Shamrock Weekend Recap: Yuengling Marathon

Shamrock weekend is over! I completed the Whale Challenge and am now a 2 x marathoner!

I wish I had a happy race report to give but truthfully, this was a hard fought battle. It just wasn't my day. This recap isn't meant to be negative, but I'm putting the facts out there and the fact is I didn't feel so hot for a lot of different reasons. But before I go selling myself short, you should know that a lot of awesome things happened, best of all my dad and I crossed the finish line of his first marathon hand in hand! Two years ago he ran my first half with me and I loved repaying that favor at his first full (even though he could have left me in the dust 10 times over).

The first half of the race took us south, away from the main oceanfront area. From what I understand, it was the same as the Rock n Roll half marathon course, but I have never run that because it's always Labor Day weekend, and to running long distance in the brutal heat I say, "Lol, no thank you." We turned around right before Mile 6 to start heading back north (which is the direction we went for the next roughly 16 miles). This part was pretty uneventful, aside from running through Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base. There were a few spots where Marines were out cheering us on, but one right before Mile 8 was particularly amazing. There must have been 20 or 30 Marines lined up giving us high fives. It seemed never-ending! It was so fun and such a boost! 

The next few miles were also uneventful around Mile 11 when we made it onto the Boardwalk - and started running directly into a strong wind (this continued until Mile 16, for the record). Bad times. I got to the halfway point and all I could think about was how I didn't want to do run anymore. I didn't want to quit, I just wanted to be done.

At 16 we finally made it out of the wind for a little while. A little after Mile 18 I saw my friend and personal race photographer. After he took my picture he ran to meet the rest of my peeps. When he got to them I saw a group of people but couldn't make out exactly who was there. I knew my mom and husband would be there but from the distance I was able to make out my brother-in-law (thanks to his red jacket!) and was SO surprised that he and my sister-in-law had come out. Even though we just saw them on our trip last week, I was so excited to see them!

After what felt like an eternity on Shore Drive, we finally got to Fort Story around Mile 19. By this point my stomach, which had been bothering me all day, was cramping up pretty badly. I kept trying to tell myself, "Only 7 more many times have you run 7 miles?" and repeat for the next couple mile markers. It didn't work. I did a lot of walking through this part. Every time I started to run for more than a few minutes, the stitch in my side would get worse. I tried to stretch it out, breathe it out, etc. but nothing was really working. It was also around this time that I had developed the biggest blister ever on the bottom of my foot at the base of my big toe (that piece of skin is currently split open and burns if anything touches it, like shoes or the floor - you're welcome for that TMI!). Oh and the wind came back to greet us too, right in our faces! Needless to say, Fort Story also felt like an eternity. At one point I actually said, "All I want to do is keep walking and drink Gatorade." Oh but I did get a half banana that must have been laced with crack because that was seriously the best banana I've ever had. So at least there was that.

Once we got out of Fort Story after Mile 22, we had the wind at our backs for the rest of the way. I had told my dad and his friend several times that they were free to leave my struggling self behind, and they finally did sometime during Mile 23. I watched them get further and further away until I couldn't really see them anymore, and then I panicked at the thought of not being with my dad as he finished his first marathon. I decided then and there that I needed to start RUNNING - not jogging, not bouncy walking, straight up running. I gave it everything I had and after about a half mile I finally caught up to him. We had a couple miles left and we ran, walked, ran, walked, ran, get the picture.

With less than a mile to go I tried to pull it together, and I was finally able to with about half a mile left. Before I knew it we were turning onto the boardwalk, and the finish line was in sight. As much as I don't care for the Shamrock course, there is something about making that last turn onto the Boardwalk, seeing the ocean, the spectators cheering, the statue of King Neptune, and the finish line ahead, that makes everything up to that point just vanish. I really didn't have much left in the tank at that point so it was slow and steady. When we saw my photog friend less than .2 to the end, I grabbed my dad's hand and we ran it in and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand! We finished in 4:56:58 (11:20 pace), which was only 7 minutes 59 seconds under my first marathon time (11:01 pace - it felt like MUCH more than 8 minutes of extra suffering). He was so excited to have finished, and even though I felt so bad for making him totally miss his 4:45 goal, we did finish in under 5 hours which has always been the time he's said he wanted to beat.

There is a whole series of these photos at the end, I can't decide which one I like best (because I love them all), but I think it's this one. Maybe you can't really tell, but that's my dad going, "YES! I did it!" and me tearing up. YOU GUYS!!! My dad has always been a better runner than me but I know he never really knew if this moment was in his future. My plan all along was for him to run the Charleston Marathon with my as both of our first, but he tore his Achilles last June and was out of the running game until November. That was 4 months ago!

The race itself was not rainbows and butterflies and unicorns, but did I really expect it to be? It was a humbling experience, for sure. There were tears, lots of tears, not like full-on crying tears, but tears nonetheless. There were not enough positive mantras in the world to get me through some of those miles, and I'm full of them, trust me! I don't know if running the race Saturday had anything to do with how I felt (I really don't think so but obviously I can't be sure), but either way I'm still glad I did it. I'm glad I pushed myself and challenged myself. My first marathon was an amazing experience, and it was a challenge in the way that running a marathon is a challenge, but I never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone at that race. With the faster-than-I-would-have-liked pace we started out at, the brutal wind, and the boring course, I was WAY out of my comfort zone during Shamrock. I found out where my physical and mental limits were. Humbled is the best word I can think of to describe it. The marathon put up a good fight, but in the end, I crossed the finish line. I won.

Some final thoughts....
  • On the race: This was my 3rd straight year participating in Shamrock Weekend and I love everything about it - except the courses. This was my 3rd time running the half course (since I've done the half twice and the 2nd half of the marathon course IS the half course), and I have hated it every time. There is nothing to look at. It's boring. Maybe if I didn't live here or hadn't run a million races at the Oceanfront I'd feel differently, I don't know. But I do know that I've run 5 different half marathon courses and this one is my least favorite and most mentally challenging, because it's just not that interesting. The first half of the marathon course wasn't much better. I knew that going into this, and that's one of the big reasons I didn't choose to do Shamrock as my first marathon. I've also never run this race in nice weather, and the last 2 years have been pretty miserable (wind is not my friend). 
  • On the Whale Challenge: I love that this was offered. Since it was, obviously I had to do it since I'm an over-achiever like that, but I wouldn't have been sad if it weren't an option. This was the first time I'd ever run 2 races back-to-back, or even run the day before running long distance. I have no idea if the 8k contributed to my struggle in the marathon, but there's obviously the possibility that it did. I really wanted to complete a back-to-back race challenge, though, even though I intended the second race to be a half marathon, not full. I'm glad I did it, that I pushed myself to my limit and succeeded. And that I got to walk around after the race feeling like a boss with my two medals clankity-clank-clanking together.
  • On running two marathons in (just under) 2 months: My first marathon was January 18, second was March 16. That's 8 weeks and 1 day in between them - in other words, not a lot of time! I can't say that I 100% recommend doing this. I'm proud to be able to say that I did it, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I did it because my dad wanted to run it, and because I wanted to run a second marathon at some point this year. My idea was that I had already put in the hard training, and if I waited to do a second one in the fall, I'd have to go through the whole training cycle again. It seemed like a good idea to bank on the training I'd already done and the momentum I'd built up, but it definitely put a lot of pressure on me to have to turn around after Charleston and get ready for Shamrock. I know I didn't allow myself enough recovery time after the first one. Nothing was wrong and nothing hurt, but I struggled more than usual. I was more tired than usual. The actual pains came a few weeks before race day and I started to wonder if I had simply run out of gas. I played it cool for a couple weeks and was able to complete the marathon without any sign of injury. But if you've made it this far, you know that the race was no picnic. I didn't feel like I had trained enough, or maybe it was just the opposite - maybe I was overtrained. I wouldn't change what I did, but I don't think I'll run 2 marathons this close together again. 
  • On my future plans: First and foremost, I am taking some actual rest and recovery time this time. I plan to spend this week completely resting, with maybe some yoga thrown in to stretch out these tired legs, but nothing crazy. Depending on how I feel, next week may be more of the same, or maybe a little bit of running, biking, and/or swimming (which, aside from the fact that I can't really move, sounds so amazing right now). Whatever I do, it will be because I want to do it, not because I feel like I have to do it. I've been a slave to a training plan since last June. I had planned to tackle my first Half Ironman triathlon in June and do some races in April and May to get ready, but I'm just not sure at this point if I'm ready to jump into another training plan. I don't really know what my goals are moving forward, and I know that's okay. I don't have to decide right now, today. It just feels weird knowing I've been chugging along on the training train for so long. I don't do well without a plan, so it won't be long before I pick up another one. I just don't know yet what the end goal of that plan will be. I have a lot of options and am excited to see what the future holds but for now...I plan to enjoy my recovery time!


  1. I completely hear what you're saying about the banana. I had one at the end of my 10k a couple of weeks ago, and I swear it was the best thing I've ever eaten in my life :)

  2. I have to say the half course IS boring- and that's coming from someone who doesn't live there ;) It was honestly the most boring course I have ever run. If it wasn't for the people around me keeping me entertained, I don't know what I would have done.

    Also, congrats on finishing your second full! I'm sorry it was so tough. Enjoy the rest week!

  3. Ahh I got a little choked up reading about that picture of you and your dad crossing the finish line together!!! :) SO proud of you!!!!! You're a beast!!!!! Who cares how much you run, walk, finished!!!

  4. Oh wow.... you are AMAZING! Congratulations! I am sorry it was kind of a rough go.... but what an accomplishment. I look up to you SO much!

  5. Oh man, girl. That blister sounds terrible! Good grief. What a great picture, though. I seriously can't believe you turned around and ran another marathon so soon! Although I see your point about going through an entire cycle again, which is what I had to do running marathons in April and December. I think you should definitely take your rest time. I know for me, I took about 2 months "off," and by that I mean I didn't have a plan, I just ran when I felt like it, which ended up being 25-30 miles for the month. Not a lot at all, but it was what I needed mentally and physically. Great job! I'd love to run a race where I can see the ocean at the finish! P.S. You're linking up on Friday for Runners Tell All riiiight? ;)

  6. Congrats! How awesome you got to go across the finish line with your Dad! I've always wanted to run a half and then a full but I haven't been able to do it. I'm not physically fit to do it yet.

  7. I live in the area and thought about you during all the hype. You may not have felt great, but under 5 hours is not too shabby! Running a marathon at all gets my respect.

  8. For what's it worth, I think you did a great job! It must be nice to cross the finish line together with your Dad too :]
    I also like that you just mention that running is not always sugar and rainbows.

    I don't know if you'd be interested, but would you like to join the Running High interview series I started with blogging runners or running bloggers? Let me know if you'd like too!
    Have a great week :]

  9. Awesome!
    I will look around on your blog and come up with a Q&A!
    If you want to cover a specific topic, please let me know.

    To which emailadress can I send the Q&A? :)