St. Patrick’s Day 5K

Yesterday morning was a cool, rainy morning, and we set out to Stanley Park for the annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K. I signed up thinking it was mostly a fun run but later realized that it is one of the most competitive 5K races around. The winner clocked just over 14 minutes. There were still a few dozen walkers lingering toward the back of the race, but on I went. And just as quickly, I realized this was a bad run for me, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. I am one week away from my 10K training program end (and so had to do some extra running after the race to complete week 7 end), but this was the first run since I started the training that I needed to stop and walk some. Maybe it was the highly competitive nature and starting off way stronger than the pace I’m used to, or maybe it was the 477 foot climb with little downhill. Regardless, I set 7 personal records (of course some of those for stretches I’ve never run) and got my 2nd best timed 5K. But my 5K is still very slow, and my goal this year is to get it under 30 minutes! But, overall, I felt as I ran this, that I was not as seasoned as I want to be. I think it’s partly my age, partly my lung capacity (I did smoke for years, though also quit a decade ago), and partly my annoying back/shoulder issues that limit mobility and make me a little too extra careful when running, considering the fall I had recently on the trail.

Regardless, I am not complaining, just self-critiquing. Definitely, the trail running is helping with hills. To put another perspective on my running, there are about 100 people in my Strava group. On distance, I am generally right around the top of the bottom third, if I do three runs a week (we have guys who are running like up to 100 miles a week though!); on pace, I am in the bottom 10th percentile; and in elevation, in the top 25th percent.

On Thursday I had such a busy day at work that I didn’t get to take my normal hour to run, so Morgan and I went to Mundy Park after work. As we set out, it was still light, but by the time we got to Mundy Lake, dusk was settling in. It was absolutely beautiful and silent, and I cannot quite describe the feeling of being in the cool, and very wet, rainforest at night. By the time the run was over, it was not completely dark but solemnly dim. It was one of my most favorite runs to date.

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The St. Patrick’s Day route was also beautiful. It took place on the eastern seawall of the park, starting out on the cedar and pine-lined Pipeline Trail, then going south to the seawall and edging the harbor around the south, east, and north sides before heading inland again. While the morning began as rainy and cold, almost right when the race began, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Most people, including Morgan and I, wore green, so the run was quite colorful. As we all know, if you wear green on St. Patrick’s Day you will be invisible to leprechauns, who could pinch you otherwise! Regardless of silly traditions, in a lot of ways, this race–and the subsequent visit to Doolin’s Pub afterward, and then checking out the Celtic Fest on Granville–seemed like a precursor to our upcoming Ireland trip, which I’m very excited about. The trip is for Mom, since she always dreamed of going but would not have gone by herself–so we are going with her and for her. But we are just as excited. I look forward to running and finding good old traditional pubs, in that order.

We did have a good time yesterday, but I wish I could increase my pace. Not sure exactly how now, as I have been running now since late 2014, pretty regularly, with a few injuries along the way that have set me back some. I just don’t want to have to stop and walk anymore, and after all this training, and on a race day, on a shorter race than my last one, for that to happen was just disheartening. But, as my friend Courtney says, “You are lapping people on the couch.” And I have to remember that prior to a year and a half ago, I hadn’t run since high school–when I really was a fast runner. Maybe that was my heyday, and all the years between when I suffered from supraventricular tachycardia, before finally getting an ablation in 2013, were wasted with not not running and getting too soft.

Anyway, I go forward with bright thoughts and look forward to my last week in the 10K program, even though it’s my second time around, and continuing to build pace and distance throughout the spring and summer. Our next race is April 17th (Vancouver Sun Run 10K), and my third time in it. The route is a bit friendlier, with just two hills and a lot of flat or downhill running.