Who: Me and Colin
Benefited: Leominster High School’s new track & field facility
Photos: (click to open larger versions)
Recap: The Shamrocks on the Rocks 5K was a last-minute race for me. I had read about it on Active.com about a month ago, and was excited because a) race swag included emerald green gloves and finishers’ medals, and b) it was in Lunenburg, a town I hadn’t been to since middle school but used to frequent often in my youth during visits to the now-defunct Whalom Park. I originally had plans to travel to DC this weekend, so I had opted out while Colin decided to sign up on his own. Then my travel plans fell through this past Thursday, so I figured why not? and signed up after all.
Even though the day before the race had been in the 50s and sunny, race day was predicted to be a high of 28. (Seriously, this winter has been long and cruel. If I see another polar vortex I will punch it in the face!) Colin and I bundled up and once again donned our St. Paddy’s greenery. (I was also rocking my new compression sleeve and thermal running gloves… read my reviews on them here.)
I had been unable to find a course map for this race, and only knew going into it that we’d be running around/near Lake Whalom. The first mile of the race was relatively flat, with one or two small hills, and flew along in just under 11 minutes. I didn’t feel like we were running much faster than we had in the Celtic 5K, but MapMyRun lady said we were doing about 40 seconds faster. Encouraged by her announcement, we trundled off into Mile 2, only to be met with what I want to call the Hill of Terror. It probably wasn’t truly terrifying, but it was incredibly steep, and it was long! We have a very steep hill on our normal training course, but it’s blissfully short. Not this one.
Wheezing out encouragement like “Drive your knees up!” and “Thighs of steeeeeel!” I tried to will us both up the hill as everyone around us opted to walk. I made it almost to the top and gave up; my quads were burning with a fury unlike any I had previously known, and I watched in amazement as Colin kept going and killed the hill. I caught up on the downhill stretch and we finished off Mile 2 together. Around Mile 3 Colin’s legs went on strike after having carried him fearlessly up the Hill of Terror, so he gave me his blessing to carry on and stopped to walk. I found myself lulled into a rhythm after I’d been on my own for a bit, and felt a little like a robot, which somehow seemed like a good sign.
I chugged the last mile, trying to focus on the rhythm of my feet slapping the pavement and of my arms swinging, trying to pump myself up to finish strong. I pulled within a few feet of a woman in a bright green jacket, but didn’t have quite enough in my reserve tank to speed around her. I settled for pacing her, only to have her stop dead once she crossed the finish. Not only did I almost crash into her, but we also didn’t have timing chips so we were supposed to carry on down the chute and have our bib number and time read out and recorded by volunteers. I had originally been aiming to match the 35:28 of the Celtic 5K, and had been psyched to see a time of 32:[something] as I approached the finish. Thanks to Ms. Green Jacket and her inability to operate a chute properly, I ended up with a time of 33:08. Ah well, it ended up being my second-best time ever, and I’m still chuffed that I beat my time from last week… pretty significantly, too!
I collected my finisher’s medal, then turned back to the chute to watch for Colin. He wasn’t too far behind me, so I was able to just catch him to cheer him on and high-five him as he crossed the finish. After going through the chute (properly) he caught up to the man who finished just before him and thanked him for helping him along. Colin told me afterward that he had stopped to walk a second time, and this other guy pulled up alongside him and said something along the lines of “You’ve been beating me this whole race! You can’t stop now! Keep going, you can do it!” Colin ended up pushing himself to follow that guy, and was able to finish strong. It reminded me of Alexandra Heminsley’s stories from her book Running Like a Girl, where she described moments in races when she thought she couldn’t carry on and other runners noticed and encouraged her, helping her to make it to the finish. I love runners.
Mile 1: 10.46
Mile 2: 10.47
Mile 3: 10.28
Mile 3.2: ~9.02 (before I stopped, got my medal, and realized MapMyRun was still running!)