Shamrock Taught Me To Run Happy
Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Throughout my childhood years I have watched my dad run races and tell stories of training with his college track buddies. He sounded so happy when he would talk about it. I wanted to run happy too. It was 1994, I was a freshman in high school. Spring track season was starting and I couldn’t wait to experience a race of my very own. Dad and I decided to run the Shamrock Sportsfest 8k that year. This was before I knew anything about splits or shoes. But we loved running and it sounded like a fun way to spend a Saturday morning at the beach for a girl from Chesapeake. Dad never left my side and we bounced our way over the 8k course. Afterwards Dad urged me to park my little booty on the curb near the Pavilion. He told me to wait and watch. I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for…but then…all of the sudden, these fast little guys started rounding their way into the finish. They were the elite runners. The Kenyans! I was amazed. I can remember like it was yesterday. They would finish and walk off as if nothing had happened, causally enjoying a banana and the comfort of a race blanket. That was the moment I feel in love.
Fast forward to 2013….Still running Shamrock at a time in my life I was trying to find my way. I prayed for something big. I didn’t know what I was praying for but I kept praying. Then, I stumbled across a Facebook post. The company producing The Shamrock Race, J&A Racing was looking for ambassadors. I had to apply. Not knowing anyone or anything other than it was my favorite race of the year, I submitted my application. Little did I know how big my prayer would be answered and how much that opportunity would change my life. From ambassador, to coach, to pacer, to elite volunteer…I have had the privilege to participate in every aspect of this magical race.
Two decades of Shamrock completions later and I stand at the finish line just days before the big race, completing my last J&A Training Team run of this season. Next Sunday as they Shamrock on, I will not be there. The feelings are bittersweet. My heart is full and yet it breaks.
Late last fall I began that familiar prayer. Again not sure exactly what I was praying for, but prayed. Early 2017 the prayer was answered in an email. I was being invited to participate in a Brooks Running Ambassador Camp in Albuquerque. I was stunned. As I read on, the dates of the camp were reveled. March 17-19. In my heart I knew it was were I needed to be. I know what this opportunity would help me gain and what I would be giving up. This isn’t about not being grateful or appreciative, it is about recognizing the growth of something within my spirt. You see, Shamrock isn’t just about crossing the tape for me. It is a part of my soul. It is the race that has broken my heart the most and yet built me up higher than I could have ever imagined. It is something I have shared with my dad and now the past few years with my teammates. This race has given me a tribe, a place, a space. This year, it will give me a push. Out of the nest and onto a plane.
Our training team mantra this season has been to Break The Rock. A couple of weeks ago, we were asked to write on individual rocks anonymously and leave them in a pile. 200 unique phrases like I run for bacon, Sports Bra Squad or My health were written on these rocks. Today as we celebrated our last run, we were invited to take one of those rocks blindly from the pile. I randomly reached in and the mantra from an unknown presented itself, I stood motionless. It was no coincidence. The message was clear.
Excited and nervous about this new adventure, a few weeks ago I turned to the J from J&A for some guidance. Jerry Frostick told me that I didn’t need to train for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I had been training for this opportunity my entire lifetime! Years of pavement pounding along the coast have brought me more happiness than I can measure. My memories will be my rock and away I will go with them to Albuquerque to spread my Shamrock wings: and run happy I will!