Ras na hEireann 5K
Sunday, March 13, 2011
5K (3.1 miles)
Finish: 17:43 (5:43 pace)
27th Overall of ~6000
3rd Place M40+ (3rd Master’s)
2nd Place Pub Team Open of 50
1st Place Pub Masters of 50
1st Place Mixed Masters
Do you love to run?
Have you ever been in a bad Irish pub?
If you answered yes to both of those then I have the race for you. It is the combination of those two — running and multiple Irish pubs — swirled together (but not shaken) with free Harpoon beer. That, my runner friends, is the Ras na hEireann 5K in Somerville’s Davis Square. Taking place the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, it is a must-do race.
The “must-do” for me came calling the Friday night before the race. Tim, a good running friend of mine, rang my phone. “Hey Thor,” he said, “do you want to run the Ras in Davis Square?” I listended for more from Tim. “Free entry… run with my pub team… we’re looking for some fast guys.”
Having heard about this race before and the wild after-party(ies), and already getting my Irish on for the green day ahead, there was only one proper answer: “I’m in!” Only problem was that both Tim and I were running long (16 miles planned) the next day — the day BEFORE the 5K. But because Tim was joining me AND doing the race, too, I figured no big deal. I might not be able to give the pub team my best on tired legs, but if he was in, so was I. Free beer made it so.
Saturday morning, as planned, we ran long with friends and then met up Sunday in Davis Square, where we met a bunch of Irish dudes with long brogues. Having Irish roots and being proud of them, I was in heaven. My grandfather would have loved this Craic. His Irish eyes were smiling down.
After rushed introductions from other members on the Clockwork Tavern team, we all got our bib numbers. I had already warmed up a little bit but wanted to get back out for more. A slight mix up with numbers prevented that from happening. I chalked the last minute events up to the Irish. By that point my legs weren’t yet feeling spunky for race pace, but I knew that I was good enough warmed up and that the long run of the day before was now a distant memory and very well negligible on my performance. Race start adrenaline smooths over a lot of bumps, I knew, and so that’s what I relied on, as I always do.
Amid a sea of 6000 other runners dressed in varying shade of Shamrock green, I wiggled into the front three rows back of the start. A few minutes later the gun fired. Off the pack went.
The opening 100 yards was hectic. Jostling for position, I got elbowed, kicked and bumped. A few strides later, the guy in hightops dropped, his buddy in a large green hat flopped, and I finally got clearance on either side. By then I was probably in the top 40.
Leading to Mile 1 (5:38) was a long gradual incline. The rise was an Irish blessing in how it helped pump my legs full of charge like a single bore engine racing itself. I was pleased to see such a fast split on the watch. My pace was strong, I was running all out, and my breathing was controled although labored. I even noticed that my sciatic wasn’t pulling and there was not a trace of hamstring tension. It felt good to blow the engine out, open the throttle, and pass several more runners.
Mile 2 (5:55) felt smooth and fast, although when I looked at my watch I was a bit put off by the slow 5:55 I saw. I was hoping for 5:50 or something south of it. But at that point I was tapped out and now already thinking about the remaining mile. At this point all runners ahead of me were slowly stringing out single file. There was no passing. We were all locked into pace. I continued to focus on form, not over-striding, and keeping leg turnover brisk. That’s when smoothness returned to my stride.
Coming into the race my goal was to go under or get very near 18 minutes for the 5K. Splintered in my mind was the fact that I hadn’t gone under 18 minutes all of last year. Now, at this point in the race, I wondered if I were under the wire. The possibility was good, I knew, or so it felt, but I couldn’t handle a slow down from here to the finish.
As the course turned on 2.5 miles onto a bike path, a stretch of pavement I knew to be fast and flat even if it were into the wind, I knew I had a finish time of under 18 minutes. I knew it because I was running too damn fast and doing it so fluidly. My lungs were burning, but my body was responding with acceleration.
Just before Mile Marker 3 (5:43), I caught a partial glimpse of the clock. The minutes were blocked, while the seconds flipped to :33, :34, :35… I knew I was under. There was no way the minutes were at 18. I was going under. Finish came in 17:43. I was well under!
In fact, I was not only under but I also just ran a PR. This blows my mind because, honestly, I don’t come by PR’s too often now-a-days. Been running for far too long to be PRing anymore. But after scanning old results, I can’t find a 5K any faster.
Subconsciously I must’ve known about the PR, because back at the pub for the after party, we were all downing beers as if St. Patrick ran a PR himself.
1 — 5:38
2 — 5:55
3 — 5:43
3.1 — :26