Like last year, it was windy again (10-20 knots/WNW) but cooler than last year (low 30s start, low 41s finish -- not counting the wind chill factor).
Despite the weather (I was in long sleeves and tights), one very fast young woman in nothing but a very small bikini ran at about 6:30 pace the whole way -- I know because I tried to catch her. (I wonder if I'd run faster in a bikini?). I never saw her again after about mile 7, but my son said she finished -- and may have been the women's winner. Several guys were very close behind I understand.
Unlike last year, the Shamrock was not that well organized -- probably a result of the growth in half marathoners (6,000 registered). Long lines at chip scanning. No bagels at the finish. (Cookies, pretzels, stew and beer -- which I can't go near after a hard 26.2). And, no massage tables -- and I needed one this year. Nevertheless, it is still a good race and highly recommended for an early season marathon.
The race went fairly well for me with a 3:03:42, but (again) I missed my goal of going sub-three. I did get two minutes closer though. I maintained my goal pace of about 6:45-6:50 for 22 miles, with good splits within 30 seconds of my targets: 5 miles at about 34:00, 10 miles at about 1:08+, half marathon at 1:28:30, 20 miles at 2:16+, and 22 miles at 2:31. I only needed 7:15 pace to get home, but didn't do it. Not long after mile 22, the quads started to scream, I slowed, losing at least 3 minutes over the last four miles. I didn't hit the wall, but I probably could have touched it. Overall pace: 7:01 min/mile.
Not sure what happened in the final four miles. Pre-race went like clockwork -- went down to Virginia Beach with my sons on Friday for some good pre-race rest. (The marathon was Sunday). Up four hours before the race for the standard bagel, banana, Endurox, Harvest bar and coffee. My warm-up could have been more robust, but I usually do that in the first two miles anyway.
I'm also not sure why the quads overreacted. The Shamrock is flat and they've never talked back like that before even during/after hilly Boston. I had plenty of long runs in Dec/Jan/early Feb, good volume (50-60 miles/wk...nothing approaching Jesse's), good speed work, hills and then a long (relatively smart) taper. My nutrition and hydration were solid during the race. I didn't lose concentration. Who knows? I guess that's why Bill Rogers says "The marathon can humble you." Not everything is under your control, particularly after a hard 20 miles.
What would I do differently? I'm not sure. Probably just be patient and keep the same training program. After CDA IM, I'll start training for a sub-3 goal race again in the fall; keep the hills and maybe increase volume; I may add longer intervals (4X2, 3X4 and 2X6 miles at 15-30 seconds under marathon goal pace).
I strongly recommend this race. Excellent talent. My age group winner ran a 2:35:00. Wow! Winning time overall was about 2:21:00. And where else can you chase fast chicks in bikinis and not get in hot water with the spouse?