1. Good shoes = Asics, no doubt about it.
2. Ipods are good for running when at home etc, when you get to raleigh or BRNC in my case, the adrenaline takes over for the 10-12 minutes you run for.
3. I'm a 20 year old female and i just got my best score of 10.50 on the 1.5 miles.
4. The 1.5 miles is 8 times around a hockey pitch ie a normal astro.
5. Just get on with it, if you really want it you'll be able to do it.
I know I have said this before on this post but please make sure you stretch your calf muscles often enough. I once suffered from shin splints (the less severe kind) and stretching several times per day really helped. Believe me Stepto you don't want it to get any worse!
Also when you are straching the calf muscles try roting your back leg so that your foot is pointing in (this will make the stretch more intense) then outward, only slightly though, so you don't knack yourself. A collegue who knows his stuff recommended this.
Hope you understand what I mean (it's hard to explain in writing)
Source: myself as a fitness instructor and my collegues