Time – 25:24 (8:10 pace) / Age Group – 1st / Overall – 18th / Male – 12th
I won my age group in a 5K race? Get out of here. No way. And on my birthday? This must be a dream or a joke. It’s not? Wow, and there is a picture to prove it? Well more on that below. But let me talk about the race first.
The MSDA Meghan Doyle ’05K was supposed to be run in May, two weeks after the NJ Half Marathon. Due to horrible weather, the race was postponed until Saturday, June 17th. When I saw that, I knew I had to sign up for the race. It was on my birthday and the course ran mostly through the town I grew up in. I just felt like it was the perfect way to start celebrating my birthday.
Since the race started at 9:30 and was only a town over, I was able to wake up at a normal time and eat half a bagel and drink a Gatorade prior to showering and getting ready for the race. I left my house around 8:45 and drove over to Caldwell University/Mount St. Dominic Academy to park. I parked next to the MSDA gym, used the rest room quickly, stretched and started my warm up jog. I jogged for just shy of a mile. It was pretty humid for early in the morning so I started sweating quickly and while I was waiting at the starting line.
The race was started a few years ago to honor Meghan Doyle, who was a member of the class of 2005 at the Mount. She passed away a few years ago and her family started to the 5K to help raise fund for a scholarship to the Mount. Prior to the race, Meghan’s mom, a Sister from the Mount, and a rep from Investors Bank all spoke. A student from the Mount sang the national anthem and then the runners all got set.
Air horn and we’re off. The were only about 100 runners/walkers in the race, which was small compared to previous years, but I think part of it was due to it being rescheduled. I was up in the front due to it and got off to a fast start. The faster runners took off, as expected. I had run this course over the previous couple of weeks as part of some of my training runs, so I knew there was an uphill right after the first quarter mile. I passed two runners there as I made the right onto Fells Road.
Once on Fells, I knew it was mostly a decline for a good mile or so, so I tried picked up the pace. The faster runners pulled away and then there were about five runners about 20 yards ahead of me or so. I turned back and noticed no one else was behind me. All I thought to myself was, holy crap, am I last out of all of the runners haha. I looked at the pace on my watch which started with a seven and figured you’re going fast so it is what it is and had a good chuckle. I ran the first mile in about 7:57.
As Fells turned into Welsh Road and then Renselaer, I knew this was the toughest part of the course. Steady incline turned into a steep incline that eventually flattened out for a short stretch and then went back to an incline. The total incline lasted for about a mile, making it pretty challenging.
Once through the incline, it was a short decline, then a right onto Hawthorne and a pretty flat for a little bit before a steep decline down Ryerson. At the bottom of the hill, it was a sharp left on flat Bloomfield Avenue, then a turn into the University and the finish line.
At first, I think I was holding back going down the steep decline but eventually let myself just go as fast as I could. I pushed it hard on Bloomfield Ave and just as I got to the final turn I could see my wife and kids right at the finish line. I gave them a big smile and wave as I sprinted the last few yards of the race.
My wife told me I was near the front, but I had no idea honestly where I finished.
After the race, we sat by the finish line cheering on the other runners and walkers. A runner that finished a little before me looked at me and said that was a tough course. I agreed with him. As I told a few, the beginning isn’t bad and gets easy, the middle is tough, and the end is easy. Definitely one of the tougher courses I’ve raced in, maybe the toughest so far.
Then, my wife and I struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers, who we eventually learned was Meghan’s dad. He had two cow bells that they were using when runners/walkers approached the finish line. He asked my kids if they wanted to shake them and they said yes. They were great. They rang them for everyone that turned the corner. Eventually, he told us to keep them, which we thought was so nice of him. Now my kids have them to bring to other races, which is super cool and we are very thankful to the Doyle family for them.
We headed up to the softball field, got water, a banana, listened to the music and waited for the awards ceremony. They started with the overall winners, then the age categories started at the oldest, which I thought was cool.
The got to the 30-39 year old category and next thing you know, I hear my name first. Wait, what? I seriously won my age category? No lie, I never expected this to happen at any race. I knew the race was small, but still. I know an 8:10 pace is good but there’s always someone in the 6 or 7s. It definitely put a big smile on my face. I ran up to get my award, a travel coffee mug stuffed with swedish fish (love them!), bubble gum, and lifesavers. Took a photo with Mrs. Doyle and Sister and ran back with a big smile on my face to my wife and kids.
It may never happen again and that’s fine. Even if it never happened it would be fine. It was honestly never a goal of mine to win anything at any of these races. I am more concentrated on my efforts and don’t worry about other runners. It’s still felt good though. I can always say it happened once and it’s really cool that I did on my birthday. I’ll definitely never forget how I started my 38th birthday. So happy my family could celebrate it with me.
Hopefully I can run this race next year and get more locals to join in. I can’t say anything but nice things about the Doyle Family and Mount St. Dominic Academy for putting on such a delightful race.
So have you ever run a race on your birthday?
Do you worry about where you place in a race?
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know.