As the 2014 season approaches, I best be getting in the habit of providing race reports! The Tipp Hill Shamrock Run has always been a favorite of mine. Not only is Tipp Hill a very vibrant and welcoming neighborhood to run through, but the race is also a great early season “tune-up” to check in with your fitness level. While this was not my first race of 2014, the snow-covered roads at the Chilly Chili 5k in January made it difficult to gauge your current race ability.
I have not run the Tipp Hill Shamrock Run since 2009 – pre-injury. I’m also far behind on my run training this year. My few attempts at “speed work” on the treadmill have not felt productive. These factors left me unsure of how I would run at this race and therefore I didn’t put much thought into a goal. In the back of my mind I threw the number 25:00 out there just so I would have something to shoot for. One thing I knew is that based upon my feelings of unpreparedness along with the hills that the course traverses, it was going to hurt. I just kept telling myself “it’s only 4 miles. You can push yourself for 4 miles.”
This was another race for the Strong Hearts Run Club – a team of highly motivated, inspirational, and compassionate runners. The team is building momentum as spring nears and I’m always very excited to join forces with such an awesome group. And with over 3500 finishers at this race I got to see so many of my non-run club Syracuse friends which is always an added bonus!
Considering the challenging winter we’ve had the weather on race morning was exceptional. The roads were wet but not snow-covered and the temps were as mild as we could hope for. I was able to run a short warm-up before lining up at the start. I know that over the years this race has grown more competitive, and wow what a lineup on display!
The gun went off and I had my usual motive – go out hard and hold on for dear life. (disclaimer: do as I say not as I do!). I knew this was not the time, nor the race, to pace with the front runners. But as usual I wanted to be the lead female from the start so I placed myself there and tried to settle in. When I hit the mile mark at 5:25 that all too familiar feeling of oh shit hit me and I reminded myself “only 3 more miles of this.” The hills on this course are not anything insane, but when I’ve been chained to the treadmill all winter I definitely noticed them more than I wanted to. Which meant that on the downhills I pushed hard – harder than I would’ve pushed had this been a longer race. I apologized to my quads as I did this…
“Hold on for dear life” over the next 3 miles is all I could muster. Since I’ve run this race previously and have lived in Tipp Hill I am familiar with the roads. There were no surprises – just the will to succeed. The main thing I noticed about my running is how horrible my form was. This was a product of not feeling comfortable at this pace. When I am the front runner I depend on the spectators to clue me in on where my competition is. I do not like to look back. Throughout the race people were cheering me on as the first female, but I also heard plenty of “go ladies” shouted. Which meant someone was hot on my tail. You hit mile 3 on Coleridge Ave before you make the turn into the park for the final loop. It’s a sharp turn into the park so I used that spot to sneak a peek at who was behind me. Yep, she was right there. And I swear my legs were spewing curse words at me by this point. Nothing hurts worse than getting passed in the last mile for 2nd place, so it was time to focus. I’ve run the loop around this park so many times I could probably do it blindfolded. So I pushed hard and started my sorry excuse for a kick right where I wanted to. I never looked back – I had confidence in my ability to finish stronger. But boy did I just slip in under the wire! I crossed the line at 25:00 on the dot, with the 2nd female coming in at 25:07.
Overall the race was a success and I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I always love having such strong competition keeping me on my toes. It was also cool to finally race in the inov-8 Road-X-Treme 118’s again – they’ve been in hibernation all winter and oh how I’ve missed them!
The Strong Hearts Run Club put out some awesome times. The dedication these runners have is showing with some major improvements all around! There was only one thing left to do – celebrate our accomplishments and our camaraderie at Strong Hearts Café 🙂
Next up for the crew – Syracuse Half Marathon on March 23rd! I hope to see many familiar faces there as well! But I better get back to training…I already feel unprepared…again 🙂