I ran my first race in months this morning, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 5 mile run in downtown St. Louis. Since it’s before the parade, it’s a late race start, 9am. I met my training team pals at the Big River tent around 8am.
It was a little chilly while we waited so despite my reservations I took I digestive risk and consumed some of the free coffee they had.
It helped me warm up and I had no complications. I don’t want to jinx myself, but my digestive system is pretty easy going.
After a port-a-potty stop and short warm up, we lined up a little before 9am.
This race attracts a lot of people who like parades and beer, and there’s not a super strict corral system, so we attempted to avoid being behind strollers and hoped for the best as far as positioning ourselves with people running our pace. Our goal was 9 minute miles but we also agreed we’d only look at our pace each mile and run by feel.
Unfortunately we still spent the first mile weaving around tons of people, including walkers. This is a pet peeve of mine. I love walkers; I feel walking a long distance is almost more challenging than running it simply because it takes longer. However the walkers in this race did not have the good sense to stick to the side of the road. It was like a game of frogger trying to avoid them. Lots of wasted effort.
However, apparently that didn’t matter because when we hit the first mile in 8:50 I said “I thought we were running 10 minute pace!” I continued running with Anna and Meghan, my 9 minute girls, for about 2 miles, then I broke free on the uphill on Market. I don’t know what came over me but I felt so strong and was so focused on getting up that hill.
Side note: I felt like Market street smelled like poop. The free coffee did not affect me, but I’m thinking it did affect other runners.
Whether it was just feeling great or the need to get away from the smell of fecal matter, I kept passing people. At mile 2.5 I was aware of how hard it felt but I kept telling myself “get up this hill and recover when the course evens out.” And I knew Olive would be mostly downhill so when I hit that part of the course I pushed the pace, trying to bank some time for the uphills.
There were a bunch of times I wanted to walk. And actually, I did walk at the water stop after mile 2. I saw a lot of people walking who must have been running at first to be at the part of the course they were, but I resisted the urge to join them. I knew I could PR if I stayed consistent with my pace.
I think the fact I gradually increase the pace on all my treadmill workouts really helped me; I felt stronger at the end than the middle. When I saw the finish we (of course) had to run up another hill on Market street. I felt myself getting faster and I kept passing people. I reached another woman and tried to pass her but she kept getting faster with me. We passed another man together. Our pace we in the 7s and she wasn’t letting up. To quote Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “females are strong as hell.” She passed me but I was maxed out so I was happy for her. Get it girl.
I did finish with a PR, about a minute and a half faster than I ran the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run.
I am so proud of that last mile. I love finishing fast. It’s not always possible; I’ve certainly had plenty of races where I’m looking to catch a ride to the finish. But when things do line up and you feel great there’s nothing better than a race like this. 🙂