Race Report: Shamrock’n Half-Marathon

Well, Plan A, B, C, and every letter up through about Q went out the window, but there are some things you just can’t account for.

It was a beautiful morning, nice and cool with a light breeze – the kind of weather you dream of when you have a time goal. Mine was to run one more sub-2 hour half-marathon, and my training suggested I could do it if nothing went wrong. The race started on time and off I went.

Mile 1 – 9:42

Mile 2 – 9:20

Mile 3 – 8:58

My plan was to hit Mile 3 at 28:21 and I actually hit it at 28 flat. I wasn’t worried that I had gone out too fast because I knew there were some hills and turns ahead.

Mile 4 – 9:08

Mile 5 – 9:10

Mile 6 – 9:00

Gave some of it back, as expected, and got myself to target pace. The plan was to hit Mile 6 at 55:21, and I actually hit it at 55:16. Things were going great. The pace was comfortably hard, and my only worry at this point was whether hills or heat might throw me off pace.

Mile 7 – 9:13

I reached the halfway point at 1:00:20 and Mile 7 only 7 seconds off pace. It wasn’t going to be easy as I knew I had to pick up the pace, but if I could just hold 9:06-9:08 the rest of the way I’d get it done.

About one-third of the way into the next mile was a 90-degree left turn. As I planted my right foot I felt a sudden pain in my arch, as if I had stepped on a large stone. I stopped for a second but I couldn’t see anything, so I continued on.

Unfortunately each push off with the right foot felt really bad. I pulled over to the side, removed my shoe and checked for a fracture, but I wasn’t thinking right. It wasn’t THAT kind of pain. In any event, nothing was broken. It just felt very sore. I put my shoe back on and started up again.

But I couldn’t get anywhere near target speed.

Mile 8 – 11:31

I wrote on Saturday that I couldn’t afford even one really bad mile, and now I had one. I was two-and-a-half minutes behind, with a sore right foot and five miles still to go. What to do?

Mile 9 – 11:21

If I could have kept running consistently, I might have had a shot at last year’s 2:04:03, but I ended up alternating a 3/4 mile run with a 1/4 mile limp. It’s best to say as little as possible about this part of the race.

Mile 10 – 11:39

Mile 11 – 11:16

Mile 12 – 11:54

We crossed the Tower Bridge and set up for the final stretch around Raley Field, into the stadium, and around the warning track to the finish along the third-base line. I just wanted to get it over with, so I clenched my teeth (literally) and ran as hard as I could for the last mile and a quarter.

Mile 13 – 9:39

Finish – 2:13:37

At an average 10:07 pace, I ended up almost exactly one minute per mile above my target. Nowhere near my worst performance, but disappointing because this was my final effort.

I’ll run half-marathons again. In fact, I already have one in mind for next year, but this was my last attempt for time. It would have been nice to reach my goal, but I believe the training I did to put sub-2 within reach contributed to my injury.

From now on, the rare half-marathon will be in the 2.5-3 hour range and only for fun. Racing (and training) will be 10 miles or fewer. That should extend my running life, keep me relatively injury-free and still allow me to compete at shorter distances.

1,426th of 3,438 finishers. 45th of 84 in 55-59 age group.