Last weekend I ventured back to Massachusetts to run the infamous Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, a 10-K in the small western Massachusetts city known to have the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country (this is no joke).
I registered for the race with a group of my best friends from home, which included my cousin (and faithful running buddy) Paige, my other running buddy Lindsey, another friend Lindsay, and Paige and Lindsay’s’ boyfriends, Johnny and John. No, we never get confused with all the common names.
Anyway, we all had very different goals going into this 10-K. Paige, Lindsey and myself are all training for marathons and had a long 17-miler on the schedule for the day after the race. Lindsay is training for her first half and was using this as a training run. John was trying to PR and go for a sub-50 10-K which he blew out of the water with a 46-minute finish. And Johnny just joined in for fun and beat all the girls.
Because I had a long run to do the next day I made myself promise not to race this road race. That last all of a mile and a half before I got way too excited and wanted to run faster.
The race began at 1:00 p.m., which was the latest start time I’ve ever experienced and made fueling beforehand difficult. We got to the start early because there were 7,000 people registered to run (just under 6,000 actually crossed the finish) so we wanted to ensure we’d have time to park and get to our corral.
We didn’t even know there would be corrals until we got there and made the joint decision to jump in the 8:00/mile section. The corral was packed and there was hardly enough room for me to sync my Garmin, let alone tie a shoe or stretch. But this helped because it was a cold, windy day so body heat was welcomed.
The race itself went really well. The course was pretty hilly, with the first major hill coming at mile 2, followed by a stretch of rolling hills until about mile 4. A huge downhill came just around 4.5 miles and it was a great opportunity for runners to kick up the pace and eat some time. I came running down the hill at 7:40/mile pace.
Overall the race was well organized and I thought the course was great. The people of Holyoke came out in droves and provided excellent spectator support along the entire route, which really helped to power runners up the hills. I think it would have been great if the race organizers provided an elevation chart prior to the race so runners could know where the hills were to better strategize how they were going to handle the course but I couldn’t find any so I just had to wing it.
My official time came in at 53:55, an 8:34/mile average. Splits:
Mile 1 – 9:14/mile
Mile 2 – 9:22/mile
Mile 3 – 8:55/mile
Mile 4 – 8:42/mile
Mile 5 – 7:41/mile
Mile 6 – 7:56/mile
Mile 7 – 2:03/mile (for 0.28)
I think, had I intended to actually race the course and planned out a strategy, I could have done better but this is a hard race to race if you’re not at the front of the pack. The first two miles were slow because the field was so congested. I think the hills split up the field a bit which helped but the beginning definitely hurts times for runners not at the front.
Despite some minor changes, I would absolutely run this race again, especially given the same company I had during and after the race. There’s a huge block party following the race and being able to spend the time with my friends was the icing on the cake!