The Shamrock Race is today. I'm running the 15K and I'm going to give it my all--no half ass running. I'm going to do because of Livy, my daughter. Her birthday was yesterday--she's my Shamrock baby. I can't think of one without the other. My daughter is ten years old now and I've been running the Shamrock for half as many years. My daughter came into the world on March 7th, on a cold sunny snow covered day, barreling into life optimistically like a large crocus that pushes overnight through late winter snow. My entire labor and delivery was 3 hours beginning to end--it was embarrassing, almost, how fast she came into the world. By the time frantic nurse anesthetists got my epidural going to appease my screaming, they might as well not have bothered, she was already crashing into the world, a week early, and nearly 9lbs and looking oddly like an Eskimo. She was plump and pinky purple. She latched on to nurse like an Amazon river leech to take on this business of life. I called her my plump plum. She's been a ray of sunshine ever since--not much gets her down.
When I say, "Sigh...it's such a cloudy rainy day," Livy says, "But Mom, at least it's warm and we can see the grass again through the snow." When I was running around the kitchen yesterday preparing her birthday lasagna for 20 family guests, fretting the whole time that it was going to be too dry, she said, "Oh Mom, your lasagna is always perfect!" She brings optimism to my dark days, so I'm going to run the Shamrock today thinking of my daughter. Let's see how it goes.
It was hard to think positively about running this thing when it's been raining incessantly all night long. The weather.com hour by hour forecast showed a grim series of rain sputtering black clouds graphics for the entire day. Last year the race was held the night after a colossal snow storm that dumped a foot or more. You never know what you're going to get having a race in the potpourri month that is March in Northeastern Ohio. It's hard to dress for cool rainy runs. I decided to go commando in my black spandex capris (for extra kick), sleeveless top and my Buckeye 50k Winter jacket to keep me dry. I cashed in my volunteer points for my work in the club and got a free new pair of Nike Pegasus. I hoped they would carry me across the finish strong as an ox since my training wouldn't..spotty and lallygagging as it was, but just as my late winter daughter barreled into life strong and optimistic, so too did I hope running the Shamrock would shake my winter running doldrums and fuel my running enthusiasm for 2009.
Sure enough the rain continued right up to start time, but the thought of running in rain is always worse than actually running in rain. After five minutes of running it wasn't a big deal. I started out with Bob; he hung with me for a little bit, but he was keeping a faster pace that would have me crashing and burning on the four mile uphill North Hampton stretch. I slowed it down, but still it was too fast...I was doing an 8-8:30 pace the first few miles. I passed Ralph T., a grumpy-ish club member and avid marathoner. I hoped he wouldn't do what he normally does and pass me again later on North Hampton Road, as he has consistently done for the last four years I've run this race. My legs were feeling great, but once I scaled the first drastic upward climb of North Hampton, my lungs were overcome and I had to walk a few paces. I didn't dare look back to see Ralph's limping gait closing the space between us. Isn't it amazing how fast some runners can run with injuries or odd vagaries of style that just don't look a bit efficient? But they move...
I could still keep Bob in sight ahead, which is nice--cause he reminds me of smooth paced Clydesdale with his build and easy stride. If I can't have the pleasure of running along side him, I prefer to have him out front. He usually kicks my butt in anything less than a half marathon. The roles are reversed in anything greater than a half marathon and then it hurts my neck constantly looking over my shoulder to find him, so it's a good balance we have as regular running partners. He gets me running faster on the short stuff and I keep him running longer when he starts to tank on the long stuff. Debi was volunteering this race. She was working the best water station of the whole Shamrock course--near the top of the first hill plateau of the North Hampton near mile 5 or 6. Working this water station usually makes volunteers grateful they volunteered after witnessing agonized runner faces coming up the hill, but on a day like today, I'd rather be running in the rain than standing out it it.
I was finally getting my groove back along mile 7 when Henry H. caught up with me and kept pace for the near the rest of the race. I used to run with Henry the first summer I joined the club. It was nice to be running with him again. He had an Ipod blasted, which was fine, because I wasn't in the mood for talking. I was trailing a good line of drool out the right side of my mouth, which is common, whenever I'm giving a race a valiant effort. I gave it a swipe with my glove whenever I passed one of the cute cops directing traffic for the race. Then I heard the soft clap clap of rubber shoes coming up behind me...God, is it Ralph? It was!! Another time warp instance where Ralph passes me at the same darned spot he does every year. He's an extremely grumpy man, not known to hand out compliments, but he graced me with a left handed one. He said, "If you learned to run hills you'd kick my ass!" I told him I'm used to all that trail running and usually walk the hills!! He's right though. My lungs just bust on the hills, for some reason. All those years of smoking, I guess, or most likely, not enough speed workouts cause I hate them.
So, now I couldn't see Bob and Ralph was ahead of me!! It made me mad for a minute and I just wanted this race to be done, so I revved up the engine, got the drool flying, and made my way to the finish. I ran it in virtually the same exact time I did last year. Maybe a few seconds faster. My best time on this course was now two years passed when I ran this demanding hilly course in a perfect nine minute pace. But that's OK. I gave this race my all. I love this race. It's one that calls me back every year. I've placed once in my age group, but not this year--I was forth, but that's OK. It's a great jump start to the season! I looked like a spent Irish Setter after a run through the creek, but I was I was happy as my body broke out into shivers that didn't end till I thawed out in the tub some two hours later after race awards and clean up. Another Shamrock tackled. ;-)