Race Review: St. Pat’s 5K

I woke up on Sunday morning and thought, nope. Not doing it. No 5K for me today. Not in the mood.

My whole body felt tired and sore. I just wanted to sleep and be lazy on my couch. This race doesn’t start until 12:45 pm so it wasn’t like I didn’t have enough time to wake up and drink a vat of coffee. I figured I show up and warm up. If I wasn’t feeling it I would just go run a loop around Lehigh Parkway. The end goal here is Boston, so if I didn’t think it was the right move I was set on walking away and bagging it.

I just had a protein bar for breakfast (have you tried the RX bars yet? OMG) and my first round of coffee and ran some errands. I grabbed a Starbucks while I was out to keep riding the caffeine train. I came home and ate a sweet potato waffle with some Just Great Stuff chocolate peanut butter. I decided it would be a good time to try out my new breakfast food before a race. I went to church for Palm Sunday, grabbed my gear and headed to the west end of Allentown. The race is only a few miles from my house, and registration started around 11. I got there by 11:30, parked, grabbed my bib and said hello to some friends. I headed out for a quick warm up to assess how I was feeling. I ran three easy miles and thought about my goals for the race as I was warming up:

  • Goal A – 18:59 (I just wanted to break 19!)
  • Goal B – 19:00 (would be a PR but also aligned with what Hansons predicts a 3:05 marathoner can run)
  • Goal C– 19:24 (a PR since my previous PR was 19:25 from 2014)
  • Goal D – Finish relatively unscathed (5Ks are bruisers!)

Much to my surprise, my legs felt okay. Not amazing, but certainly not terrible enough to shut it down. I stopped at my car, dropped off my extra layers and took a Gu. I’d eaten my waffle over two hours ago and figured I could use an extra boost – plus, it’s good practice to race with the fuel I plan to use in Boston.

I lined up at the start and noticed a pretty decent field of local runners, including Amy G. She’s super fast and wins the race each year, but she’s also my friend. She recently won the Super Bowl Sunday 10K in something like 39 minutes. I knew that if I ran this race and felt good, I wanted to try to go sub 19. I had been texting with her earlier that week and told her about my goal. I was hoping I could chase her to achieve it.

The weather was predicted to be horrible, but the forecast changed and as we prepared to start running it was gorgeous out. I was overdressed but I didn’t care: it was sunny and cool (low 40s). Perfect. The gun sounded, and we were off. There were a lot of females lined up at the front, and I shot out as quickly as possible to see who followed me. Within the first quarter mile, I was running with all guys but noticed Christina C. next to me, another local speedy runner. My legs felt light so I kicked it up just a little more and dropped her.

I noticed Amy off to the left side of the course starting to make a break for it, and I almost conceded. She wins every year – I can’t beat her. Just keep her in your sights and focus on that sub 19 finish. We were only a half mile into the race at this point. But then, Meg’s words from a comment she made on my Quakertown 10 Mile post resonated in my head: Why NOT me?

So once again, I kicked the pace up just a little bit more and Amy fell back. My Garmin beeped to indicate I’d reached a mile and I glanced down. Oh, fuckMile 1: 5:53.

The upside to seeing a sub 6 minute mile on my watch: the only other time I ever logged a full sub 6 minute mile was the first mile of my last 5K PR (it was a 5:59). So I thought I had a shot for a PR. The downside was that I ran a HUGE positive split that day (like barely broke a 7 min pace on the last mile), and I really didn’t want to repeat that. I knew I was going to positive split the race because I’m certainly not familiar with holding sub-6s at this point, but I didn’t want it to be a HUGE difference.

The course is two loops, so after the mile beeped I knew it wasn’t long before we’d be coming past the finish line and I’d be halfway. I was still in first place and even though I was running faster than I ever have, I felt really good. Very controlled, light legs, not out of breath. I was hugging the left side of the course to run the tangents and there were kids with their hands out for high fives. I made a point to slap their hands and smile at the spectators to take the focus off the race. I came past the finish line and my friends were all out cheering and I could tell they were ecstatic to see that I was leading the race. My fast friend, Megan, was on the sidelines screaming, and Mark H. was there cheering with his girlfriend Krissa. It was super exciting, and I felt like I was flying. Mile 2: 6:08. 

I was really happy with my second mile. Ultimately, I wanted to keep the pace under 6:10 to get as close (or under) that 19 minute mark. I knew I needed to average 6:06 pace to achieve goal A, and mile 2 was only two seconds off. But I had time in the bank and just one more mile left. I didn’t think I could maintain my pace but I didn’t feel awful.

I was still in first place but had no idea how close Amy was (or any other female). This mile is really more of a blur but I just kept thinking, why NOT me? I focused on trying to run hard, but to save a teeny bit in the event it came down to an all out sprint – like it should have at my last race in Quakertown, where I gave up. I rounded the corner and had .1 left. I was still leading, but still had no clue by how much. Mile 3: 6:17.


You can see the three of us coming to the finish line for the last .1. The people in the background are just getting ready to go for their second loop. It was pretty exciting to run a race like that because as you passed people, they would start cheering.

I saw the finish line and took off. I saw 18:30 on the clock and knew I had it. I was smiling from ear to ear as I crossed. My Garmin said 18:51, but my chip time was 18:48! 11 seconds faster than my A goal, and good enough for first place. Amy was on my tail, crossing 21 seconds after me in 19:09. Holy. Freaking. Crap. I just went sub-19!  Final .1: 5:33 pace.

Megan came over to hug me and I literally started jumping up and down like a two year old. I couldn’t even hold it in. I usually try to keep my composure a little better, but I was so surprised and excited that I couldn’t contain it. I waited for a few friends to finish the race, and then I set out for a solo cool down. I wanted to run another four miles. I was worried I would miss the award ceremony so I just did two easy miles. I would have had plenty of time to finish my cool down, but I headed over to the building where the post race foods/award ceremony was held.

This was the first time I ever won cash! It was $50 plus a gift card to a local pub for $15. I was so excited. Amy got 2nd, and the other girl I mentioned – Christina – got 2nd in her age group. So many females ran sub-20 that day. It was really exciting. I walked back to my car on cloud nine. I still really wanted to finish my run (I was just riding that runner’s high) so as I drove home, I passed the entrance for Lehigh Parkway and pulled in. I did my final two miles, making it 10 miles for the day. Whatever, maybe they were junk miles and there was no aerobic benefit at that point, but I just wanted a minute to appreciate running and process what just happened.


I swear I took my bib off for the run. 🙂 I rewarded myself with my favorite: a Latte Macchiato with whole milk from Starbucks before heading home to relax. It still feels so surreal.

Ever wake up on a race morning not feeling it, only to go and reach your goal?

69 Replies to “Race Review: St. Pat’s 5K”

  1. This was so exciting to read! So, since you got money, does that make you a pro-runner? Haha! I can’t wait to hear how Boston goes. I’m just going to hope that you win that too. Haha! 🙂

  2. Congratulations on your PR *and* your WIN *and* your cash prize! I saw your instagram post about it and got excited so was glad to read the recap.

    You had a really big day and I think it’s because you didn’t stress too much or worry about the race. Stressing just makes me even slower. Plus, I love your mantra of “Why not me?” (I probably need to practice telling myself that). Your splits were great and it sounds like you ran a very solid race overall, just believing in yourself and going for it.

    Love that you fueled and recovered with Starbucks because it’s so good on these chilly days, too (not to mention that pub gift card… a bar would be a nice place to warm back up after a race…)

    I love how it was a St. Pat’s race and they listed your name as “O’Fiorini” ;). With the O.

    1. Ahhhh I should have included a picture of just my bib – I completely forgot to mention that in the recap about the names – they make everyone Irish for the day! I love that. I can’t believe I forgot about it until you just mentioned that.

      But thank you SO MUCH! I was really pleased with how this all went down. You know what? Every race I’ve run this year I’ve gone into without stressing. I think you are onto something. And in 2014, my last good year of running – I was the same way. You might be onto something 😉

      Starbucks – all day, errrrrday! Hehe!!

  3. Wow!!! Congratulations!!! Not even in my dreams will I ever run that fast, so I loved running this race vicariously through you! Kudos on running an awesome race right in the middle of a tough training plan, and kudos also for still getting in 10 miles for the day!

    1. Never say never, my friend! I started as a 4:53 marathoner and about a 24 minute 5Ker…never dreamed anything under 20 was possible – let alone faster than that! You work hard and smart – you are capable!!!!!

      1. Hey Allison,

        As someone who started out as a 33 minute 5Ker and 2:08 half marathoner, I think it would be really neat if you posted about your progression. The progress you’ve made is really amazing, and it would be a good encouraging post for everyone out there whose trying to improve. I know you’re super busy with Boston training, pole, work, etc, but it would be a fun read!

      2. I am so flattered that you want to read about that! You are so sweet! I would absolutely do a post like that. I’m off of work for the next few days so maybe I will try to get something started to publish next week! I’ve had so many ups and downs over the past eight years. It might need to be posted in pieces, lol!! Like part one, part two, three! Mostly because I tend to be a bit wordy😂

  4. Congrats on a great race, PR and win!!! Definitely had those days where just really wasn’t sure in the morning but then switch flipped come race time. Your training is going so well, and cannot wait to see it translate to a great race in Boston too!

    1. Thank you so much!!! So, your blog is blocked at my work (what the actual f) but I was just catching up on my phone on your last race. What corral are you in for Boston?? I am starting to get so pumped!

      1. So Strange it’s blocked at work, not sure why! I’m in 1/4 for Boston, how about you?! I’m getting really pumped too, less than 4 weeks to go now!!

      2. I’m a high school teacher so a lot so blocked for me for no good reason! I’m 1/8 this year. Last year I think I was 1/5 but I had a faster BQ. I’m hoping to move up a few corrals for next year 😉

  5. Nice race & recap too! You seem to be training really smart (hard days hard, easy days easy!) – just keep having faith in your training- you will do great & thanks for the follow 😉

    1. Thank you so much! And thanks for the follow, too 🙂 I had a tough year and a half with running so I am hoping to see some improvement on my marathon time this year. But if I don’t, I feel like I’m really enjoying running and gaining more confidence with what I’ve been doing this time around. I’m still shocked and stoked about your 5K this past weekend. Makes me a little more open to the idea of kids!!

  6. Wow, congratulations! That’s so cool that your PR’d by so much and won!! Wahoo!!! You are on a roll with all these PRs lately! I probably will never see a sub-6 mile in my lifetime so that alone is an accomplishment in my book, LOL.

    You are in good company with your race strategy – I remember reading somewhere that studies have shown the best way to race a 5K is actually to do a slight positive split. Seems to work well in the shorter distances for some reason!

    1. Thank you! And congrats to you too, I caught that post about your race on FB!!!

      Never say never, my friend! I remember the first time I saw a sub-7 on my watch in a 5K and thought it would never get any faster than that 😉 You are completely capable.

  7. I’m so happy for you, you deserve that PR. I’ve had several PRs that I’m like….oh wow I feel terrible and wasn’t expecting that one.

    This sounds like such an exciting race. I’m super pumped to see what you can do at Boston.

  8. Daaaaamn!!! Nice job!! Your training and eating has seriously been paying off. I loved reading this recap – I felt like I was there!

    At my half this weekend my buddy and I watched the leaders pass us and wondered, do they hear our cheers, or is it all tunnel vision? I’m glad you can hear the cheers!

  9. This was so amazing to read! You are such a badass and I feel like you’re JUST starting to see what you’re capable of. You’ve got a lot more of these bad boys in you!!! Thanks for letting us follow along on your awesome ride ❤

  10. What what??!! That’s awesome! And you start this whole post with like, well, I don’t think I’m gonna do so great, I may not even run it. 🙂
    This is like a runner’s fairy tale!
    That hard, hard training must seriously be paying off. Now, just make sure you’re recovering properly, because even if only a 5k, there’s bound to be some marathon training fatigue on top of that, and it would suck to get injured now.
    So pumped for you! Congratulations on the PR, the first place, the awesome race!

  11. Congrats on the PR and going sub-19! And for not panicking when your first mile was super fast – it’s easy to get caught up in the “omg I went out too fast, I just blew it” idea, but you held on strong and got the job done! Can’t wait to cheer for you in Boston!!

    Did they add the “O” to everyone’s name for the race? That’s hilarious and awesome.

    1. Thank you!!! I think if it were a longer distance I would have panicked about the first mile. But I figured whatever, it’s only 3 miles. They DID add an O before all of the names – can’t BELIEVE I forgot to write that in the review! Ahhh!

  12. wow! i’m so proud of you! the mental part of the run is so important!! Before my last half i definitely wasn’t feeling fantastic, but as soon as I started running it felt effortless, which made it less stressful and i think that helped me cross the mat in a decent time. 🙂 Congrats! you really are my inspiration

  13. Congrats Allison! Amazing breakthrough for you both going sub-19 and mentally not getting intimidate by “fast” runners because FYI you are one of those fast ladies that people should be worried about.

    1. LOL! Thank you! You know what? I think one of the biggest aspects that I didn’t even talk about was the mental benefit of racing against the fasties and not letting myself get intimidated. That was what happened to me a few weeks ago at my 10 miler for sure. I don’t know if people should be worried about me…but I did enjoy the whole experience!

  14. Congrats woman! That’s crazy fast. Your hard work is really showing off nicely. Some of my best races and runs lately have been when I “just didn’t feel like it”. There’s something to it…magic. 😉 you inspire speedy legs!!!

  15. And….sold! I’m definitely picking up a copy of one of the Hansons books. I can not believe your streak of races lately! You are on fire! I probably won’t have time for Hansons this year, but you have inspired me for 2017 (never too early to plan, right?). I was holding my breath while reading your recap hoping that you would break 19. That is so amazingly fast!

    Also totally stealing “Why NOT me?” I’ve been getting in my head a bit lately and trying to convince myself that I will never run a sub 20 5k. I need more positivity in my training.

  16. You were FLYING! Like – quite literally. Congrats on an amazing 5k race! You deserve it – you’ve been working so damn hard. I can’t even run 1 mile at the pace you averaged for 3.1 yet! You should do a 1 mile race one day just to see what your mile time could be 😉

    1. Thank you so much!!! So funny you said that. Two boys that I have in class are sophomores and are both doing track for the first time. One is doing distance, the other is a sprinter. They were just asking me what I can run the mile in! I said I need to come to their time trials after Boston and find out!

      1. YES! I wanna know! I might race a mile in June because I’d love to see what I can pull off in a race setting 🙂

  17. WOW, you had a fantastic race! Great job taking first place as well as getting a huge PR. Looking at your past times and the training you have done this spring, I am not at all surprised with your PR’s on shorter distances this season. I think that no matter what race you enter this spring you will have a best time of your running career and same goes for this year’s Boston!
    Since I started following your blog, I know I cannot touch your marathon time, probably ever, but on shorter distances I am little bit faster. It looks like not for long :-). It’s a great motivator though, to see you improve the way you do. Makes me want to work harder so you don’t break my PR’s ;).
    As far the whole racing experience goes, I am always nervous before the start of a race and the longer the distance the more anxiety I have. All kind of worries go through my head: can I do it, but I’m not feeling well and all kinds of what ifs. However, once the gun goes off, all of that disappears and I just concentrate on the race and the prepared strategy. Not once was I unhappy about participating, even though right before the race I wanted to just go home. So my advice is that unless you are really hurting or sick, staring the race is always a good idea. If you feel good enough to show up at the starting line, you feel good enough to race!  It seems that those first few steps at fast pace focus our minds on task at hand, and everything else doesn’t matter. Same can be said about dreaded workouts.
    Anyway… I am so happy how this spring is going for you. Keep it up! Not much left now to the final race.

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