Saturday, March 12, 2016

Race Report: Shamrock Run 8K in Buffalo, NY

I was so nervous heading into my first race over a 5K distance this morning! 8K = 4.97 miles. Of course I've run that distance before (and more!), but not consistently and not very fast. This even turned out to the best one I could have chosen – lots of walkers and run/walkers and so I was never alone the whole route. That was really nice!

I'll start from the beginning. I met up with Kristen at the Fleet Feet store so we could drive to the race site together – at close to 5000 participants we figured it'd be better to carpool and get there early. Amy F. was hosting a tailgate party out of the back of her truck, so we headed over there to hang out and wait for the rest of our crew and for the race to begin.

Here's a bunch of us!

It was perfect running weather – who'd have thunk it in early March in Buffalo? It was a little chilly, in the 30s when we got there, but it was sunny and clear and there was no snow or ice left anywhere. And for there to be so many runners and walkers participating, it was totally manageable for this crowd-phobic gal. It really helped to have our own little enclave at Amy's truck, no doubt, but in general the crowds seemed very well behaved and managed. I won't be afraid or put off to run in big races anymore for sure.

One thing I did want to make sure of was to stay way at the rear for the start of the race so that I wouldn't impede any faster runner's path. Honestly, I was really worried about this race after having made the mistake of reading a couple race reports from previous years in which the writers bitched about having to navigate "would-be runners and joggers" and plain old walkers. Hey, I get that where that might be annoying when people don't know any better to try to stay out of the way (I think a lot of walkers in this kind of race are just doing it for fun with their friends and don't know much about the etiquette), but why do you have to belittle those out there like me who are slower runners by calling us "would-be" or "joggers"? It was a rude awakening for me to read blogs like that after having mainly read more inclusive ones, and certainly participating in a segment of the running community that is so welcoming and encouraging of all paces. 

Anyway, it didn't get in the way of me having a really good time. My friends helped me put it out of my mind, and soon I found myself lining up and ready to go.

I'm ready to go!

The only thing left that was weighing on my mind (and my body) was the fact that I got my period overnight, and was feeling it. Cramps the worst I'd had in a while, and despite having fueled up a bit (a few bites of a breakfast sandwich and a small Dunkin' Donuts iced Dunkaccino), I felt queasy and a bit weak... I worried quite frankly that I might pass out at some point. 

But! (spoiler alert) I didn't. 

It took me a few minutes to get to the starting pads once the race started, but once I got past that I took it easy, trying to be careful not to get caught up in the throngs. Of course, I'd positioned myself among mostly walkers and so that slowed me down a little bit, too – but I wanted that. I wanted to be able to run the entire distance and finish strong. 

Within the first quarter to a half mile I started feeling better and the queasiness went away. People started spacing out and I was able to find my pace. After a mile, I was pleasantly surprised that I was well under a 14 minute pace – right around 13:30, in fact. Very speedy for me, but I'll be darned that I didn't feel it. In fact, for most of the race I felt really strong, especially after mile 3 and despite the three hills. The last one was a surprise as I thought that there were only two hills, and to make it worse, it was about double the size of the other two. Still, my training served me well and I tackled them with no problem.

I had an all-David Bowie playlist to run to, and the miles went by quickly. I even thought that there would be a small chance I could meet my lofty goal of finishing in less than 1:10:00. Well, not quite, but I'll take it – my chip time was 1:12 and change. My average pace according to MapMyRun was 14:06, though official race time made it 14:35. Either way, I couldn't have been happier to maintain well below a 15 minute pace for the whole five miles, with negative splits every mile beyond that extra speedy first mile.

With my gals, Amy F. and Angela post-race. They have been a great support and inspiration to me as
 I've developed as a runner! (Doing my best not to really hate on my stomach. I know, I know...)

I was surprised to have enjoyed this big race as much as I did, and plan to make it an annual tradition, tailgating with friends and all!

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