Category Archives: Half Marathon

Shamrock Half Marathon Race Report

I arrived at the expo around 2pm on Friday, thinking I would beat the Saturday crowd.  Hahaha, not true.  Though I didn’t have to wait to pick up my bib and shirt, the rest of the expo was CROWDED.  They were selling last year’s t-shirt for 5 bucks, and I wanted to get Karl one, since we both ran it, but there were at least 50 people in line for the register, so I gave up on that idea soon.

I walked around with Jen for a bit, no freebies were being given, then I went over to my hotel room to check in.

The reusable goody bag from last year was great, it became my beach/pool bag, and a year later is still going strong.  This year’s?  I used it once, to put my running shoes in after the race, and the seam had ripped on the sides by the time we made it into the hotel, 10 minutes later.  Angela’s bag broke by the time she left the expo.  So, unfortunately, though the idea is great, the quality was not on par with the “reusable” idea.  The shirt, however, is cute (yay for side stripes that make you look slimmer!).  Again, my one beef is that it doesn’t come in gender-specific sizing.  I got a small, which is loose on me, but I’m far from a small – I feel bad for my slimmer runner friends!


We woke up super early on Sunday morning, Karl went to walk Lily while I finished getting ready.  Despite the 85 degree weather we got the day we arrived, it was COLD and WINDY on Sunday.  We all knew it was going to be colder, but crap, not THAT cold.  I wore my running skirt and compression socks, and was glad to have only part of my leg exposed, but even then, it was just not enough to keep us warm!

We went to the hotel lobby to meet up with everyone, Jen even brought me some shamrock antennas to wear (I passed them on to Hugi after the first mile).



Even Margaret and Erin, who were staying somewhere else, came out to meet with us!  It was great catching up with them (even if briefly), and we were able to get a picture with most of the group (some people had already left to brave the cold weather).


After delaying the inevitable, we went off into the cold…  I was envying the marathoners who started an hour later than us (what’s up with that?), and got to wait at their start line after the sun came out.  It was super windy, and we all gathered together to exchange some body heat.


We started off on Pacific Avenue, running through a residential neighborhood.  The roads were crowded, and I was glad I wasn’t planning on PR’ing (mostly because I knew I didn’t have the endurance to speed up anymore), as it would have been hard to weave through the crowds, even though I started in the correct corral.  The picture below was taken AFTER the crowd disbursed a bit (it just wasn’t safe to start taking pictures when it was so crowded in that first mile).


After Pacific Avenue, we turned into Shore Drive where we were surrounded by trees.  Like last year, there were jokes on the side of the road, but many had been down due to the wind.  I missed most of the jokes though, because though I had a couple of hard miles starting up (I just wasn’t feeling it), once we turned into Shore Drive we all got a bit chatty, and caught up on things.

We had already lost Nikki due to dropped ipods and whatever else she was losing (she had a bit of a clumsy start), and it was around this part that Hugi took off.  This was Hugi’s first Half Marathon, and she was doing great.  I wasn’t well-trained because of all these injuries, and didn’t even know if I could run the whole thing without taking a break, so I kept telling Hugi to run her race and ditch us.  She finally listened to her body, made arrangements on where to meet after the race and off she went.  I was so proud!  Yes, she’s now faster than me, but it wasn’t long ago when she was having a hard time keeping up with me at the Army Ten Miler, now look at her!  Sure, I got slower, but she kept it up and ran the half almost in the same pace as I was running months ago!

At around this time, my foot started hurting with every step.  It felt like I was being shocked every time I put my foot down.  I didn’t want to quit on mile 5, so I started thinking of other better things, and see how long I could last.


After Shore Drive, we made out way into Ft. Story.  Many of the complaints on this race online is that going into Ft. Story is boring.  I didn’t think it was boring this year, nor did I think so last year.  You can see the ocean in the distance, and you pass not one, but TWO lighthouses, one of them being one of the oldest in the country!


Luckily I was still having a pretty good run at this time, my foot pain was still there, but not nearly as bad as before, and though it was a lot warmer, my body was finally in synch with the run.  I held up a pace that didn’t tire me out.  I was also running with my own water, so I saved tons of time by skipping water stops in the first ten miles.


Angela was still going strong too!  And she was running with our group shirt!  So props to her!  (And she was smart enough to wear a visor…)


Jen was also having a good run at this point.  This was around mile 7 or 8 and she was even going backwards and taking pictures!


Looking at the pictures below, it seems like it was a super hot day – I think the weather topped off in the mid-50’s later on.  The sun certainly warmed things up, but it wasn’t nearly as warm as the bright pictures make it seem!



We were FINALLY approaching the two lighthouses in the distance!





This one below?  That’s one of the oldest in the country (first one built by the US Government).


Jen wanted pictures with the other lighthouse too…


I was even able to get a self-portrait with the old one!


At some point at the end of this leg, we lost Angela, who had to hang back a bit.

Finally, around mile 9 or so, we got back to Pacific Avenue, and the residential area of VA Beach.  I was feeling good at this time, sure the distance was getting to me, but I was still chatting away.


Jen was still doing good at this time too!


Ugh, gotta lose those extra 10lbs since the wedding STAT.  I look like a big green blob.  Plus I need a tan.


Shortly after these pictures, Jen’s knee started bothering her, so she turned on her headphones and tried to get into the zone to make it to the final miles.  I had no one to talk to, but was still feeling strong despite both my hip and foot now hurting.

I never saw the 12 marker, but had an idea I had about a mile to go, so at some point I picked up the pace a bit, and started feeling really good.  I even convinced a random girl to give up on walking and run with me the last mile (she tagged along until around the 13 marker).

While my goal was to be able to run this in about a 11:30 pace or so, my last mile was well below 11 pace.  I even warned Jen “I’m picking up the pace, so if you’re hurting and need to stay back, don’t feel bad, it’s because we’re actually going faster” (she doesn’t have a Garmin).  Instead, she tagged along most of the way.

I told myself, as always, that I would pick up once I passed that 13 mile marker, and I did, being able to finish strong with an 8 min/mile pace (yes, for 0.1 mile, don’t hate!).  In retrospect, I probably could have picked up the pace in the last 2 miles, instead of waiting for the last mile to do so, but since it’s been so long, I wasn’t sure if I could sustain it, so I played it safe.

I crossed the finish line in 2:31:46.  It’s about 8 minutes slower than my last half, but so much has happened since then, that I’m super happy with the results.  Weeks ago, I was just hoping I could finish it, and at the start line on Sunday, I had three different goals…  A “realistic” one, of finishing in less than 2:40, an “maybe attainable” one, of finishing in 2:35, and a “hopeful” one, of finishing in 2:30.

If I had not stopped to take a few pictures when we were around the fort, I could definitely had broken the 2:30 mark.  But at the end, I was dying to pee the whole time but didn’t luck out in finding a porta-potty with no lines, so it would have been worse if I had taken the break.

Jen crossed the finish line seconds after me, and we were both excited to be done (ignore the woman blowing her nose, ruining our picture!).



Karl was a good husband, waiting for me at the finish line with flipflops!  He said he shouted my name, but I was in the zone and didn’t hear it.

By the way, this is the first half marathon Karl has run for himself (he has ran 3 half marathons before, but all at my pace to keep me company).

He finished in 1:37:49, being the fastest one of our group!  I’m proud of him, and knew he could kick some butt if I wasn’t holding him behind!  (He claims he was just so cold that he wanted to be done early.)


Just like last year, we got a finisher’s hat, t-shirt and a medal.  I of course, did not notice my medal was the wrong way when I snapped this picture…


Hugi was happy to be done, and took her own finisher’s shot with her future marathon training partner!  (She’s wearing her finisher’s shirt too.)


The three of us (now can you pronounce Hugi’s real name?).


Karl and Jeremy were also celebrating!


And of course, we needed a shot of us in all our green glory!


Hugi also wanted to send this picture to her mom, with Jeremy’s classy outfit.  Go figure!


Here’s our awesome finisher’s swag – the hat, finisher’s shirt, and medal (oh, and let’s not forget the personalized bibs.  I got quite a few “go, Carla!” because of it!).


A close up at the back of the shirt:


And the medal, which doubles as a bottle opener!  (Since Karl doesn’t display his medals, he really liked this feature!)


Despite the bottle opener abilities, I think last year’s medal was a lot cooler.  What do you think?  I absolute hate huge logos displayed across a finisher’s medal (remember my beef with the Chicago Marathon medal?)


After we went back to the hotel, showered, hung out for a bit with Nikki (who finished her first half despite a foot stress fracture and stomach problems), Angela (who also finished her first half not far behind me) and Jeremy (who PR’d!  Yay for flat courses!).  We checked out of the hotel, loaded up our cars, and went back to the finish line to wait for Kristy who ran her first marathon!


After hitting the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet (if you’re ever in the area, go there!), we made our long drive home (why there are always traffic in these roads, even in the middle of March on a Sunday?).

At home, I added my new medal to my medal holder!  I’m running out of space for them…



Filed under Half Marathon, Pictures, Race, Race Report

Pictures of a 11.5 Mile Run…

I hate these countdown posts, when I realize that a month from today I’ll be flying out of DC.  Not forever, but I won’t be back for two years.  TWO YEARS!

So I’m trying to bring my camera out for runs whenever I can.  I need to remember these trails I’ve ran on for so long.

Right now, I should be on my way to VA Beach, to run my last half marathon before I move — it’ll be my 5th half-marathon!  (And hopefully not the last!)  I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon last year, and loved it!  I’m glad I get to run it once more.  When I PR’d at the VA Beach Rock n Roll Half last September, my goal was to run Shamrock in 2:15.  If you been following along, you know that my injuries took a hit on my endurance, and there’s no way in hell I can keep that pace.  My new goal?  To hopefully make it faster than I ran it last year, which was 2:37.  That is all…  Considering the little time I had to train for this, I have no clue if even THAT is possible.

Last Saturday, instead of tapering, I was still trying to catch up to my training mileage, and I had a great 11.5 mile run around DC, on my favorite route, from Roosevelt Island to the National Mall.  Hugi, Kathy and Sarah tagged along!

Again, I forgot to take a picture of the Island (boo!), but I’ll make sure to get to that one of these days!  We ran up Rosslyn, past the Iwo Jima and the Arlington Cemetery (pretty much the same route as the other Saturday, just a much longer run) and into the Mall.  After passing the reflecting pool, which is still closed for construction, we approached the World War II Memorial…

Then we took a quick pee break by the Washington Monument, taking advantage to snap some shots…

I posed with Hugi, former-coworker, current friend and running buddy!

Once we got back to running, Hugi and Sarah were having a much easier time than Kathy and I, and were ahead of us for the rest of the run.  You can tell that I took some pictures while running (see blurry ones), and I stopped to take others (yay for the non-blurry runs), but that meant they got even further away!

Again with the “holy crap what is wrong with her chin?” self-portrait while running.  But the Washington Monument is behind my head.  Needed to post this, since it’s one of the many spots I now take for granted.

Approaching the Capitol…

Stopping to catch a picture of Kathy, Sarah and Hugi running towards the Capitol.  When the weather doesn’t suck, DC is really pretty…

You can see Sarah and Hugi are getting further and further away!

My turn to be in the picture while Kathy plays photographer!

Switching places!  Kathy looks fast!

After all this fooling around, you can barely see the girls all the way up ahead, on the left of the trail…

Right in front of the Capitol…

I really really really need a tan.  And need to wash my hair.  And lose those 10lbs I gained post-wedding.

Going around the Capitol…

Into the other neighborhoods of DC.

We turned back around and we are heading back!

The Capitol from the other side!

Going back to the Washington Monument.  Tourists are starting to come out!  (Ugh.)

Yes, there’s a Carousel at the National Mall.  I guess it keeps the kids from getting bored?

Approaching the World War II Memorial again…

We can see the Jefferson Memorial at the other side of the Tidal Basin!

World War II Memorial…

Crossing over the Memorial Bridge…

Back in Rosslyn!

The Iwo Jima Memorial, and for those of you who have run (or are planning on running) the Marine Corps Marathon, this is also the finish line of the marathon.

And from here, we headed back into Rosslyn and the Roosevelt Island (downhill!).  Kathy and I completed 11.5 miles, while Hugi kept going strong and ran a half marathon distance during that time!  She is also running the Shamrock Half this weekend — it’s her first!  I have a feeling she’ll kick some butt!

Fingers crossed I can at least run on Sunday at the same pace I ran a year ago, pre-marathon training…


Filed under Half Marathon, Pictures, Runs

I’m still here!

And I’m still running!


This week I had another PT appointment.  He is convinced that I strained either my “TFL” or some other muscle that starts on my hip (it would be great if I remembered the name, no?).  I think the TFL sounds more like it, since it looks like it’s located exactly where I feel the pain:

Basically, it’s the muscle that’s connected to the IT Band.  Now how does one strain that?  I don’t know either…

But I ran a little over 5 miles on Saturday with Jen, I was in pain the rest of the day but not debilitating pain like before.  Then on Tuesday morning, after breaking down crying at the vet because I didn’t know what was wrong with Lily (turns out she has pneumonia), I went for a 3 mile run and from there straight to my PT appointment, in lots of pain, so he was really able to pinpoint what the problem probably is.

So in other words, I better become BFF with my foam roller, even if it feels like there’s a knife going into me when I put the sore spot against it.

On Wednesday night, Jen joined me for yet another run with the group, and we knocked 3.5 miles out.  Today, I’m meeting her up for my “long run” — these days, that means 6.5 miles (I really miss the days where I could run 20 miles in the morning, and only be left with slightly sore legs!).  Jen also signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon (only a month away), and she also hasn’t been running lately, though she admits her reason is laziness, not injury.   So we’re slowly adding up the mileage again.

Have I mentioned it’s going to be in the 70’s today?  Last year at this time we were dealing with the repercussions of yet another snow storm hitting our area, and we had just spent a week at home because the Federal Government closed down because of the conditions (well, Karl and I escaped and flew to Seattle where we got engaged — can you believe that was only a year ago?).  And we had to get creative, training for this same race, since all the trails were covered in over a foot of snow.  This year, we had a whole week with weather in the 50’s and 60’s.  I die.  Karl says this is DC tricking us now that we’re leaving.

I have no hopes of getting a PR at the Shamrock Half (sadly, because last year my goals was to finish in 2:15…), but I at least want to finish, running the whole thing without reinjuring myself.  Then I run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler two weeks later, that same day I fly out to Rio to spend a week with my family, then back in DC for a week, and we go over to San Francisco for 2 days (anyone read this blog from there and want to go on a super-slow run with me around town?) and from there we’re straight to Manila.

Hotels and flights are booked, including the furry kiddos that are both flying in-cabin with us (Lucas with his navy blue Sherpa bag, and Lily with her matching bag in brown with pink accents).

After waiting so long to get out of DC, I’m not yet ready to leave…


Filed under Foreign Service, Half Marathon, Injury, Runs, Training

VA Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon…

There was this…

And there was this…

Hurricane totally skipped us, I had a good race, and a PR!  (Took 12 minutes off my best half marathon time — woohoo!)

Great weekend, recap coming soon…


Filed under Half Marathon, Pictures, Race, Race Report, VA Beach RnR