Guinness Celtic 5K, 9 March 2014

What: 5K

Where: Worcester, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and Colin, with moral support from Drew

Benefited: Worcester Firefighters Scholarship Fund

Time: 35:28

Photos: (click to open larger versions)

We made an emergency pre-race pee-stop at my mum's house.

We made an emergency pre-race pee stop at my mum’s house.

Pre-race power poses, take one...

Pre-race power poses, take one…

...and take two.

…and take two.

The massive sea of green takes off.

The massive sea of green takes off.

Colin and me (circled) cheesing for the camera when we spotted Drew.

Colin and me (circled) cheesing for the camera when we spotted Drew.

Colin tried to take a selfie of us during the race, but only managed to capture his hat (lower right) and the people behind us.

Colin tried to take a selfie of us during the race, but only managed to capture his hat (lower right) and the people behind us. It’s hard taking pictures on a phone while running!

He did, however, capture the mass of green-clad runners ahead of us as we crested the hill.

He did, however, capture the mass of green-clad runners ahead of us as we crested this hill. The entire street is crammed.

My cousin-in-law also ran the race and totally killed it with a time of 22:06.

My cousin-in-law (green shirt) also ran the race and totally killed it with a time of 22:06.

Many, many minutes after C-i-L finished, Colin and I finally appeared. Colin took his sprint to the finish very seriously, while I was just happy to see Drew.

Many, many minutes after C-i-L finished, Colin and I finally appeared. Colin took his sprint to the finish very seriously, while I was just happy to see Drew.

Bonus to this race: seeing my cousin afterward!

Bonus to this race: seeing my cousin afterward!

 

Recap: This was my first “real” race of the year (not counting the virtual New Year’s Day race), and with neither Colin nor I having run more than 2 miles at a time since January 1st, we decided to take this one easy, run it together (no separating and causing emo turmoil), and just have fun in the pre-parade atmosphere.

(Speaking of the pre-parade atmosphere, one thing I was really looking forward to about this race was that it took place on the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, an hour before the parade started. I envisioned the street lined with hundreds of excited parade-goers, eager to cheer on the runners as they waited for the bagpipes and Shriners and other parade attractions, or at least drunk enough to muster a few “woo!”s as we plodded by. As it turns out, not many people in Wormtown show up early for the parade, and those who did pretty much just stared at us and yawned. One or two people clapped, a handful of kids half-heartedly blew into vuvuzelas, and that was it. Colin started shouting at people whenever we ran by clutches of on-lookers, yelling “Come on! Cheer for us!” and only got a couple of responses. Not as motivating as I had hoped. Ah well.)

I had also envisioned an impressive finishing time, apparently thinking that the 4 or 5 speed workouts I’ve done with run club would yield immediate results… not taking into account the fact that, you know, I haven’t really run much at all in the last two months. (This is a good thing – it reinforces that inconsistent training only rarely results in PRs and that I need to kick my lazy butt into gear!) It was more than a little disheartening to see an official time that was a minute slower than my last race, a race in which I purposely ran slowly and walked a few times, especially given that I ran the whole Celtic 5K without stopping or walking once.

Here are our splits, according to Colin’s MapMyRun app:
-Mile 1: 11:18
-Mile 2: 11:32
-Mile 3: 10:38
-Mile 3.2: 8:42

11 minutes/mile is our average pace when we’re not pushing ourselves, so Mile 1 felt about right, especially as we were trying to take it easy. Mile 2 included a water stop, and though we didn’t come to a complete stop, we did lurch around awkwardly as we tried to drink while running, so a slightly slower time made sense too. As we passed the Mile 2 mark, a DJ on a roof was blasting some dubstep; while obnoxious to listen to ordinarily (IMO), dubstep is a pretty amazing pace-quickener when listened to while running! That, along with the fact that I was feeling pretty good and wanted to keep pushing myself along, saw us get faster by about a minute. As soon as we saw the Mile 3 sign, and the finish line banner within reach, we started sprinting. We might have actually been running faster than 8:42, since Colin didn’t stop the app immediately upon crossing the finish, and we slowed to a walk before he turned it off.

I noticed that time passed really oddly during this race. As we plodded along in the first mile, we were both surprised to see the eventual-winner tear by us on the other side of the street, only about a mile away from finishing (with an escort of 2 police motorcycles – cool!) “How long have we been running?!” I asked, trying to do math in my head to figure out what pace we must be going, and what pace the winner must have been going.

For me, the race flew by. Maybe it was having the distraction of activity on the side of the street as vendors set up for the parade, or maybe it was because the course was a straight line so I could see most of the runners at all times, rather than having people disappear around corners and curves, making me feel like Colin and I were mostly alone. I was convinced that, since the race felt so fast, we were going to PR, and was completely gobsmacked when I saw the clock at the finish line. The race I PR’d in back in November had felt endless… after sprinting for a mile, I struggled through the rest of the course and walked many times, and was totally blown away to see my time when I finished. The Celtic 5K seemed much, much faster, but my time was almost 5 minutes slower. Time is truly relative!

The Celtic 5K wasn’t all disappointments, however. I got to see my mum and step-dad before the race; I high-fived Slyde, the New England Revolution mascot, as I jogged toward the starting line; I got to rock my new running club singlet and my tiny leprechaun hat; my IT band didn’t hurt at all! (though my back, hip flexor, and shin all gave me trouble in the first mile… though not after that!); I got to see my cousin (through a fence because, although I wanted to see her, I didn’t want to stand in a crazy-long line and shell out a cover charge to get into a beer garden to do so) and her husband; and I had one of those rare (for me) moments when I feel great and decide that I love running. It’s nice to experience that every now and again, and not just pain and exhaustion!

An added bonus: we got to add a stop to our post-race diner tour! After trying to go to a favorite breakfast spot and arriving 5 minutes after it closed (d’oh!) we hit up a place called the Broadway and enjoyed a feast of french toast, potato pancakes, coffee, and chocolate milk. All in all, not a bad way to start off a new year of racing!

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