Shamrock 8K: Focus Ninja

Drama happens.

For me in 2010, it seems to happen mostly on race mornings. I’m sure there is some message the universe is trying to send me through this. I just haven’t quite figured out what that is yet.

We all end up with drama in our days from time to time and it’s almost always relationship based — boyfriend, girlfriend, sibling, parent, best friend, boss, co-worker, neighbor, landlord, etc., etc., etc. People in our life will do things, because that’s what they do, and it will stir a reaction in us. In reality it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the feelings, fears, anxieties and doubts we harbor ourselves. It’s just that others tend to draw that out — for reasons far too profound for me let alone my blog.

So, suffice it to say, that relationship drama instigated some old emotional tapes for me.

And so, it while it was a glorious March day to run 8K, I had  some of my personal demons surface just a few hours before the start of the annual Shamrock Run in Buffalo, N.Y.

How to cope with them?

First, complain on Twitter. Oddly, that somehow helps.

Second, focus on me.

The demons and doubts and fears and anxieties would all be there when the race was over. I had more important things to take care of — like running the workout I was scheduled to do.

For the record, I was not racing the Shamrock Run, a traditional right-of spring for runners, walkers and would-be runners and walkers (and beer drinkers) held in South Buffalo. I was using the event as part of my tempo run for the week. Coach Peter had me run a 1.5 mile warm up then run the race, just a shade under 5 miles, at a tempo pace, then finish off with a 1.5 mile cool down.

I had been having some trouble sustaining my tempo paces on the treadmill the past two weeks. Mostly, I’m sure, it was a mental wall and the fact that when you run outside, you naturally vary your pace. The consistency of the treadmill can, oddly enough, be more difficult.

So what to do with my drama? Channel it into the run? I could. But then I would run the risk of burning out early or running too fast for the entire race.

Instead, the goal became to focus. My friend Sue told me via text it was “Amy Time.” I’m getting ready for a 70.3 in Texas. This was my tempo workout. Focus only that.

And so I did.

The focus was on my workout. The focus was on my tempo pace. And while I normally don’t advertise my paces, I’m so pleased with my effort today that I’m going against my own tradition.

Peter told me if the weather was good (which it was) to try and hold around a 9:30 pace. Focus, I told myself. Focus.

I wore my Garmin so that I could keep my pace. Because I was not trying to kill it. Not trying to run fast. I was trying to hold my pace.

The gun finally went off. First thought: Don’t get sucked in to the race pace. Don’t get sucked into the race pace. Don’t get sucked into the race pace.

Let others run their race. I would run mine.

Several times I had to back off my pace. I was a bit too quick. This was a good sign. Because running that 9:30 pace felt slow.

The course then took on its version of the tour of overpasses of South Buffalo (see the horror that was the first half of the Buffalo marathon about this experience). I didn’t pay close attention to my Garmin on the uphills or the downhills. Steady on the way up and let the hill take me on the way down.


My pace was good. My pace was on.

Again, I avoided glancing at the Garmin when the course went over two steel grate bridges. Princess feet. A bit slower pace to keep from, well, falling.

I hit the home stretch and felt great. My Garmin read a bit of a quick pace, so I slowed up my legs a tad. I felt great. I smiled. I said hello to a few friends as I gingerly crossed the finish mats.

Oh, I could have run so much faster. Oh, I felt so good and refreshed.

And look at that.

A 9:29 pace.


I am a focus ninja.

Ok, maybe not always. But for those 47 minutes and 11 seconds I was.

The mumble-jumbo of my mind would come out emotionally on the cool down run back to the car. I let myself release.

And then I moved on.

Because I could.

Because I nailed that tempo run. Because I finally didn’t care about the drama or what other people were doing or what other peopled wanted me to do or didn’t want me to do. I took care of myself.

And for that, we do a happy dance.

5 Comments on “Shamrock 8K: Focus Ninja

  1. Congrats Amy!! =) Wish I could have seen you up there, great job.

    • Ryan, hope you had a good time. Amid the 5,000 people I missed you! One of these days we’ll meet up at a race!

  2. We all had some sort of “drama”, pain, feelings, and uncomfortableness… But we all got thru it. We went on. We overcame and lived. Love and friends helped us thru and today we had about 5000 friends there to help us whether they knew it or not. 🙂

  3. Just curious… why “would-be” runners? Because someone can’t run as fast as you can? We’re all out there trying to get it done. I ran my first Shamrock this past weekend and had a great experience. Maybe I’ll see you next year blowing past me. 😉

    • First, congrats on running your first Shamrock! Second, I am sorry you found the term “would-be runners and walkers” offensive. I mentioned runners and walkers along with would-be runners and walkers in this post. The “would-be” refers to the number of people who seem to register for the Shamrock race for the swag with no intention of running or walking the course. They register but participate as spectators. And if that’s what they want to do, that’s their rite of spring and I appreciate their cheers along the route. Anyone who toes the start line is a runner, regardless of pace.

%d bloggers like this: