go? Is all my gear laying smoothly so I don’t get blisters or rashes? (Or show off my lovely skivvies because my top’s tucked into them by accident?) My stomach always grumbles before these races, and I have now done TWENTY THREE. You would think I’d get used to it, but the anticipation and the nerves before a race have been an accustomed friend that I accommodate for every time.

Being in Corral 4, I had to wait until the elites and three previous corrals departed after the gun sounded, and the race began before I could start my own 13.1 mile journey. I always get antsy and or frustrated when I can’t see the starting clock because I’m not sure of what time I actually started, and have a hard time judging what my actual finish time was. Usually, I can guesstimate, and am pretty accurate, but I like to know the exact time, because, after all, what runner doesn’t?! Needless to say, I was frustrated when I didn’t see a clock until a ways after the starting line, and another at mile marker 1. How could I accurately guess my first mile’s time when I wasn’t even sure when we started? And as a minimalist runner, I don’t run with a watch, so that wasn’t even an option. I kept the time from the 1st mile in mind as I ran past the other clocks and continued to guesstimate where my time would be. I was held up a bit when I got sick from the 2nd gel I took, and the definite lack of fuel around mile 10.  Sometimes, I wish I had my other friends’ iron stomachs! Thankfully, it wasn’t for long.  I got terribly thrown off and a little over-excited when I passed by the 2:00 pacer. It was the first pacer I had seen the whole race. The guy running next to me voiced what I thought in my head. Are we really running with the 2:00 group? I just smiled at him, and said keep thinking positive because we are almost done! At this point, we were at mile 11, and I just kept pushing forward until I hit mile 12, when I pushed even more to keep a steady, faster pace, and weave in and out of the other runners who were slowing down or doing the same as me. The ocean is a welcome site when you round that corner and are nearly done with the last mile. It’s like a welcome home sign that you can’t get enough of!

I’m excited to say that even though I pushed myself to hold a steady pace throughout the race, I was able to pick up my speed for the entire last mile, and still had a tiny bit of energy left to sprint across the finish line! Those speed workouts are helping SO much! I’m definitely grateful to have found a training plan to fit my work schedule that included speed work.

This race really went super smoothly between the weather, the terrain, the surplus of water stations, and the cheerful crowd keeping us motivated. I feel like each mile passed by easily, and my pace remained steady. I don’t really have any complaints about this race. It really is a fun one to run, and the outfits worn by all the runners are enough to keep you grinning, if not, laughing along the way!

My goal for this race was to finish in 2:10. I wanted it so badly that I’ve been dreaming about it on and off up until today. My last half marathon was 3 weeks ago exactly at the Sentara Colonial Half Marathon, and I finished in 2:13:44! 2:10 was my original goal before I had even decided to run the Sentara Colonial Half Marathon, but I kept it because I was unsure about my own abilities. Honestly, that’s extremely hard to admit after working on speed work, training, and mentally preparing myself for all the races I have done in the last 4 years. So, when I checked the actual times versus the chip times for the Shamrock Half Marathon today, I was blown away by the fact that not only did I beat my 2:10 goal, I had kicked my PR from THREE weeks ago to the curb by nearly 6 minutes! I ROCKED the Shamrock Half Marathon today by completing it in 2:08:11!!!! Woo-Hoo! Live. Love. Run. Passionately! ❤

Finishing in under 2:00 or even at 2:00:00 exactly is more realistic each time I get closer to that number! 🙂

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4 Responses to Shamrock Half Marathon 2012 in Virginia Beach, VA

  1. Congrats Erica. Your dedication continues to pay off with some great performances. Enjoy this moment! I know that a sub 2-hour half is in your very near future. 🙂

  2. Lisa Haffner says:

    GREAT JOB!! Erica, You are a running machine.

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