Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shamrock'n 2013

This morning I cranked out another 13.1 miles, rocking a bib, a knee brace, and a fierce attitude. How did it go? It was the toughest race I have ever ran. I could not be more proud of myself. 

The golden number: 1:53:33

The breakdown:

Avg: 8:37min/mile 

Mile 1: 8:23
Mile 2: 8:26
Mile 3: 8:33
Mile 4: 8:26
Mile 5: 8:21
Mile 6: 8:31
Mile 7: 8:29
Mile 8: 8:44
Mile 9: 8:33
Mile 10: 8:48
Mile 11: 8:46
Mile 12: 8:56
Mile 13: 9:10 

Female Age Group (19-24): 29th (the first 19 year old lady!) out of 239
Overall: 997th out of 6190

First, this round of training has been SO lax. I went off no training schedule, and pretty much ran (ahem jogged) when I could, did close to zero strength training, and only a schmattering of yoga for the past 3 months. In mid-January I stopped all running due to a bum knee. It felt like someone was driving an ice pick into it whenever I ran. I was this close to giving my mom my place in the race and just dropping out. But I went and got my knee checked out and apparently the cure was a knee brace. 

I was skeptical. 

I should not have been. The brace made my running pain free and I haven't had an issue since (late January). During 'training' I chose to do a very easy pace in nearly all of my runs as I was afraid of starting back at square one with no solution. I also foam rolled regularly - painful but oh so good. My friends and I call it the 'moan' roller.

Deciding early on that I would not have a goal for this race other than to finish, I was anticipating walking some portions of todays race. I figured I would run to at least 8 and then, basically, come what may after that. You know the quote that goes something like 'Walk, Run, Crawl. Just finish the damn race!"? Well that was my mindset for the Shamrock'n. Sure I would finish, but I was on no schedule. Maybe I'd finish in two hours, maybe more. Certainly not less. I was used to my 9:30-10:30min/mile pace and planned to just 'mozey' (somewhat swiftly) to the finish line.

Didn't happen. 

I started the race off fast. Note that I never once looked at my pace or my overall time. Only the distance mattered to me. And boy do those miles seem longer and longer as they go by. 9.68. Really??? 9.50 seems like it was YEARS ago! You've been there. Don't deny it. 

I was running with a pack of hilarious guys for the first 4 miles as we laced through downtown Sac. With jokes of honey badger and talk of cold beer at my heels, the first leg of the race flew by. But then we got to the Parkway trail and it was quiet and I was tired. I knew I had pushed hard in those first few miles, and on the trail I could hear myself breathing heavily. 8 miles was seeming like an eternity. I could feel myself slowing down. 

A runner next to me said, "Stay with the group. It's easier that way." I hadn't noticed it before, but I was in between two packs of people. One ahead and one behind. I thanked her and hauled to catch up to the group ahead. I became part of their pack temporarily, and it truly did help. 

So I began pack jumping. As each pack dissolved, I moved to the next one. It was just the push I needed to keep going. The runner who had encouraged me had a similar pace to my own and we ended up running practically side by side until mile 10. She helped me push up those hills, while I pushed her through the flat long stretches with more pack jumping. 

At mile 9 I could feel my feet blistering. The burning sensation was beyond uncomfortable, and I could only imagine how wonderful it was going to feel to take my shoes off. Forget the post race feast, I just wanted my toes to breath. At 9.5 my hamstrings and my butt ached. I completely forgot about the whole butt ache that goes with running half's - it's slightly nostalgic. 

My fellow runner and I exchanged names and sincere thanks to one another before splitting, her falling slightly back, me pushing slightly forward. Today, as strangers we became friends. For those 6 miles of company and encouragement, all I feel is gratitude. 

The last 3 miles were hell.

Once again alone, I was almost immediately faced with a huge hill. Every part of my body was begging me to stop and take off my damn shoes. I'm pretty sure that while going up that hill at mile 11 I was nearly parallel to the ground. But my parents were cheering at the top of the hill, and they were what kept me from taking a breather. I had made it to 11, I was going to run those last two with everything I had. Walking was N O T happening today.

Mile 11 crawled by. CRAWLED. And I don't remember much from 12, other than that I had a serious abdominal cramp, and one last gradual hill (because what other type of hill is more fantastic at the end of a race?) to face. 

I did not sprint into the stadium like last year. There was nothing left in me to sprint with. But I ran the whole stinkin' 13.1 miles far faster and stronger than could have ever anticipated I would. My race photo is probably awful, but I was beaming when I crossed the finish line. 

Taking off my shoes never felt so wonderful. 

Happy St. Patricks Day :)

'House 2' is the dorm complex I live in. College follows me everywhere :)


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