Last year, at Shamrock Half Marathon I ran a 1:26.50. This year, my chip time was a 1:26.49. While not a course PR, I did beat last years time. Despite the race conditions being very similar (I.E. awful), for me, the races themselves were drastically different. My last mile last year was probably 7:30+ and this year my last mile was a 6:11.
So let’s start from the beginning. Shamrock was never a goal race for me. It’s a race I like to do and I was hoping to run better than last year.
How did I quantify running better? By not only having a faster race but also not drastically blowing up like last year.
So technically, even though I’m much faster than 1:26 fitness, I did achieve my goals. But to be honest, I’m effing tired of running in terrible conditions. Over the past year, I haven’t many longer races that are in decent conditions. Most races have been in either pouring rain, sleet, snow, high humidity or windy. The only good weathered race that comes to mind is the Runners World Half, but I ran a 5k the day before.
Enough complaining! Last Friday, I prepared for the worst weather and brought my thick mittens, waterproof Gortex jacket, and appropriate attire. By now, I know I need to be overdressed in cold, pouring rain or I’ll be miserable.
My coach James Mckirdy, Heather, Dad and I got to the race around 6 am, and we were lucky enough to stay with a personal friend right near the start. I warmed up with Mollie and Heather. I rarely do half marathon warmups, but while warming up, I didn’t feel terrible or even that cold. It was pouring rain, but I wasn’t “as” miserable as last year.
We got to the race start at 7 am, and we were quickly off. The first two miles were into a headwind. With the headwind, I began settling into a negative mindset. I hit the first mile in 6:59. I was devastated. Another race I had tapered for only to be foiled by rain. I tried to clear my mind but just progressed on.
In hindsight, it’s easier to look back and see…yes it was windy. Yes, the weather was awful. In the moment, when you look down and quickly see you aren’t hitting your goal, it stinks. I ran the second mile in 6:58. It was mindless, and I was just staying with a pack of people.
As we rounded mile 3, I felt a wind break. While it was still raining, it wasn’t as windy. I ran a 6:54. Around mile 3, I wasn’t sure I would break 1:30 but I hoped I would be able to pick it up. It’s a long gradual uphill from about miles 3-5.
During the fourth mile, one of the UGH moments of running happened. My shoe came untied. I was running in a new pair of Saucony flats, and while I did double knot them, they came untied. Was it a combination of pouring rain and the material the shoe laces are made out of? Probably because it happened 3 times and it stunk. Looking closely at the shoe laces, the plastic coating seems to be the cause.
I stopped to tie my shoe and progressed on. I didn’t catch the people I was with until around mile 5-6. With the stop I ran the 4th mile in 6:49 but I was motivated because I knew I stopped for at least 15 seconds. The race clock doesn’t stop when you tie your shoe, so neither does my garmin.
I ran the next two miles by myself. I was alone and lost in my own thoughts. The race conditions were awful, but I was slowly changing my mindset. I ran the next two miles in 6:30 and 6:36.
As we entered Fort Story, I thought about last year. Last year, the wind from Fort Story broke me. I went from running around 6:30 miles to running 7+ and crawling to the finish line. I was determined not to let that happen. The wind was blowing more through Fort Story this year, and it had blown sand across a section of course. We ran through 2 inches of sand!
This year, I felt good during the middle miles, and I credit most of that to overdressing. My other shoe lace came untied, and I briefly stopped to tie it. I ran a 6:37 mile. As I began thinking about the finish, I knew my body felt able and willing to run faster than a 1:30 than I had previously anticipated during the first few miles.
I crossed mile 9 in 6:24 and mile 10 in 6:25. I began catching a few people, and one male was running with me. I saw Chris who ended up finishing a few feet in front of me and 7th lady overall. The man told me to “go with her”…
The last three miles were a blur. I just found myself counting down the miles. 2 miles to go and then 1 and then the final mile. I saw James and Heather with about .5 to go and shouted: “I’m not dying”. I guess that is always a good thing for an athlete to say. I also saw my friend Sika, who had raced the One City Marathon the weekend before.
As we approached the boardwalk, I saw the finish line, and I knew it would be close to my previous time. Until that moment, I hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility to actually run faster than 2016.
I crossed in 1:26.50…the same time as last year. With chip timing, my official time was 1:26.49.
To be honest, I’m tired of racing in bad conditions. While I’m proud of myself for handling the race well this year, I am also tired of not racing in good (not even ideal but good) conditions. I feel as though I’ve been in PRing shape for the last 6 months but the weather has had other plans. I’m hoping the April Fools Half Marathon will have better weather.
Questions for you:
What is the worst race conditions you’ve run in?
Which race have you done the most times?