On Friday March 16th , I had the pleasure of heading to Virginia Beach after being asked to be a Shamrock Marathon social Ambassador! I was so excited! Having run this race 2 times before (the half distance in 2011′ & the full in 2016′); I knew what a fantastic race it was & immediately accepted!
This year I chose to run the half distance as I was training for the Boston Marathon on 4/16. After a 6 hour drive with my hubby which included a beautiful, scenic drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge we arrived to the Virginia Beach Convention Center where the expo was being held! I had plans to meet up with friends that I follow on IG so when I arrived, I texted them to set up a meeting spot! I picked up my bib & went over to the registration desk when I met Kristy. Kristy works for J & A Racing! She & I communicated a lot by email prior to this weekend! She played a huge role in putting everything together for this amazing weekend! I then met Amy Frostick; the race director! It was so awesome to finally meet her. Having run this race before; I know just how amazing it is & I was so thankful to again be a part of it. After picking up my packet, I headed over to where Bart Yasso & Kara Goucher were speaking! Now, Kara Goucher has been a huge runspiration of mine since I began running 9 years ago! I have yet to meet her, but I had hoped that this would be the weekend I finally did!! I headed over the where she was about to take the stage. I heard “Meri, Meri!” It was Donna & Lisa! Two inspiring runners that I follow on IG that are originally from NJ! How cool is that? We chatted for a bit before asking Kara to take pics with us! I was so excited to meet all of these ladies! We sat through a Q & A session led by Bart Yasso while we all asked Kara questions! It was so great that both Adam Goucher & there son Colton was also there! So sweet! After the Q & A session we all got to take pics again with Kara!
The last few days I had contemplated racing the half or simply using it as part of my 20 mile training run for Boston. I thought, what better person to ask than Olympian Kara Goucher. Well that is exactly what I did! Kara suggested that I use the half as part of my training run, she said “don’t race it – save it for Boston.”
That night I had the honor of attending the Shamrock Marathon VIP Dinner led by Amy & Jim Frostick. I met Jim & Coleen whom I have followed on Instagram for years! It was so great to finally meet them! Also at the VIP dinner were Bart Yasso, Kara Goucher, Adam & Colt! Bart Spoke to us about race weekend with Amy and Jim.
Kara then spoke to us about running, spoke about Shamrock weekend and answered any questions she had! At one point Kara sat at my table; right next to me! So cool! She was super sweet and so genuine! Of course I asked her to take another pic with me! Hey, when you meet you runspiration two days in a row – you need to document it!!
The dinner was delicious & the event was just unforgettable! It was so wonderful to hear all of the amazing things that J & A racing has done for the children in the community. That night I headed back to my hotel feeling so unbelievably inspired! I just couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I woke up the next morning bright and early & headed out onto the boardwalk to log some miles prior to the race as I planned to use the half as part of my 20 mile training run! As I ran I saw other runners heading to the start, the course being set up & just enjoyed watching the sunrise! I ended up logging about 5 miles before heading to the start to meet Rebecca & Gabby! I quickly found them & within seconds the race began! I was feeling good sticking with high 7:50’s to low 8:00’s. I saw Gabby and ran beside her. After each mile; we compared paces – both of us feeling really good! As we ran, we chatted & just enjoyed taking in the beauty of the course! There were spectators out there cheering us on; the energy was just contagious! As we ran through the base; the wind picked up a bit but we stayed strong – maintaining the same splits that we ran the whole race. I knew that day was going to be a huge PR for Gabby & I was so excited to see her accomplish her goal!! As we approached the beach area; you could feel the ocean breeze! Spectators cheered us on & I cheered for Gabby saying ” you’ve got this girl – we are almost there!” We stayed together & as we approached the finish I knew Gabby had crushed her half PR!!
We finished in 1:46:01!! I paced her to over a 4 minute PR & I am so proud of her!! After the race, I finished up my final 1.9 miles to make 20 miles @ 8:05/mile! A very strong training run for me!! 2 mile warmup (8:23, 8:21) followed by 18 miles @ 8:02/mile average! (8:10, 8:11, 8:07, 8:02, 8:07, 8:10, 8:05, 8:04, 8:02, 8:04, 8:03, 8:03, 8:05, 8:09, 7:57, 7:55, 7:42, 7:48)!
After the race; I had the pleasure of meeting Heather, Patrick and Holly! Hubby and I then headed over to the VIP tent. There we grabbed a bite to eat & I tasted the newest Yuengling Beer! I saw Eileen & Harry two runners also from NJ! We took selfies with Bart Yasso and chatted about running!
I also got to see Colleen; who I met the day before & she introduced me to Kara – another inspiring runner that I’ve followed on Instagram for years! Hubby and I hung around in the VIP tent for a little before heading back outside to cheer on the marathoners finishing the race! There was so much positive energy & support as each runner crossed the finish line! It was truly incredible! Hubby and I had to head back home that day so we said good bye to everyone & we headed back to our hotel.
Before getting on the highway; we made a quick stop at for a post run protein smoothie for me – it was just delicious! We then stopped off at the nearby Acme for some snacks for the 7 hour car ride ahead of us! As we drove home; I couldn’t stop talking about all the highlights from this weekend! From the amazing expo, to meeting Kara Goucher not once but twice; to meeting so many positive – like minded people to running one of the best, most organized races out there! The whole experience was truly magical! Without a double; Shamrock Marathon weekend will forever be remembered as one of the most memorable & incredible weekends of my life!
Thank you as always for following my journey! Next up – Boston Marathon!