The St. Patrick’s Day Parade 5 mile run is a popular race in St. Louis but somehow I’d never done it before today.
It doesn’t begin until 9am, which is late for a race, so I was able to sleep in until 6:45am before heading downtown around 8am and parking south of Busch Stadium.
I stayed warm in my car until 8:30am before walking to the start.
It was around 50 degrees, great for running, but it was so windy it was almost unbearably cold. I distracted myself by looking at completely appropriate St. Patrick’s Day themed souvenirs.
When I think Ireland I think dolphins.
I’d estimated I’d run 9:30/minute miles which put me in the white corral. Obviously I took a spot in front of these guys.
And then I stood there and waited for 20 minutes. They say you’re supposed to dress so you feel cold before a race. Well mission accomplished. The wind felt like daggers going through my goosebump covered flesh. I was on the verge of hugging random strangers just to steal their body warmth.
It was pretty crowded right before the start. You’d think the wall of people would block some of the wind. You would be wrong.
I’ve never started a race going south on Broadway but it was pretty great because it was a slight downhill, a nice way to ease into a race. Although I was so eager to defrost I would have been happy to run up the Arch. Anything to get me warmed up as soon as possible.
Shortly after passing Busch Stadium we took a right on Chouteau and hit our first gradual uphill. I passed a lot of people. Somehow there were walkers ahead of me, which I don’t get because the corral system is supposed to prevent that, so I can only assume these people lied about their pace in an attempt to force as many people as possible to weave around them and ruin our lives.
Despite the weaving, I was keeping an even pace. I didn’t look at my watch until mile 1. They had DJs set up at every mile, which was awesome for the energy and the easy visual clue that another mile was in the books. I completed mile 1 in 9:26.
We turned right on Tucker where I saw another group running with a keg. I can barely drink out of a bottle while running; I don’t know how people run and drink beer.
We took a left on Market and ran past Union Station. Mile 2 done in 9:31.
The hill in the distance makes for a cool view of all the green runners but it is pretty challenging to focus on moving up it at an even pace. The dance team doing an Irish dancing routine was a nice distraction. I kept at it, knowing the elevation would even out around Harris-Stowe, and when I saw the next DJ I looked at my watch and saw I’d completed mile 3 in 9:31. Apparently I’m better at pacing than I realized.
The mile 3 DJ was yelling encouraging things to the runners, one of them being “only two more miles to go! Go ahead and sprint it if you feel like it!” I don’t think he understands how distance running works. However seeing as 2 mile is less than the 3 I just completed, I did pick up my pace a little. To ease my fear of hitting the wall due to a faster pace, I had a salted watermelon Gu, which was ok. I’ve never cared for watermelon flavored things; I got this for the salt which I couldn’t really taste. But my energy level stayed high so it did its job. Mile 4 in 9:13.
The end of mile 4 and beginning of mile 5 took place on a nice downhill on Olive. I normally try to hold myself back on hills but I knew we were approaching the end of the race so I went faster, passing a lot of people again.
As we turned left on Market to the finish line there were a lot more people lined up on the side of the road, securing a good spot for the <excuse to get incredibly intoxicated in the middle of the day> 12pm parade. I saw some guys trying to hand cans of beer to runners.
The finish line was at the end of another uphill. I focused on runners ahead of me; envisioning myself being pulled to them like a magnet until I reached them and passed them. I felt strong as I crossed the finish line. I ran mile 5 in 8:28. What?!?
The lady behind me is not amused.
I continued walking and enjoyed some good people watching.
And I replenished my carbs by collecting my free beer.
A big crowd was hanging out in Kiener Plaza but I was becoming a running popsicle again so I started the trek back to my car.
I’m thrilled with my results. The time is great but also the fact I’m not hurting now and I never got to the “I’m going to puke or die” state of mind I’ve felt in the past during shorter races. It’s nice to feel strong throughout a race.