After this post, I should be done with talking about the Shamrock Half Marathon for a while. Here are my official numbers for the event.
Chip time: 1:42:52
Clock time: 1:43:03
Overall place: 444 out of 6,546
Gender: 328 out of 2,516
Age: 54 out of 397
5 mile split: 39:01
Over on Daily Mile today there is a lot of talk about goals for this spring and summer. This is one reason I love doing the Shamrock in March — I’ve gotten a big race out of the way. Just less than three months into this year, I’m near 250 miles already. Usually, though, I slack off and have a pretty rotten April, which leads to a poor showing in May, which leads to “starting over” with training in June. The problem in the past couple of years is that I haven’t had any bigger goals to focus on. I’ve either been injured or worried about being injured, so I don’t do anything in the nicest months to run.
But now that I’m healthy and I’m all jazzed up about running again, it’s time that I have some more hardcore goals. Injuries be damned.
As I’ve hinted at before, I am now officially making it a goal to run 1,000 miles for the calendar year. I really wanted to set this goal at the end of 2009, but I needed to see how training for the Shamrock Half would go. I needed to make sure that a few days after that race that I wasn’t hurt and that I could keep running. Well, I can keep going. While I have some soreness, I’ve run twice in three days since the race, something I would have never considered doing in the past. While I’ll likely tone it down a bit, it’s time for me to focus on the scope of the year and getting to quadruple digits for the first time ever.
It’s nothing unusual to think about what’s next after a big race, especially one as satisfying as this one. But I already know what’s next — the Richmond Marathon. At least that’s what I signed up for four months ago. After setting a PR in a half marathon, I’m still on Cloud 9 with my speed at a long distance.
While I’m celebrating my success, there’s part of me that knows I can go faster. I know that getting in the 1:30s is very much reality — shaving just three minutes off my time puts me at 1:39. Is it worth it training for a marathon? In 2007 when I had some of my best running going on, I was training for the marathon … after that though, I was filled with a whole lot of disappointment.
For now, I’m not making any decisions. I just know that right now I can capitalize on what three great months of training has already done for me. Waiting until November for the next “big” event just seems weird. Community races in between will be nice and I have some times I’d love to beat … but I love the half marathon.
Anyway, here some more thoughts following this past weekend’s Shamrock Half Marathon …
* I am the owner of a Power Balance wristband. Take a look at the website for yourself. In looking up things on the Internet, some say it’s a scam. I say it works. If it’s just a mental thing, so be it.
* I bought a new pair of Brooks Ravenna even though I don’t need them for a while. They were 20 percent off and I saved about $5 from what I paid for online earlier this winter. The nice thing is I’m set for shoes until mid-summer probably. I hope longer — these shoes tend to have a good life on them more than other shoes have worked for me. I’ve stayed injury free since I switched to these, so no reason to change.
Speaking of being injury free, a little more than a year ago I went to the doctor about my lingering foot problems that started at the end of 2007 (after the, um, marathon). After wearing a special insole for a couple of months and then switching to nothing at all, my feet haven’t bothered me much. I’m not putting anything else into my shoes again. I didn’t have any problems for a long time, and then for some reason I put gel insoles in. While it was initially comfortable, they haven’t really “worked.” And by “worked,” I’m not really sure what good they do anyway. It’s a personal thing, I think.
* The Shamrock event expo is great. After some issues with it in my first Shamrock in 2007, they’ve made drastic changes to the layout of the floor plans and picking up the race number and T-shirt. It’s been mostly flawless ever since. The Virginia Beach Convention Center in general is just a good place for a race expo — even as much as I’ve complained about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half event, the expo is always great there.
* The Shamrock Half Marathon is the first event that I’ve done four years in a row. I have also done the Bedford Christmas Classic four times, but one of those events was a 10k. It’s pretty cool to look at my race times since 2004 and scroll to the end and see this:
1:42.52, March 2010 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:44:23, March 2007 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:46:53, August 2007 – Lynchburg Half Marathon
1:49:07, March 2008 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:49:30, March 2009 – Shamrock Half Marathon
1:55:28, August 2006 – Lynchburg Half Marathon
1:59:19, September 2009 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon
2:06:16, August 2008 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon
All four of the Shamrocks are in the 1:40s. It’s kind of weird to think that I beat last year’s time by almost 7 minutes. It’s also very satisfying to know that I’ve done eight half marathons since 2006.
* Lastly I wanted to give a big thanks to the Shamrock organizers, the hundreds of volunteers, the sponsors and all the people who lined the course this weekend. This is always a special event no matter what the time was on the course and each year it seems to get better.
So this photo above sums up my fourth Shamrock Half Marathon. Finding the words to describe how I feel, though, are still hard to find. Today was far and away the best I have ever felt during any race.
Back in 2007 when I first ran this race, I set a time that was pretty unexpected for me — 1:44.23. Ever since that race, I have wanted to beat that time. But in the half marathons I’ve done since then — in particular Shamrock II and Shamrock III — my training certainly wasn’t on a level to beat that time. This year, though, has been different. I have documented my training pretty well this winter — from a crazy mountain run to really test my endurance, to much more hilly runs and many consecutive weeks with 10 mile runs.
I knew heading into today that my endurance was probably the best it’s been in three years. I just didn’t know if my speed could match it. Fortunately today I ran with my friend Travis, who I’ve been running with all winter. (He also ran part of this race with me in 2008.) When we were standing at the start line in the cool breeze we were talking about how nice it felt compared to all the crazy runs we’ve done this winter. Today, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was a huge reward for putting up with snow and cold and wind and rain for many of our runs.
When the race got under way we took off and never really looked back. We hit the first mile in 8:02 — 30-40 seconds faster than each of the past two years. I thought we were a bit fast, but everything felt great. No reason to slow down if I felt that good. I didn’t hit my watch at mile two, but the next two miles were in 15:29. Did we really speed up that much? And was I really feeling that great?
As the race made the turn onto Shore Drive and headed “uphill” things kept rolling along. I put “uphill” in quotes because after training on so many hills, this was nothing. Travis even asked if we were going downhill. The times looked like it — mile 4 was in 7:42; mile 5 was in 7:46. When we hit mile 6 in 7:54 and hit the halfway point, I knew the PR was in sight. I also knew that beating it with ease was a reality, but I had to stick with it. I refused to let my watch say anything slower than an 8-minute pace.
So, I didn’t. Mile 7 was in 7:51; mile 8 was 7:52. Somewhere around here is where Travis started lagging behind just a bit. I turned around and he told me to go. Honestly I wanted to stop and do this whole thing with him, but we have an agreement with our runs that if either wants to go faster, then to do it. Plus his goals were slightly different than mine. So after hitting mile 9 in 7:59, I kept in my head to beat my PR by a minute or so. I knew I could probably beat it by 2 minutes if I picked it up and got back into the 7:40s, but I couldn’t quite do it.
Mile 10 was 7:51; mile 11 was in 7:59, oh-so close to what I didn’t want to do. It kind of made me mad that I had slowed down like that, so I kicked up just a bit for the final two miles — 7:45, 7:49 and 44 seconds for the last tenth of a mile.
My official chip time was 1:42.52. That’s 91 seconds faster than my 2007 time. I wouldn’t quite call that shattering my PR, but it felt fantastic. All I wanted to do was beat that time, even it was just by a second. (Travis finished in 1:44.06, beating his PR by 8 minutes from two years ago.)
Tonight, about 11 hours after finishing, I feel amazing. While I’m tired, I’m not crazy sore like I usually am after a half marathon. I can walk normally; I can get up off the couch with no trouble. Simply put, I don’t feel like I need to take a break. I know that I will and I know that my body needs some down time, but I’m more eager than ever to face the rest of the year. This is the best way imaginable to start 2010.
I have a lot more to talk about concerning the weekend and the great expo and the purchases I made, but I’ll save all those thoughts for other posts this week. For now, I just want to sit back and enjoy this for a couple of more hours.
Thanks to everyone out there who has supported me during this training session, especially to my wife, Christina, for those free Wednesday nights and to my mom for listening out for my son on night’s Christina wasn’t around.
I don’t have Internet access in my hotel, but I’m going to pound out some thoughts anyway and just pre-date this post. It’ll help clear my mind before tomorrow’s race.
* My last weigh-in before this race was, as I had hoped, very successful. My weight was 189.4 — just shy of 8 pounds lost for the year. It’s about the same weight I’ve always been for this time of the year, but this year is a tad different.
I had packed on more fall/winter weight than usual, so even though I was in decent shape before training started, I was heavier than usual. The weight loss just goes right along with the training progression that I’ve made. It’s nice too to zoom past the initial 189.9 goal by more than a half pound. Next up: 185.
* I love the beach. I highly doubt I’ll ever live here, but given the right opportunity, it would be hard to turn down. Fortunately I like my job a lot now and I’m tired of moving. It’s a tough call to which is better — running with the mountains in view and running in the mountains or running along the Boardwalk with the sun rising. It’s God’s way of teasing us I believe.
* I ran 2 miles this morning, and at my slowest attempt I was under a 9-minute mile. I hope this is a sign of things to come tomorrow.
* I will run my hardest tomorrow and leave it all on the course, but I really want to kill that PR. There’s a good quote in the Shamrock calendar that I got yesterday that sums up my thoughts on racing very well — “Let effort, not time, determine if you had a good race.” That’s the way I approach races, but this one just feels special. I just hope that my effort reflect a better time.
* My wife has a “Dallas box” for an annual Mary Kay conference in the summer. She started this last year after she was unable to afford going on that trip. Every day some loose change goes in that box, and occasionally some cash finds its way in there. It’s way to save for something special — a specially designed box for a very special trip to reward herself (and maybe me too this year).
When I get back home I’m creating a “Shamrock box.” While I’ll sign up for the race early — the fee is minimal when looking at the big picture — I want to stay in a nice hotel. Even in March the hotels are ridiculously priced at Myrtle Beach. While I have a decent room this year, I’m paying the price for going cheap. I’m across the street from the beach on the first floor facing Pacific Avenue with no balcony. Enough of this.
I want a nice hotel, with a comfortable bed with a nice balcony. One that has a decent breakfast for a change. The nicer hotels cost about the same per night that I’m paying for two nights this weekend, but if I’m going to train this hard and utilize this weekend as a mini-vacation, then I want to step up my accommodations.
* The weather this weekend is PERFECT. I love weather that’s nice enough to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt and not feel the need for a jacket or have to sweat. It was about 70 degrees yesterday and not a cloud in the sky. This morning’s run was flawless with a beautiful sunrise that I missed by two minutes. The weather conditions look to be great for 7 a.m. with lows around 50 tonight.
Sunday’s Shamrock Half Marathon will be my 41st race since I start running again in 2004. That also happens to be the name of one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs, “#41.”
“I will go in this way, and find my own way out …”
Kind of like a race, right?
With this being race week and also not feeling well early in the week, things are a bit different. Here’s how, so far:
* On Monday I didn’t run. It’s the first Monday all year that I haven’t ran.
* I had a short run yesterday. That was the first Tuesday all year that I have run. Tuesday has been a non-running day because I am generally coming off two or three good days in a row of running from the weekend and Monday.
* Today I ran 4.5 miles. It’s the first non-double digit run on Wednesday since Jan. 20.
One streak that will stay in tact this week will be my streak of 20-plus miles in a week — 9 weeks. And, lastly, I haven’t mentioned it since I put it out there a month ago, but I am still planning to run every day in the month of April. Click here for the original blog post; I’ll detail those plans later.