Mar 1, 2011

Frozen Shamrock Race Report

Posted by Jan on Tuesday, March 01, 2011 with No comments
On January 7, 2011, a week after I experienced the euphoria of running the 1st Run on New Years Day, I signed up for the Wild Rover Race Series. It entailed 3 races: a 3 miler in Haverhill, a 4 Miler in Lawrence and a 5 Miler here in Lowell, all between the weekends of Feb 27th thru March 13th. I debated for about a minute the possible weather conditions on those future dates, the fact that I have not raced anything longer than a 5K and the race fees. But the debate didn't last and before I knew it, I was signed up for 3 more races.

Sunday was the Frozen Shamrock, Part 1 of the series. The weather? Snowing. In fact, mother nature had just dropped 4-6 inches of fresh snow the night before and it was still snowing at noon on Sunday. The race organizers were awesome keeping all the registered racers up to date with frequent emails the night before and the morning of the race in case there were any last minute changes. But all was a go.

Early birds got the choice parking. Because I am neurotic about being late to anything, I got a great parking spot despite the snow. Being early also gave me the opportunity to go fetch my race package at St Joe's without having my running garb on. Since it was a brutal, slushy hike to the bib pick up, I was quite happy about being so early. Once I got back to my vehicle, I stayed toasty warm and got all the extra clothing layers off and put on the nice, dry and warm Mizunos!

Once ready, like everyone else, I headed to the Pub to stay warm. The bathroom line was crazy long, but for once, I didn't need to use it. Then the time came when a steady stream of runners exited the pub to the start line. The start line was not clearly marked unfortunately. Race organizers couldn't put the mat down because of the snow plows. So me, being an extreme novice at racing, didn't realize this and set my watch time at the first sign of the wave of runners moving... I assumed the mat would catch my net time. Oh well. Because I was towards the extreme back of the pack, I am estimating about 15-20 seconds needs to be taken off for my net time. It could be more. But I am not too worried about it.

The course was brand new to me. In fact, I had never been to Haverhill before, so me being me, I was soaking everything in. That goes for the HUGE muddy, slushy puddles in the first 1/4 mile. Once we got passed that, I settled into a groove.

I had read that the course had some challenging hills, and it was true. The first mile just seemed like one gradual hill. But much to my surprise, I handled it well even though I have done zilch for incline work on the treadmill. Not one pause, no burning shins. Once at the top of the hill, we ventured down a barely plowed side neighborhood street. It felt great to be forced to run on the snow pack. I had used the "snowy roads" excuse for not running outside all winter long. This proved to me that it is perfectly safe if you are careful. It felt so exhilarating that I started high-fiving the cops!

Of course, most times, when you go uphill, there is a downhill and as much as I knew I shouldn't fly down the downhill sections because of possible shin injury, I did it anyway. I really wanted to sprout wings!

This race CRUISED by for me. Like I said, I was soaking everything in. I wasn't watching the roads, my splits or the other racers. I was looking at the scenery, the architecture, the bridges crossing the Merrimack River. I was looking at it as a photographer and not as a runner! And before I knew it, it was over. My pace was steady, almost stroll like. And I had a blast.

At the finish line, an awesome finishers medal, space blankets, hot chili and soup waited for us. I think I was most pleased about my time (31:13) because the treadmill work all winter long has been hard at best. I still get it done, not a lot miles like a seasoned runner, but for me, the treadmill can be challenging. I can tell I am itching for spring to come.

The series finishers medal is pretty cool. It's huge, about 4" x 4". It has 4 magnets embedded in the main medal to connect the two smaller finishers medals from the next two races to make up one giant "charm". Yes, I love the BLING!  ;-)

My best guess is that I had about a 10:17 pace. This is awesome to me because there was no effort really on my part.  I am getting faster and the sub 10:00 mile is perfectly attainable if I keep from getting distracted. But in truth, I am not doing the running for the PRs (though it is nice when it does happen). I am doing the races because I know I can, to keep me healthy, to keep my life interesting, to experience the camaraderie  and in this case, finding new photography material!

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