Monday, March 22, 2010

Caitlin Chrisman: Shamrock Four Miler

I don’t run many of the GPx series races, but this Shamrock 4 Miler definitely would serve as an incentive for me to run more! The atmosphere was great! The participant numbers were massive (almost 1000!), the course allowed the runners to cheer for each other, and there was great competition for both males and females!

Going into the race, I had a great 1200m workout on Tuesday, so I was hoping that I could maintain a faster pace than I did at the Winter Flight 8k (5:47). Unsure of what the course was like, I was going on the conservative side for my race goal pace of 5:45 – 5:50 because all that I had heard about the course was bad: all downhill the first two miles, hairpin turn around and then straight back up the hill you just ran down. I would find out later that the course was not nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for (perhaps that was why??).

Unsure if there would be any women for me to run against, I was expecting to run with whichever random guy I could attach myself too. Fortunately enough for me, Friday night I received an email from Meagan Nedlo, a Queens University runner, and she asked if I would mind if she ran the race with me as a tempo for one of her 10k prep workouts. I was thrilled! Instead of emailing her back, I called her and we worked out logistics over the phone.

That morning, I warmed up with mostly Charlotte Running Club people, and learned from Meagan that Paul Mainwairing was planning to pace the two of us during the race, since he was coming back off a calf injury. I got to the starting line with four minutes to spare and I’ll make a mental note to do this more often with local races. Really, there is no need to get to the starting line 10 minutes before hand because you just end up standing around, without much room to stretch or do drills. Instead, I did all of this in a much calmer area, so I did not have to dodge runners during my strides or other pre-race drills.

At the starting line, Meagan was rocking some awesome flame tights that she informed me were really volleyball shorts. I think that all CRC women should buy the same! We jumped off the start line to some Irish jig which was very festive. In the first mile, I situated myself a safe distance from Chad Crockford, whom I know has made ample gains in his fitness. Paul, Meagan, and I settled into a nice rhythm and even enjoyed some small talk. Meagan asked me about my workout on Tuesday, and if my answer seemed short and curt to her, it was probably because I was starting to feel the effects of racing in my breathing. Paul also asked about what kind of shape I thought John was in, and I mumbled something incoherent about John’s sore calf.

I split 5:42 on the first mile – and felt bad because I had told Meagan I was hoping to run 5:45 pace in the race. At that point, I was worrying whether or not I was going to mess up her workout…We continued to press, using the next downhill to our advantage, coming through the second mile in 5:35. Right before the two mile marker, we ran a hair pin turn, so that we could see all the runners who were behind us. Surprisingly enough, there were several cheers for Meagan and me as we climbed the hill in the third mile (5:49). It was actually very motivating, so I thank all of those who did cheer for us, many of whom I probably do not know. Meagan was so surprised that she even asked me “Do you know these people?” Nope – but girl, you’re going to be a Charlotte running celebrity once you start running these races more often! ;o)

The last mile Paul pulled away from me, and I, in turn, pulled away a bit from Meagan. I knew I probably hadn’t put that much distance on her though because I could hear people cheering for both of us. Regardless, she was tempoing, and I was racing…So when she graduates and actually races, it should be really fun. Admittedly, I was almost expecting her to come blazing by me in the last 150 meters because I was definitely feeling the lactic acid buildup in my quad and glutes from all of the hills and did not feel like I move my legs as quickly as I would have liked. I crossed the finish in 22:48 – a 5:42 average for the entire race and with a 5:42 last mile.

After the finish, I congratulated Meagan, thanked Paul, and found my men to cool down with. I enjoyed a long warm down with Jordan, Bert, Thomas, Aaron, and Meagan for a bit. Since the cool down was so long, not much time was wasted between the finish and the awards ceremony, in which I got a free one hour massage!

I would like to note that this is probably one of the fastest races for women in the Charlotte area in a while. I checked the results and compared them to previous years. This year we had two women under 23, and two women under 24. Last year, there was only one woman under 24! The reason why I bring this up is because I am excited for the race where all of Charlotte’s fastest women come out to compete against use other and use this as incentive to break some personal records.

If we got Megan Hovis, Alana Hadley, Meagan Nedlo, Danielle Walther, Kelly Fillnow, Jocelyn Sikora, Alice Rogers, Val Matena, Rebecca Thomason and me in one race, I think we would all be very impressed with the fast times that would come and with the overall camaraderie of the group. We are all teammates, ambassadors of the Charlotte running community and I would be inspired to race with such a fine group of ladies.

Overall, this race has enabled me to go into the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler with confidence. I believe that running sub -60 minutes in three weeks is something that is within my fitness range!

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