Highlights: Scenic, flat, abundant water stops/bathrooms, generous premiums, beer stops, after
Lowlights: wind/unpredictable weather, crazy ass protestor outside of my hotel room the night

I started officially training for the Shamrock Marathon in December. This was the target race for
the Charm City Run training group that I coach so I had a plan laid out from the beginning.
Even though the winter was mild, morning training runs were still brutally cold and we had some
good “wind training” since March came in like a lion. The weather can be a little iffy on the
beach in March and we were preparing for whatever we would get. Only one group run had to
be canceled due to weather so overall, we had a great training season and made lots of progress. I entered the race with 3 goals; sharing the experience with my first time marathoner,
supporting my 16 year old son running his first half marathon, and lastly to race it! I hadn’t put
in a good marathon race effort in a couple of years. I have enjoyed the distance at a leisurely
pace several times in the interim, but I know the struggle that will come with a race effort and
decided it was time to give it a go.

Generally, I’m not a fan of larger races.  I don’t like crowds, especially when trying to run a race. I’ve run MCM and Army 10 Miler where the crowds were a hinderance to pacing and
made the whole race experience and logistics overwhelming. My last several marathons have
been tiny though. I mean, there were times when I couldn’t see any other runners, and I do
need some kind of energy on the course. So, I was ready to immerse myself into a little larger
race. With about 7,000 runners starting together on Sunday morning for the full and half
marathons, this was a good sized race.  It was well managed, utilizing huge areas and it never
felt crowded. The corrals were spread out over several blocks and there was a countdown
every 2 minutes to accommodate the waves. There was no bobbing and weaving required.
After about 2 miles I settled into a comfortable pace and felt great. The water stops were so
long that even when I thought I’d pass it up as to not interrupt my flow, there were so many wide
open volunteers calling “water” that I couldn’t resist grabbing a cup. I think I was able to take
something from every stop to supplement the pack that I carried with me, enabling me to stay
fueled and hydrated throughout.

As I said, the half and full marathoners started together so the course first made a 13.1 mile
loop north and back to the start/finish where the half marathoners soared to the finish line, and
the full runners continued heading south for another 13.1 loop. The first 13.1 loop felt like it was
all downhill. I know I run a lot of elevation in my day to day, but I just didn’t notice any inclines at
all. After dropping off the half marathon runners, we ran on the boardwalk for the first time. My
random music shuffle played “Cake by the Ocean” and the wind was pushing me forward.
Those couple of miles on the boardwalk were the best I felt the entire race! Then we made a
turn, into the wind, onto a ramp, going over a bridge. Ouch! I thought this race was flat ☹ Ok, it
was almost entirely flat but that complete turnaround from feeling like I was flying down the
boardwalk to pushing into the wind uphill really hit me.

The next several miles, I struggled to rally. The 4:20 pace group came up behind me and I attached myself to them for as long as I could. Then back over that bridge! And then back onto the boardwalk where that tailwind was now a 40MPH headwind. Two girls running together came up behind me and I drafted on them. This helped me a lot! I think being glued to their backs was unnerving them and they slowed
way down so I shot passed them, energized after being shielded from the wind for a few

Those last couple of miles never seem to go by fast enough. Now off the boardwalk and the
wind was tempered by the buildings, but I was still running straight into it. The course would
overshoot the finish line and make a turn around to go through the chute. The crowds get thick
and the energy is high. A spectator yells “this is it, give it all you’ve got!” and I look at her say
“ok” and go! I really need that one person at the end of every race to give me a kick! I
finished with a marginal PR that I know I can continue chipping away at and a great experience
for both my son and my first timer. Mission accomplished!