2015 Shamrock 8K Race Recap Part 1

March 24, 2015

Eight months ago I signed up for the Shamrock Dolphin Challenge.

In August I learned I was a member of the 2014-2015 J&A Ambassador Team – which made me even more excited to run Shamrock, one of their marquee events!  Over the next couple of months I learned several of my friends/fellow bloggers would also be in attendance – it was going to be a fun weekend. 


I am a packer procrastinator extraordinaire – I tend to pack early in the morning (usually following a few loads of laundry).  I am pretty good at following my list, but that day I forgot my arm sleeves (no biggie since I always overpack and I included a few long sleeved shirts).  I love my GRID Foam Roller from Trigger Point, fits nicely in my carry-on sized luggage.

I took a half day from work on Friday and figured it should take me around 3.5 hours from DC to Virginia Beach, VA based on some scientific Google Mapping the week of the race (I kid about the scientific).  I left my office around noon and did not arrive in Virginia Beach until 5:00-5:30pm.  Traffic was pretty horrendous by Fredericksburg, VA and I-64.

Instead of checking in to my hotel, I went straight to the Virginia Beach Convention Center (yes the same place as the Surf ‘n’ Santa location) to pick up my bibs and volunteer at the J&A booth. 

Packet Pickup / Expo

Walking into the Convention Center I was welcomed with screen projections of the Shamrock logo and course maps – pretty neat, huh?

Heading into the actual expo.

Wait… I need a picture first!

In order to pickup race bib(s), runners needed to bring their ID and corral numbers.  Luckily for me J&A emailed me my corral numbers in advance and also sent a text message.  Runners could also use the Shamrock Weekend mobile app to look up their numbers(s) or use one of the laptops that were provided at the entrance.  There were booths for the different races. 

It was easy peasy, I was done in about 5 minutes.  I like that J&A races go all out in terms of decorating for the expo.  Below is a picture of the Solutions and Corral Changes booths – so festive.

Once we had our bibs we were directed to the shirt pickup area (also sectioned off by race).  Sweet technical tees for the half marathon. 

I picked up my 8K shirt first – which was long sleeved and cotton

I went across the room and picked up my half marathon shirt – which was a short sleeved technical tee.  I really liked the color and material of this shirt . I got another spike bag (which I use as a shoe bag).  

Signage for the social green room was posted throughout the expo.  If you search #SHAMROCKON15 you will see thousands of posts on social media.

The expo was not too large (a la Rock ‘n’ Roll), but not too small (a la Cherry Blossom).  

I went to the Nuun hydration booth and purchased some tablets – it came with a race themed water bottle (just like my NYCM one). 


After a quick trip around the expo I headed to the J&A booth for my volunteer shift.  Registration was open for all their events, including Shamrock 2016!

I was able to catch up with Nan – congrats on the 8K + marathon! Sarah also stopped by the booth after her volunteer shift.

Image: Courtesy of Nan

Julie and her family stopped by the booth.  Shortly after Kathryn, her husband Preston, and Kathleen also came by.  Thank you all for visiting me!

Image: Courtesy of Julie

I left the expo around 8:30pm to check-in to my hotel (about a 7 min drive from the convention center).  By the time I settled in, ate dinner, and unpacked it was already 11:00pm. Time for sleep!

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

If you asked me what my 8K race goals were a couple of months ago, you would have gotten a different response. My original plan was to take the 8K easy and attempt a half PR the next day.   Following the St. Pat’s Day 5K and 10K I reassessed my Shamrock goals – at this point in the training cycle I did not think I could PR in the half, but a PR in the 8K would be plausible.  My current PR is 54:18 which was set at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day 8K.

  • A – Break 54:18 (10:55 min/mile)
  • B – Break 55:55 (11:15 min/mile)
  • C – Break 57:09 (11:30 min/mile)

My pace (10:33/min) at the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K from the previous week gave me the confidence I needed and I was hoping I could negative split the 8K like I did at Rock ‘n’ Roll DC. 

Shamrock 8K

On race morning I woke up around 6:00am.  I drank some water and ate a banana and honey stinger waffle.  Luckily I laid out my race outfit the night before, so getting ready was really easy.  After looking at the weather report I opted for a long sleeved shirt under my singlet and tights (my original plan was to wear capris, tank top, and arm sleeves).  Pre-race mirror shot.

I left my hotel around 7:00am and walked along the boardwalk.  It was really peaceful stroll towards the start.  It was a bit chilly and windy so I was SUPER happy with my clothing selection (except I forgot my gloves).

Early morning beach.

Shamrock signage everywhere!

I headed to the start for some pre-race photos where I met Angela, one of my fellow ambassadors.

And also Lindsey! Could you tell we were a little cold?

Pre-race picture with Kathryn and Kathleen.  We all had the same corral placement, so it was nice to catch up with them both.

Getting ready for the start.  There were about 9,000 runners race morning.  The corrals were not too crowded and we were released maybe every 60-90 seconds.

J&A races print your corral number on your bibs – one of the many details about them that I love. 

Ready for the start! The 8K was an out and back course that took runners south along Atlantic Avenue, north along the boardwalk towards the finish line (sort of similar to the Surf ‘n’ Santa 5 Miler course).

The race started and I was off!  Because of my PR attempt I did not grab too many pictures.

  • Mile 1 – 10:01min (ummmm toooo fast Jen, too fast)
  • Mile 2 10:21min (calves loosen up please….ouch side stitches)
  • Mile 3 – 10:54min (side stitches continue……there goes negative splits)
  • Mile 4 – 11:03min (calves are super tight….run some intervals…will I PR?)
  • Mile 5ish – 10:28min (finish line in sight…I can do this)

The final part of the course took us on this stretch (this was a post race picture – so not empty).

I sprinted towards the finish.

And happy to see a new PR!  My official time was 52:47 (10:37min/mile), about a 1.5 min PR from a year ago.  As for the negative splits, that did not happen.  I think I went out too fast on mile 1. 

We received our medals, food and water.  Volunteers handed out shamrock shaped cookies and koozies.  

Having fun with the 8K medal and the sand.

A new PR bell was unveiled Shamrock weekend.  I was happy to ring it!

Following the race I saw Julie, Kathryn, and Kathleen again before heading back to my hotel to shower (I had a volunteer shift following the 8K).

Final Thoughts

  • Packet pickup was pretty easy.  There was more people picking up on Friday vs. Saturday because of the Saturday morning 8K.
  • I stayed on 35th and Atlantic Avenue, so it was a nice easy walk to the start.  
  • There were several corrals and they did not feel too crowded. 
  • There was a “Be an Elite for the Day” event which was pretty cool. One runner was given the chance to start 5 minutes before the elites.  If the runner beat the elites, he/she would win $1000.
  • A little crowded for the first 1-2 minutes, but it quickly thinned out on Atlantic Avenue. It did not feel like 9,000 runners out there. 
  • The course was super super flat and there were two water stops along the way. 
  • Thank you volunteers!
  • I was happy that it was windy, it was a bit refreshing.
  • Fun medal and swag (per usual).
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE the new PR bell 
  • For some reason I could not pull it up the results on my mobile device (I did not download the app, but tried to use the mobile version of the website).  It may have been my phone. 
  • There was a post race party (including beer), but I headed back to the hotel so I could get ready for my volunteer shift.

It was a fun race and I was happy with my performance (next time I’ll get the negative splits).  Next time I’ll share my Shamrock Half Marathon race recap!

Disclosure: As a J&A Ambassador I received a complimentary race entry.  All thoughts and opinions on the blog are my own.

If you ran Shamrock this past weekend, what was your favorite memory?
What special touches have you seen in a race? (ex. swag, PR bell/gong)
Interested in more Shamrock Weekend fun? Check out the 2015 Shamrock Race Recap linkup below, hosted by J&A Ambassadors Nan, Sarah, Lindsey, and Jennifer.  

  • If you wrote a 2015 Shamrock Race Recap  (spectator and volunteer recaps are also welcome) feel free to add your blog post to the linkup.
  • Link back to the blog host(s) in your recap so your readers can find the list.
  • Love reading recaps? Here is a one stop shop for some Shamrock goodness!
  • Not a Shamrock related post? Linkup hosts have the discretion to remove your link.

Note: This linkup will be open until April 22, 2015.

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Run Jenny Run
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      1. Run Jenny Run

        Agreed! I already penciled in Shamrock for next year. I really liked seeing all the PR bell pictures posted.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        I liked when ZOOMA and Cherry Blossom had their linkups last year – so many recaps in one spot…money for us recap lovers!

    1. Jenny! I love your race pics! I’m so excited that you were able to hit your PR goal, despite the fact that you were pretty quick on that first mile; it’s a tough urge to fight, isn’t it? I love the PR bell; I think ALL races should have one of these! Thanks so much for sharing your experience; I’m so glad you had a great time and a great race.
      Tara @ Running ‘N’ Reading recently posted…2015 Spring Fling 5KMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you Tara! I never wore my singlet over the long sleeved shirt and it worked perfectly! I guess the excitement got the best of me for mile one 🙂 Would be nice to ring that bell everywhere!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Was so fun to ring it! I wonder how many people PRd on Saturday/Sunday. Will have the half post up tomorrow – will be mentioning you in it!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        The PR bell was fun – I wonder more of those will pop up at races. Thanks Nathasha!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Haha a super neat packer going to a race, coming back….very different suitcase. I agree, I wish there were more 8K or 5M out there.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Lisa! Those were nice surprises. There are a couple 8Ks in the DC suburbs, but not too many.

    1. Congrats on your PR and getting to ring the PR bell. They just got of those bells this year for our Quintiles races in Wilmington NC which happened to be the same weekend as Shamrock. Your photos are so cute and J & A racing could not have chosen a more enthusiastic ambassador. Great job on your race!
      Pam and Christine recently posted…Volunteering at Shamrock Half & Full MarathonMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        How fun the Quintiles race also had a PR bell! Thank you for all the nice words!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks for all your encouragement this past weekend Kathryn!

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Coco. Good rule – I will think about that for next year/next time I head south for a race.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Jenn! I like when themes are incorporated throughout races, makes it very festive/fun, and you never know what to expect.

    1. Congrats on your 8k PR! Even with the side stitches (those are terrible!) you managed to dig deep and race hard 🙂

      Sounds like a great race experience from the expo – awesome Nuun bottle! – to the post-race treats and getting to ring the PR bell. Super fun!
      Sun recently posted…Luck of the Irish 5k Race RecapMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Sun! Looking forward to using the Nuun bottle. Will be fun to see all the race specific bottles they have made throughout the years.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        I-95 south is a beast! 8Ks-10Ks, I tend to go out too fast by accident. Thanks!

    1. Congrats on your PR!! Cool that they have a PR bell! The first time I saw one of those was at Rock N Roll Seattle. It’s a neat thing to have! Great recap and looking forward to reading about your half! Btw, I also got the Nuun bottle for the NYC Half. Love that they are personalized for each race!
      Sharon recently posted…Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve Hiking Trip ReportMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Nice NYC Half had a Nuun bottle. They are all really cute. Neat that RnR Seattle has a PR bell too, I wonder what other races have them. Pam (above) mentioned there was one in NC.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Jenn! Maybe will see you there one day. If not… maybe see you this weekend at LOVE Run.

    1. Congrats on the PR, Jen! You’re so fast now! And yes, that drive down to VA Beach is horrible. I’ve never had a good drive down there.

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