Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Ras Mor: Race Report

Boston loves its St. Patrick's Day. It also loves its running. The two combined have resulted in various fun runs complete with runners dressed like leprechauns and followed by green beer. One of the largest in the area is held in Davis Square (my neighborhood).

A few months ago, I saw a friend comment on FB about a race, An Ras Mor (they all have Gaelic names) in Central Square (3 squares from Davis). I assumed, that was the race I remembered and that it must have moved cause Central is larger than Davis. I signed up Paul and me.
A few days later I realized my mistake. The race at home was Ras Na hEireann. It was still being run, just outside my door. And although it would have been temporally possible to run both races, my shins would not have been up for it. So I opted to just do the An Ras Mor and pass on the other one.
An update on my shins: My shin splints started acting up again in January after a week of particularly agressive mileage. I cut running for a week. Got new shoes (it was really past time). Started seeing a "Neuro-Fascial Therapist" aka "the Witch Doctor", and started running for 10 minutes at a go, always after warming up on the bike, adding 15% per week and never running two days in a row. It's actually been easier to stick with this routine than I thought. I've also signed up for a 2 hour running form seminar next week. The witch doctor has given me a handful of stretches (that feel like neural stretches, not muscular ones) that I do daily. I also see him regularly, and he does some pretty serious massage on my calves and feet. I'm pain free, but I still feel like I'm not 100%. I can usually feel what I can only describe as tension in my left shin. I've discontinued strength training for my calves since the current hypothesis revolves around imbalance between calf and shin, quad and hammie and so on. I continue to run, a little bit at a time.

This week, I was up to running 26 minutes in one effort. Which is good since 5Ks typically take me around 25. In fact, I haven't run a 5K in what feels like forever. I can't even remember running one in Brisbane. The last one I can remember was in Cairns. I ran somewhere around a 24:30. I wasn't expecting to run that fast this time around since my run training in the last 2 years has been so hit and miss.
Back to the race. Saturday is race packet pick up day. It's categorically miserable out: mid-30s and it's been raining for what feels like years. Roads are flooding. Oh and it's windy. Paul and I went to pick up our race packets, and I ran into my old massage therapist from years back. I've been meaning to look him up again. He truly has magic hands, so seeing him seems like an omen. I have to do this race (oh, plus he was one of the organizers, and I'd feel bad pulling out now). Paul, however, doesn't feel this way. He decides if it continues to be miserable, he would prefer to stay warm and dry on Sunday morning.

It turns out this would be a good thing for both of us. Had Paul come, we would have run together, holding a 9 minute-mile pace. Since he didn't, I could run at my pace, which I hoped would be closer to an 8 minute-mile (~25 minutes total). The weather persisted, and despite having brought dry clothes for the post race festivities (i.e., beer), there was no place to stash the bag. I ended up having to leave it outside, up against a building that shielded it, somewhat. from direct rain. I was shivering and soaked before the race even started, and just anxious to get moving.
When the gun finally sounded, it was a relief. The race itself ran from the Asgard up Mass Ave toward Harvard and back again. If you're familiar with Central square, it was actually a really nice course. There are so many landmarks to work with. The first mile came and went, and I swear the pacer said I was running 7:45. That felt great, a sub-8 for the first mile, I was sure I'd slow down as I got tired, so good to get that first one in.
In these sorts of races, I feel like the first mile is just sorting people out, you're jockeying for position, passing, getting passed, there's a lot of movement. Then things just settle down. You find the group of people who are your pace, and you guys for the most part hang together (unless there's a hill to sort out the strong from the weak). So a mile in, I felt like I had found my pack, but I was wrong. I'd see some one ahead of me and think, "ok, just hang on to that person," but a minute later, I'd find myself passing them. Then I'd pick the next person. It didn't occur to me until well into mile 2 that I hadn't found my pack, in fact I had just continued picking people off every step of the way. There was no pacer at mile 2, but my watch read 15:something which meant that I was still better than my 8 minute-mile pace. Then it was all about determination. The road had a gentle slope down to the finish, and I could easily follow the landmarks. First the Plough and Stars bar, then City Hall, next the T stop, then the Middle East restaurant, the fire station and that was it. When I turned the corner for the last 0.1 miles, I could see the finish clock. I was going to finish sub 24. It was amazing. I've definitely never run a sub 24.

Coming around that last turn.

My official time was 23:38. That means my pace was 7:37, smashing 8 minute miles. I was elated, but cold. I found my bag, which had managed to keep my clothes dry. I changed my shirt and wrapped up in my winter coat. I didn't bother to change pants and shoes, cause I didn't want to find a bathroom to change in. I didn't want to wait around to enjoy the beer in the rain. I was happy enough with my race.

I hope that this is an indication of good things to come from all the hours of winter training I've put in and carefully managing my shins. The Witch Doctor claims that doing his stretches will improve my speed drastically. I'm still skeptical, but I suppose if I keep having good times, I might be convinced.

1 comments:

火吟 March 29, 2010 at 4:29 AM  
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