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Road Race Jones: Shelley Irwin

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A Q&A with the host of WGVU’s Morning Show

This periodic feature for The Rapidian will reveal the running jones* of Grand Rapidians.

I’ve always been athletic but did my first 5k when I was 25 years old on the campus of the University of Indianapolis. I did with other grad students in my physical therapy class. I ran other 5k races, mostly related to where I was doing my physical therapy internships.

The turnaround point was when I moved to the other side of the state and trained for the Detroit Marathon. I was changing my life with the move and I needed a goal and trained for the marathon. That was 1997.

My forty-ninth birthday is September 23. I’m in the 45-49 year age group.

My last race was the Beaver Island Half Marathon on September 5. I did very well. Of ten women in my age group I was number four. It felt good. It wasn’t a PR, but of the last three half marathons I’ve knocked a couple of minutes off.

With some training I’m doing that I’m seeing my legs gain strength. And I also know that the last half mile I have a second wind. I’m getting faster.

I keep track of all of them, I run between 10 and 20 races each year.

Nowadays there are two types of race shirts. The standard cotton tee shirts, which I ue for training and wearing and are folded up and put in a pile. The tech shirts I will use those for other races and keep out. The cottons pretty much go in the drawer.

There’s a bunch of us - between 4-10 gals and we choose three half marathons to do each year. Next year we’re looking at Miami, Denver, Grand Rapids and maybe Toronto.

I look at what I’m training for and gauge, do I need to run ten miles this weekend? Well, here’s a race I can do. Racing is training for me. It also involves who is going to be there, if my pack will be there and the experience itself.

I’m starting to see destination running in my life. In January I’ll think I’ll be running the Miami half marathon. I ran a 5k there when I was doing an internship and I want to go back.

I did the Frankenmuth 10k once because it was on the way to my brother’s cottage.  Did a 9 o’clock 10k and was at his place by 1 o’clock.

I like a loop course better than an out and back. Half marathons are my favorite distance. I love the Cherry Festival 15k and the Bayshore Half Marathon. Good races.

There’s nothing like race day and there’s nothing like the night before.

Pasta dinner before 7 the night before and all race apparel laid out, walkman included.

Race day is a free day. I can eat and drink whatever I want. Within an hour after a race it’s nachos or French fries.

Right now, the Bridge Run is next, a 10 miler. Maybe the Oktoberfest half and a 20 mile training run on September 26. Then, the Grand Rapids Marathon.

When I changed careers (from physical therapy to broadcasting) I worked every Saturday and Sunday morning and couldn’t race much. I really focused on my career. That was after the marathon. Just one marathon so far, the Detroit Free Press, 4 hours and 30 minutes in 1997.

I aspire to be like my colleagues in boot camp. That’s a marathon-training program I’m in twice a week. I’m the slow one in the group. It has a good energy.

I’m a lifer. I want to run into old age.

I listen to music when I run, show tunes and pop music. I don’t really talk to people.

That’s it? I really don’t like being interviewed. Not really. I do.

*Jones or Jonesing: to have a strong need, desire or craving for something. An obsession; a burning desire. The undeniable passion or love for someone or something. Courtesy of Urban Dictionary.

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