Only two weeks (…ish) late. That’s not bad, right? I thought about just letting it go, being a little baby 5k, and kind of anticlimactic after the NYC Half (which I’m still dancing around all excited about. Is there a limit on how long I can get away with that?). However, it was a good little race for me, so I think it deserves its moment in the spotlight.
Plus, it’s far more interesting than my workouts this past week (Friday: 3000 yrd swim; Saturday: 60 minutes yoga), or the fact that I’m sick and living on crackers, grapes, and tea. Especially since only the tea is out of the ordinary.
In general, I don’t love 5ks. I look at them and see SUCH a short distance that it hardly seems worth it (which isn’t remotely valid, but there you are). And then I start running and remember that running fast (SO relative) is HARD. I don’t usually plan on racing 5ks when I sign up for them; they tend to end up being training runs with 2-3 miles tacked on at the beginning and end, so I really don’t have a great idea of what my 5k time actually is.
I mostly signed up for the St. Pat’s 5k because, being a week before St. Patrick’s Day, I thought this would allow me to celebrate St. Patrick’s Week and the race didn’t start until 11:15, so I could still sleep in. Score. On race morning, feeling festive and all, I got decked out in green, shamrocks, my Dublin finisher’s shirt, and even my old, 8th grade, bottle green gym skirt. And to think I couldn’t see the point in a gym skirt when I was 13. Little did I know…
The race itself is part of a three race series, The Tour de Patrick, that takes place in the RI/MA area with each race happening right before the individual towns’ St. Patrick’s Day Parades, making full use of the people getting ready to watch the parade as course-side support. I got to the race early enough, and had no problem getting my bib and shirt. There was enough parking close to the start that I could walk back to the car (with my family dutifully following along), drop off my shirt, and still have time to listen to the band and check out the various costumes before pushing politely making my way through the hordes of people at the start.
I wasn’t exactly sure what my “strategy” was going to be. This was the week when I felt sort of injured, and really tired, and was single mindedly obsessed with New York, and since I have no concept of what makes a good 5k strategy anyway, I was at a total loss. So I decided to try and keep a pace slightly faster than my half goal pace, and go from there.
Standing in the start chute, I actually got kind of excited. Dropkick Murphys blasted over the speakers, which is excellent pump up music, being a Boston sports fan and all, and then the gun went off! We started on a slight uphill, but quickly crested it and got to fly down the other side. People were on the parade route, at least two little girls called out that they liked my skirt, and I was feeling good.
So good, in fact, that my first mile clocked in at 6:59. Way back in high school, I did a single semester of track, during which I ran the mile and the two mile. I only broke 7 minutes in the mile once, and I spent the rest of the day feeling like I was going to throw up. And here I was cruising in at sub-7 for the first mile of a 5k! Not sure exactly what to do with that, but there you are. I was pretty happy!
Mile 2 was hillier (as in: gradual uphill, gradual downhill, slightly more noticeable uphill. Providence is hardly mountainous.) and my pace slowed WAY down: 7:46. Umm, yikes. Although still at half goal pace, so there’s that? I think I didn’t quite remember that this was a shorter race, and so pulled myself way back, in the name of not going out to fast, before I remembered that I did not, in fact, have another 11 miles waiting for me.
So in Mile 3 I picked it up again. Nothing as crazy as Mile 1, but I came in at around 7:20. The last .1 I let loose and sprinted – it didn’t hurt that it was down a hill – and it felt WONDERFUL. I know I said that I rekindled my love of running in NYC, but I got a hint of that run happy feeling in Providence and I definitely think having that taste of it helped me in my half. Despite my all over the place pacing, I finished with an average pace of around 7:20 and a new PR of 22:49.
At the finish, I found my family, checked out some more costumes, and then took off. I was too cold to stay for the parade (continuing my streak of horrible Rhode Islander, since I didn’t even know there WAS a parade until this year), so instead we got some coffee, and made our way back home.
I’m glad I decided to do this race, and I’m especially glad I went in just trying to get a sense of what actually running a 5k feels like. I know my time wasn’t fast by any means, but according to McMillan – my new best friend since he suggested that a BQ was not completely out of reach – it’s right where I’m expected to be. While I’d love to get faster, I think in terms of 5ks, I should work on more even pacing first, and then see if I can relive the high school glory days of 7 minute miles throughout.
In other news, this zero week has been good for me. As mentioned, I’m still riding the high of NYC, and I’m letting my body just crash and enjoy it (minus the being sick part, but whatever). By Thursday, I was definitely spending a ton of time cruising different race websites looking for the Next Big Thing (NBT) and getting excited for all the possibilities, and this is exactly how I want to be feeling!
This week I’ll start to ease my way back into things: hopefully get to cut back on the tea, get my voice back, and see if I can pin down some solid options for the NBT. Preferably one that lets me see just how accurate those McMillan numbers are… In the past month, I’ve conquered PRs and hills, and I’m starting to feel like I can do anything. And I can’t wait to put that to the test.