Training notes: Shamrock Shuffle is first race of the season, an unexpected,unlikely PR

Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, was the first race of the season for me – the Shamrock Shuffle out in Lebanon, an NH Grand Prix series run. I ran 18:39 (:5:59 pace) on this slightly rolling course. A couple of decent little climbs in there, especially the one in the first half of mile three. I was 21st overall, and 8th in my division. Man, this over 40 crew is tough competition! Bunch of guys from the club were out for the race, including Porter (who be me by 8 seconds for his own PR), Peter B., and Anders. Saw Mike Bradford as well, coaching a talented high school runner. Wonderful race. Kris and the kids came out to the race with me and had fun playing while I ran and then we all had a nice lunch out and toured the Enfield Shaker museum in the afternoon.

This was the first race after a bit of a fallow period wherein I babied a bout of  patellar tendinitis (runner’s knee).  This nagging injury caused me to take a spring marathon off my schedule – I didn’t think I’d be ready to start hard training early enough. And given the intensity of my work schedule and family life this spring, I didn’t see a reason to push it. So not having the formal rigor of a marathon training schedule is part of the reason I found myself in Lebanon yesterday. Though with a last minute back strain making even bending over to tie my shoes a challenge, I almost didn’t bother to go.

A few training notes

From early December through January, I ran 25-35 mile easy pace weeks. I’ve now had 5 weeks at 40+ miles with speed, tempo and long runs leading up to this first race. Some of the speed work has gone well, but I am still feeling miles away from the intensity I was able to bring to intervals at the end of last season. Which made me dubious I’d be able to run even as well as my last race, much less improve on it. On the other hand – among those tough rebuilding workouts, there were glimmers of something else, an evolving base, season built on season, that hinted at capabilities that might overshadow last year’s, just by virtue of having last year’s work under my belt. Having started running seriously fairly late (37), the impact of this growing base of years still seems very powerful.

Schedule, what schedule?

I’ve been traveling a good deal for work lately, and between that and a busy family life, I’ve had to squeeze running in during the odd hours. That means some early mornings at home or on the road, a few miles hear and there during a lunch break, and some night running. I’ve run at dawn in Tulsa, San Diego, and Los Angeles so far this year, and seen many an interesting sight as the sun comes up. I haven’t been using a training plan this spring, just trying to insure I run about 40 miles a week, with at least one long run, and preferably two speed workouts a week, one interval, one tempo. Otherwise, I’m enjoying a bit of unstructured training, running these when they fit into my schedule and my legs want to do them. I wouldn’t trust this sort of non-scheduled training for a marathon, but it seems to have worked for this 5K!

Last season

Last season ended with a couple of highlights -Cape Cod marathon PR (3:04:57) at the end of October and a 5K PR (18:53) on Thanksgiving. My spring marathon, Gansett, was also a PR at the time, 3:08:07, and so Cape Cod felt like real progress – without having to increase training miles beyond my usual peak 55 per week. I felt great after both, and it wasn’t until some early  December speedwork (5K pace interval workout – 10×400 on the track) that the bout with runner’s knee began.



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