Lessons learned at the St. Patrick’s Festival 5k!

On Sunday, 15th March I ran the St. Patrick’s Festival 5k. I didn’t get a PB like I hoped but I did learn a lot of good things that will help my future running/racing plans. I can’t say this was my favourite race of all time, but I think it was the most beneficial one!

Before the race I took my usual photo of the start line, which was also the finish line!

The start and finish gantry

So what did I learn from running this race?

Lesson One: I need to take a minute before a race to ensure my shoelaces are tied! I didn’t notice my shoelace was undone while we shuffle/walked to the start line once the horn went off, but I knew as soon as I started running that I had a problem.  Of course, the street was lined with people cheering so I couldn’t stop then and there to tie it.  I ran for about 100m before the street cleared of people and I found a spot where I could stop to tie my shoe.  I was pretty miffed with myself though.  I wanted to try for a PB and this wasn’t helping! One I got my shoelace tied I took off and worked on getting into my stride.

Lesson Two: People cheering at a race help me run better, they really do! The start had some great crowds cheering away but after that, the race was pretty quiet! We were running on city streets, but because it was Sunday the streets were pretty deserted. The route took us through more office/business areas instead of residential.  But even the marshalls, what few there were, weren’t cheering. I do appreciate the first marshall who was stationed around the first corner from the start.  He was funny, energetic and seemed happy to be there.  Other marshalls along the route just seemed bored. Towards the end of the race I realised that I get a lot of energy and motivation from being cheered on at a race. Although the start and finish were noisy, I missed the energy and atmosphere for the rest of the route.

Lesson Three: I’m not as good a runner as I think I am.  I was hoping to PB and beat my previous time by at least a minute or two.  I realised too late that it wasn’t going to happen, even with the shoelace issue, I wasn’t running fast enough or feeling strong enough.  I admit, I could have looked at my Garmin during the race and picked up the pace, but I didn’t.  I thought I was doing great! Turns out, I wasn’t. I need to learn to pay better attention to my pace and to gauge my own strength and stamina. After the race I walked home, then back into town for lunch, then back home.  So I know I had it in me, I had the energy which would have been better used during the race!

Lesson Four: I’m a better runner than I think I am.  I know, I know this doesn’t go with what I just said about Lesson Three. But, not getting a PB doesn’t mean I’m a bad runner.  I set a steady pace, kept to it and didn’t stop until I crossed the finish line.  I ran the race for myself, enjoyed the achievement and have come away with a better understanding of who I am as a runner. I also have a better idea of where I need to improve, what things I want to work on and where I can go from here.

Other than the lessons learned (and probably because of them!), I did enjoy the race.  The pre-race atmosphere was great; I saw lots of people in fabulous Patrick’s Day costumes and everyone seemed in an upbeat, happy mood. I took a few photos of some festive runners; thank you guys for letting my take your photo and post it to twitter!

Shout out to my trainer Michael of @myptdotie fame. He was running the race with some friends but he caught up to me to say hello and run with me for a bit. Or rather, I was running, he was jogging beside me! It was great to have his support, and I suppose that is Lesson Five; it’s nice to have friends running the same race!

The weather on the day was overcast and chilly but at least it wasn’t raining!  The race t-shirt is great, even my cat likes it!

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After the race I didn’t bother trying to find my results in the hall where they were posted.  Far too many people there and if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I do not like crowded places! I found out my time online and it would appear I finished the race in 39:46.  This is debatable, unfortunately, because my Garmin shows me a different time and distance (5.15k in 39:50). I also heard a rumour that the race clock had a technical difficulty and needed repair mid-race.  Regardless of that I am not counting this as a PB but like I said, it was still a good race to run and learn!

My post race treat was a big bowl of delicious Beef Pho, a good book and a refreshing Coconut bubble tea. Well earned and well deserved!

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At the end of all that, I enjoyed the race enough that I will be running it again next year!

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