Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K 2010

Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5k Race Report

(March 14, 2010)

Today was my official debut as a 5k racer! I did this a little backwards – my first-ever race was a 10.8k in December, after signing up for a clinic with a friend. Now, three months (and a two-month hiatus) later, I thought it was time I try a 5k – and what better way to do it than in a St. Patrick’s Day-themed race with my best running buddy, Joanna!

The race started and ended at Steamwhistle Brewery – in my opinion, one of Toronto’s coolest historic landmarks. It’s one of my favourite places to take friends when they come to visit me in the city!

The weather was remarkably similar to that of the Egg Nog Jog – cold, wet and windy. After a full week of gorgeous sunshine and double-digit temperatures. Clearly the ‘luck of the Irish’ wasn’t with us this morning! We had to spend quite a bit of time outside before the run too, walking to get our chips and check our bags – both in separate outdoor tents. The layout wasn’t the greatest and volunteers were somewhat disorganized, but despite the weather, everyone was in the mood to have fun.

As start time approached, Jo and I worked our way into the HUGE crowd and started jogging in place to warm up our muscles. A few minutes later, we noticed we were standing right beside Jess and Karen – two of our friends from our 10K running group! Had a quick chat to catch up before we all took off.

The start was rocky – I wanted to be speedy out of the chute but because they started the runners and walkers together, we were forced to take it slow as we dodged around people. I saw a few weird things, including a woman running with a huge purse. (Maybe she forgot to bring the $2 for bag check?) I lost Jo at the first turn, about 3/4 of a km in. Looked all around me but she seemed to have just disappeared (later I learned she was in my ‘blind spot’).

So I turned on the iPod and got focused. I was feeling great – strong and steady. I decided about 5 minutes before we started that I was going to try to run the whole thing, with no walk breaks. Note: I have NEVER done this, at least not in all my training for the past 6 months. And also note: once I tell myself I’m going to do something, I try REALLY HARD to do it.

I was going along at a pretty good pace, still weaving around people, as I saw the first guys pass me on the way back (this race was a 2.5 km out, 2.5 back format). MAN they are fast. I will never, ever, ever come close to that. They just all-out sprint the entire time (granted, it only takes them 15 minutes, but still. That’s a killer 15 minutes). Then I realize people weren’t turning around at Bay St. like I thought, but instead going one block further to Yonge. This probably only added a minute or so to my run, but I FELT it. By this point I was dying to turn around and know that I was closer to the finish than the start. I saw Jo Jo as I made the turn… waved but she didn’t see me.. she was in the zone!

The race back was TOUGH. My legs were burning. I was sweaty and hot and could feel myself losing steam. There were no markers on the course – not sure if that hurt or helped. As I approached the final hill, I heard a volunteer announce there was one km left… I thought, okay not so bad. It was the LONGEST km of my life! I think it was the hill/downward slope after the hill… and then… a looong stretch until the finish line. I could see it for the last 2-3 minutes of my run, and it just felt like it was never going to be within reach. I felt exhausted, but I gave it all I had and sprinted for the last 15 seconds or so, passing a few people in the process. I chugged a bottle of water immediately.

The best thing about doing all these ‘firsts’ is that each race is a new PR! Today, my goal was to finish in under 30 minutes… and I crossed the finish line at 27:57! Woot!

After the race, the best part: free beer and chili! And, of course, Lucky Charms cereal. I didn’t take advantage of that though – even as a kid I didn’t enjoy the really sugary stuff… except for Froot Loops!

Post-race, we also had a lovely catch-up with Jess, Karen, Lynne and Paula – all graduates of the 10K Egg Nog Jog 2009 clinic. We all went out for brunch afterwards to celebrate – which is the very best part of doing a race!

Running + beer = sweaty good times!

Definitely doing this one again next year. Happy St. Paddy’s Day all 🙂

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