I ran a race this morning! I ran the St. Patrick’s Day Parade 5 mile run in downtown St. Louis for the third time. Last year I wore shorts; this year there was snow on the ground. St. Louis!
Running is going well for me lately and thanks to participating in a series of 30 day challenges on Facebook (currently abs), I feel more fit overall than I have in a long time. So I wanted to race this event, not just run it. Last year I averaged 8:55 miles so I decided to aim for that range again with a possibility of PRing.
The four of us lined up pretty close to the front in what turned out to be a section for people with yellow bibs but we didn’t move. Last year I got trapped behind a lot of walkers and I didn’t want that to happen again.
I didn’t do any type of warm up, which was fine. When the race started I shot out pretty fast, taking advantage of the downhill and the fact I was freezing and needed to move.
After we passed Busch Stadium I was by myself and dealing with the first uphill on Chouteau. This hill is part of many downtown races and not my favorite. But I got up it and turned right. Mile one was around 8:50, pretty similar to last year. I felt ok; a little concerned about maintaining my pace, but I reminded myself I often need two miles to feel good, so I kept at it. A boy riding a scooter passed me and we turned left onto Market St. and the start of another long uphill.
Some time around this point I saw Ginny, who’d passed me at some point. I said hello and she continued on ahead of me. I was at my limit for speed, especially on such a long uphill. As I was fighting the urge to walk, a man pushing a stroller passed me, helping me to stay humble about my abilities.
Eventually we were done with Market St. and turned through Harris Stowe. More uphill here but I knew we’d soon get a downhill on Olive so I stayed focused. I was so ready to reach Olive and catch my breath a little on the downhill. I also hoped to make up a little time because mile 3 was around 9 minutes for me, a little slower than PR pace.
Around mile 3.5 I felt out of breath and just wanting to be done. I was questioning why I even run short races that I feel pressure to go all out in because there’s always a point that’s miserable. And this was that point for me. Very helpful dialogue I was having with myself.
I tried to focus on things around me instead. I came upon two guys pulling a wagon with a case of Miller Lite and some type of hard liquor in it. They didn’t look like typical runners but also didn’t look winded, unlike me. I passed them and said “I don’t know how you’re doing that!” One guy replied and said “because we’re awesome!” And then he followed up with “Plus it’s a lot easier when you’ve only run a mile.” Lol! They joined the race after the half way point. Apparently that’s a thing.
We passed the mile 4 marker and I saw the clock was just around 36 minutes. There was a delay between the race start and when I crossed the starting line so I knew I was averaging less than 9 minute miles and could PR. I was actually feeling better by this point (thanks, long runs!) and really poured it on. I haven’t run this hard for a sustained amount of time in quite a while. I love that going all out feeling.
Finally I reached Market St. again, turned left onto it, and enjoyed a brief downhill before the uphill to the finish. I saw a guy carrying a running flag ahead of me. He’d been ahead of me all race and I focused on passing him. He seemed to be speeding up too but I eventually reached him and passed him. Then I saw a woman who appeared my age and chased her down. When the finish was truly within reach (seemed to take forever), I sprinted. No one passed me, which hasn’t happened in a while. I crossed the finish line and caught my breath before taking a look back.
The hills never look as bad in photos as they feel running up them.
I found Ginny, who finished just ahead of me, and we celebrated our great races.
How great was my race? I cut a minute off my PR from this race last year!
An 8:14 mile at the end of a 5 mile race? Who am I?!? I am pretty sure I owe that finish to all the treadmill running I’ve been doing lately. My favorite way to make it interesting is to increase the speed at regular intervals. So that’s probably another reason I felt better in the later miles than at the beginning. I’m curious as to how that will translate to my next race, the Alton Half Marathon, at the end of the month.
By the way, that race will be my first of two in my home state of Illinois this year. This fall I’m running my first marathon, the Chicago marathon. Go big or go home!