Shamrock Half Marathon - A PR for Heather!

We decided that we were going to do the Shamrock Half back in early November when we were putting our plan together for our Boston Marathon training that would start later that month. Sixteen weeks into our Training is a good time to go out and run a fast thirteen point one as a tune up race to our full that is now just a month out.

Heather, who has never actually run a competitive half marathon before was looking to PR. She ran this race a few years back as a training run without any real  time  goal or expectations... Four miles from the finish that year she glanced down at her watch and was doing a seven thirty pace, so she decided to pick it up... the result of that race was an unintentional PR at 1:40 and change. The weather that day was great and she was feeling really good! Since then, it's been marathons all the way with several BQ's under her belt! (She's such a bad ass!! :)

My PR for the half was at Philly Rock & Roll in 2015 at a 1:34. I too have not run any halves competitively since then... and while I am definitely in shape to grab one at Shamrock, this race was not about me this weekend. It was all about Heather and to help her grab the faster time!

She deserved it.

Coming into this training cycle off a stress fracture of the femoral neck, she missed an entire training cycle with me where she only joined in part of the runs towards the end as her injury began to heal. I ended up running Philly Marathon, achieving my own PR of 3:19 qualifying for the 2018 Boston Marathon. I certainly missed her in that race and it was a doozy of one as well. Read all about it here!

So, needless to say, Heather has come back strong, kicking some serious ass! As the same in this race, I have dedicated this entire training cycle to her. Running with her, mostly training at her pace goals. We are pretty much the same pace anyway so the the modification is not a big one! She is strong! So this half was all about her... getting that PR!

But she was worried about the weather... and how it might affect performance.

For more than a week leading up to the race she was creeping on the weather.. wind and rain was in the forecast! It didn't look good. I heard about it, everyday!! :)

But this is the M.O. for Shamrock! More than not, the weather for this race just sucks! The two years I ran the full, I guess, was the exception... sunny but cold.. I still remained dry. Not the case the last couple years! If anything was guaranteed this year.... we were going to get wet!

So we headed out Saturday morning from the OBX! Headed straight to the expo to get our packets and then for an afternoon of fun!

The Day Before the Race!
We arrived at the expo around 12:30 The shirts were nice.. Green, of course, but short sleeve for the half! I liked this because the Full Marathon shirts were always long sleeve and I never wore them. I will wear the short sleeve, especially for running!

As we entered the Shamrock merchandise area we noticed the lightweight rain coats right away.. they were getting a lot of attention due the weather forecast. Neither one of us had raincoats so we were definitely eying these down. $68 bucks though! Thats a high dollar raincoat... but it was Brooks apparel so you know it's going to be great quality. Once I read that it was "packable" I was sold. This meant it folded into itself in it's own pocket. Once inside the pocket it zipped up and had a stretchy carry strap. So, on the run if need be, the jacket could be removed and easily carried around your wrist or ut into your pocket if you had them. Heather and I bought bought them.

I did not look as sexy in mine as she did in hers!! ;)

We entered into the expo's general vendor area and it was the same usual suspects. Hoka, Garmin, National Running Center, flip belt and spibelt to name a few! Then a booth displaying headbands caught Heather's eye, so we stopped to check them out. The company's name is Tread Bands. They are using a patent pending technology that guarantees their headbands to stay on. That, and the fact that they were ties backs as opposed to loops had Heather  sold... She one out of the many dozens of colors and patterns available and I bought it for her! I also grabbed some info from them as to become a wholesale dealer of the product in my store!

A little more browsing and then we left.

Next stop.... 11th Street Pubhouse on Atlantic Avenue. We've come to this oceanfront bar a few times and have gotten to know the staff so it was definitely on our schedule to stop in for a beer! Joe the bar tender gave us a couple pint glasses last year when we were there but we forgot them! Jokingly, I made the comment "we're here for the pint glasses we left last year!" He just looked at me replied "those are gone!" - but then a few minutes later grabbed two logo pint glasses from under the bar and put them in front of me!! Sweet!!! One can never have too many pint glasses!

We hung out for an hour or so, made a couple new friends and then headed to the hotel to check and head to dinner!

Ynot Italian was where we had planned to eat our pre race dinner, usually a fifteen minute drive from the oceanfront to the one we're used too, we noticed a Ynot right on Atlantic within walking distance for our hotel! Score!! This was going to save us some time! We arrived to a about a 25 minute wait so we took to the bar for a beer while we waited for a table.. 5 minutes later they were calling us!!
We both had pasta, Heather's better than mine and then we each had a small bowl of gelato for dessert!! Sooo good!!!

Back to the hotel for a good night's rest!

Race Day!

The alarm was set for 5 AM! We awoke before, of course! The first thing on both of our minds was coffee! Of course, Heather is known for carrying her Keurig with her on location but did not remember this time.. and while we drank the coffee provided in the room.. this was just not going to suffice before a race. I mapped the nearest coffee shop and bam! a Dunkin' Donuts was a four minute walk away, just one block over! I left to go get us coffee! While I was there I grabbed us 2 toasted bagels with butter for a some carbs and a somewhat full belly before our run!
We geared up!

Peering out the room, we could see droves of zombie like bodies heading toward the start line, dawned in trash liners, we were wondering why we didn't think of that! But hey... we had our Brooks raincoats!! We were good!!

Out the door we went cold, rainy and windy. It didn't take long for my gloves to get completely soaked. now at the start line with ten minutes before the gun goes off... my hands are completely freezing! The temperature was about 43 degrees but felt like 31 or something! It was cold!
So the goal was a PR for Heather. Thats why we were here. Not for me. My role role in this as I saw it was to help make sure she achieved what she came here to do. The weather being like it was had her concerned maybe she wouldn't be able to do it. Wind and rain.... never good conditions for a positive race outlook! We were in corral 1 and hung towards the back. Our plan was to not go nuts right off the bat! Ease into it! Goal pace was 7:30 - 7:35. This would get us under Heather's previous time of 1:40.
The gun went off.

As we went under the arch we started out watches. We knew that just getting started was so much better than standing there. We will warm up. This won't be so bad!  The race started on Pacific Avenue just before 41st street and headed north up until 82nd Street, turning into Shore Drive. Up until that point we had headwinds for the first three miles! Shore drive is a tree-lined, two lane county road which we run about 3 miles on before turning on to Atlantic Avenue through the Military Base! Shore Drive protected us from the wind, suddenly this didn't seem so bad.
The 7:45 ish pace we had maintain against the wind for the first three miles was now turning into 7:20's. And then when we turned into the military base the wind suddenly shifted to our backs...

...a tailwind!

The gusts of wind were amazing. The push the wind gave us was just what we'd been hoping or and made the faster pace seem almost effortless.
And after those three miles at a 7:45 pace we really needed the faster pace to get our average pace down to where we needed it to be. At this point Heather and I were both in music land, settling in, and finding our happy place! I was was feeling good and all I could think of is that we have to keep this pace get it down to a 7:30 and maintain! Heather and I jostled back and forth in terms of running side by side and me being up front just a bit. My strategy was just to edge her along, slightly.. If she felt like she had to pick it up just a little to keep up with me then I was doing my job. I never wanted her to think I was leaving her.. I was just out in front enough to hopefully pull her a little closer.
I think it was working.

At one point she started pointing to other women runners... "I got my eye on her" she'd say. "let's get past her" and then after sometime, we would. Heather would then pick put someone else... "Her!", "Okay" I said.. Lets get 'em! That lasted for a little while and them we were refocused. Moving along steady. We were maintaining 7:20's and they didn't seem to be hard. We were surrounded by other runners and I was having fun! Pumping up volunteers to cheer as we ran by. They needed motivation as well.. after all they were having a harder tie than we were! We were moving, they were not! They must have been freezing!! We appreciated them being out there! Thats' some serious dedication!
As we looped back onto Pacific Avenue we had about a 5k to the finish line, maybe a little more! I knew at this point if Heather could maintain the current pace, about a 7:23 ish, the PR was guaranteed!
She was running strong! Determined.
As we made our way on to Atlantic and then onto the boardwalk towards the finish, our pace picked up, Heather was cruisin'! I was yelling, excited that she did it! Pumping her up the last mile was fun! She was smiling but I was most likely getting on her nerves! She was still trying to remain focused!

The finish line fast approaching, the clock read 1:38... and we crossed at 1:38:11 a 7:28 pace overall!

We crossed that finish line together. Hands held and raised in sweet victory! She had done it!

A PR Half!

We made our way through the shoot and head toward the tent!

The After Party
We rolled into the tent with the quickness! Beer and Stew is what we were after! And we found it, quite quickly, I might add! We grabbed a table and within just a minute or two, someone from behind asked to take our photo! I turned to find my old friend Christina at the helm of the camera! A quick hug ensued, I introduced her to Heather and we all chatted for a while! It had been a couple years since I had seen her!
We finished our beer and decide to go back to the room and change. Dry up and put on some warmer clothes on and head back! So that's what we did! While we were there we ran into some friends, had some great conversation, and got caught up! Heather and I even got some dancing in by the live band! They were not the greatest but they played some fun music and we were having a good time listening to it!!
After some few beers, we decide to call it a weekend!!
I'll call it a successful and super-fun weekend at that!!
Good times were had, Memories were made and a PR was achieved!
Happy Running everyone!! ...and May the wind always be at your back!


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