There are a few things I love about the Westport St. Patrick’s Day Run.
- The 10:00 AM start. Early March in Kansas City is still COLD; there is no real need to be up to run before the sun. And on days like last Saturday, where the temperature hovered around 40 degrees and the sun never came out, 10:00 was as good a starting time as any. I set my alarm for a half hour later than I get up for work during the week, got both dogs fed and taken care of, met up at a friend’s house to carpool, parked, walked, and STILL had a half hour to hang near the starting line.
- Running with friends. The nature of this holiday somehow springs my mostly-non-running circle of friends into action. It is most certainly the promise of beer shortly after finishing the race that encourages them to participate. I do not have a problem with this.
- The crowd. Thanks again to the nature of St. Patrick’s Day, this race draws solid cheering support. For example: a jello-shot station set up about a half-mile from the finish. (Had I known they were handing them out with lids, I totally would have taken one to go.)
I had been looking forward to this race for quite some time. I really enjoy 4-mile races; they require just a bit of endurance while still enabling those fast-twitch muscles. The race messed with my long-distance training just a bit, but it felt really good to get out there and try to run fast. Of course, leave it to me to trash-talk and get all nervous for a race that is generally just a good time. What can I say? I’m a little competitive.
My race plan was to take the first mile at 7:30 pace (on track for a 30:00 finish) and see how long I could keep it up. Since I ran the Groundhog Run under 8:00 pace it seems logical I’d be able to do it, but long-distance training does funny things to the legs sometimes. Hence the irrational nerves.
They reversed the course direction from the last time I ran this two years ago. I am so, so thankful for this – it means we got to run DOWN the big, gross hill next to the Levee instead of up. Of course we made up the uphill throughout the race, but the steep uphill portion was much shorter this way (and at the beginning instead of the end.) Way to go, race directors!
I went out looking at my friends’ Dave and Jeff’s backs, and dragging along my husband (who had not put on running shoes since our last 5K in October.) Mike dropped off of my pace before the mile mark. While I was bummed, it makes perfect sense – I’ve been putting in mileage creeping up to 40 miles/week, and he…has not. Never fear, though, he will be back in action kicking my butt on no training by mid-summer.
At the one-mile mark came my only gripe about this race. The first mile was marked a full .1 mile LONG. I ran a 7:15 first mile, and I knew it because Mr. Garmin told me so, but didn’t cross the “official” one-mile-mark until 8:00. The mile markers that followed were each a mile apart, but at 2.1 and 3.1 miles, respectively. I imagine this threw off the groove of runners who keep their pace with a trusty Timex. I know it would have totally messed with my head – but I tend to over-analyze, so maybe it’s just me.
In the second mile, I had a pleasant surprise. I was chugging along when I saw a blond head in my peripheral vision. It was Annie, a girl I have known since I was a kid back in the homeland! We went to the same church, and her younger sister is my age. (Her sister and I actually became pretty competitive rivals in high school cross country, but I digress.) I’ve known Annie was living in KC for a couple years now, but this is the first time I’ve seen her at a race. I felt very silly calling her name and then saying, “It’s me, Sarah!” but I’m so glad I did. We only chatted for a few minutes before getting back into race-mode, but we ran the rest of the race together. It’s SO helpful to have someone to race with, whether you are actually running “with” them or not.
Keeping pace with Annie helped me to catch up with, and pass, my friend Jeff – trash-talking mission: accomplished! The second mile was near goal-pace at 7:26, and the third mile – which is ALWAYS my worst – was 7:46. After a brutal confidence-busting mental battle, I resolved to crank it in over the last mile. (I really need to work on using key-words when my brain starts acting dumb. “You’re going to finish this race like a wimp if you don’t speed up right now” = NOT HEALTHY.)
Healthy or not, I won the battle. My fourth mile was 7:05, with a finish time of 29:32. Success!!
That time put me 8th in my age group, 21st female, and 159th overall. No records were broken with this performance, but it is the first time I’ve run under 30:00 for 4 miles in AWHILE. I am very well-pleased with the results.
Now, who of the 20 women who finished in front of me want to train with me? Hello? Bueller?
Dave was the grand champion of the day, finishing ahead of me in 28:43. Now, If I could convince Dave to run with me more often, he might be able to push me into better, speedier shape. “But I have bad knees!” he cries. Wimp.
All of the results are posted here on MARA Running’s website. Nerdy hint: Since the race was so big and the results are not searchable, you can search them by hitting Control+F on your PC.
If you made it all the way through, you get a big thumbs up. I tend to get very wordy with race recaps. I JUST GET SO EXCITED!