Shamrock’n, take 3

Div Place Place Time Pace
49/206 467/3603 01:45:50 8:05 min/mi

The Race

I usually like writing these blogs after I’ve had a day or two to answer people’s questions on how my race went. I do this for a very specific reason, the more I talk about it, the more I analyze what I did, how I did, and how I felt. Yet if I wait too long, I run the risk of editing the story in my head of how things went. So as I began to look back at this race on race day, my initial opinion and feelings were poor: two years later, and my time is almost exactly the same! Yet as I began to talk to friends, I began to realize that, though the times may look the same, my running definitely wasn’t.

In 2007, when I ran Shamrock’n three months in to running, and as my first half marathon, I ran all-out. I kept my eyes on the back of runners in front of me, focused all my energy on run form and breathing, and ran… and ran… and ran. I remember at mile three being jealous of a few guys in front of me who were able to chat with each other: I don’t think I could have gotten out more than a few coherent words in a single sentence. For Shamrock’n 2008, I began the first ten miles of my run at a pace that I found moderately easy, kept my heart rate around 160-165, running 8:15s, and then kept up 7s for the final three miles, brining my pace down to 7:52s. For this race, I was somewhere in between. I was trained less than 2008, and so my 8:15s took me to a ~170 heart rate, my conversation level stayed moderate for the first 7.1 miles, my energy level was great, and I felt natural in the run. Whereas my first run was a mental battle of continuing to push myself, for this race, there was no battle, it just felt natural and normal. For the latter 6 miles, after departing from Harry at the relay point, I pushed myself to a 180bpm heart rate and sped up a little, though without the training as the previous year, not nearly as much as before.

The other difference that I look back to, in slight comparison to last year, is that the route was a little hillier, the wind a bit heavier (though I’m not positive on this, as the “wind-tunnel” of the stadium wasn’t as bad, so this may be an excuse and not a fact), and the minor route changes may have been enough to push the heart-rate up a few beats. If that’s true, and not an issue of re-building the story in my head, then my run was nearly on-par to last year, and definitely much better than 2007. So, though I was disappointed at first, in retrospect, my running has matured significantly in the last two years of running.

The Course

Some parts of the course changes were more subtle than others, while others were quite obvious.

One of my favorite parts of the 2008 course (which was there in 2007, but I didn’t like as much), was the Red Bull arch down the there-and-back on Riverbank Road. This year, with the extra two miles running throughout downtown and old town, there was no there-and-back down the road, and apparently no Red Bull sponsorship, either.

Whereas the original course went only to third street, this year, we went down to seventh, ran out to the same point along the river, but instead of running along the river (where there seemed to be more construction than last year), we followed closer to the freeway, then as we progressed under the bridge as before, instead of coming up to the bridge directly, we headed into old town. I was originally worried about how running on the cobblestones might go, but fortunately, we cut back down an alley before we hit first street. The rest of the route, excepting Riverbank Road, was pretty similar. The choice of using one of the square blocks in West Sac to do the relay exchange, whereas runners went on one side of the block, while relayers went on the other, was a great idea. And all-in-all, the route was as good as I remember it, with a few extra hills thanks to the alley and other areas, a lot of opportunities for spectators, and a nice view of varied parts of town.

Oh… and one other comment. If you like almonds, this year’s race had the BEST post-race food bag, ever. If you don’t like almonds, I’m sorry. The two fig newtons weren’t quite enough. Good for me, I love almonds. I just wish they had all six of the bold flavors Blue Diamond offers: the salt and pepper sounds great, as does the lime and chili.

The Comparison

And now, lastly, thanks to my original feelings of inadequacy on my times, I began an analysis of all of my halfs so far. I wanted to see if I really was improving, staying the same, had backslid, or if this was truly business-as-usual. So, without further ado:

Statistically, my results fell into the 38.6th percentile against average (good!), though if I discount the two >100 degree days as handicapped, then I’m up closer to the 70th percentile (bad!).

So, it’s not exactly a bad result, nor is it a good result, but it’s an appropriate result for the effort level and training I’ve done, and is completely consistent with my expectations. I did fine, I felt fine, and I am sure my next race will be just about the same time… again.

Race Time
Shamrock’n ’07 1:46:13
Ave of the Vines ’07 1:44:20
Disneyland ’07 1:59:34
Four Bridges ’07 1:49:36
1st Half CIM ’07 1:45:14
Shamrock’n ’08 1:43:07
Ave of the Vines ’08 1:50:10
Disneyland ’08 1:41:34
1st Half CIM ’08 1:47:16
Shamrock’n ’09 1:45:50

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