Woohoo racing season is upon us!!! The St. Patrick’s Day 8K has now kicked off my spring racing season for the past three years. It’s a fun race (great excuse to wear green) and 8K is such a manageable distance to wade into the season. However, I’ve never actually “raced” this race before. For whatever reason, there’s always something that makes me do this race “just for fun” and take it really really easy. In some ways I like that about it. Keep this fun race… well… fun! But this is really the only 8K I ever run, so my 8K “PR” is really out of whack for my other race times. But that’s ok 🙂 This year was no exception…
Mike and I met up with my friend Sarah at about 8:30 am (the race started at 9 – major plus of this fun race… doesn’t start too early!). For the second time with this race, I’ve almost overslept / missed it because of daylight savings time. Will I ever learn? Everyone was decked out in their green and fun gear. I always end up wishing I actually took the time to go buy something fun to wear but alas my go to green / white striped arm sleeves will have to do.
We lined up at the balloon arch and before we knew it we were off! Mike went ahead of us and Sarah and I stuck together. Mike has been having major IT band issues, Sarah hasn’t been training much, and I was having some weird ankle pain so needless to say all of us were a little down for the count on this race.
I love the scenery in this race though. It was super sunny or else I would’ve had a PERFECT picture running down Pennsylvania towards the Capitol building. Alas, the sun was too bright so I settled for a distant pic of the Washington Monument. Nothing like a clear DC morning 🙂
Sarah and I stuck together through the majority of the race (4 miles out of 4.98) I haven’t really mastered the art of the self portrait while running. Or really pictures while running I just kind of snap at random and hope for the best.
As we rounded the corner to head back towards the finish line, I was able to snap a decent picture of the Capitol building. My composition could use work but that’s ok 🙂 We caught a glimpse of Mike during on the of the out / back sections and he seemed to be doing pretty well. I was super nervous about his knee injury (his complete refusal to wear green to this race ended up making him SUPER easy to find). I left Sarah at mile 4 and took off for the finish line. I had been keeping a very easy pace so I wanted to really push the last mile just for good measure 😉
As I turned into the final out / back section of the race right before the final stretch of Pennsylvania Ave to the finish line, I saw Mike again. This time he was walking so I knew he wasn’t doing well. Mike is a huge competitor. There is no way he would walk at all (let alone this close to the finish line) unless he was really hurting. I ran harder to catch up with him. I caught him literally a minute before finishing, and made him try to run it in with me. He ended up finishing a few steps behind me and was definitely in a lot of pain… poor guy!
My “official” time was 53:09 which is totally fine by me 🙂 I just love to race, so I definitely don’t make each one a “have to push it to the max” mentality. Eventually the stars will align though and I will actually race an 8K just to see what I am capable of! The spring racing season is officially open and I can’t wait for what this year is going to bring 😀
I was super proud of Sarah for pushing it out on this race and reignited her running flame a bit. I’m so glad I was able to be with her during the race!! I don’t have many friends who run / race so it’s so much when I have a buddy.
My armpit sweat is clearly why I never race in cotton shirts, but it was the only clean green shirt I could find!! I turned my arm warming into leg sleeves for a little variety which was definitely fun. There’s Mike in his non-St.Patty’s day gear.
Quick Race Review! The wonderful folks at Pacers put on this event, and I have expressed my love my pacers in the past. I think they are a great local group that puts on very well organized races. They even upped their game this year with the race shirt (used to be a cotton t-shirt, now its a technical blend t-shirt. Definite improvement). Packet pick up is always exceptionally easy at their stores and this year it happened to coincide with a huge sale (which I totally scored BIG on). Water stops were well stocked, course well marked, and there were plenty of bathrooms. These are very important for a good race 🙂
After we finished they were handing out bottles of water, which was awesome. My one complaint was the lines were RIDICULOUS for the food tent. I didn’t even bother because I wasn’t hungry but I was slightly bummed to not even have a chance to grab a banana or granola bar for later. What was up with these lines??? (in the pic below… we were at the end of the line and the food was in the white tent WAY down the street… definitely did not wait in that line)
My favorite part was the Irish dancers by the bag check (which was very smooth as always). I studied abroad in Ireland so I have a soft spot for Irish folk music and dancing 🙂
Questions for You Guys:
– Have you ever run at St. Patty’s Day race before?? What did you wear??
– Do you always “race” or do you ever go out just for fun to take it easy? Have you ever raced injured?
My boyfriend Mike is my go-to racing buddy, and not just because he is my boyfriend. It is because I have yet to meet another person who is as nuts about racing as I am. This spring alone we have run five races together including two back-to-back 10 milers in one weekend. We don’t run even close to the same pace (he is SUPER fast and really impressive) but it’s great to have such a dedicated racing buddy. I sometimes joke with him that he’s all business on race day (I may have even referred to him as No-Fun-Mike from time to time) but it’s all in good fun. He is an amazingly supportive racing buddy 🙂
This past Sunday, Mike and I are ran the George Washington Parkway Classic 10 – Miler sponsored by Pacers. If you live in the DC area I seriously suggest checking out / participating in any of the Pacers racing events. They are always extremely well organized, which I hold paramount in racing. This weekend’s race was held on the ten mile stretch of the George Washington Parkway from Mount Vernon to Old Town, Alexandria. The course was GORGEOUS – through the trees / suburbs outside DC with views of the Potomac River. It was also pretty challenging! While the point-to-point course had a net downhill grade, the rolling hills still proved a fun challenge.
Parking was a breeze (at least for us). We got there amazingly early because we’re kind of anal and don’t like to be rushed. We parked on the street in Old Town at 5:45 am, boarded the shuttles to the starting line, and arrived at Mount Vernon at 6:10 am. Annnnnddddd then we had almost two hours until the start of the race. Luckily, Pacers provided some AMAZING pre-race ammenities at Mount Vernon. Some examples are below:
PLENTY of bathrooms… lines were amazingly short even right before the race. CHA CHING.
Food was available pre-race including free coconut water from the people of Vita Coco.
FREE COFFEE!!!!! And that was great because it was cold / raining and I ❤ coffee.
There were also space blankets, which were totally clutch because, as mentioned above, it was cold and raining. I personally won’t be deterred by rain, especially a light rain like Sunday. I just throw on a hat to keep the rain off my face and I am good to go. Luckily, Pacers had gear trucks, so I was able to keep my fleece on until 7:45 am when we checked our bag and made our way to our respective starting positions.
Mike lined up in the 7 minute mile corral, and I lined up at the 10 minute mile corral. I was supposed to be taking this race “really easy” because my marathon is this weekend but, as I kind of expected, I couldn’t hold myself back! The road was totally closed for the race so there was plenty of space. Even though I lined up with a slower group, I quickly broke through to the 9:00 – 9:30 group. There were a shocking number of spectators out considering the weather, and that certainly helped me maintain my pace. Pacers had well stocked water / gatorade stations about every two miles with bathrooms (I didn’t stop, but the lines didn’t look awful). They also have a clock at every mile, which I think is a really great perk. I wear a Garmin Forerunner 210 so I know my pace / time, but, if I didn’t, I think this would be a very welcomed feature. The race felt like it flew by and, even though I was starting to feel a little tweak in my left hip flexor from all the hills, I managed to maintain my pace to cross the finish line in 1:32:30 (My previous 10-mile PR was 1:37:01 so… I basically killed it!).
The post race festival was held on the water in Old Town Alexandria. I think we would have stayed longer if it wasn’t raining / cold because it was set up really well! There were bathrooms, water, gatorade, bagels, granola bars, and bananas (that, like all race bananas, needed another 5 days to ripen before I would consider eating them… but I’m weird about bananas). We even got a sugar cookie with a big green leaf on it because it was Earth Day! There was beer available too but we didn’t venture into that area. I occasionally enjoy a post-race beer, but we were heading to a beer tasting event that afternoon so I didn’t think a 10 am beer was necessary.
Run a Pacers event, you won’t be sorry!
For those interested, Mike ran 1:07:41, just off his PR (which he set at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler earlier this spring).
He rocks 🙂