St. Patty's Run Green 8K: Race Report -- 4 Teeny-tiny Little Seconds 3/7/11
Warming up: notice the lack of an i-pod.
The St. Patty's Run Green 8k is a really cool earth-friendly St. Patty's celebration here in Raleigh. It was the first sustainable "Race Without a Trace" in Raleigh, and offers some nice perks for participants including, a Free BEER for participants over 21, a free plastic beer mug (glass was prohibited by the city), lots of live music after the run, pipers and Celtic signers along the course, and an after party that goes on until 2am! Of course, this race is a big hit with the costume crowd as all St. Patty's races are, but I think that it organized well and had a challenging enough course that I think serious runners could still enjoy the race as well.
Personally, I had high hopes for this race. I enjoy the 8k distance, and have felt good the two other times that I have run the distance. Recently, my overall fitness has improved, and my recent training runs have been strong. I thought that I could at least challenge my PR, which stood at 44:44, but I was a little worried about the course. I knew that there were a lot rolling hills around the course, but I wasn't sure if they would play a major factor. Hiroko wasn't running the race, but would be there to take pictures a cheer me on, which would allow me to be a bit more of a selfish bastard runner and think only of myself while I ran. Also, this would be my first race where I wasn't fettered to amateurish shame by my I-pod. I used to think that I needed music to run. However, I have recently been running without it and found that I don't miss it. Also, I know that several races actually ban the use of headphones, so I just knew that it was time to break free.
One of the more creative costumes at the race.
I did have a minor plantar fasciitis flare up the night before the race but I KT Taped it and was feeling fine by race time. I was able to line up in a good spot and luckily there weren't many people lined up at the front that had no earthly reason for being there like at most of your charity 5k's. I hate getting stuck behind the people who want to be up front at the start, but slow jog about 50 feet before the start walking or worse the kid that jumps out at a 6 min mile, quickly slowed to a 9, and then around the mile mark is winded and abruptly stops running right in front of you. I think that the combination of the 8k distance and this race being organized by a run club cut down on that element. There were a lot of costumes, but most of the people with costumes that would hinder people stayed to the rear.
I knew the first mile portion of the course pretty well and had run most of it before as part of another race. I thought that the first two miles along with last half mile would be the fastest part of the course. But, I also thought that this would be dangerous for me because I would be tempted to go out too fast. Over the first mile, I kept trying to slow down to a 9 min mile. I wanted to conserve energy, but I just couldn't bring myself down to that pace. Over the first half mile, I wasn't far off, but at the first right turn we hit a small decline and my pace went all to hell on me. I decided to just try to find a comfortable pace. I ended up doing the first mile in 8:22.89.
Just past the starting line.
Mile 2 was better, but it wasn't because of my ability to run the pace I wanted to hit. It was just that the first hill was on the second mile, which caused me to slow my pace down. The good thing was that I wasn't feeling overly taxed at this point and knew that by the end of the second mile that I would have some time to give back if needed. But, the course was about to gt nice and hilly for almost the remainder of the race. The weather was awesome, low 60's no real wind issues, but the 3pm start time had been hard to figure and I started to feel a bit uneasy in the stomach during the second mile, but it quickly passed. I did the second mile in 8:44.09.
The third mile ran past Oakwood Cemetery and St. Aug's College. I was really not thrilled to be running past a cemetery at this time because we were getting in to the hilly portion of the course, and I did't want to be thinking about death. Most of the hills weren't that big, but they follow one another pretty quickly and didn't offer much time to recover. The people I had picked to try and keep up with over the first two miles were starting to fade by the end of this mile, so I started trying to find someone to lock onto and pace myself against, but no one really seemed to present themselves as a good candidate because most people seem determine to do their Best Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill imitation only to fade once they got to the top. I kept finding myself getting passed on the inclines by the same people I would pass on the declines. The third mile ended right as we past St. Augustine's College one of Raleigh's two HBC's. Some of the students shouted out encouragement from their dorm rooms as we passed by. The third mile went by in 9:14.14
Fleet Feet Racing Team Kilt
The fourth mile was difficult and consisted of more hills. Now they were a bit farther apart, but larger. At this point, doubts were starting to creep into my mind. Regret over my starting pace combined with my inability breath anywhere near properly was messing with my mind and causing me to think that I might have to drop down to a walk. I wasn't feeling at all good as we passed Oakwood Park, but I was able to tough it out. And luckily for me right as we approached the 4 mile mark there were a porch full of obnoxious drunks on yelling at the runners, which pissed me off and caused me to run angry motivated me to keep going. Mainly they were yelling at the kilted runner trying to get them to lift their kilts, which am sure more than few people did or drunken bastards probably would have given up by the time I got there. St. Patty's day races always bring out the kilts, but in addition the Fleet Feet Racing Team members buy racing Kilts from Sport Kilt, who was a co-sponsor of the race, so these drunks had plenty of people at whom to yell. I did the fourth mile in 9.26.19 and knowing I had given back all of the time I had gained on the first two miles. I was more than a little worried that I was going to meet my goal.
In mid kick
I knew the last mile the best of the whole course because it was most of the first mile we had just run only in the opposite direction. I thought that it would take better than a 9 min mile for a PR. I would love to be able to say that I was too tired to figure out just how much time there was to play with, but who am I kidding, those counting horses at the state fair have better math skills than mine. The last mile was a right turn, a small decline, and left turn at the next block and a small uphill to another immediate left turn followed by a long straight stretch with two good rolling hills, a right turn up the first hill of the race, and a straight flat run back to the start finish line. Doubts were abound as I climbed the incline and turn left onto the straight stretch. I band was playing at the corner, which lifted my spirits just a bit. The two hills were less than fun, but the first one went by without much problem. The second one was worse because of the awareness that it didn't end, but went into another hill at the corner. If, was going to stop this was the moment, but as I made the turn up the last hill I wasn't stopping. I was still going well off pace, but I was moving. And, somewhere in my mind there was a fleeting notion that I had a kick left in me. After climbing the last hill, I turned right and could see the finish line three blocks away. I decided to kick it right there and started picking up my pace. The idea of legging out that distance didn't scare me because I had covered about the same distance at the Old Reliable Run, when I felt much worse, and my classes at the Y have had us running a lot of sprints over the last few weeks. As, I was going in I tried to just focus on the finish line ahead of me. I was passing a lot of people and expected at someone to put up a fight, but they all seemed content to let me make a jackass of myself all alone. I picked up more speed the closer that I got to the finish and by the time I passed Hiro about a block from the finish I was in an all out sprint. I could see the clock at 45:00 minutes as I approached the finish, but knew that my chip time might be enough for my PR.
Crossing the finish line, I felt crunched. The pipers were playing and there was a nice size crowd gathered, but I couldn't focus. I wasn't at all sure about a PR, but I knew it would be close and was really happy with my effort. I had run the last portion of the race in 8:52.76 and when Hiro and I checked the results on the computer my time read 44:40, which beat my PR by 4 Teeny-tiny Little Seconds! But a new PR is always worth celebrating especially with a free beer!
Drinking My Free Beer and celebrating a new PR for the 8k