I've spent the last few weeks training for the Shamrock race on March 9th. It's a total crap shoot on the weather. I was wearing short shorts and sunglasses last year, but this year, it wasn't even clear if the Shamrock would be held at all. To the utter dismay of seasonal affect disorder saddled Ohioans, a late winter storm was coming up from the south, projected to dump 15-18 inches of snow over two days, translating to another pent up weekend shoveling snow and watching it pile up outside. This little lovely turned out to be the worst winter storm of the season taxing Akron's salt supplies.
With the Shamrock Race to be held on Sunday at noon, by Saturday, Northeastern Ohio reminded me of scenes out of the movie The Shining. Restaurants, school activities, gyms, and functions galore were being canceled...even pizza joints closed up. Can you believe that? Even pizza joints! By evening, an entire driving ban was issued for Summit County. If you weren't an emergency vehicle, you had no business going out.
Die hard Northeastern runners wondered if the Shamrock race would be canceled the next day. By Saturday evening, churches had already canceled Sunday services, so I guess God is going to have to wait for the roads to shape up, but can a runner wait? In my five years as a runner, I've never known a race to be canceled. Runners are typically a very tough lot, but there is a certain brand of runner that can't stand it that the race will still go on when church and macrame 101 is canceled. They claim that holding a race in a adverse conditions jeopardizes safety, even though runners are capable free thinking individuals that can choose to stay home if so desired...that and they usually sign a liability waiver as part of their application that releases responsibility from race officials should you meet unfortunate circumstances in the exercise of your chosen hazardous activity...running. Maybe this brand of runner is hyper-competitive and can't stand the thought of all that snow slowing down their finish times. Runners run in all kinds of weather.
If the race was to be held during the pinnacle of the storm, on Saturday, I could understand a race being canceled, because while the die hard runner might be OK, the volunteers standing inert and cold will freeze to death while holding out your water--a frozen disk of ice, anyway. The finish line volunteers' fingers would be frozen meat as they clamored to tear off your bib. The runners themselves would most likely fare OK, as long as they could keep from getting hit by drivers with snow impaired visibility.
But alot can change in a day. The storm was predicted to abate by Saturday night and it did. The city, despite low salt reserves, and fed up with winter, rose to efficiently process this late winter assault on the seasonal affected of Ohio. It was daylight savings time! Shamrock runners would have to lose an hour of sleep to spring the clocks forward. On Shamrock Race day evening, we will be confused by the extra 8PM daylight filtering through clods of snow nestled in the trees making it look like ski lodge season at Christmas rather than spring just around the corner. God, I hate March!
The running club website declared the race would go on! My goal this year was to run strong, rather than the bat out of hell determination I had last year to score a PR. Debi, Roger, Don, Jim, Kurt, and Bob and I were out to see what happened. The roads were clear two hours prior to race time! The snow had finally stopped, the sun was shining and melting the thin veneer of snow left by diligent plows. It was going to be a perfect day for a run. What a beautiful vision it was running down Quick Road, descending into the Valley, admiring the banks of snow held in trees, while trying to take my mind off the four mile hill ahead. Bob and I were keeping pace today. Kurt, Roger, Don, and Jim were all up ahead somewhere. We could see Kurt, but no one else. Debi was somewhere behind. I had a quick burst of energy on Akron Penninsula Road, picking off several runners including this grumpy man I delight in passing. I'm convinced if this man didn't run he would be homicidal; I'd be at the top of his list. He works with my husband. Bob and I walked the short ridiculously steep section of North Hampton before getting down to an arduous "drool" pace where there is much train-like breathing. It was a bitch. The hill kept going and going, with no scheduled picture breaks or lolly-gagging walk breaks. We took a few very short ones just to catch our breath, but got back to business. The grumpy man passed me again. He traditionally passes me at this point. Mike S., the shirtless shorts-wearing negative split running wonder also passes me at the same point every year. It's like a bad rerun...a time warp...the same old stuff, but it's cool too, because it glues the years together with my running community and this makes me happy; at least we are still running.
On the last stretch of Steels Corner, I lost Bob, but he caught up again in his typical late race energy spurt to finish one second behind me! Mr. Sensationally and the kids were at the finish today to watch me come in. I came in at 1:28:37, which is four minutes slower than last year's bat out of hell routine, but I was happy. Debi, had a slower than hoped for finish, but managed to win a very nice bobble head runner age group award! Jim, Debi, and Roger all won gender appropriate bobble head runners. My typical Cyborg competitors were here like they are every year, so I remained bobble-headless, but happy another Shamrock race has come and gone.