Monday, March 19, 2012

Shamrock Half Marathon Race Recap

Wow what a fantastic and fun way to kick off my 26th birthday!  Running the Shamrock Half was an absolutely awesome and perfect start to my day.  My sidekick Julia was back for her first post injury race and I had lots of friends and family there to support me and join in on the celebration.

I realize that my "Birthday Suit" does not match at all. ha!  My Mom was so embarassed to claim me as her child at the race.
 Why I chose this particular race:  A few have asked and as I posted here this was a very tough (definitely not a PR) course but there was a method to my madness in choosing it. 
  • My parents live literally 2 miles from the start/finish.
  • The race is cheap!  $35.00 for a half marathon...yes please!
  • It is a loop course.  Meaning no butt crack of dawn ride on a bus up a canyon.
  • It fell perfectly into my Boston training plan.
  • If I could handle 800 foot elevation gain in just 13.1 miles I was sure to be prepared for the 376 total elevation gain over 26.2 miles at Boston.
Pre-Race Analysis:  I decided about a week before the race that rather than tapering and running it as a "key" race I would simply use it as a Boston tune-up run.  My only goal for the race was a good solid workout and some good marathon paced tempo miles.  I already had 60 miles on my legs for the week going into the race so to say my legs weren't necessarily "fresh" would probably be an understatement.  I just wanted this race to be a good dress rehearsal for Boston.  I wanted to practice fueling, plugging into a consistant effort, and drinking at all of the aide stations.

Pre-Race:  My Dad drove me up to the start and Julia and I did a quick little 2 mile shake out run.  I wanted to get 18-20 miles in for the day but was warned to save the majority of my miles for after the race.  By the time we got back from the warm-up the race was starting literally!  We jumped in and off we went.

Miles 1-3:  7:10, 8:01, 7:18 The 1st mile felt really smooth and relaxed and my friend Cam was running with me so we talked and caught up.  The 2nd mile I contemplated DNF'ing but instead I just kept plodding along.  Mile 2 was all gradual uphill and it really just freaking sucked.  When I saw the slow time on my watch I was discouraged but kept trotting forward (literally felt like I was barely moving although the effort was there).  Mile 3 I was back on top of the world and feeling good.

Me and my friend Cam who was such a good sport and ran with me the entire way. 

Miles 4-6:  8:01, 7:55, 7:47 uphill, uphill, uphill!  These miles were honestly the toughest of the entire race for me.  Mentally seeing these paces was discouraging but I tried not to focus on the garmin at all but rather the effort.  My time did not matter to me I just wanted a consistent effort.  Afterall I was just looking for marathon paced miles anyway right?  I really tried to work on positive reinforcement during these miles.  I took a Gu at mile 5.5.

Miles 7-9:  7:27, 7:09, 7:55  Miles 7 and 8 felt awesome!  I think they were mostly flat or gradual downhill but after climbing for 3 miles straight it felt like a huge relief just to have a flat surface.  The flat did not last long as by mile 9 we were trekking it uphill again.  The weatherman had blessed me with a birthday miracle that lasted until exactly mile 9 when the wind picked up and we were running into gusting headwinds.  I took a second Gu with caffiene this time at mile 9.5.

Miles 10-11:  8:00, 7:03  Mile 10 was literally straight uphill on gravel.  I thought I was lost because suddenly I was in a trail race......but there were runners in front of me so I just kept following them.  I even stopped and walked once during this mile the headwind, hill, and dust was so crazy.  Luckily once I reached the top of mount Kilimanjaro I was rewarded with some much deserved downhill.  By mile 11 I was ready to get down to business.

Miles 12-13.1:  7:30, 6:37, 5:52  Just a few more hills to deal with in mile 12 and then I was home free.  The last hill in mile 12 was hard mentally but I just ignored my garmin, turned on my music full blast, and kept pumping my arms.  Mile 13 was by far my favorite of the race.  The headwind was insane (probably 20mph) but it was a gradual downhill and after dealing with the constant uphill I felt like I was flying!  When I hit the mile 13 sign I kicked and pumped it into the finish as fast as I could.

I did it!!  Woo Hoo!

Finish Time:  1:38:38/7:31 pace.  4th place female, 1st place Age group 25-29

Obviously not a PR for me and actually one of my worst half marathon times but I could not be more thrilled with my performance!  I have never felt so great at the end of a race and although my paces do not show it my effort was 100% consistant for the entire 13.1 miles. 

Me, Julia, and Ken after the race.

Post Race:  I waited for my friend Ken to run in and he totally rocked it in 1:44.  After seeing Ken finish I jogged back a bit for Julia.  I was so excited when I saw her storming down the hill and was able to run her in for the last mile.  She completely smashed the race after just coming back from an injury and finished in 2:02.  After she finished we jogged a cooldown and I ended the day with 18.75 miles.

Julia running in the last mile.  Love the look on her face!  So happy just be back out there racing again.

Post Race Analysis:   I got exactly what I wanted out of this race and I had so much fun running it.  This race capped off my 3rd consecutive week of 75-80 mile weeks and it proved to me that I am truly growing and maturing as a runner.  Running is a definitely a learning process and I am absolutely enjoying every step of the journey.  I loved the challenge this course presented, I loved the shirts & medals, and heck I still somehow pulled off first in my age group too!  Cheers to an all around awesome experience!

The plaque that I won for taking 1st in my age group!
And from there on out the Birthday celebration was on!!  More to come on that soon.  But I must say that something about turning 26 has me thinking that this is definitely going to be the year of the marathon for me.

I hope you all celebrated St. Patty's Day, had a fabulous weekend, and most importantly remembered to wear green and eat green mint icecream!!! :)


  1. Happy Birthday Rachelle! Great job on the race, and I think you look adorable in your race outfit, matching colors or not!

  2. Great job! Way to get exactly what YOU wanted from the race... that's hard to do sometimes. We totally celebrated with homemade shamrock shakes! Love the outfit! :-P

  3. Great race Rachelle and happy birthday! Only 4 more weeks to go! You have got some great milage in! I am excited for you! Keep up the good work!

  4. haha. i would have never noticed the non-matching attire. i just thought it was cute. i laughed at our start line pic because i look ginormous and naked compared to you. haha. omg. too funny.

    i seriously lit up when i saw you that last mile. i was so excited to hear how you did because after seeing those front 2 women i knew you had to be not too far behind them. i was hoping to see you so i could yell at you to kick it into gear and catch them ;) proud of you for running so strong and not quitting or calling your parents at mile 2 :) congrats on a great race! and a fun bday!

  5. Yay! I'm so proud of you. You are so talented and I loved your outfit. Way to go sister. And that mileage is insane buddy.

  6. You did super awesome! I hope you didn't think I was some weird lady saying hello to you around mile 6ish.

    You are truly inspiring Rachelle!!

  7. Great job little lady!! You are amazing to me, after running all of those miles throughout the week you still killed it! You are going to do AMAZING on Boston :) I think you are my hero ;) I also enjoyed seeing Cameron make a blog appearance! I hope you had the best birthday ever and I think your "birthday suit" was quite dashing :)

  8. happy birthday and congrats on an awesome race!!

  9. Congrats on a wonderful race, speedy mc speederson! Great job with the consistent effort and logging those miles. You are amazing!!

  10. You. Rule!!! I am so impressed. Way to go with your mileage too! And happy birthday. And bring on the year of the marathon!

  11. Nice job Rachelle! You are doing so awesome!!

  12. Great job, sounds like an awesome day! Gah, y'all have most gorgeous backdrops for races!!! :) mountains, mountains :)

  13. Very nice job friend! I think you are absolutely amazing (in many ways)!

  14. its the feeling is what matters most and the support, which you had!

  15. Such an awesome recap! That race is killer, but both you and Julia had amazing performances. Congrats on taking first in your age group! You truly are an amazing runner and you've grown so much in the last year or so with your running. It definitely seems like you have a plan of action and that you are being strategic. Love it!

    Happy birthday! I'm also a March birthday baby. It's a great month! :)

  16. Long time no comment! :) What a great race you had, congrats! And Happy Birthday!

  17. I have been waaaaaiiiiiting for this! Amazing, amazing performance. You will be totally ready for Boston. Plus you'll be running at SEA LEVEL. Hello?! That will be awesomesauce. It has been so fun to watch you grow as a runner. I started reading your blog after you ran the Ogden marathon. I cried for you when you BQ'd at Utah Valley, and I'm CERTAIN I will cry again when I read about your performance at the Boston Marathon. Love it! You are incredible.

  18. GREAT job! you and julia are such good friends :) and I am SO PROud OF YOU!!!!!!! WOW Rachelle, you rocked this out of the water! what an awesome time and 4th! WOWOWOOWW :)

    can't wait for boston!

  19. CONGRATS Rachelle!! :) so proud of you! hills aren't easy but, you stayed positive. Utah courses seem either easy or hard. Lots of uphills or lots of downhills. What do you think?! great re-cap. love the deets! I just know you're going to do so great in Boston!

    HAPPY 26th!! :))

    hugs!! Pam

  20. Happy Birthday to you a little late! I'm glad you had such a good race on a tough course and with wind! You are such a rock star!


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