Shamrock On

I'm running an 8k tomorrow morning and my second full marathon in as many months the following morning. That's 31.17 miles over 2 days, for those of you keeping score at home. Some feelings I've had over the last week about this are: apathetic; uninterested; unprepared. Anxious didn't even make the list because that would require me to actually feel something and the truth is, I haven't.

I have a few reasons for this, not the least of which is a nagging pain (at worst)/uncomfortable feeling (at best) working its way up and down the inner top of my left thigh. I cut a few runs short and skipped a couple altogether. I took complete rest days. It didn't help. In the last 2 weeks, my longest run was 8 miles. Lately, getting through 3 miles has been a serious struggle. It's not usually painful, so I don't really think I'm injured or at risk of injury. It's just that I'm not into it. That shouldn't really be a surprise considering I've been training literally non-stop for the last 9 months. I should have taken a break after my marathon in January, but I didn't want to lose momentum. I wanted to run a second marathon. I wanted to run my dad's first marathon with him. I wanted to complete the Shamrock Whale Challenge. Basically, I wanted to be a badass.

I don't feel ready, mentally or physically, for the task I've placed on myself this weekend. Maybe it's that my legs don't feel 100%, maybe it's that I've been out of town, maybe it's that my dad (who is usually my biggest cheerleader) isn't being very supportive of me also running the 8k. Maybe it's that I haven't had a good run since my 20-miler 3 weeks ago. I just don't feel like I'd hope to feel on the eve of a race. I can't change the physical part at this point, but I can change the mental part. As race day is now imminent, it dawned on me that I've been thinking about this race all wrong. I've been looking at it as just another race when really, it is and always will be something really special for me.

I participated in Shamrock weekend for the first time in 2012. A few months prior I had managed to snag a spot in the half marathon hours before it sold out. With the knowledge that my longest run ever up to that point was only seven miles, I nervously clicked "Register."  I found a training plan online and even though I told myself I was fully committed, I wasn't. I gave it a good enough effort, but not 100% like I should have. When race day came, I spent 2 hours 42 minutes and 21 seconds learning the true meaning of the words defeat and victory. I wasn't as prepared as I could have been. The race was not rainbows and butterflies. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done in my life. I almost gave up on myself halfway through. But I didn't give up. I became a half-marathoner that day, despite never fully believing I could or would ever be one. To this day, it stands as the proudest day of my life (even above finishing the marathon).

In 2013, I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the previous year. I followed a training plan to a T, I got really comfortable with running 10+ miles, and I knew I was going to crush it on race day. I gave it everything I had until I ran smack into "the wall" at Mile 12. I stopped to walk. I looked at my watch. I saw the time goal I had worked so hard for, the one that at the beginning of my training cycle was my super reach goal, and now was a mere 10 minutes away from being reality, start to slip away. I had a few spurts of gathering as much strength as I could muster, but I couldn't sustain it for long. The seconds kept ticking by. I got to a "Now or Never" moment and had to make a decision - if I still wanted that goal, I had to run RIGHT NOW and not stop until I crossed the finish line. So that's what I did. The goal time was 2:10, and even though I was technically 14 seconds over that, I counted it as a victory because I knew I really gave everything I had.

Going into the 2014 race, I had forgotten what Shamrock was really about for me. Am I crazy for attempting another marathon, let alone this challenge, 2 months after my first marathon? Yes. Most likely. Probably. Was I crazy to run a half marathon in 2012, when a year prior I couldn't even run a quarter mile, when on my best day I could maybe run an 11:30 mile? I sure thought so then. Was I crazy in 2013 to attempt to take over 30 minutes off my time from the previous year? When I toed the line on race day, a voice in the back of my head told me I was.

Running has always been a struggle for me. It has always been about pushing, just a little bit more, then a little more, then a little more. Can I make it to the end of this block, can I run another mile even though I'm already past my distance PR, can I hold this 8:00 pace for just a couple more minutes to finish this interval? The answer has always been yes. Looking back, Shamrock has always been the race that defines that spirit and what running really means to me. This race has always been about challenging myself, pushing myself to do things that I never thought possible. I don't know why I thought this year would be any different. I'm taking all my months of training and a will to succeed with me on race days (both of them!). Nothing left to it but to do it! Shamrock on!


  1. You can do it!!! You'll be so glad you did when you're there running with your dad. [Although as a side note, if you're really feeling injured, don't be a hero.] Be awesome and have fun!

  2. I love that you're focusing on the positive and why you're running both of these races!! There's so much unpredictability in running but the one thing you can control is your attitude. The thing I've learned most about running these past few years is how much of it is a mental game! And that come race day all the hard work has really been done. The long runs at the crack of dawn, through the good and bad weather, and keeping up with the training plan even when life gets crazy! Races are just a celebration of all the hard work you've been doing and a great reward to yourself because in the end, that's the only one getting you through it! Have a great race and enjoy the marathon with your dad! How amazing will that be to say and a great memory for you two to have!! Can't wait to hear how it goes :)

  3. Hey there, just stumbled upon your blog and love it! I've always wanted to run a marathon or a half...hahaha The only thing I've run is a bunch of 5k's, I'm jealous of your motivation! Can't wait to read more of your adventures