Racing and Record: The 2009 Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K
I ran this race in 2008 and set a new PR of 23:19 doing so. I had no expectations of setting that PR last year (it came as a complete surprise), and I certainly had no expectations of doing it again this year. Sunday gifted us with lovely on-the-verge-of-spring weather: abundant sun, temperatures in the mid-fifties, and a warm breeze that held the promise of more beautiful days to come. I saw some people I know from my Thursday evening group runs, and one of my RF501 teammates from last summer's training session. The field was quite large (about 1700 people) and they even had pace groups. I slid into the "7:00/mile and over" area, thinking I would shoot for a 7:25-7:30 pace. The crowd was big and boisterous and there was an abundance of green everywhere I looked; after all, this was supposed to be a St Patrick's Day race.
The race started, everyone bolted, and I fell into a comfortable yet quick pace. Garmin said I hit mile 1 in 6:55. Uh oh. That's much faster than I am accustomed to running. Well, I thought, I'll just try to hang on to this for as long as I can. The course was two large loops around downtown Ann Arbor including one short but evil hill (William St.) and one long and grinding hill (Main Street northbound). I churned onward, though my legs felt heavy and I was panting heavily, my clue that I've reached my lactate threshold. That final push up the hill to mile 3 was very difficult. A couple more turns around the downtown streets and I was in the homestretch. When I mashed Garmy at the finish it said 22:50, which pleased me, as it was my second fastest 5K ever, but I was also disappointed, since I missed setting a new PR by six seconds. Six lousy seconds! I took my free beer glass at the end of the chute (Labatt Blue—please) and promptly exchanged it for something much better (a Leinenkugel's and two Sierra Nevada pint glasses).
Yesterday evening I hopped online to see if race results were posted. They were. And! AND! People, according to the race results, I didn't run a 22:50, missing a new PR by 6 seconds; I ran a 22:30, setting a new PR by 14 seconds1! OMG!!111!!! I was like, "Aagh! No way! Oh my god!" What is it about this particular race which has now yielded an unexpected PR two years in a row? Could it be...
...that Saturday evening I was at the home of a friend for dinner, during which time I consumed two Dogfish Head Aprihops, one Founder's Breakfast Stout, and one Short's Huma Lupa Licious? (what my friend calls "Oompa Loompa Beer" because she can't remember its real name.) Last year I drank even more than that at a St. Patrick's Day party and still got up the next day to set a PR.
I definitely think there's something to beer = better racing.
What about the rest of the weekend? Saturday morning I went out for nine miles at marathon race pace. My target is 8:30-8:35/mile for Cleveland. Well, Garmy's battery went kaput about half a mile into my run. It was merely wrist decoration for the next 8-plus miles. So I had to (gasp) run on feel. Luckily I had an out-and-back route planned and I knew exactly where the four-mile mark was, so I decided to run a bit past that and turn around for my nine miles. I cruised along, enjoying the lovely weather (mid forties) and country scenery. I reached my turnaround point and headed back. Once I got home I noted the time on the clock, checked Garmy to see what time I had started, and fired up Map My Run to see exactly how far I had gone. 9.29 miles. OK, so, a little farther than I was supposed to, but no big deal. Estimated time to finish: 1:19. Which, lo and behold, was exactly 8:30/mile. Go me. See, I don't need Garmy all the time. I can run on instinct. So there.
Sunday after the 5K I drove up to Kensington Metropark to put in my final miles for the day: one loop plus a little extra of the paved path. I met my running buddy up there and timed my arrival to coincide with the end of his first loop. We set off together under a blazing sun. About four miles in my right IT band started acting up, which made me very angry, since it hadn't bothered me for two weeks and I had just run a speedy 5K without any problems at all. WTF, ITB? I tinkered with my stride and footstrike and used mind control to exert my will over my body ("You will settle down. I will finish this run.") to squeeze out 9 miles in about 1:21 (9:05 average). I had been a Bad Runner for the previous few days, neglecting my IT band exercises, and...well, I guess I know what happens if I do that. Sigh. I guess I'm going to be chained to those stretches and exercises for the rest of my running days.
I have been reading the blog (Dirt Dawg's Rambling Diatribe) of another Detroit-area runner for at least a year and a half, and he recently started a running podcast to chronicle his training for the Burning River 100 this coming August. That's 100 as in 100 miles. The funny thing about that race is its initial portions take place near my Cleveland-area hometown, on roads I've been traveling for over 20 years.
Anyway, I first heard about DirtDawg50K on the granddaddy of all running podcasts, Phedippidations. On the fifth installment of his podcast out late last week, DirtDawg bestowed upon me the honor of Blog of the Week. So I'm returning the favor and telling y'all that you should check out his podcast, available in iTunes or from his blog. I for one am extremely intrigued about what kind of training is required to undertake a 100-mile race. That is something I guarantee I will never attempt. I'll just stick with hearing about what it's like for someone else!
1: final race stats: 22:30; 7:14/m average; 6/130 age group; 47th woman; NEW PERSONAL RECORD!*
*Record now clouded in doubt. See this post for details.