Race Report: Paddy’s Road Race

It’s nice when a race comes off mostly how you want it, especially when the end result at least shows a little of the effort you’ve been putting in. I’ve actually had a good bit of luck since the starting gun of Timberman after a fairly challenging start to the season. Yesterday was an adventure in forgotten things, but the race turned out pretty well anyways.

Relying on technology in races is one of those double edged swords that can come back to bite you. It was at this race last year in fact that in the pouring rain, my old iPod nano gave it’s life in trying to provide motivational music to get me through the cold and rain. Thankfully, nothing broke this year, but I did forget both my watch and my phone, so I had no way of knowing how fast I was going to be running.

It’s a well organized 3 mile race through an area of town (Newton) not too far from where I work. They advertises it as a mostly flat course, but it’s really made of tiny little rollers, so you’re constantly going up and down. They also provide signs so that runners know to line up by ability, not just with their friends. If you’ve never done a road race, you’d be amazed at how much nicer a race goes when a majority of the racers are properly grouped. Heck, I can’t even imagine how the fast people feel in races where people start wherever they want.

I couldn’t hear the starting gun, but when the pack in front of you starts running, it’s time to go. I was far enough back that it seemed to take quite a while to cross the starting line. From there it was just running at as hard a pace I could sustain for as long as I could sustain it. When I felt like I was at the red line for a while, I’d stop and walk. Unlike in previous races when I’d stop and walk, I wasn’t walking at full race-walk pace.

Instead, I used that time to cool down before running again. It’s part of the realization that came as part of my couch to 5k, that I can run longer and faster if I rest a little bit between. I was surprised when I got to the first mile, thinking it might be a ways off yet. As I passed they read off 13:52 as the clock time, but I knew I had started some amount of time after. That meant I was sub 14, which is about where I usually am. Bummer.

Trying not to think about it, I pushed on, and found that much like the first mile, the second mile came faster than I expected. As they read the time, I was now at 27:40 minutes, so my second mile was a little under 14, so again, about where I expected to be based on last year. I was working too hard to get bummed out this time, and the group around me and I had a nice moment when we saw one of the early finishers running back our way to do a cool down. I said to them “The early finishers should not be allowed to do that, they should be required to run somewhere else and show off for those people” which got quite a few laughs.

The last mile of this course is one of those courses where there are two turns that deceive you into thinking the  race is almost over. There’s a building a few minutes into the last mile that looks eerily similar to a building right near the finish, and it tricked me again this year as well. I realized my mistake just a minute later, when I saw the next turn of the course. I hadn’t sprinted for long but was bummed to slow down, knowing I couldn’t sustain that pace.

I went back to a brisk walk to save up what I could for the turn onto the last road on the course. I had decided I was running the whole last road, even though it was a pretty long distance including the turn back down into the finish line. I made the turn and put everything I had into that last 1/3rd of a mile. I was pretty well spent already, but knowing the line was coming I pushed through to the finish.

My burning legs were happy when I crossed the line. The clock read 40:30 when I finished, but knowing it had taken a while to get to the starting line, I hoped for the best. Because this race is so well run, I didn’t have to wait long for my result; 39:23. 23 seconds faster than last year.

I know that doesn’t seem like much, but considering much of my walking was used to recover, between runs instead of pushing for the best possible time. I feel like I’ve made good progress so far, but I can’t wait until I have the stamina to run 3 full miles.

Notes:

- When I say Paddy’s is a well run race, I mean it: fruit, hot dogs, and an amazing chicken pot pie soup that is the best post race food I’ve had in a long time. Oh, and did I mention the free beer? We didn’t partake this year because we’d already had hot dogs and soup, but free beer is the best reason to race, ever.

- We’ve got a Halloween race picked out, and we’ll be racing again in just under two weeks. That gives me 5 more runs to get ready. It’s a race we haven’t done before, but it’s right in our neighborhood.

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