In my three years of running I’ve only managed to run two 10k’s. Both of those races happened to have a big, steep hill directly in the middle of the course which turns out not to be the best condition for a fast time. From what I’ve read, “the studies” show that even though the downhill sections do offset some of the time you lose while climbing, even in a shorter race the net effect of any hill is generally a slower overall time. For a while I’ve wanted to know what I could do on a flatter 10k course. My goal today was to run under 40 minutes which seemed completely reasonable based on my recent 5k times.
The Shamrock Shuffle moved its start and finish to Marsing Island Park this year. In previous years it had been at the Ste Chapel winery. Apparently parking was a major issue so they moved it. The course turned out not to be as flat as I’d hoped. It’s a rolling hills type of course where you’re basically climbing or descending gentle hills the entire way. Yes, this will slow you down a bit. And so will the wind. It was very windy, but on an out and back course I assume this works for you in the same way that it works against you.
I arrived just in time to see the start of the half marathon. I’d recently heard about a newly formed local running team, sponsored by Fleet Feet. It looked like they had a few guys lined up for the half marathon and they all looked fast. Fifteen minutes later when it was time to line up for the 10k I noticed four more runners wearing the team singlets. It was three guys and one girl and they all looked fast as well. This was going to be interesting.
When the horn went off all four of the team runners went out ahead of me. It looked like I would have to let the three guys go but I thought I had a chance of hanging with the girl. I settled in just behind her and waited to see what would happen. Two guys caught up to us within the first mile. One thing I’ve learned that’s been interesting and helpful in racing is to pay close attention to the cadence and breathing of every runner I make contact with during a race. I’ve found that based on these two things I can usually accurately predict how much of a real threat another runner is. Sure enough one of the runners who caught us was breathing too hard and he faded quickly. The other guy (we’ll call him “Clompy”) sounded like he was wearing shoes made of concrete. I instinctually panicked a little as Clompy steamed ahead, putting a nice gap on me and the girl. In the back of my mind though I knew I’d see him again before the race was over.
As I watched Clompy move away from us I also noticed one of the guys with a team singlet fading badly. I’m not sure what happened to him but it looked like he was cooked and shortly we were passing him. At this point I assumed it was a race for third and visions of a sprint finish were flashing though my mind. Somewhere during mile two, team girl began to fall off pace a little and I felt good enough to pass her and go for Clompy. After another mile or so I was passing Clompy to move to third. We hit the turnaround for the out and back where I was able to get an idea of how much space I’d put on team girl. She was close to passing Clompy but still far enough back that I started to feel like the race for third was probably over.
The rest of the race was uneventful. The two team guys in front were far enough out that I had no delusions of catching them. I started passing 5k runners who had started fifteen minutes later than the 10k. I wound up getting my sprint finish with one of the 5k runners whom I barely edged out. I finished a distant third to the two team guys. Team girl finished fourth overall while Clompy held on for fifth. My chip time was 40:17, a little slower than I was hoping for. I’ll probably take another shot at 10k later this year to see if I can do better.
The race gives out a gaudy medal to every finisher. My kids think these things are awesome so I took one to give to them. I was also handed a “beer glass” (just a regular drinking glass) at the finish which I did use to drink my delicious green beer (also provided by the race) from Sockeye. I hung out long enough to catch the finish of the half marathon. Sure enough, the top four finishers were all wearing team singlets and they all ran impressive times.
I would recommend this race for anyone who wants a 5k, 10k or 13.1 road race outside of the usual Boise race locations.