Sham Rocked IV
So this photo above sums up my fourth Shamrock Half Marathon. Finding the words to describe how I feel, though, are still hard to find. Today was far and away the best I have ever felt during any race.
Back in 2007 when I first ran this race, I set a time that was pretty unexpected for me -- 1:44.23. Ever since that race, I have wanted to beat that time. But in the half marathons I've done since then -- in particular Shamrock II and Shamrock III -- my training certainly wasn't on a level to beat that time. This year, though, has been different. I have documented my training pretty well this winter -- from a crazy mountain run to really test my endurance, to much more hilly runs and many consecutive weeks with 10 mile runs.
I knew heading into today that my endurance was probably the best it's been in three years. I just didn't know if my speed could match it. Fortunately today I ran with my friend Travis, who I've been running with all winter. (He also ran part of this race with me in 2008.) When we were standing at the start line in the cool breeze we were talking about how nice it felt compared to all the crazy runs we've done this winter. Today, the weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was a huge reward for putting up with snow and cold and wind and rain for many of our runs.
When the race got under way we took off and never really looked back. We hit the first mile in 8:02 -- 30-40 seconds faster than each of the past two years. I thought we were a bit fast, but everything felt great. No reason to slow down if I felt that good. I didn't hit my watch at mile two, but the next two miles were in 15:29. Did we really speed up that much? And was I really feeling that great?
As the race made the turn onto Shore Drive and headed "uphill" things kept rolling along. I put "uphill" in quotes because after training on so many hills, this was nothing. Travis even asked if we were going downhill. The times looked like it -- mile 4 was in 7:42; mile 5 was in 7:46. When we hit mile 6 in 7:54 and hit the halfway point, I knew the PR was in sight. I also knew that beating it with ease was a reality, but I had to stick with it. I refused to let my watch say anything slower than an 8-minute pace.
So, I didn't. Mile 7 was in 7:51; mile 8 was 7:52. Somewhere around here is where Travis started lagging behind just a bit. I turned around and he told me to go. Honestly I wanted to stop and do this whole thing with him, but we have an agreement with our runs that if either wants to go faster, then to do it. Plus his goals were slightly different than mine. So after hitting mile 9 in 7:59, I kept in my head to beat my PR by a minute or so. I knew I could probably beat it by 2 minutes if I picked it up and got back into the 7:40s, but I couldn't quite do it.
Mile 10 was 7:51; mile 11 was in 7:59, oh-so close to what I didn't want to do. It kind of made me mad that I had slowed down like that, so I kicked up just a bit for the final two miles -- 7:45, 7:49 and 44 seconds for the last tenth of a mile.
My official chip time was 1:42.52. That's 91 seconds faster than my 2007 time. I wouldn't quite call that shattering my PR, but it felt fantastic. All I wanted to do was beat that time, even it was just by a second. (Travis finished in 1:44.06, beating his PR by 8 minutes from two years ago.)
Tonight, about 11 hours after finishing, I feel amazing. While I'm tired, I'm not crazy sore like I usually am after a half marathon. I can walk normally; I can get up off the couch with no trouble. Simply put, I don't feel like I need to take a break. I know that I will and I know that my body needs some down time, but I'm more eager than ever to face the rest of the year. This is the best way imaginable to start 2010.
I have a lot more to talk about concerning the weekend and the great expo and the purchases I made, but I'll save all those thoughts for other posts this week. For now, I just want to sit back and enjoy this for a couple of more hours.
Thanks to everyone out there who has supported me during this training session, especially to my wife, Christina, for those free Wednesday nights and to my mom for listening out for my son on night's Christina wasn't around.