This year I took on the Shamrock run’s 15K option. (For those that are metrically impaired – that’s 9.3 miles.) This is the longest stand-alone running race I’ve ever done, and the longest run this year. But since last year I did the 8K Shamrock runs and was barely able to handle that distance, I’m psyched to be at a place where I can contemplate running just over 9 miles.
We left a little later than we wanted to, and then had stupidness at our usual parking garage (the machine ran out of tickets – wtf?) and so it was a little crazed getting to the start line. T. was doing the 8K, which started about half an hour later, so he took on parking the car so that I could get to the race start. Naturally, the port-o-potty line is crazy long, so I had to forego that. (Luckily, I went right before we left the house, so it wasn’t an emergency or anything… ) I stretched a little bit, and fiddled with the Nike+ thing I got for my Nano (yes, I’m one of those people who races with an i-pod, but only when it’s allowed by the race rules.) and before I knew it, it was time to line up. There were tons of people, so it took forever from the horn going off before we were actually able to start running, but eventually we were off.
I found two women that were running a nice slow pace and stuck with them for the first few miles. Amazingly, they stayed at a consistent pace, which is a novelty in the first miles of a race. After mile two, we wound around onto Terwilliger where I looked ahead to see the runners ahead of me at a pretty noticeable diagonal. Hmmmm, that’s quite a hill we’re going to have to go up. I was suddenly glad I hadn’t looked at the course beforehand, because it was really hilly in the middle three miles. When it got steep, I just walked as quickly as I could and ran when I got to the downhills or flats. (I LOVE running downhill, it’s my one chance to just relax my legs and go fast with gravity’s assistance – it’s awesome!)
Around mile six, we got to an overlook where they had a band of bagpipers playing, which was awesome. One of the runner’s asked me if I thought we were done with the hills and I didn’t have the heart to say that I didn’t think so, so I told her I didn’t know. (We weren’t) The weather was perfect, overcast, not rainy and not too cold. Eventually, we made it back to a nice gentle downhill for the last three miles of the race, where I was able to run pretty much the whole way. I’d stop to get water from the aid stations and take a Gu, but otherwise was able to keep running.
At mile 8, T. was waiting for me, having blasted through his 8k in 40 minutes (fast bastard!) So he ran the last mile and change with me. It was nice having someone to talk to, especially since I didn’t have to do a lot of the talking. As we approached the finish line, he started teasing me about passing the two women that were ahead of us, which at first I was totally dismissive of, but then as we got closer I realized I was slowly gaining on them, so I did pick up the pace a bit. I ran as fast as I could for the last little stretch, passed both women and was afraid that I might fall down it hurt so much. Luckily, I didn’t and got to the finish line at around the 1 hour and 50 minute mark, which was pretty close to what I wanted to do. I was aiming to go faster then 12 minute miles and I accomplished that. (12 min. miles was the pace I’d done the 8K in last year, so going faster than that for nearly twice the distance was really significant to me.)
Today also marked the season’s first ice bath. (exactly like it sounds – you sit in a bathtub with cold water and a bag of ice, it stimulates the blood flow in your legs and keeps things from swelling and getting sore.) They suck, but are so effective. And then I spent the rest of the day lounging around and reminding T. of how far I’d run that day. Hey, you’ve got to take the perks where you get them…