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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tipperary Hill 4mi race report (yes, that does in fact say "race report") and more!

  After yet another post-long run breakdown last week, likely in an attempt to get me to shut up, Mary threw out an idea-find a race for this weekend.  Immediately, I checked both the Rochester and Buffalo race calendars and came up with...nothing, other than a 5k in Jamestown.  Not to be discouraged, I looked into Syracuse, and discovered the Tipperary Hill 4 Mile Shamrock Run.  The race received a resounding "yes" of approval, and before I knew it, I had filled out my first race registration in over three months.  Yikes.  After the swim/bike focus of late December-early February (at the expense of my running mi/week), followed by another month of struggling with what I had been perceiving as slow running (minus getting a little out of control those two days last week), combined with how awful the 5k at QT2 camp had felt, I was unsure of what would happen.  In a way, I think this eventually worked to the advantage of my mindset, nerves, and race execution, but I'll get into that in a bit.

  Before the race, though, came a week that was mostly easy, with the exception of some swim and bike tests thrown in.  I took to the pool Tuesday for a 200/1000 test.  I had done this test about a month earlier after my swim focus; unfortunately, I let the idea that my swim volume and interval length had dropped since then get into my head, and predetermined that it'd be perfectly acceptable if I was slower than last time.  Not surprisingly, I felt sluggish, and I touched the wall over 1.5sec/100 over 1000y what I had managed previously, but felt more disgusted with myself than disappointed.  On the plus side, I used this to fuel my bike test and race later in the week.  I knew that for no good reason, I'd predetermined what I shouldn't be able to do, and I used this as an out to avoid the real, lung-searing, arm-burning discomfort that I should have been seeking out.  That feeling of irritation in myself lasted a heck of a lot longer than swimming 1000 lousy yards did.  I tucked this bit of knowledge into the back of my mind, and looked ahead to the rest of the week.  Thus, I went into Thursday morning's bike test with the opposite mentality-let's see what you've got, Hansen.  I was more than ready pour myself into that bike. The details are quite anti-climactic (I'd never done the 3min/20min test before, so I had no basis of comparison), but I was still shaking a little bit for a good ten minutes after finishing.  I could live with that.  Mary's email response also included some expletives of positivity (not sure how else to put that...), another good sign, I suppose.

  But enough of that-onto the race.  I knew of Buffalo and Rochester's St. Patty's day races, but somehow hadn't heard as much about Syracuse's Tipperary Hill run.  Thus, I was somewhat surprised to learn that the participant numbers were huge-over 3100 finishers!  I got to the park an hour prior to the race start, but it still took me 15 minutes to navigate my way to a parking spot.  Despite an easy and efficient number pickup and an abundance of port-a-potties, I somehow found myself setting out for my warmup less than half an hour prior to the race start.  Oops-there went my obligatory post-warm up bathroom run.  Luckily, for once in my life, my bladder decided to comply.  In our winter of weird, ever-changing weather, my car was reading 27 degrees on the drive out, and several inches of fresh snow (luckily, the roads were perfectly clear) greeted us once we hit Syracuse.  This was fine with me; I double-layered some of my Woolsports shirts, though, and was perfectly temperate and good to go.  As I touched upon before, I didn't have any clear expectations heading into the race.  The four mile distance, a few hills on the course, an unfamiliar field, and the time off from racing gave me a license to just experience racing again, without having to obsess over time, place, what I had done the week before, etc, etc.  I felt decent on my warm up, and despite some unexpected nerves on the car ride over, I hit the starting line fairly relaxed and ready to go.

  After the airhorn sounded, we took off for the downhill first mile.  I knew that what went down would eventually come up, so I made an effort to stay relaxed.  Feeling smooth and, well, good, I soon found that I couldn't help but smile at the spectators and volunteers.  St. Patrick's day-themed races, in my opinion, rank up there with Halloween races in terms of the fun of the overall atmosphere at road races, so I was legitimately enjoying myself.  Plus, I was out there racing (God, I had no IDEA how much I really missed it!), I wasn't miserable, and I felt like I was running within control of myself.  I even noticed Tipperary Hill's upside-down stoplight, something that Dave had told me existed.  Suddenly, that became my pacing strategy-reach mile 2 still feeling good enough to smile.  I was glancing at the numbers on the Garmin, but that was about it-let them register, and move on.  Don't force it.  After a short, flail your arms and try not to wipe out sort of downhill, the race headed back up for the third mile.    The climb was challenging, but luckily I still felt good enough to sort of hold it together better than I have in some previous instances, and the hill went by surprisingly quickly.  I managed to squeak out one final smile to the spectators standing at mile 3 (somehow, that always makes it easier), and then turned my attention onto pounding my way through the final mile.  The course evened out a bit, my pace rebounded a little, and soon enough, the finish line was in sight.  I crossed the line in 24:48 (Garmin file  here), good enough for second place behind fellow Rochesterian Jess Snyder, who's one heck of a runner, and is always quick to say something genuinely nice to you post-race.  Following a 35 minute cooldown focused solely on trying to figure out where the heck I was going, I met up with Dave and my sister-in-law, and we were off for some lunch and catching up!

  Overall, I was pleased with the effort, especially after putting it into context.  Obviously, I've run much faster, but today wasn't about that.  More importantly, I got my competition feet wet, ran stronger and smarter throughout the course of a moderately challenging race than I have in quite some time, and gained a little more confidence in my training and my run- it's better than I was expecting it to be.  It still hasn't fully set that I only have 22 days until my first pro race, but today's little boost will hopefully help get me there!  Once again, thanks to Woolsports for outfitting my morning, Powerbar for fueling it, and QT2 systems for making it happen!

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