Shamrock Marathon 2013 Race Report

Shamrock Marathon 2013  - 3:24:40  (1 Year Postpartum) Day Before the Race: 

My Dad and I drove down to Virginia Beach around noon on Saturday. We had a big lunch at Panera and I tried to carb up. I munched on bagels and bananas for the rest of the afternoon and alternated between Gatorade and water. Legs felt pretty good on my shakeout 4-miler that morning at the YMCA. We went to church at 5:30pm, ate a spaghetti dinner at my aunt & uncles’ house at around 6:45 and then my friend LB picked me up at 8:30pm and we headed back to her hotel near the start/finish.   We laid out all our gear and then went to sleep around 10pm. I got a pretty decent night’s sleep since I didn’t have to worry about the girls waking up, but we did have quite a few St. Patrick’s Day revelers that were SO LOUD and singing around 2:30am or so. Thankfully I was able to tune them out and go back to sleep.

Race Day: 

The alarm went off at 5:45am, I got up, ate half a banana and had some Gatorade. We got ready, and then LB’s friends picked us up and drove us to their hotel that was 2 blocks from the start.   That was awesome because we could wait inside in the warmth (with no wind) until it was time to do our warm up. I ate my bagel with Nutella around 7:10am and then just sipped some Gatorade while we waited. I jogged for 4 minutes, then hit the restroom, then jogged for 2 more on the way to my corral. I saw Dad and wished him good luck and then lined up at the start.   It was 40 degrees and overcast, but the WIND – the wind was awful. I tried not to think about it.   I started out in shorts, a singlet, my arm warmers, and then a throwaway long sleeve and gloves.   We started 5 minutes late and I tried really hard to convince myself that I’d be okay without using the bathroom for another 3 hours and 20 minutes. I positioned myself well behind the 3:15 pace group, but in front of the 3:25 pace group – hoping that I’d be able to keep to my plan of a 3:19 goal time.


We sang the National Anthem and then we were off! The first few miles down Atlantic were straight into the wind.   It definitely helped me keep my pace reasonable and the 7:49 pace felt easy, breathing was perfect.


Mile 1: 7:49 - Into the wind.   Feeling good, but anxious to get off Atlantic in hopes that the wind would ease up.

Mile 2: 7:46 – Still windy. Hmmm…still sticking to my plan of NOT GOING OUT TOO FAST and just easing into the goal pace.

Mile 3: 7:40 – Good mile – up and over the one “hill” (overpass) and finally on a stretch without much wind. Ditch my long sleeve shirt.

Mile 4: 7:40 – Not too much wind here either – check my pace chart and am right on target.   Start talking to a guy around me that wants a similar time, but he’s not going at my exact pace and seems to be slower so I eventually go ahead. I ditch my gloves here since I am fairly warm. During this mile I take my first gel (Honey Stinger with Caffeine is what I use) and water. (I stuck with water the whole race)

Mile 5: 7:37 – Feeling good, not a lot of wind but still some. I think it’s during this mile we make the first turnaround and I pass Dad – he seems to be doing well and gives me a shout of encouragement.

Mile 6: 7:36 – After the turnaround I realize that we’d been running with the wind at our backs – and now it’s a pretty significant headwind. (UGH) Try not to think about it, and attempt to make conversation with a couple folks around me. Right on pace. Already regretting throwing away my gloves though as the wind has made it much colder.

Mile 7: 7:42 – The wind has picked up and I know this mile is slower. Head into Camp Pendleton and I’m excited to see all the Marines/Army folks that are supposed to be out high-fiving us and cheering….but it’s dead – there is no one around.

Mile 8: 7:34 – Where are all the Army people??!?! Or anyone?? We pass a van from a radio station that isn’t even playing music! It’s a ghost town and very boring. The only people we see are the few volunteers who are manning the water stop. I am thankfully around some energetic guys who are providing some entertaining dialogue so I chat with them a bit before they fall back.   The twists and turns through this section provide enough (temporary) relief from the wind and the pace feels good.  It’s a bit early, but take my second gel to be able to grab water with it from the stop.

Mile 9: 7:42 – Out of Camp Pendleton and back into the wind. I’m feeling the pace slow as we fight it and go up and over the overpass. Someone shouts “This is the final hill of the marathon!” and that makes me laugh.

Mile 10: 7:51 – We are right near the ocean as we make our way to the boardwalk and we are getting hammered by wind. I decide that I may not be able to meet my “A” goal today since the pace is starting to feel much harder to maintain with the constant wind pushing on me and we haven’t yet hit halfway. I know we are also entering a stretch on the boardwalk where we are sure to have even more wind, so I opt to try to find some runners that are going approximately my pace to draft off/work together with to fight the wind. A girl in red that’s been near me the whole time and I start to chat a bit, and she’s in the same boat I am (having to use goal plan “B”).

Mile 11: 7:35 – Boardwalk. INSANE WIND. You can hear our race bibs flapping in the wind and it’s literally pushing me sideways. I tuck in behind two guys and two girls and offer to take a turn leading.   The guys decline to let me lead (which was nice of them), but I realize that if I stay with this little pack I get a break from the wind but I’m forced to run their pace.   Decide it’s worth it to get some (though not much) shelter from the wind and stay with them.

Mile 12: 7:41 – Still with the little self-made pack. I’m not in a great mood at this point as I’m fatigued from the wind and even when we finally swing off the boardwalk onto Atlantic we are STILL fighting the wind.   Our little group of 5 or so runners sort of disbands once we hit Atlantic so I’m on my own. There is hardly anyone out cheering since the weather is so cold and windy. It sprinkles a little on us this mile but nothing major. Start to see all of the half marathoners finished with their warm blankets on (that was our swag – a nice fleecy blanket!) and I’m jealous. Legs are okay, but the wind is draining me.

Mile 13: 7:41 - Halfway!!   Take another gel at this mile and am glad to be halfway through. We start our trek north and we are STILL IN THE WIND. I’ve totally abandoned my pace chart and just am trying to keep a steady pace as much as I can without having the wheels fall off. I know I have the tougher stretch to go so I try to stay calm and focused with positive thoughts.

Mile 14: 7:36 – See LB’s friends Emily and Chris this mile (they made signs and took photos!) and it gives me a little lift. Hit my goal pace for this mile but know it’s short lived as we are still into the wind.

Mile 15: 7:41 – Still on Atlantic, still windy. Talk to a few folks around me during this mile and that helps, but not enough. Legs are starting to feel tired, and am just hoping for a break from the wind when we reach the woods.

Mile 16: 7:45 – Entering the wooded area and there is a bit less wind. Find 2 other girls around my pace and decide to stay with them for a bit for some company. It’s a little slower of a mile and I can tell my legs are tiring. Someone counts out “28, 29, 30” as we pass and tells us we are in the top 30 women. I focus on that and try to muster some energy to pick it up.

Mile 17: 7:35 – Another gel here and the break from the wind (plus the company) make this a good mile. Am feeling a little better and am trying to convince myself that maybe the worst of the wind is behind us and that we’ll have a tailwind once we clear the woods.

Mile 18: 7:51 – Big fat negative on the tailwind.   We get out of the woods and are hammered by more wind coming off the ocean. I’m frustrated at this point and just want a break. I focus on thinking positively even though my quads are very, very tired. I really notice it when I stop quickly for water and then have to start back up – I can tell my quads are toast.

Mile 19: 7:36 – Saw some awesome volunteers in this mile that were handing out gummy bears/snacks. Didn’t take any snacks but their enthusiasm helped make this one a reasonable pace.   Somehow I convince myself that I’m already at mile 20 and so I’m thinking in my head that I only have a 10K left.

Mile 20: 7:50 – Oops. NOW I’m on mile 20 – UGH! THIS WIND IS SO AWFUL. I am running pretty much by myself at this point – I can see people up ahead and behind but there’s no one to talk to. The girl in red from mile 10 and I have been jockeying for position for almost the whole race. I try to talk to her a bit somewhere on this mile, but we are both working hard and she pulls ahead a bit at this point.

Mile 21: 8:02 – The 3:25 pace group catches me. I am MAD. I tell myself that I WILL NOT let them drop me and that I’m going to finish this thing with a PR no matter what. I have to will my legs to keep going. Force down my gel and try not to slow too much to grab some water.

Mile 22: 7:58 – Still hanging with the 3:25 pace group. Find out that the 3:15 pace group had gone out way too fast (so glad I did not start with them). The pacers are very energetic and friendly and I just try to focus on listening to them talk and not on the fact that I still have 4 miles to go and my legs are toast.   Girl in red is in front of us, but we are gaining on her.   Still running into the wind – I am TIRED. This wind is awful.

Mile 23: 7:47 – Pace group is 8 or so people in the little group and I debate passing them so that I can try so hard to pick up the pace a little, but the wind is so bad that I stay behind them so that I can draft.

Mile 24: 7:55 – Still hanging on – no one in the group is talking with the exception of the pace leaders. I convince myself not to stop even though I want to. I’m mad that I’m so far off the time I wanted, but the wind is relentless.

Mile 25: 7:53 – Trying to push a little. The pacers encourage us to all enjoy these final miles and soak it in – I can’t think of anything else besides getting out of this darn wind and getting something warm on. My hands have stopped working since they are so cold so I don’t even try to eat my final gel. I know if I stop for water I’ll end up stopping for too long so I just keep on. I don’t feel like I’m low on fuel, I just feel like my legs (just quads – calves feel fine) are DONE.

Mile 26: 7:50 – I leave the pace group and just push as hard as I can. I pass them, pass the girl in red, and am just doing my best not to fall over the finish line. I know my form is terrible at this point and I can feel me straining my neck and chest (???) forward to try and will my legs to go faster.   I don’t have much of a kick, but I give it all I have.

.02 (0.38 according to Garmin): 7:36   - SO HAPPY to be done. I’m happy about the 3-minute PR, but really bummed that I was so far off my goal.


Post-race: I grab my dry bag and put on pants and my jacket and wrap up in the blanket. My stomach is rioting so I just sip some water while I wait for LB (3:52 – a 9+ min PR for her) and Dad (knee made it until mile 20 or so and then gave him fits, but he finished under 4 hrs with a 3:58).


It was a tough race. I know that I’d maxed out my quads and body due to the wind – but during the last 6 miles I didn't fall to pieces so I'm proud of myself for that. I had forgotten just how tough those last 6 miles of a marathon are - it has been since 2009 (and pre-babies!) that I've really raced one. Just a bit bummed that the higher mileage this season didn't pay off with a bigger chunk off my PR (I went from a peak week of 50mpw in past seasons to a 70mpw peak this season). I don't think I went out too fast as I kept it in check and the wind definitely helped slow me down. Not sure if I just needed a less ambitious goal, or if the wind really just took it out of me and I was smart to revise my goal mid-race.  Another local girl (Morgan) ended up getting her goal of a sub-3hr marathon and coming in 3rd female! I’m so happy for her, but it made me kind of feel like a wimp that she made her goal but I fell short of mind.   Was I that much of a wimp with the wind? I ended up 5th in my age group and 30th female overall, so I’m pretty pleased with that! Not sure where to go from here - try another season of high mileage and hope to get a better day to try for 3:19 in the fall? Piggyback off my training and look to do another marathon in 7-8 weeks or so using Pfitzinger’s multiple marathon schedule? Maybe I just need a stronger base of miles to be able to handle the wind better? Still though, a PR is a good thing and I'll take it! :)


LB and I are happy to be finished!


Mile 1: 7:49

Mile 2: 7:46

Mile 3: 7:40

Mile 4: 7:40

Mile 5: 7:37

Mile 6: 7:36

Mile 7: 7:42

Mile 8: 7:34

Mile 9: 7:42

Mile 10: 7:51

Mile 11: 7:35

Mile 12: 7:41

Mile 13: 7:41

Mile 14: 7:36

Mile 15: 7:41

Mile 16: 7:45

Mile 17: 7:35

Mile 18: 7:51

Mile 19: 7:36

Mile 20: 7:50

Mile 21: 8:02

Mile 22: 7:58

Mile 23: 7:47

Mile 24: 7:55

Mile 25: 7:53

Mile 26: 7:50

.02 (0.38 according to Garmin): 7:36