2013 Rollin’ Irish Half Marathon Race Report
I came to this race with no real plan and no intention of running it hard— I especially did not intend to run a PR. But this was a special week; or maybe there is something about this course that lends itself to good runs…
Starting off I tried to fall into a good pace. Climbing towards the first mile I chatted with a guy I had seen at the Vermont 50 last year. We talked for a bit, then I left him, pulling ahead as I was feeling pretty good. Between mile 1 and 4 I stayed alongside another guy who’s pace I felt comfortable mimicking. I had no idea what pace we were running, but it felt really good. Eventually I asked if he had any idea what we were on: “Hmmm, about a 7:28.” What the what?! Well, that changed things a bit.
From mile 4-5 our paced increased to a 7:04 on the downhill. We passed the first aid station [grabbed a nip of water] and then we immediately began to climb as we hit the hills from miles 6-9. This is why they call it Rollin’ Irish. I am really proud to say that I stayed strong the entire way through the hills, not once walking, and even increasing my pace at a few points. That was my real goal: kill the hills. Check.
I stayed with this other guy throughout the Rollin’ section, and as we passed the second aid station at mile 9 I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Well, this is where the race really starts.” I upped my pace a bit, pulling ahead, and began to pick off some of the runners in front of me. The road undulated a bit then flattened out at mile 10. I then head some feet behind me and realized it was the same guy catching back up to me. To my surpirse I heard him say, “Well, if you can run 3 miles in 25 minutes you can get it.” That last part refers to an earlier comment I made to him about the fact that I thought I might be able to break 1:40. So this guy caught up with me, rememebr what I said, and let me know just how I could get it done. That was pretty awesome.
So, I kicked it in as the road started to rise a bit at mile 11; then a bit more up to mile 12. I knew that if I could hold onto my pace througout this steady climb that it would be all downhill and then flat from mile 12 to the finish. I passed two more runners after mile 12, then another, and kicked it in for the last 3/4 mile. The road flattened out and I pushed hard. My body hurt a bit, but it wasn’t the usually hurt I had experienced on past half marathons. It was more uncomfortableness, but pain. This was tolerable; I could push through this.
As I got within sight of the clock I saw the numbers tick over from 1:36 to 1:37…not a “4” to be seen. I couldn’t believe it! I was going to pull it off. Earlier I had told myself that if I did break 1:40 I would, in true Scott Jurek fashion, literally roll myself across the finish line. And that is what I did: I slowed down; stopped; rolled; smiled and laughed.
I finished in 1:37:23.
I have to say a great big thanks to the guy who turned out to be my unofficial pacer (David Huffman I think). His kindness was very much appreciated, and I probably couldn’t pushed as hard as I did with out his helpful comments.
This was a great race to cap off a great week. I defended and passed my phd dissertation; and I ran my fastest half marathon. Not too shabby.
The Shoes I want to quickly talk about the shoes that I wore, since they are a bit…different. I have owned a pair of Brooks Launch’s for almost 4 years now. They got me through my first couple half marathons but I eventually stopped wearing them because the drop from heel to toe was a bit too much for me. I went to more minimal shoes, and then went to running trails–which required shoes with so more grip. I did not, however, get rid of them. I always meant to, but for some reason I didn’t.
Then one day I saw a video of Tony Krupicka cutting off the bottoms of his shoes to make them minimal & zero drop. Why can’t I do that to my shoes? I thought. So I did. I cut off a good chunk of the heel and made sure that they were as level as possible. I have been running in them for a few months now and this race was the real test to see how my legs would feel over longer distances. And honestly, no complaints or injuries. It took four or five days for my calves and Achilles’ to not be sore, but other than that I felt great after the race–really great, in fact. (Compare that with my first half marathon where I couldn’t walk for the rest of the day and then limped around for the next week.)
So, this was a successful experiment. It is possible to make your own zero(ish) drop shoes!