What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Shamrock weekend is officially over. Some remnants of the festivities still remain. The city crews were out this morning removing the “road closed” signs and cones. Guests have checked out of their hotels and are headed home. Construction has resumed on the North End and it’s business as usual here in Virginia Beach. I am enjoying what I feel is a well deserved day off. The small set of stairs down to my rental are quite challenging today. Slow and steady, which is exactly how I tackled the 1/2 marathon yesterday.

The day started early with a 4:45 wake up time. Coffee, bagel and Vitamin Water was the menu for my breakfast. I met my coach/dad promptly at 6:00 so he could drop me at the starting line by 6:30. I arrived right on schedule for one last bathroom break and time to find corral 4. I started at the back of the corral. I was feeling lots of emotion. It was overwhelming. This was not my first 1/2, but for some reason, it was very emotional. I felt a mix of part extreme happiness and part of me was fighting back tears. Over the past few months I have faced several personal challenges. When I first signed up for the race, it was in an attempt for me to focus on a goal and focus on myself. And I had done that. The day had arrived to prove it. I was choosing only to race against myself, which if you are like me, I am my worst critic. The weather was a comfortable 54 degrees at the start. I took off with a great pace of a 10 minute mile. Then after a good 3 miles, there was my coach right where he told me he would be smiling and cheering. I would pass him in the same spot about an hour later. I kept that pace up for the first 7 miles. I then began to slow a little, but felt great. I had great tunes and great scenery through the fort. I ran by the athletic fields where I had played kickball years before and reminisced. Exiting the park, I began the home stretch. Popping my jelly beans for the last hope of some energy. Passing my coach, “3 miles to go, looking good!”, he said as he gave a high-five. I would see him one last time at the 12 mile mark. I knew I was moving slow, never an option of walking, I am sure my shuffling barely qualified as running. 37th street, 36th street, 35th street…I see the finish! Usually giving one last push, I was doing good to keep the pace going on the same boardwalk I train regularly. The boardwalk was lined with hundreds of cheering spectators, just as I had been the day before for the 8k event. Strangers began to call my name from my race bib. “Go Jess”, “You got it Jess”, “Way to go Jess!” To all of you, thanks for that. It means to world to us runners. If I had more breathe or energy yesterday, I would have thanked you. Crossing the finish line at 2:28 made me happy. I was hoping to break 2:30 and I had done that. It wasn’t my best 1/2 time. But it also wasn’t my worst. I felt impressed and proud of myself! Any of you that have set a goal and get to the moment of achieving it, you know exactly what I am talking about. Especially if your goal requires you to push your body to limits it isn’t accustomed to doing. My complete respect goes out to all the marathon finishers as well.

Special thanks to J and A racing for putting on an awesome event. With all the fanfare, you managed to help keep a smile on my face through the long run. I loved all of the fun signs and jokes on Shore drive. I had an awesome time! I loved the swag at the end too. Great hat and sweatshirt! Having run the 8k 15 times before, this was my first Shamrock 1/2 and it definitely was one of my favorite races.

The song I repeated several times during the race was Stronger, by Kelly Clarkson. I will leave you with one of the lyrics that moved me, literally. I even found myself singing while I ran, and at one point, even bouncing a little. Great words that parallel running.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone

What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter, footsteps even lighter, doesn’t mean I’m over cause your gone

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger, just me myself and I

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone”

Happy running and hope to see you at the next race… Spartyka Wounded Warrior 5k this Saturday!








Let the Preparations Begin

Let the preparations begin. If you are a runner this weekend in the Shamrock, your preparations started weeks if not months ago. 8k participants have probably trained for some speed and steady racing. Marathoner’s and 1/2ers have prepared by putting in more mileage with weekly long runs. They have bought the gel or goo of their choice. All of us are probably figuring out race day attire as it is predicted to be one of the best Shamrock weekends yet as far as the weather goes. Saturday and Sunday both look to be in the lower 70’s.
Some of my personal preparations include:
No more alcohol this week until the finisher tent on Sunday
Toenails painted a lovely Shamrock Green
Playlist of all my favorite running songs made
Race wear washed and ready to go
If you are part of J and A racing, or the city of Virginia Beach, the visible signs of preparation began this past week. The closed road signs are up. The portable toilets are in place. The tent is being built. Shortly the start and finish line will be assembled. Other preparations are taking place as well. The conference center is setting up booths and tables for the 1000’s of participants. The shirts have been ordered. The goody bags are stuffed. Volunteers are lined up and ready to go.
A big thank you to J and A Racing for putting on this race. I look forward to participating in my 16th year of the Shamrock. Usually an 8k participant, this will be my first Shamrock 1/2 (4th half overall). Good luck to all runners. Good luck and Happy Birthday to my dad, as he will be competing in the 8k on Saturday (his 16th year also).
Sent from my iPad

Jessica Horton







Take Leaps


Taking Leaps
There are moments in life that require us to take leaps. Some would say they require us to have faith when making these leaps. Some leaps you might have made may include: ending a relationship, starting a relationship, career change, going away to college, sending your child off to college. We make leaps everyday. Some we rush to get through focusing more on the details ahead that the things we are leaping over to get there.

During my run this evening I couldn’t help but notice that today is Leap Day after all. Ironic that I realized this as I was leaping over some serious mud puddles from the crazy thunderstorms we had here today. In my attempt to miss the puddle, I ended run running through a larger puddle and getting my feet all wet. And I guess the joke was on me because it turned out to be quite fun! It got me thinking, why are we in such a rush to leap through life. We are so busy trying to leap through tasks just to get to the “next best thing.” Be mindful as you may miss something pretty great along the way. Like a fun splashing pool disguised as a nasty mud puddle.

So your running tip for the day is to slow down. If you are leaping, make sure it is for something truly worthwhile.  Have faith in yourself and enjoy what you may jump over on the way.

Happy running/leaping