Posted by: runsinthefamily | March 21, 2011

My 2nd ever DNF: Shamrock Marathon

Two weeks and a day before Shamrock,  I tweaked my right hamstring on my last long run, and hobbled ( ie walked!) home.  A massage, multiple ART appointments, rest days and finally a few running days later, I decided to go for it – we were off to the Shamrock Marathon in beautiful Virginia Beach, Virginia.   Unfortunately my body didn’t cooperate!  Just a few days before the marathon, I came down with a monster sinus cold/virus.  The day before we were to leave I seriously thought about canceling, but told myself – hey, it’s just a cold, how bad can it be?  I didn’t realize how much the cold would take away from my energy.

DH and I left Saturday morning for the race  – airplane flights when you have blocked sinuses?  No problem!  ( ugh – my ears now hurt).  Amid much coughing, sneezing and blowing of noses, we landed in Norfolk and made our way to our hotel and then the expo.  It was a beautiful day – sunny, warm, a little windy – but really, just perfect.  We were told the day before had set a record for temperature – 83° !  but the day of the marathon was supposed to be cloudy and in the 50s.  We picked up my number, did a little shopping, ( lots of gels and sports beans!) and then headed back to meet my friend Joe and his girlfriend for dinner.

Ah, dinner.  The food was fantastic – the wait was long!  We had reservations, but the restaurant was really overwhelmed by all the marathoners looking for pasta.  After dinner I had an early bedtime while DH watched some NCAA basketball.  With my body worn out from the cold, I had no problem falling asleep.

The next morning, I woke up around 6:40 and headed down to the lobby for breakfast.  The marathon starts at 8am – the half started at 7am(in the dark!).  I watched the sun rise over the ocean while eating my bagel – did I mention how our hotel room overlooked the ocean?  It was beautiful to see and hear the waves crashing on the shore – but oh, that means it’s windy!!  I hurried up to put on my running clothes and made my way down the street to the start.  Those first few steps outside – brrrr!  COLD and windy!  Yikes!  I had some cough drops and a packet of kleenex with me, an extra long sleeved tee to throw to DH when I saw him around 12 miles, but brrr – it was cold!  I made it to the starting area only to hear the race was delayed for 15 minutes – something about construction, never quite figured that out.  I found Joe, found the 4 hour pace group, got in the corral, and finally, finally, we were off.

The race first loops south, then back to the starting area and loops north.  I passed DH at the one mile mark by our hotel, and knew I would see him again by our hotel as we were looping back.  That first mile felt great – I felt strong, the pace seemed easy – I knew I was holding back, easily running with the pace group, thinking this was perfect.  But by mile 2 I was feeling the effects of the cold – I suddenly realized my head and my nose felt horrible, I felt dehydrated from all the blowing of my nose, and my energy was zapped – completely gone.  I just put my head down and stayed with the 4 hour group – there were a lot of us, and the two pacers were fun to listen to.  We went up and over a bridge – the only hill on the course from what I’ve been told – and headed south a bit more.  I grabbed some water at a water stop and fell a bit behind, but caught up again to the pacers after a bit.  Then, around mile 6 or so, I could feel my hamstring – not a twinge so much, but an awareness that it wasn’t happy.  The cold wind blowing on my legs kept them from warming up, and I think it was causing my hamstring to tighten up a bit.  Around mile 8 I had already decided it wasn’t my day – my hamstring was tightening up more, I could run, but I could tell it wasn’t going to last the entire race:  or if it did, I probably would be injured, and not able to run for most of the spring.  So I decided to stop at the halfway point.  Why at 13.1 miles?  I don’t know – I could have decided to stop at our hotel, around the 11.5 mile mark, but knowing I at least lasted a half marathon made me feel better.

I saw my husband around mile 11 and let him know what was going on.  I almost changed my mind – but knowing my goal is to requalify for Boston next year, I’ve already finished enough of these dang races to know what that feels like -and knowing stopping would give me another chance this spring, I walked off the course just after the 13 mile mark.

I generally feel pretty good about my decision – my legs feel fantastic today, I’m not sore one iota – but I kinda wish I had finished to get the medal to show my daughter!  It really was a beautiful marathon, a beautiful town – I will definitely go back one day.  Meanwhile, a marathon on May 15th is calling my name!



  1. I’m so sorry Connie. Great job listening to your body though. It was a very wise decision. No need to injure yourself when you have Cleveland coming up in May!

  2. Sorry that things didn’t work out for you this year, but there is no sense of putting yourself through that torture when it’s not your day. I think you made a wise decision. I DNFed at Shamrock last year because of the heat. It was not a pretty experience.

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