Shamrock 2019 Recap: A Sweet and Savory Story

Shamrock weekend 2019 could not have been any more special. I felt the importance and significance of it many times on the course. It was a bold move to commit to 15 weeks of training while planning our wedding, not to mention the roster of clients I had running who would need some guidance from me. But I was sure I had to be out there, sharing in the excitement of it all with them.

Jason, Dad, Sarah, and I before we prep to run!

With 21 Shamrocks that I can account for, it’s obvious I have a strong affinity for the event. It was the first race I ever did with my dad when I was 14. I’ve only missed a few during college and 1 in 2017 which was a blessing and an opportunity of a lifetime! After 2016 left me heartbroken, I had planned to get back in the Shamrock action with the 8k. But right after the New Year in 2017 I received an email from Brooks Running inviting me to attend Altitude Camp with their pro team and other social media influencers in Albuquerque. It would be over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. It was a life changing learning experience. It did something for me I didn’t expect. It opened my eyes to seeing something bigger than the time on the clock and taking me from the comfort of a race I was so familiar with. I certainly wasn’t invited there because I was fast like the Brooks Beasts Team. I had never even run in altitude. I was invited there because I loved running and had a passion for it. Fast forward to Sunday morning of 2019 and Meb talked about just that.  Maximize your talent he said. My talent in this industry is my love for it. That stayed with me on Sunday, driving me to what would be one of my most fulfilling half’s. 

The day began early. I’m so thankful for my brother in law offering to drive us so we didn’t have to worry with parking. Jason, my sister in law Sarah, my dad, and myself piled in and anticipated the excitement the day would hold.

Dad ventured off on his own and the 3 of us took care of our race day prep routine with the J&A Training Team.

Almost go time!

Braden and I even got to snag a quick pic with Bart and Meb before heading out. I don’t know of any other race that brings in talent of this level to interact with participants so intimately. J&A truly is a step above.

Sandwiched between “The Mayor of Running” Bart Yasso and The GOAT of running Meb Keflezighi – winner of Boston, New York, and an Olympic Medalist

The race start was 7:30 and the corrals would be packed. Braden and I had a game plan to start together and respectfully honor every woman for herself as the miles ticked off. It was a no pressure day for both of us. We shared gratitude for being able to attempt the journey, let alone the opportunity to begin this adventure together. Friends for 30 years, but the first time we lined up beside each other. We took our time heading to the start where we shared an on camera interview before crossing the mat. We were step for step until mile 5.

Miles 6-9 were solo, sunny, and breezy. It was the most gorgeous morning. I enjoyed views of the beach through Fort Story and relished the feeling of sunshine on my face. I was flooded with overwhelming joy. Passing through mile 7 I felt the tears come as I knew I was headed home and damn it, I was doing this! This spot was were I was 3 years ago when it all began to fall apart. It left me physically battled, emotionally beaten, and spiritually bruised, and in no way wanting to think of 13.1 again… until now.

While the pace was slow and light, the race was going by fast. Before long I was back at the North End hitting landmarks I knew. I passed 10, then 11! 2 miles to go and it would be over. I savored every feeling. I honored it. I cherished it, while I was tired I didn’t want it to end. I passed the 12 mile marker. I couldn’t believe in just moments this journey, this time of solitude I had found so refreshing would end. I sank into the moment. 

39th st, 38th st, 37th st, turn.

Just like that, my body went on autopilot. I felt joyous. I was in celebration mode. I dropped my pace nearly 2 minutes. I began hearing cheers for me from the sidelines. I was elated. I was finishing it. And just like that Bob called my name for the last time as Jess Horton. The sound was bitter sweet

It was important for me to run one more Shamrock as a Horton. I wanted to run one more half before we try to have a family. I wanted to run a half on a plan I built. I wanted to run a half the same day as my fiancé, my dad, my sister in law, and my team. I wanted to run a half where I felt happy, healthy, and strong even if I was tired. I wanted my race pics to capture what I am feeling inside. Lots of goals and I accomplished all of them!

We will always remember Sarah’s first half! It was a gift to be able to witness her accomplishment and celebrate with her!

For a short time a few years ago, I thought I had to be the fastest or strongest trainer to get fabulous clients or had to have the fittest/leanest figure to get the guy. Isn’t that messed up? As for the clients, mine by far are the best, hardest working, emotionally strong and gracious!!! Many who shared the same joy with me this weekend. And when it comes to the guy, he Sham-ROCKS my world every day. He was happily waiting, as proud as he could be of me after finishing a strong half on his own.

I had them all to myself at our post run lunch! We celebrated Dad’s birthday and all 3 of our half’s !

On Sunday I ran the entire race, without hip pain or a mental break. The half delivered everything I had hoped for. It has been an amazing way to stay grounded and focused during this season of life and love. It’s a reminder that fitness in any form can and should compliment your life without being the center of it.

Sometimes your fitness objective comes in the form of a new lifting goal or finish time, and other times it’s about just making it to your weekly spin class and completing meal prep. Whatever you choose is up to you. The great thing is, as our lives change and evolve, so can our goals for physical fitness. Proudly, this is what my life is about. This is what’s fueled my passion for living well. This is my theme. It’s my passion, it’s my mission.

If you haven’t scrolled through Facebook in a few days, now is the time to do it. Hundreds of stories like mine are filling the feed. There is magic in each individual miracle. The teamwork, celebration, and the perseverance over pain is what propels us forward to the next time we get to share the road for just a few hours.

A pace group that tackled 15 Saturday’s together and seemed to be more excited for each other’s success than their own!


  1. Stephanee

    Your story Rocks! And Inspires my own fitness goals and challenges! You’re real, gracious, and fun! Congratulations!


    1. jess2run

      Awe thank you! I hope all is well and fit in your world 🙂


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