I survived Shamrock: 2017 Dolphin Challenge (Half Marathon recap)

I’m not going to lie- this race sucked! The wind was strong. The rain was heavy. It was cold. Any of those elements alone would have been a challenge, we got all of them together. I am SO thankful that there was a “we” that I was a part of though.

I actually remembered to put out a “flat me.” I was so paranoid that I wouldn’t have the right gear combination. I dressed for the wind and the temperature planning to use a poncho for some of the rain.


I took an UBER to the Oceanfront around 5:45am Sunday Morning in case I drank too much after the race. An unintended perk was getting as close to the hotel as I could. The J&A training team had a big meeting room at one of the hotels close to the starting line to gather. Considering the weather this team perk was worth the whole cost of the training team. I got to stay dry, meet up with my friends, and stretch before the race.

The first picture is all fake, the second picture is how I really felt about having to run soon in that weather.


It was so hard to keep a positive attitude. We had all worked so hard and come so far for this moment. This was not the moment that we trained for. It was disappointing and I was dreading leaving the warm cozy hotel. I had to adjust my expectations of the race. I had to keep reminding myself that we were all in this together and that the adjustment was NOT a reflection of my training. There was no way to fully prepare for this. I was one with my wolfpack. Together we would all make it to the end.


Before we headed out we threw on our ponchos and took a deep breath. We walked to the starting line minutes before the race began.

The first few miles were BRUTAL! The wind and rain were in our faces. It was so encouraging still seeing the bagpipe players out there and all the brave and local spectators on the side cheering for their runners. The poncho was being tossed around by the rain, but I wasn’t ready to let go of it.

For the first few miles I just kept repeating “one foot in front of the other” over and over again in my head. I was with six people from my team and we all kept checking in with each other to make sure everyone was still hanging in there. Mile 3 we finally got to shore drive. There was a line of volunteers giving high 5s. That gave me an extra boost of energy and then BAM… tree coverage from a lot of the wind and rain! Okay, I can do this I remember thinking.

The next two miles along shore drive FLEW by. I don’t know if it was just the lack of wind/rain, the fact I got to have my GU (salted caramel YUM), the jokes along the course or what. Our group thinned out as Adrian went faster and John went slower. The ladies kept it together. We were all in our matching shirts ready to take on the rest of the race. I really felt good during this Shore drive stretch.

Then we turned to the Ft. Story entrance. Finally I felt some of the water soak through to my feet. The wind started back. The rain started back. Fortunately the rain wasn’t as bad as it had been before. It was still pretty miserable. We crossed the 10k timing mat with an 11:19min pace. Much slower than we had planned, I had to remind myself that expectations were adjusted. That wind for the first three miles really was brutal. It was also far more important to me to stay with my pack than to try to do it alone. I don’t know if I could have done it alone. Things kept getting harder. We were blasted with sand, wind, and rain as we went through Fort Story. The highlight for me was when Melody started singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” I of course joined her.

Just after Mile 9 we finally left Ft. Story and the wind was behind us. I took off my poncho finally. I didn’t feel too bad without it since the rain slowed to a drizzle. I did lose one of my GUs during the transition. I was glad I packed an extra!

Just before we got to mile 10 we found two of the pacers, Kristy and Steve!! That was an AWESOME boost of encouragement. We even had people around me say they wanted friends like them. Those two spent HOURS on the course cheering on and running with every member who was running the half and full marathon that morning. They completed between 18-22 miles just going back and forth around the 9.5-10 mile mark. (I don’t remember the exact number). It was such an awesome boost!

Unfortunately, right after I crashed emotionally. There were three more miles left and I was just DONE! My calves were getting tight. My mind wasn’t in the right place. This is where I would have just said forget it and walked if I didn’t have my girls with me. They got me though it though. Knowing I wasn’t alone. Knowing that I trained with them and we were all strong enough to finish this. I didn’t want to get left behind and I powered through.

At the 12 mile marker I increased my pace wanting to finish this race strong (and as soon as possible.) Our group broke a part a little bit, Tasha hung with me though. We saw a big rock outside of one of the hotels and made a comment to each other that that is what we started out the season with. (We had a break the rock theme for our season. Every training run we chipped away at the rock little by little so we could carry it.)

With less than half a mile to go I saw Adrian up ahead and raced to catch up with him. After that it was just a race to the finish. I had put in so much energy to catch up to him I knew if I slowed down there would be no way I could speed up again so I kept my sights forward full speed ahead. I originally had this vision of having a cute finish line photo, in that moment it really didn’t matter though. I just wanted to FINISH!

Just like that it was over. I was done. We were done. My team mates crossed the finish line moments behind me and we hugged and celebrated our accomplishment. We did it together. It felt SO GOOD. Suddenly when people asked how the race was I started defaulting my answer to “it was great.” That is how I felt, but I would quickly correct myself and say it actually sucked, but I FELT great. Haha.

We went to the after party and on the way got some pictures ringing the PR bell. I knocked over 12 minutes off my previous half marathon PR! It felt SO GOOD! Again, I was cold and wet, that sucked… but emotionally I felt SO GOOD!

At the after party we had another team perk that was well worth the price of the training team. We had a team area where our bags were waiting for us and we had access to two changing tents where we could put on dry clothes to enjoy the party in.

You can tell how much happier I was in my dry clothes and wolfpack leggings. I also had these crazy flip-flop socks that my sister got me from Japan. They were prefect for my oofos!


The after party was really cold, so I didn’t really partake in the beer like I had planned. It was still an awesome time. We even went out to watch some of our team members cross the finish line for their first marathon finish! That was really exciting to see. They had some hail thrown in to their crappy conditions since they started later. What a bad morning for a race. Everyone finished in high spirits though! It was so exciting to celebrate everyone’s achievements. PR or not, EVERYONE was celebrating their finish.

The party even kept going the next day! Celebrating lunch, Happy Hour, and even dinner for some people! I am so thankful for all of the wonderful people and the joy that this training team has brought me over the last few months.


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