Tag Archives: Shamrock ‘n’ Roll

The Perils of Pacing: Race Recap, ShamRock ‘n Roll

KARMIC RETRIBUTION. That must be it.

As payback for my perfect-weather Dances With Dirt race last week in Florida, Nature turned the polar vortex back on for this morning’s ShamRock ‘n Roll 10K. In another tweak of cruel irony, the race is part of the Kona Running series – hardly a name that evokes sub-zero wind chills.

But I’d volunteered to pace it, so I pulled on two pairs of tights, slipped a green shirt over my Heater Hog and wind jacket, and headed to Kellogg Park in Plymouth. And to my surprise (well, not really) the turnout was as strong as ever and the costumes just as wild. There were so many runners that wave starts were used for both the 10K and 5K.

I warned you.

I warned you.

Larry, the pace organizer (among other duties) gave us some advice before the start. “We know there’s black ice out there,” he said. “So don’t worry so much about sticking to your time. Just line up in the proper spot and be safe out there.”

I was grateful he said that. Because I apparently wasn’t done paying for the great experience last week.

Cold - No problem - we're PR Fitness!

Cold? No problem – we’re PR Fitness!

For the first time in a Kona race, I paced solo. Usually Larry assigns two or three people per time, but understandably he was a few pacers short today. So I took the 52 minute sign and assumed my place in the starting queue. The horn sounded at 7:30 and off we went.

I started in the back of the first wave, so I had to work through the crowd for about a half mile to get to my target pace of 8:23 per mile. And just as I was settling in, my right shoe came untied. I’ve run with an untied shoe before – even set a 5K PR that way – and my hands were numb despite the double gloves, so I stuck it out a while.

By the end of mile 2 my hands had thawed, so I pulled over. Procedure: Put sign down. Take off two sets of gloves. Tie shoe, with double knot. Put gloves back on. Pick up sign. Resume running, faster, so I can catch up. This wasn’t a problem for me, but it meant I was passing a lot of people. “I thought you were [already] ahead of me,” a woman said as I went by.

Now I felt guilty; the runners around me may not have been as fast or as fit as I am, but they were working hard. It couldn’t have been encouraging to see a pacer pass them. But it was only until I got back on target. As the end of mile 4 approached, I was just about there – and then my left shoe came untied.

This time I stopped right away and duplicated the above routine, except for jamming on the gloves rather than fitting them on right. And I was determined not to embarrass more runners, so I lowered the sign and took off in a sprint. After a bit I glanced at my watch to see when to slow down – and it had shut off. Battery failure.

Bundled up but rarin' to go! The 5K starts.

Bundled up but rarin’ to go! The 5K starts.

Now there was nothing for it but to make it look good. So I slowed down and just winged it, and headed toward the finish line with head and sign held high. And after all that, I finished at the 53:26 mark. Given I’d crossed the start line over a minute after the gun, I was remarkably close to target. Maybe the cosmic spirit likes me after all.

Right afterward, someone came up to me. “Thanks for keeping the pace,” he said.

“Hey, no problem,” I replied.

Me with another famous "Shoelace", Denard Robinson. Taught him everything he knows about running with untied shoes.

Me with another famous “Shoelace”, Denard Robinson. Taught him everything he knows about running with untied shoes.

Wonder Woman and Ultra Man

SUPERHEROES LIVE AMONG US, particularly in the running community. They aren’t usually noticed because they don’t get (or seek) a lot of publicity. The challenges they undertake are generally personal, and it’s easy to mistake them for ordinary mortals.

Mission accomplished! 50K completed, Sept. 2012

Mission accomplished! 50K completed, Sept. 2012

When I’d planned my 2012 year-long celebration of turning 50, with its associated events and challenges, I’d assumed (rather naively) that it was, if not unique, at least uncommon. But when I talk to fellow runners, amazing stories pop up everywhere.

For example, here are two people I met at recent races who have either completed, or in the middle of, some pretty awesome stuff.

Sharry

Shamrock ‘n’ Roll 10K, March 17

SharryI happened across “Irish Wonder Woman” after the race and just had to know what motivated her to run on a cold morning in this costume. “I’m turning 40 this year,” she said, “and I’m going to run 40 races to celebrate.” The Shamrock ‘n’ Roll 10K was race number eight since January 1.

Running three or four races per month is far from easy. In addition to the expense (entry fees range from $25 to over $100, plus travel), she’ll have to avoid serious injury and maintain the mental focus to run her best throughout the year. (The 20 races I ran last year were quite enough for me.)

Looks like we will meet again at the Martian Invasion of Races in April (me, half marathon, her, 10K) and Dexter-Ann Arbor in June. Her races range from 5K to half marathons, and at least one virtual race, something I will write about in more detail shortly.

To find out more about her, see her blog, “Sharry Runs 40 in 2013“. (Anyone who gives me a nice shout-out in her blog sure gets a plug from me!)

Ron

No Frills All Thrills 8K Trail Race, March 23

RonSay it’s your 50th birthday and you want to run an ultramarathon to celebrate, but there aren’t any nearby races that day. What to do? Create your own race, of course. That’s what this guy did, setting up and completing a 50-mile run on the Island Lake trails. He had a support vehicle and several friends ran part of the route with him, but otherwise did it by himself, with no water stops or spectators. Not even a fancy finisher’s medal.

So how did it go?

“Well,” he said, “At mile seven I got run over by some mountain bikers.”

Literally. They came around a corner and knocked him flat. “But I was unhurt, so I carried on.” Then around mile 18 his IT band flared up – bad enough that, “I wouldn’t normally have run on it.” But that day, “I swallowed a few ibuprofen, put some KT tape on my leg, and a few miles later, it was fine.” Other than that, it was uneventful.

Ron and Me - Age Group Winners

We took first and second in the 50-54 age group. Not exactly Olympic medals, but this was the “no frills” race.

Oh, and he biked over 2,500 miles last year, and ran for about 1,500. How I managed to finish ahead of him in the trail run I’m not really sure. But he says he’s going to come after me next year. Bring it on!