Sharin o' the Green 5k
We don't usually go out of our way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day too much, but that was probably the best one in memory, no doubt aided by sunny temperatures hovering in the upper 70s (highly conducive to an afternoon nap in City Park), and a visit from one of our good out-of-town friends.
And it began with the annual "Sharin o' the Green 5k" race.
Partners Mentoring Youth
The race is a benefit for Partners Mentoring Youth, a fantastic community organization that helps pair adult mentors with child and teenage mentees in order to foster a meaningful relationship of support and encouragement. My family members have been inspirational supporters of PMY, with brother-in-law Caleb having mentored an energetic 6th-grader for just over a year. I've been consistently impressed with the variety of activities Caleb has regularly been able to do with his mentee. More recently, J has been spending time with a precocious 7th-grader, whom I've found to be not just unfailingly polite, but also a great helper in things like baking cookies. (See how the relationships work both ways???) The program is successful because of the great volunteers, as well as the great staff.
Since PMY is such a valuable community resource, it's wonderful to see the success of the 5k race. Race participation nearly doubled to over 2700 participants this year, such that registration closed before race day. Also, the course was entirely new this year, with a great collaboration with O'Dell's brewing, such that the race started at the brewery and ended at the same, but with the addition of free beer.
My prediction is that the massive crowds might cause some race logistic issues, but the large details went mostly smoothly: ample and close parking in the field behind O'Dells, numerous port-a-potties, and an almost on-time start (amazing with the number of participants). The race was bib chip-timed and worked well (as far as I know) -- by the way, this means the race is quite the "bargain" by having chip timing, free beer, and a t-shirt, for as little as a $17 early registration (LivingSocial deal). It's hard to count pennies when great charities are involved, but this really means that the race organization is quite professional and able to allow for maximum donation to PMY itself (so it doesn't hurt to throw a few bucks into the beer tip jars, for example).
But the large crowds did make it quite difficult to navigate a narrow start, and I understand that subsequent waves of people got jumbled up in the usual confusion of dogs, strollers, walkers, etc. Everyone is most definitely encouraged, but all races have an important aspect of etiquette in terms of appropriate starting line positioning, so anything that can be done to aid the process would be welcomed.
In my case, it made sense to start near the front. I don't have the esteem to start on the very front line, but I tucked in close enough that it wasn't really an issue. I was happy to see friends and training partners like Nick, Sarah, Tim, and Alex up there as well, having already seen other FCTR's like Celeste, Mindy, and Pete before the race, and did a few strides with Alex to get warmed up and ready.
And with a quick set of verbal commands, we were off.
Off the bat, I had a brief moment of frustration and bumping elbows (maybe a bit harshly) with a couple guys in a tight but slow wall before the first turn. Soon enough, that was over with, and we were off and running.
I kept Nick in my sights (with one runner in between us) just like I would on our fun Tuesday morning speedwork sessions this year, but wanted to keep a controlled and even pace, which I suspected would be 20-25 seconds net back. (My target was 16:45-17:00). Keying off of someone predictable was a great boost, since a few other nearby runners had clearly gone out too fast and started falling back. I was already a good 2-3 seconds back but kept the gap fairly steady in the first mile. I forgot to look at the exact starting time of my $10 running watch, but 1st mile was on target at 5:22-5:24ish, and felt smooth. My injured rib is noticeable on very deep breaths but was basically a non-issue.
Next came a few turns and then a brief spot onto the bike path, which required a little bit of work getting around another runner, but was mostly steady. I think I dropped a couple seconds on that mile, but still felt steady.
At Mile 2, we overlapped with the first mile of the race, and their were a significant number of runners. Because of the difference in speed and traffic at the start, I heard the girls way past when I thought I would, and heard a few other random name shouts, which was great and kept us honest.
But it also meant that there was significant traffic remaining in the first/last mile, which I'm not sure was predicted. As it was, we swung out wide onto the bike path when coming inbound, instead of the sidewalk, outbound route. The route was flawless and non-confusing, but later runners took the slightly shorter sidewalk route as mapped, so I believe the final course for the front-runners was a touch long. (Better than noticeably short, though).
One more turn onto Lincoln and it was a straight shot to the 3 mile mark, before a final awkward 180 into the parking lot. I forgot to look at my watch again, but assumed it was sufficiently below 17:00 for the first time in my life. I congratulated Nick quickly, I ended up right behind him, and assumed I'd catch up with him on his race later, though I ultimately didn't get to do so in the crowds. I also missed out on seeing Sarah finish up strong and win her age group, but I was happy to see fellow (fast) training partner Chris who was volunteering at the finish line, and then I circled back and headed out to find the girls.
I found them near the 1M mark, and had fun encouraging other runners along the way. They were held up in the first mile but were running at a good clip (with tutus and jewelry and hats on) and having a great time. I peeled off before the finish and then we headed over to the free beer. That was somewhat chaotic, requiring an ID check (as expected) but also race bib tags (after many of us had recycled ours). It was still easy to get the free beer though and $3 otherwise.
We met up with more friends then, including some that are just getting started in running or races, so it was great to see them as well.
Anyway, I guess that's how you write up a whole 5k race report without pictures, thanks for reading. I was happy with the way this race went, thankful for the organization of it, and now onto working more on the endurance.
Alex (WS pacer and math teacher) says the Sharin' o the Green time is exactly equal to a WS finishing time (in hours and minutes instead of minutes and seconds), so hopefully I'm pretty much set in that regard and can start tapering.