March 18, 2008

Race Report: Ras Na Heireann 5K

I’m going to follow the precedent set by Amanda for (day before) St. Patrick’s Day races, and cut right to the chase:
Old 5K personal record – 27:21 (8:48 pace)
New 5K personal record – 24:37 (7:56 pace)

That’s right, I completely obliterated my old record and dropped almost a minute off my mile! And I’d also like to add that my first 5K was last June, when it took me 31:50. What a difference 9 months can make! (Insert some kind of joke about having a baby in that time… unfortunately I’m not clever enough to think of it)

Anyway, my report begins where I left off this morning’s post. After changing and throwing my race bag together, I jumped in a cab heading… where? I didn’t know exactly. I told the driver to start heading toward Somerville, and pulled out my PDA to figure out exactly where in Somerville I was supposed to go. Davis Square – wherever that was. While en route, I called my wonderful new friend Tim, who had the extra bib, to let him know of my delay. He said he had already picked up our packets, and told me where to meet him. Upon arriving, I exchanged money for bib (but no t-shirt: they had run out), then headed off to the baggage area.

And by baggage area, I mean to the nearby course volunteer who informed me that there was no baggage area. I realize that I’m a little spoiled by the well-organized NYRR races, but I’ve done some races with other running clubs as well, and I don’t think I’ve ever done one without a bag drop. I didn’t need some fancy system – just somewhere to throw my duffle bag and get it after the race. Fortunately, the volunteer took pity on me, introduced himself, and said that I could put my bag in his pickup truck, which would also be at the finish. I decided to ignore the fact that I had $600 in cash in my wallet (Boston cabs don’t take credit, so I’m forced to carry ridiculous amounts of cash when I travel, and I had forgotten to lock most of it up in the hotel safe before heading out), and decided to have faith. After all, he’s a course volunteer – that makes him a decent guy, right? (Smile and nod, people, smile and nod).

I shed my coat, popped my iPod and headband on, and pulled out my bling – several strings of Mardi Gras-style green beads, among which I had a Heineken strand and a Southern Comfort strand among the regular plain beads. I tied a green ribbon in my ponytail, and threw on my green track jacket over my white-with-green-print Bronx half-marathon t-shirt. In short, I was prepared to let the world know that I was seriously alcoholic and a serious runner. I then went to attach my bib and my chip, and had another minor glitch: no plastic thing with which to attach the chip to my shoe. As a stopgap, I threaded it through my shoelaces, and at the finish I saw that was what most runners had apparently done. It worked just fine – hadn’t realized that the plastic string thing was such a fancy-schmancy unnecessary extra.

I elbowed my way into the starting area, and was again surprised at how different the race was from others I’ve done. The start was absolutely packed. As much as it sucked to have registration close before I could sign myself up, they honestly should have restricted entry even further. Or maybe just space the pace areas a bit better. It was elbow to elbow, with people literally touching me on all sides as I stood in the middle of the 8:00 area. Everyone knew each other, and it seemed to be a very family-oriented 5K. I guess most 5Ks are, but you know what I mean: it was the kind of thing where you have your brothers, sisters, mother, father, aunts, uncles, and cousins all running and/or holding signs along the route with “Go O’Reilly family!” (Yes, a lot of the entrants were Irish).

The course was fairly flat and fast, with a few inclines, but nothing like the hills of Central Park. I tried to keep a fairly steady pace, and didn’t feel like I was really pushing it too much. Less then a mile in, I saw that my shoelaces had come untied. This is the second time that’s happened to me in a race, and I have to say I’m just not happy with my second pair of Asics GT2110s. My first pair is that kind of shoe where I never even tie or untie them – I just squeeze my foot in and out and they’ve pretty much stayed tied in a bow since the first day I bought them. These must have some new slippery shoelace though, because even when I tie them securely (though, admittedly, not in a double knot), they come undone. Sure enough, I had to lose about 10 seconds retying it on the side of the road so I wouldn’t lose my chip.

The rest of the course was fairly uneventful. We passed schools, residences, restaurants, and bars, all while getting hooted and hollered at along the way by the lucky people already enjoying their third pint of the morning. (Soon, I promised myself, very soon). The beads I had worn, while festive, bounced up and down with a little clinking sound that I could hear even over my iPod, so I picked up the pace a bit to get them to be in time with the music.

Speaking of my iPod, you may be wondering what music I had chosen for this race. Well, I had forgotten all about creating a race playlist until I was in the cab on the way to the race, but I figured out how to use the “On-The-Go” playlist feature and actually managed to create something. So what did I consider appropriate? For some reason, when I thought of Irish music, I then thought of twangy (American) country music, so that was what I put on my playlist. I spent a good chunk of time during the race trying to figure out what had ever possessed me to consider “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” a St. Patrick’s Day song, and right about at mile 2.5 I figured out the connection. One of my best friends, Kelli, is the one who got me into country music, and she is absolutely obsessed with St. Patrick’s Day. She likes it better than Christmas or her birthday, and even during the rest of the year, her favorite color is green. So maybe that was my (weak) connection.

I came around the final turn (didn’t know the course in advance, but I have a good sense of direction and could tell that we were looping back around), and also knew from how long I’d been running that I was probably right about at mile 2.8 or 2.9. Therefore, it was time to pick up the pace. However, I didn’t. I just didn’t quite feel like I had enough energy. Even when I hit the 3 mile mark, I still didn’t feel like pushing it. But a few yards later, I saw the finish, and knew I had to just give it my all. I kicked it up to a sprint, and as I got closer, I saw the clock showing 25 minutes. Whoa! And I hadn’t even started right at the gun.

After the race, I took off my chip and got a medal. So fun to get something at the end of a race! NYRR never does that – you get everything before, and just water after. However, I do appreciate that NYRR has water after. This race had some kind of Vitamin Water, but it was full of chemicals that I didn’t want. I got the plainest kind available (lemon lime), but it was still artificial and kind of gross. Give me tap water out of a garbage can anyday.

The race was supposed to have all kinds of cool after parties, so I eagerly headed off to one of the bars where they were supposed to be. I found tons of beer, but surprisingly, wasn’t in the mood to drink! I grabbed a chicken tender and mini sausage link, and then got overzealous decided to hit up some of the other bars to see what kind of food they had to offer. Unfortunately, the next place I went to had a line out the door… and no food! I immediately left there, but found that all the bars now had 30 minute lines to get in, so I gave up and instead took the T back to Boston to meet my friend Kristen. Overall, a very up-and-down race in terms of expectations vs organization.

As for after the race, with timing? I wasn’t expecting to get the results for a few days, but they actually went up that night. Kudos for that! As I mentioned, a lot of entrants seemed to be of Irish descent. I’ve always felt a bit left out by St. Patrick’s Day – in school, I was one of the only kids who didn’t have at least some Irish in them. And let’s face it, there’s no national holiday for a Polish saint (even Hallmark probably would not be able to find a rhyme for St. Stanislaus of Szczepanów’s Day, and I don’t think it would be appropriate to celebrate St. Kuntsevych’s Day, as fun as the celebrations might be). Fortunately, Tim didn’t know my last name when he switched the entry, so he made one up for me. You can see me in the race results as Laura McDavis. I feel such a sense of kinship and belonging with the Irish people now! Perhaps I can legally change my name. Seriously though, the fake name cracked me up. A fun ending to a fun race that I’m glad I did.

Race stats:
Distance: 5K (3.1 miles)
Time: 24:37
Pace/mile: 7:56
Overall place: 671/2999
Age group place: 102/779

This race was done as part of Vanilla’s Shave Your 5K Challenge. The only bad thing about smashing my PR is that now I have to try to smash this one by even more come the end of the year. We shall see…


15 thoughts on “Race Report: Ras Na Heireann 5K”

  1. Hey nice job on the PR and a great race report. You should throw out those 2110s and spring for some 2120 or 30s trust me you’ll tell the difference straight away! You must have more than 350 miles on them by now, that’s about their shelf life.

  2. That’s awesome. A PR so early in the running year means that’s probably a few more coming your way. Congratulations on a great run. (BTW, I’m still looking for a 5K in NYC for my stubble time…)

  3. I did the exact same thing. I ran a 5K on Sunday which resulted in a new lifetime PR for me. Unfortunately it also means I have a new Stubble Time for the Shave your 5K Challenge. My first SY5K time was 26:06. Now it’s 23:19. Oops. I think I have some work to do. But it was still extremely cool to break my PR, which had been standing since 1991 and my last year of H.S. cross country.

  4. SLB, I had bought two pairs once I discovered how much I liked them, so I only have about 100 on the new pair. In another 50 miles or so I’m going to look for a different style, and then rotate like a good runner, so I’ll definitely check out the ones you recommended.

    Julie – a LOT of wine. Hope that helps 🙂

    Sarah, that’s fantastic! Sounds like we have a lot to shoot for now.

    Laminator, I feel your pain – NYC is so hard for 5Ks! Boston turned out to be much easier. However, the 8K on Saturday offered a 5K split with chip timing. Maybe you could check with NYRR to see if they’ll offer a 5K split at any other races? I’ve never seen it before, but maybe it’s a new thing that they’re going to start doing all the time.

    Sarah, congrats! We definitely have some hard work to do.

  5. Dude seriously isn’t it amazing to have a time slashed like that!! — ok, appologies for the strange surfer talk.

    Personally, love Save a Horse ride a cowboy…or just about any Big and Rich song because they are upbeat!

  6. OK here goes:
    – 9 months ago you ‘concieved’ the notion of running a fast 5K
    – for the first two trimesters you ‘fed in’ the miles as if you were ‘running for two’
    – you continued the nourishment through the third trimester as ‘gestation’ progressed
    – you finally ‘delivered’ a beautiful, bouncing new PR. And ‘spanked’ that old 5K sharply until it cried out.

  7. Did your bag turn up ok at the finish? Oye!

    Congrats on the new PR!!!!! That’s brilliant.

    I plan on citing you as the reason I made it through mile 3-5 of the HM I did last weekend. The “Oh no, he/she can’t beat me” kept me entertained and motivated for quite some time!

    “Save a horse ride a cowboy” was BLARING at the start as well. I thought at that time that it was an odd start to a Shamrock race, but who am I to judge?

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