Race Recap: St. Paddy’s Day 10-Miler 2015

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! In the spirit of the holiday, I thought it would be a perfect time to share my recap from this weekend’s 10-mile race: the St. Paddy’s Day 10-Miler.


The race is hosted by the Freehold Area Running Club, and I ran it two years ago as one of my first longer distance races. I remembered it being pretty hilly, so I honestly didn’t go in with huge expectations. Because I suck on hills. Like, REALLY suck.

However, I also knew that if I planned to sign up for this year’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon (spoiler alert…I am already in, and as of a few minutes before 12pm this afternoon, so is Todd!), that I was going to need a new time to submit for corral placement…since my old PR has officially expired in the eyes of runDisney. I’m hoping that this month’s Love Run will give me a shiny new PR to submit, but you never know what can happen…I know that there are all kinds of variables that can affect my performance that day.

So, I figured I’d use this race as a test run to gauge how well all of my recent “speedwork” has been working out for me, and to use as a “back-up” time to submit just in case my upcoming half marathons don’t go as planned. Plus, it was a cool and windy morning — it was in the 40′s, but when the wind would gust, it felt pretty frigid. Which made for FANTASTIC running temperatures, if you ask me!


It’s held at a park in Freehold, and packet pick-up was easy and well organized. This year’s shirt was cotton and long-sleeved, so my original idea to wear the race shirts over our tech shirts to match went out the window. So we used their handy dandy bag check for our race shirt and the few goodies they gave out so we didn’t have to make another trip to the car, which was a nice perk.


However, this particular club is known for being a little on the stricter side — i.e. all of their race materials threaten that you will basically be tarred and feathered in a public square if you so much as dare run with headphones or a stroller or a canine or, of course, a costume. So a volunteer gave me sort of a snarky comment as I was picking up my packet; it was something along the lines of, “you may have trouble running today, young lady, because our race director is very strict.” Uhhh…since when is a plastic necklace and a headband a “costume?” Everything else is legitimate running attire. So, I didn’t really care for that.

There was some debate on our “strategy” for this race. Todd and I have two completely different approaches — he always starts conservatively and has no problem negative splitting, whereas I have really NEVER done that. I always go out like a bat out of hell when the gun goes off, and then when my pace inevitably slows in the later miles, I rest assured knowing I have some time “in the bank,” if you will. But I told him I was really going to try it his way this time, especially since I haven’t been running so fast lately and I couldn’t necessarily count on holding my faster pace for any significant length of time before running out of steam.

When the race started, I went out way too fast for a few seconds before coming to my senses and letting Todd catch up. I then forced myself to find a “comfortable” pace and fall into a steady rhythm, which was somewhere around a 9:20-9:30 pace.

Photo credit: FARCNJ.org

“Gee, maybe I should slow down a little…?” Photo credit: FARCNJ.org

The race takes you through lots of residential areas, parks, and, of course, over plenty of rolling hills…so I knew I’d have to conserve some energy in order to make it to the finish line. Plus, I felt really unsure of myself because I honestly have been running at paces at least a solid minute-per-mile slower in all of my recent races. In a matter of a year, I managed to go from averaging a sub 2:10 half marathon to being lucky to finish under 2:25. I’ve had the hardest time balancing my CONSTANT marathon training with the ability to train (and race!) at my “old” pace, which used to be somewhere in the realm of a 9:15/minute mile.

And, sure enough, it was within the first couple of miles that I felt just how dead my legs were. The previous week’s workouts consisted of my 14-mile long run, a 5-mile run, a 6-mile run, a 3-mile run, and two Taekwondo classes, and good lord, was I FEELING it. I was still maintaining my ideal pace, but I was struggling to do so…not because I was sucking wind or anything (which was a pleasant surprise!) but because my legs just felt so freakin’ heavy. And then we started approaching the first of several rolling hills, and I worried about coming anywhere close to what I would consider a “good” time.

But I figured I’d give it my absolute best shot. The course is pretty boring, and there really is no spectator support whatsoever, which really made me appreciate just how important they are! It kind of felt like running our usual long run with about 250 of our closest friends. I was feeling grumpy by the halfway mark because even though the clock time said 47:30 — which is exactly what I could have hoped for — I felt my legs were getting even heavier and I was nervous about this whole “negative split” concept. There were only a handful of water stops, so I took my Honey Stinger at mile 4 and tossed some water down my throat at the others, only stopping to stretch my legs once for a few seconds…and, as of late, I’ve been walking through water stops, so it was kind of new for me to not have any sort of break.

Moral of the story? I quickly fell victim to my usual pattern of self-doubt and frustration and the assumption that there was no WAY I’d be able to pick up the pace in the second half of the race. I’m a real hoot during a race, let me tell you (just ask Todd, lol).

But then by mile 7, something pretty awesome happened. I realized that despite slowing down a little bit on a few hills, I was still maintaining an average 9:20ish pace, and I thought that maybe — just MAYBE — I could actually pull this off. So I tried my very best to speed up just a little in that last 5K, and Todd did, too…so I did whatever I could to keep up with him. My Garmin showed that we were right around a 9:05-9:10 pace by miles 8 and 9, and I somehow managed to push it to an 8:55 in mile 10. Todd was a few strides ahead of me, so when I saw the finish line in the distance, I started sprinting to keep up with him so we could cross together.

For some strange reason, he took that to mean that I wanted to “race” him, so he sped up, too…and he ended up beating me by a freakin’ second. The handful of spectators and volunteers at the finish line really seemed to enjoy our action-packed finish, LOL.


Photo credit: FARCNJ.ORG

Plus, I saw that the clock was approaching 1:34…which was downright shocking to me because I knew that meant that I had, IN FACT, successfully negative split…and that I wasn’t too far off from my last results at this race, which was a clock time of 1:33.

Our official finish time was 1:33:53, which given the not-so-flat course and the fact that I was running on dead marathon training legs was about the best I could have imagined. And I was downright shocked that I came SO close to my previous finish time on this course.

So we celebrated by guzzling some Gatorade and going to check out the post-race goodies. And much to our delight, they had HOT DOGS. I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs in general, and I’ve never had them after a race before…but for some reason, it was the most DELICIOUS hot dog I’ve ever had in my life. Even now, days later, Todd is STILL talking about that damn hot dog. I think we’ve found our new favorite post-race food, haha.


Plus, they had hot soup, which tasted heavenly as my body temperature began to plummet, in addition to the usual fare like bagels and bananas. They also had beer (but neither of us drink it).


So we stuffed our faces for a little while, took some pictures, and watched part of the awards ceremony, where they handed out little shamrock plaques and gnome statues, haha.


Overall, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised and quite proud of my performance. It was an awesome feeling to know that all of my hard efforts on training runs these past two months have been paying off, and I now know that a sub-2:05 half marathon (and, someday, maybe even a sub-2!) is something that is well within my reach once again. I don’t have to be happy to just “finish” a race any more, and I NEED to learn how to develop even just an ounce of confidence in my abilities when it comes to setting and reaching time goals.

It has been a long time that I’ve felt truly proud and excited by that finish time on the clock, and this race helped give me a big chunk of my confidence back. I’m hoping that with a bit more rest (and maybe a skipped karate class or two) in the days leading up to my next half marathon later this month — which is supposed to be a nice, FLAT course! — that I might just surprise myself even more. It was definitely the hardest I’ve pushed myself in a while, and the fact that I didn’t die (or really struggle beyond my usual leg fatigue) means that I have to be doing something right!


 Have you ever run a race for St. Patrick’s Day?

Have you ever performed significantly better than your expectations in a race?



  1. great race!! You can definitely use that time for wine and dine and will probably be in the sub 2:05 corral!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Juliana! It definitely turned out better than I’d hoped, so it’s nice to know I have a solid option for corral placement. Because that’s really what it’s all about, right?! :)

  2. Great job! You know you can do it after all these races. We do have a very popular 5k in Dallas the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, but I’ve never done it.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Lesley! I wish I could remember that myself sometimes! There seem to be lots of 5Ks for St. Patrick’s Day, so I like that this one is a little longer…and allows me to knock out a “supported long run,” haha.

  3. What an eventful finish! Congrats to you both. That stinks that there wasn’t much crowd support. I finished better than expected during the TOT 10 miler last year. It was my first 10 miler and my first race in the dark so I didn’t know what to expect!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Meranda! I knew what to expect; it’s a race through residential areas and a pretty deserted park. I’m sure if it wasn’t 40 degrees and insanely windy, there might have been more people out.

      That’s awesome! I’m still hoping that bring ToT back…I really wanted to do that one!

  4. Congratulations!! You kicked some serious asphalt and made the ongoing battle of the sexes a fun one! But what is UP with that race director? You’re going to make an IRISH inspired race NO fun?!? Am I the only one seeing the irony here??? Go have a pint buddy, sounds like you desperately need one. See you guys in November!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Kimberley! HAHAHAHA, YES. My thoughts EXACTLY!

      Ahhh, I know! Can’t wait! Hope to catch up with you then! :)

  5. Great race and what a finish. Too bad Todd had to beat you by a second. Next time wait and catch him off guard, then you can be the first to finish..or better yet, start slightly after him and finish together! Clever right? I can’t believe a St. Paddy’s day race would not allow anyone to dress in fun running attire. That is just plain odd. You nailed your time for Wine and Dine….nice work!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hahaha, sounds like a great plan to me! :) I know, right…you would think they’d want people to “get into the spirit.” Thanks so much!

  6. how weird that they made a comment about your outfit! i mean, it’s a tame costume, especially for you! hahah. your time was awesome! you’re totally going to rock that half marathon :)

  7. Great race Jenn! Congrats on the near PR. Wow can’t believe that race director is THAT strict about costumes. Glad you got into W&D.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks!! I was super excited for that “near PR”…it means I have to be doing SOMETHING right, no? Haha. :-D

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] other excellent news, I mentioned in my recap of last weekend’s St. Paddy’s Day 10-Miler that Todd and I will both be running the Wine & Dine Half Marathon this [...]

  2. [...] my “old” pace…and maybe even set a new PR. Hey, you never know, right?! My 1:34 in a recent 10-mile race gives me hope that I might just be able to pull it [...]

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