Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Road Race Report

Yesterday I ran the 36th annual Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10K Road Race. While this is only a 10K it is one of the most difficult 10k's out there. A lot of people who run the Boston Marathon run this race as a nice little warm up. This was the first race I ran when I started running again just over two years ago. Actually, this race was the reason I started running again.

Since I have been training for my first half marathon, two weeks ago I decided my dry run would be two laps around the race route. When I finished I was completely exhausted. I felt pretty good, really strong on the long steep uphills. In fact I felt fast on the uphills.

The next day my knee felt weird and my ankle was sore. My knee did not hurt, it just felt uncomfortable. I took a day off to rest and then ran a short four mile recovery run and felt that same discomfort in my knee after the first mile. I decided to take the rest of the week off to let my body heal. On Saturday I went running again. I kept it to six miles and I felt good for about half of that run, and then my knee began to feel uncomfortable again.

On Sunday my knee was still bothering me and my back started to hurt. It felt like my hip was really stiff. On Monday I called a chiropractor I know and she fit me in that day. After a brief exam, she adjusted my back and I immediately felt better. When I went out for a run the next night I felt fantastic and ran pretty good. At the very end of 4.5 miles I got an intense cramp in my back.

By now I was worried I was seriously injured and would not only have to drop out of the Holyoke road race but also my first half marathon. I did not run again this week until the race.

Yesterday morning I got up, streched, and grabbed something to eat. I headed out around 9:00am for a race that started at 1:00pm. There was about 6000 people who participate in this 10K race. The beginning of the race is pretty rediculous. It is so crowded. this hear they finally put up pace markers at teh beginning of the race, which is a nice upgrade. EVeryone lines up about a block before the start line. The cannon goes off and the melee begins. I did my first mile in 7:22, which was a little faster than I wanted to go.

I was feeling really good but here comes the hills. I was halfway up the first major hill and I noticed that I really had to pee but I couldn't stop now. I had run this race 2 times before and never finished without stopping at least one time. this year I decided that a personal goal would be that I complete the race without stopping.

I made it up the steepest stretch of the race at a reasonable pace and got a sip of water and I still had to pee. I tried to forget about peeing since the entire route is lined with spectators cheering. The race then has a slight downhill before a long slow hill. The dip is also the 3 mile mark.

I began uphill towards Holyoke Community College. The next half mile is my least favorite part of the race. In the two previous races I had done, I stopped and walked at this part. I kept my eyes down and told myself that it wasn't that steep and I was almost to the top. I then started to feel my ankle hurt. I ignored my ankle and kept going. After that half mile of hell, I began a very long downhill stretch. I began to pick up my pace and just couldn't get going very fats because my shins were cramping. I used the downhill as an opportunity to try to recover. My knee was starting to feel uncomfortable, but then I realized that I was only about a mile and a half from the finish line and still felt I could finish at a better time than last year. I chugged my way up the last hill and the adrenaline was kicking in because I started to feel really good and forgot I had to pee.

Right near the top of the hill I saw someone in front of me stop and I patted him on the back and encouraged him to keep running because we were now only about a half mile from the finish. I blew past him and got to the last turn. I could see the finish lien and with only 2 tenths of a mile left I significantly picked up my pace. This last part of the race is also a slow uphill. I wasn't about to quit now and I began a full out sprint to the finish line. I crossed the finish line into crowd of other runners at 55:30. My net time ended up being 55:09, which was over 1:30 faster than last year.

The runners bottle up after the finish line for water and when I stopped running I noticed my shins were incredibly cramped which is probably why my ankle was sore while I was running. I kept bumping into people becuase of the cramps but I was able to walk it off.

After the race I went to the dam Cafe and enjoyed a couple of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project's Fluffy White Rabbits, which is a seasonal beer they brew that is fantastic!

I feel like with all my training I should have finished faster, but considering I could barely walking a week before the race and that I set a personal best, I am happy with the race overall. I have a chiropractor appointment tomorrow and an hopefully I will still run the half marathon which is in two weeks!