Sunday, I ran the Paddy’s Shillelagh Shuffle 3 mile road race in West Newton. It’s a fun race that’s managed to keep a small town feel even though the field has grown to over 1700 runners. Paddy’s was the last race in the Pub Series, and also my last race/workout before starting serious tapering for Cape Cod.
With only two weeks to go before Cape Cod, I didn’t want to race all-out. I thought about doing it as a marathon pace run but instead I decided to try and do the Lou Ristaino Pre-Marathon Workout, a SRR favorite: 6 x 800 meters with no recovery between each interval, running the first at goal marathon pace (for me, about 3:55 for 800 meters) and taking five seconds off for each additional 800. It’s usually a track workout, but the race was the right length and I could set up my Garmin to mark off the 800 meter intervals so I figured I’d give it a try.
When I got to Paddy’s, I went to the parking lot across from the bar where the tents were set up for the pre-and post-race festivities to pick up my number and my T-shirt. Even though I had registered early, by the time I made it to the shirt tent all the shirts in my size were gone, but a woman’s medium was an adequate substitute.
It was a good day for running, though not as good for the festivities around the race. Temperatures were in the low 50s with showers on and off throughout the morning, mostly on before and after the race but mostly off during the race itself. Since it was a Pub Series race I knew a lot of people there, so I spent a little time in the parking lot chatting before I left to run the course for a warm-up.
The course starts in the side street next to Paddy’s and loops around West Newton before returning to the bar for the finish. To the extent that there’s any uphill at, all the peak of the hill comes just about halfway through the race, then there’s a long gentle downhill, perfect for the runner looking for a fast time.
When I got back to the start, the 1700 runners were crowded into the street next to the bar, waiting for the start. I weaved my way through the pack until I was a little ahead of the sign for people who thought they’d be running an eight minute pace. There were still lots of people between me and the start, but since I wasn’t racing, it was as good a place as any to wait.
From where I was, the start of the race was lost in the noise of the crowd, but when the people ahead of me started running it seemed like a good idea to follow. I started my Garmin and began to pick my way through the mob. I knew the hardest part of the workout was going to be hitting my marathon pace for the first 800 meters. Since I started farther back in the pack than usual, the people that start too far forward and sprint for about a quarter-mile before stalling and heaving their guts were all in front of me. Those same people have no clue about race etiquette, so for the first 800 meters I was busy protecting myself from the oblivious with a judicious elbow or two as I weaved my way through the pack.
I totally missed my split at the first 800 meters. That meant I made it to the end of the first mile without any feedback to tell me how fast I was going. The second 800 meters should’ve been a 3:50, but my watch told me that I ran it in about 3:35. My mile split was a little over 7, so the first 800 meters was just as fast. Oh well.
It was too late to do anything about the first mile, but now that I had some idea how fast I was going I knew to slow down to try to get back on track. I actually managed to hit my target of 3:45 on the third 800. Then I got the right splits for intervals 4 & 5, I just ran them in the wrong order.
As I started the last 800 meters a woman zoomed by, but she had started her kick a little too early. As I sped up she slowed down and I went back by her. When I’m not racing, I enjoy pacing other runners to the finish, so as I passed I told her to follow me. I ran a steady 3:25 for the last 800 meters and she kept up and even managed to pass me at the finish line when I waved her by, which made her happy. I finished with plenty left in the tank, even though I didn’t do all that well a hitting my targets, so I was happy with my effort too. And by completing the race, I finished the Pub Series to earn my jacket and check one more item off of my bucket list.
After the race I jogged the course backwards to tack on a few more miles. The dozenth shout of “You’re going the wrong way” was just as funny as the first one.
When I got back to the start, I went to the food tents to pick up a hot dog and some chicken stew to eat while I walked back to the car. I skipped the post-race socializing because I wanted to get back home to clean up before heading out again.
Later that afternoon, Ruth and I picked up Adena and took her with us to join Gail and Dave Martin in Providence at Fellini’s for dinner with Dave Cockman, who was visiting from North Carolina. We were all virtual friends, but had never gotten together in one place before. Dave C. friended me on Facebook after Gail had sent him a copy of Chasing the Runner’s High. He finished it a short time before Adena was randomly assigned to pace him through the last 30 miles of the 2011 Vermont 100.
Providence is an hour away, but I’m always up for a trip to Fellini’s for pizza so meeting Dave in Real Life was a great excuse for some carbo-loading/reloading. Since Dave was flying home from Providence after a weekend spent running the Hartford and Newport marathons, Team Martin had just finished a trail 50K the day before (their 5th marathon+ race of the year), and Adena has a 50 miler next weekend, I felt a little guilty sitting there with my little 3 miler and just a single marathon in my immediate future.