Monday, March 07, 2011

I want to go to Ireland (Irish 5k)

(Results) Way back in October, Charlie Breagy told me about his new St. Patrick's Day race series that he was planning for 2011. "It's going to be a Tour de France style series, where the top male and female win a trip to Ireland and represent the USA in some races over there," he explained to me. Keeping the race series a secret, from that moment until yesterday, was very challenging for me because I was so excited about it. But I didn't want the word to get out, because I wanted to win the trip to Ireland!

For the past two weeks, I obsessively searched the race web site's entrant database for fast people's names. A week ago, I realized that not only were no other fast women signed up, but no fast men were signed up, period. So Alan signed up, because wouldn't it be cool if we could both win a trip to Ireland? As of race day, one other fast guy (EL) had signed up, but still not one of the women I didn't want to race had signed up.

I was nervous all week. I was nervous even on the starting line. Several times, I have arrived at a race having seen no one else that looks fast, only to have some fast woman show up on the starting line one minute before the race starts. Not a single other female had even positioned herself within 10 feet of the starting line; every other female had chosen to start behind the "7 minute pace" sign. And I was the only female doing strides. A few minutes before the start, they started playing Irish music, and I started smiling. My dream of winning a trip to Ireland might just come true.

The air horn sounded and I went out behind a big group of men. The course was basically a lollipop shape, with a big hill on the beginning and ending section. It was a perfect day for running, 45 degrees and overcast, except that it was very windy. I was planning to run 5:45-5:50 for the first mile, but I wasn't sure how to gauge my effort on the first hill. I tucked in behind some men as we entered quite windy parts of the course and came through the mile in 5:54. I figured that was okay, considering the uphill.

During our warm-up, we had discovered that the small out-and-back section in the second mile was very windy. At that time, I had vowed to tuck myself behind a guy when heading into the out-and-back, but when I got there I was in a big gap, with no one to shield me! (What's the point of scouting out the course if you don't apply your knowledge?!) I didn't want to slow down and wait for someone to pass me, and I wasn't going to catch the guys ahead of me, so I just ran into the strong wind. Sigh. I checked my watch at the turnaround: 11:14. I waited until I saw the second-place female and then checked again: 11:50. So I had about a 70-second lead. Hmmm. That's a lot. I was thrilled to see that my friend Sarah was in fourth place! I also passed the 2-mile mark in about 11:56 for a 6:02 second mile. Not that fast, but clearly it was enough to maintain the lead.

The last mile was flat and downhill back to the downtown area. I tried in vain to catch my perennial rival Dave S, but he was too far ahead. As I entered the beginning/ending section of the lollipop, there were some women were still on their way out on the course, and as I ran by one of the women said, "she's going to Ireland!" I ran down the hill and into town, hitting 3 miles in about 17:54. At least it was under 6:00! The straight section was much longer than I remembered and the finish seemed very far away, but as I approached I saw them pick up the finish tape and stretch it really tight, so I spread out my arms and splayed my fingers and tried to give George a good photo, which indeed he got:

As soon as I finished (in 18:25), the race director told me to be back in 30 minutes for the awards because they wanted to do them ASAP before the parade. So Alan (who was second, as expected, in the race) and I ran immediately back to the car to change our shoes, and then did a two-mile cooldown. So imagine our surprise, when we were blocks away and only 20 minutes had elapsed since I finished running, to hear our names and times being announced on the loudspeaker, as the announcer repeatedly summoned us back to pick up our prizes! We also got caught at a traffic light about 50 meters from the announcer, as he kept asking us to appear, but the cars just kept having a green light and there was no traffic gap in sight! I am sure the many spectators were happy when we finally appeared and picked up our lovely prizes.

We both got interviewed for the paper and here is the result:

Lonergan, Davis snare crowns at Irish 5K
PAWTUCKET — When Diana Davis ran up the steep incline during the first mile of the inaugural Irish 5K in Pawtucket, she didn’t just see the top males in the field.
Davis, a third-year PhD student at Brown University, also saw some green.
“I want to go to Ireland,” she said.
The 25-year-old runner took the first step to making that trip to the Emerald Isle a reality Saturday morning when she was the first woman to cross the line in front of City Hall, placing ninth overall among the 849 finishers with a time of 18 minutes, 25.1 seconds.
The 5K was the first of the three-race series of the Tour De Patrick, an event that awards the overall winners (based on combined time in the series) a trip to Ireland. The series, created by race director Charlie Breagy, continues next Sunday in Worcester with the Celtic 5K and concludes in Providence on March 19 with the St. Pat’s 5K.
“I won the St. Pat’s 5K last year and had a really good experience,” Davis said. “Charlie’s also a good friend of mine and told me about this series back in October and about the trip to Ireland. I decided right then that I was going to do it.”
Davis earned her prize with ease in Saturday’s race, posting a two-minute victory over Kasondra Iadarola (34th, 20:25.5) of Sutton, Mass.
In the men’s race, it was slightly more contested. North Kingstown’s Eric Lonergan put on a surge just before two miles to break away from Providence’s Alan Bernstein and win with a 16:12.4 clocking. Bernstein was second at 16:31.3. Martin Tighe, a 52-year-old runner from Providence, was third at 17:20.2.
“I just want to see where I am at,” said Lonergan, who copped last year’s St. Pat’s 5K. “I haven’t raced yet this year. This will be the first one of many.”
The 25-year-old Lonergan, a graduate of Rhode Island College, battled Bernstein in the initial stages of the out-and-back race. Running within a few strides of each other, the two runners distanced themselves from the field by the midway point of the race near McCoy Stadium.
“I know Alan pretty well,” Lonergan said. “He’s a pretty good runner so I figured I would pace off him.”
Lonergan made his decisive move for the title right around St. Raphael Academy on Walcott Street.
“It was rough with the wind and the hills and it started to catch up with me, especially in that third mile,” said Bernstein, an assistant women’s track and cross-country at Brown. “I just saw Eric disappearing into the distance. He got twenty seconds on me and just kept it consistent. The last mile we were both kind of hanging on.”
For Davis, she assumed the front-runner position the minute the gun was fired from the Roosevelt Avenue start. She increased her cushion considerably as she took the left-hand turn onto Main Street shortly after for the challenging incline of the first mile.
“I was in the lead the whole way,” Davis said. “I went out kind of hard going up the hill. I looked in front of me and all I could see was men. My plan was to run hard but consistent. I went through the first mile in a little under six minutes. It was very, very windy out there.”
Davis and Lonergan will now don the Tour De Patrick Green Jersey — awarded to the individual leaders in the series after each race — at next week’s Celtic 5K, also a first-time event.
“I really hope I can keep the lead,” Davis said. “I really would like to go to Ireland.”

It's a nice article. I can't imagine how they got Alan's name wrong since he spelled it for them AND it is correct in the results, but these things happen somehow, I guess. At least it lets you know how I feel about Ireland.

Happily, the Brown Running Club also won the team competition, and we got a nice custom plaque. And my friend Sarah ended up third, and got a prize! Everyone who came with us to the race had a good race and a good time.

No comments: