Affectionately know as “the road race,” the Holyoke St. Patrick’s 10K Road Race is a wildly popular race for runners and non-runners alike. Irish runner and Olympic gold medalist, John Treacy, was quoted as saying, “This race came at an ideal time. It’s a great course – a miniature Boston. There were a lot of people out there watching considering the weather. I guess this town goes crazy for St. Patrick’s Day.” Holyoke does indeed go crazy for St. Patrick’s Day. In fact the celebration begins days before with local bars hosting Irish music, restaurants offering corn beef and cabbage, people putting out their chairs early for the famed St. Patrick’s Day parade and four leaf clovers being freshly painted on the streets.
I’m not Irish and I never really got into the spirit before. Last year I decided to run the road race for the first time and I will tell you it’s pretty hard not to get swept up in the excitement. Now I’m not a beer drinker and I don’t eat meat so wearing green to the road race is about as festive as it gets for me. I’ve run in a number of races at this point and not one comes close to the spectator support as this one. There are people cheering, holding up signs and banners throughout the entire 6.2 miles. People hand out water and Gatorade from their driveways. Some even offer up beer! Most runners wear something green. Some have wild get ups on including the person running in a full Gumby costume, the man in the tutu, a few with kilts, and the two men carrying flags one Irish and one American. The demographics of this race run the gamut from children, people pushing strollers, elderly, middle aged and everything in between, big, small, short and tall. I know people who run once a year and this is it.
I had to work this past weekend, but this race doesn’t begin until 1 p.m. so I was able to rest for a few hours before. Unfortunately I slept right through the kids fun run which Carlos was planning to do because I thought it started at noon instead of 11. He was disappointed for about 5 minutes. I was moving at a snail’s pace because the weather was chilly. I had no desire to stand out in the cold so we ended up making it to the race with 15 minutes to spare. You can read my post from last year detailing the parking situation. It’s insane! We actually parked in the same place which is almost as close as our house is to the race and high tailed it over to the starting area. Carlos and I took our pre-race photo.
Yes I’m wearing the same shirt as last year. I bought a new green shirt and when I put it on I didn’t like it. I only own one other green shirt and this is it. I also had green sparkly nail polish on just for fun.
I weaved my way through the crowd of spectators to get to the start. There were so many runners I never made it to the actual starting area. I was off to the side with everyone else who couldn’t make it. It was a bit claustrophobic as we awaited the starting gun. I never actually heard it, but eventually there was movement and we merged into the starting line. Minutes went by before we actually crossed the starting line at a slow walk. From there it was like we were a herd of cattle. You step on people’s feet, bump arms and start and stop constantly. It’s a bit frustrating if you’re there to run. Eventually I hopped onto the sidewalk with others and found a rhythm although it continued to be a lot of on and off the sidewalk.
The weather was perfect running weather, 30s-40s, no wind and overcast. Given the sheer size of this race, nearly 6,000 runners, I had no time goals other than to maybe do better than my time at last year’s race which was 1:01:35. My current 10K PR is 56:10. I ran my heart out like I always do. I felt great throughout the race. This course ends on an slight uphill which makes that final push a little challenging, but I ran as fast as my legs would take me down the last .2 miles toward the finish line. Much to my surprise my clock time was right around my time from last year which meant an even better chip time given the amount of time it took to get to the starting line.
My official finish time was 57:08!! Not a PR, but a totally awesome improvement from last year’s time.