The next immediate running goal is to run the Shamrock 15K race. I think this will be the 4th time I've run this race; the weather has run the gamut. One year was so cold my feet stayed frozen for 4 miles, another year was atypically warm but with steady misty rain that had me regretting the mascara, and last year was freaky atypical warm with most people wearing shorts! It's the only silver lining to March, unpredictable weather that can work for you or against you. Committing to run the Shamrock is like taking a spin of the weather roulette wheel--who knows what you're going to get.
Most of the usual running group crowd showed up except for Maria who was running a sentimental 5K with her dad up north. Jim, the running trail rhino, was even here today. I thought Debi wasn't going to make it, but she blew off the cable guy for us! I haven't seen too many cute ones anyway... Most of us planned to just run 9.3 of the Shamrock course and call it a day except for Kurt who had another 30 miles to do after he was done with this. It was dawning to be a beautiful winter morning with blue skies, but it was crazy cold. Shelia and her sister were supposed to be running with us, but they weren't here by 7:30, so the run must begin...
Last year, I was hell bent on getting a PR for this course, but I don't feel that compulsion this year. I hope to run and have fun and feel strong on the hills. The broad running goal is to run the Cleveland Marathon in May. Using this course as a training course for Cleveland should pay nice dividends. This is one my favorite races; it's one of our club races, very well organized, located within the beautiful CVNRA and so masochistic in concept it just warms my heart. Recreational fair weather runners don't bother with this one, unless it's warm, so it tends to attract the competitive or obsessive. Since I fall into the obsessive category, rather than competitively talented, I will be bringing up the near back of the pack. But that's cool. I like to say I had the guts to do this race, even if I'm slow for this crowd.
I can't decide how best to strategically tackle this course. It's difficult running a steady even pace on this one since the first 4.5 miles is a gradual downhill shoe slapping free-fall and the second half of the race is 4.5 steady uphill. I didn't think hills could go for 4.5 miles uphill, but they do--this is very evident while running. The first monster hill comes as you turn left off Akron Peninsula road onto North Hampton. I don't like to drive my stick shift car up this hill...it's taxing. Most sensible people walk most of this hill. To run up this hell hill, at this juncture, is a lesson in the economic principle of negative diminishing returns. It will wear you out for later if you choose to run it...if you're normal, that is. The ultra running trail obsessives might be able to tackle it, but not mere road running mortals. Finally, at the top, you catch your breath and look into the distance at yet another tier of this hill; it goes on for another two miles till the bitter end. I've retained a memory of heaving train-like breathing that gives me a sore throat for hours afterward. I love this race. At the crest of yet another tier is a water stop where sadistic water stop volunteers make jest of our hill running folly. (I'm thinking of you Hipmama!)
Gosh, it was so good to get back on the asphalt and feel the flexible bounce of our road shoes. Right off the bat, Roger, Don, and Jim took off ahead leaving me, Bob, Kurt and Debi trailing in the back. Kurt could be up there too, but has many miles to go. Bob could be up there too, but figured he'd hang with me and Debi cause we're cuter than the lead pack boys. Two miles out, we stopped at the Kendall Hills area to take advantage of the only bathroom on our course today. As we pulled out of the lot, we saw Sheila and her sister doing a slow steady strong pace behind us!
We were pretty quiet on the 4 mile uphill section...to much heavy breathing going on for intelligible conversation. Don, Roger, and Jim were so far ahead we couldn't see them anymore. Kurt was in the Opod zone. I like to test him every once in awhile to see how loud he has it. I've decided to run this race without my Ipod for a more fully engaged race experience...that and I don't want to get hit by cars careening the curves down North Hampton. This is a good race for all your senses...
Once we turned left off the damnable North Hampton onto Steels corner, Bob picked up the pace leaving me, Deb, and Kurt to finish the course. My hip flexors were talking a little bit, but not too bad for the first run of the Shamrock. We'll try it again next week and maybe add a few more miles onto it.