Run for the Green!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunday I took part in the 35th annual Shamrock Run.  When I started running a couple years ago, I never had the goal of entering a road race...of any length.  Much less a 15k.  That's 9.3 miles....crazy long when you consider I could barely run 3 miles when I began.  In fact, before that day, the farthest I had ever run was just over 8 miles...and that was last spring...and only because Andrea, my friend and running partner, was training for a half-marathon and she dragged me out.  Since then it has been more along the lines of 4-6 miles at a time.  Last Saturday I did get out for 8...but only to confirm to myself that this was within reach.  My friend had done the Shamrock before and kept telling me how fun it would be.  Well, all the talking finally worked and she persuaded me to register.  I thought...what's the worst that could happen?  I walk part of it...big deal.
Well, in the weeks leading up to it, I discovered a drive in myself that I didn't know existed.  I found myself running at least 5 days a week instead of 3 or 4.  This had an effect on my total monthly mileage.  I had been averaging about 50-55 miles per month.  In February I logged over 75 miles.  I also started to notice an increase in my overall speed.  I had kind of stalled around an average pace of 10:10 to 10:30 per mile, depending on the day.  But then it moved to 10:00 and even less...sometimes close to 9:30 per mile for short distances.
I had some apprehensions about this particular race though.  Where I live, there are lots of gentle hills which are great for training.  But the 15k course winds up a hillside that gains over 550ft in elevation.  Much more than I get running around my neighborhood!  The course consists of about 2 miles of flat before beginning a gradual climb.  The real climb begins about 3.5-4 miles in.  You keep climbing until the 6 mile point before you begin a 3 mile decent.  In my mind, I had this very steep 4 mile climb pictured with an even more steep decent.  I was imagining my pace being so slow on the uphill, wondering if I would even be able to keep running or if I would have to walk.

 You see, I had 2 goals....ONE, to keep running and not have to stop and walk any significant length (but preferable not at all)...and TWO, to finish with an average pace of 10:15 or less.  Of course, the more I walked, the greater that would impact my pace.  So the two were tied together.

 I also worried about the downhill.  I figured that by the time I got to the top I would be so tired that I would have no steam left to make up any time coming down.  And I pictured myself stumbling...and tumbling...down to the bottom.  I know, not likely but still a vision.  I also worried about my toes.  You hear stuff about toe nails coming off from steep down hill running.  All this going on in my head while I was trying to prepare...

Oh...and remember my friend, Andrea?  Well, long story short...she ended up needing to have laproscopic surgery 2 weeks before the run.  All is good and she is healing well, but that added another dimension to not only my training (as I lost my running partner for the 2 weeks preceding) but also to the run itself.  No longer was I going to be doing this with a I was doing this alone.  Except for the other 35,000 participants.
So, while I was trying to wrap my head around doing this race without her, I kept running.  I thought only briefly about doing the 8k instead.  I decided that if I was going to do this thing...I wanted to go for the distance.  Test myself.  Nothing gained if you don't try, right?

Well. here is how the story ends.  I did the 15k.  The weather cooperated.  Rain was in the forecast but it stayed away.  Even had several large sun breaks.  It was pretty chilly getting started...upper thirties....but good for the actual run (once you got moving).  Overall, the course was not as bad as I had envisioned.  The first 3.5 miles were really nothing much.  Even the next couple miles to the top were pleasantly less steep than I remembered ( I have been on this road before...but in a car, not on foot and it had been a long time).  There were some spots where it leveled off a bit before the next little climb.  Thanks to Andrea, I had a pouch of energy goop in my pocket.  I walked around mile 5 just long enough to down about half of that.  Then when I saw the 6 mile water stop I walked long enough to finish the pouch and one cup of water.  Then it was into the homestretch.

  The down hill was also surprisingly less extreme than I pictured.  Such a relief at this point to know that I was 2/3 done and the rest was down hill!  I was really feeling pretty aches or pains.  But the last mile or so my low back started to hurt a bit and so did my feet.  I stopped to walk again over one freeway overpass then ran to the end.  Even had a little steam to pour on once I got closer to the finish line.
My results?  I met my ultimate goal...finished with an average pace less than fact, it was better...10:05 per mile.  Not bad.
 Back to Andrea.  She did the 8k.  Ran the whole thing.  She totally rocks.  And now I have my running partner back :-)
Can't wait until next year.


Moongirl said...

What a great story! Thanks for the inspiration.

csewy-csescrap13 said...

Wow! Congratulations on your great race and determination on running without your partner....something that is very hard to do when you have trained together for so long. The course sounds like a tough one....glad you were able to finish it with an awesome time & complete the goals that you set for yourself. Congratulations again!