2014 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race: New 10K PR

Saturday I ran the 2014 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, only my second 10K and one of the big ones in the area. Seriously, Holyoke, with its strong Irish heritage, goes all out for St. Patrick’s Day: a road race, a parade, a near-constant party atmosphere all weekend.

I was in it for the race. I knew I wasn’t going to finish first, because I am not that fast. I had actually been honest when registering and estimated my finish time around 56 minutes, since the course is really hilly. I even lined up in the 8-9 minute mile corral, estimating that if I was lucky, I’d do an 8:55/mile. (Many people were not that considerate; as a result, I spent much of the first half-mile dodging the 13-minute milers in yoga pants and ended up cursing at one as she slowly cut across my path. Seriously, that is my biggest running pet peeve. If you know you’re not that fast, you need to stay away from the 8-minute mile corral.)

When I got there, it was raining. I had planned for 45 degree, cloudy weather, according to the forecast, so I wore black MPG running capris, the awesome green Lucy tank top my husband had bought me, and Asics arm huggies. (And my trusty New Balance 890v3 running shoes, which now have 216 miles on them.) I was feeling nervous, but confident. After all, I had prepped: I’ve been training for this half (Sunday!!!); I followed my pre-race nutrition ritual that begins at lunch the day before; I had GUed up.

As I was looking around for the folks I knew who were running the race, I saw my nemeses: The Chuckleheads. These two are like bad pennies and turn up where I least want to see them: at Rugged Maniac and now at the St. Paddy’s Day race. You know, where I know there’s a challenge. They think they are much more awesome than they really are. So my confidence was slightly shaken, which made me consider overdosing on GU if either of them beat me, and I slipped away to line up and do some last-minute warming up.

At 1:00, as the gun went off, the clouds parted, and a very warm sun began to beat down. Within two minutes of crossing the start line, I had torn off the arm huggies and stuffed them into my waistband.

And the course? “Hilly” is a nice way of putting it. I felt like I spent the first half of it running uphill. Along the way, T-Fit, my online fitness buddy, sidled up to me, and we greeted each other, grunted about the hills, and continued on. Later, I saw a familiar curly auburn ponytail interlaced with a green feather boa. Sure enough, it was SpeedyJ, and we ran together through the downhill portion, mostly listening to our own music and keeping our own beat. At the last hill, I watched the familiar ponytail bob away as SpeedyJ powered up, and I followed, knowing I’d meet up with her after the finish line.

As I neared the end of the race, The Donnas’ “Fall Behind Me” blasted through my headphones. And I crossed. My chip time was 54:49, an 8:50 mile and a new 10K PR, which surprised and delighted me.* That was not an easy course.

I ran like The Chuckleheads were behind me. Which, it turns out, they were.

Afterward, we stretched, and I checked out The Chuckeheads’ times on my BlackBerry (I beat them by nearly 10 minutes!), rehydrated, and hung for a bit. And, in the words of Ice Cube, it was a good day.

*And the other stats:

Overall Place: 1816/5941 | 30.6%
Age Group: F 2-39
Age Group Place: 394/2107 | 18.7%