Monday, March 20, 2006

Race Report: Ras na hEireann USA

The 4th annual Ras na hEireann USA (Race of Ireland and USA) 5km was held Sunday, March 19th. It is a sister race to a cross-country race of the same name held the previous week in Ireland and a number of Irish and US runners do both races. This is a great race (even if it was a bit chilly). This was of course my first time running this race and I can tell you, I will be back next year. I'm currently training for a marathon and have just been building endurance, so I have not been doing any speed work. I figured this would be a good opportunity to gauge my current level before hitting my marathon speed and strength training. Anyway, I was looking for a time anywhere around 23 minutes.

Sunday morning I was awake around 7:00 a.m. and looked out the bedroom window to see blue skies. I figured this was probably good since the weather forecast had indicated overcast skies and a chance of snow flurries. Maybe 30 minutes later I looked out the window to see snow falling -- and blue skies! There must have been one little snow cloud over the house. It didn't last long and didn't leave any snow to speak of. Of more concern was the current temperature. According to it was 26F and a wind chill of 18F. The forecast called for it to warm up to the low 30's around race time though (wind chill in the 20's). I decided to race in my heavier long sleeve running shirt and shorts (plus cap and gloves). The only downside to this choice was the shirt color: bright red -- and this was a St. Patrick's celebration. Oh well. Next year I'll wear some green.

I got to the race early and got a great parking spot, right behind Davis Square in Somerville. Davis Square is right where the race starts, it's only a couple blocks from the finish, and contains several of the most desirable pubs hosting post-race parties. Around 10:00 a.m. I began my warm-up (in jacket and pants). I used Hal Higdon's basic warm-up routine. I jogged a mile, did a series of stretches, then jogged another mile, finishing with some strideouts. I then went back to the car to change out of the warm-ups and into my racing shirt. I did a few more stretches and then with 15 minutes to go until the start I headed over to the starting line.

The presence of over 2000 runners blocked much of the wind chill and it really wasn't too bad out. (Temperature showed 35F at the car just before I headed over to the start.) They announced the names of several of the Irish guests running the "ras". The only one I had heard of was Crossan, national marathon champion of Ireland. The Irish runners were looking for some pretty fast times. I was standing in the crowd about a quarter of the way back. When the gun went off, it took me 17 seconds to get to the starting line (chip timing mats) so my chip time ended up with a 17 second difference from my watch time.

The first mile was a gradual climb (not too bad) into the wind (not too bad when you're running behind people). I was passing people through the entire first mile. I guess I could have placed myself a little closer to the front. About 3/4 mile into the race was a group of bagpipers and they really added to the Irish theme. I was a little disappointed that there were no splits indicated. I had no idea how fast I was really running, but just continued to push myself as hard as I felt I could. The second mile was a generally long downhill section (with the wind). I was able to pick up the pace a little bit more there. The third mile had a couple small gentle hills, nothing major. As we turned back toward Davis Square and the finish line I continued to pick up speed. When I was within a half mile I just continued accelerating to the finish, the last couple hundred meters were just flat out. Another racer and I were running the same acceleration and were passing runners left and right to the finish. My watch time was 23:15 (chip time 23:32), a 7:29 per mile pace (average).

I feel good about the time. It wasn't a PR, but when I applied Bob Glover's age-adjustment factor it became an "age-adjusted PR"! I was 317th out of 2079 runners, and 44th out of 162 in my division. For the record, the winner clocked 14:19. Pretty freaking fast Irish dude.

All the participants got finisher's medals, a very nice medallion with a celtic knot engraved on it and a built-in bottle-opener (so practical!).

Anita and I immediately headed over to "The Burren" (local pub in Davis Square) for the post-race craic (party). Local band "Down Dog" played upbeat Irish traditional and contemporary music, and at noon the free beer started. I was a bit disappointed that there weren't enough munchies to go around, but I'm not complaining (Anita and I went over to Zoe's in Cambridge for brunch afterwards). It was quite a fun time and I would highly recommend this race.

And now, after some rest, it's time to get back into some serious marathon training.



Blogger D said...

Nice Job!! Congrats!!

3/21/2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger runninturnip said...

Sounds like a fun race! Our St Patty's day festival here is usually heavy drinking with little running. There was a 5k this year but I opted for the beer drinking, you did better than I did!

3/21/2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger E-Speed said...

good job at the race! Sounds like a fun slightly challenging course!

3/22/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger Rae said...

Great job with the race and the race report! It sounds like a really fun race with some super fast winners! I love a race with a finisher's medal. Keep up the great running!

3/22/2006 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Race sounds like it was a great experience. A belated congratulations as I'm behind on my blogging.

3/25/2006 12:40 AM  

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