Race Review: Saint Brigid School Harvest Hustle 5k (????)

I’m sentimental for this race for a couple of reasons: 1) This is part of the annual Harvest Fair Fundraiser at Saint Brigid School where I teach and our daughter, Addie, attends, and 2) This was the first race (last year) in my current running journey.  I also had a small part in the race organization as the person in charge of ordering and delivering the race T-shirts.  Fortunately, I was able to get the shirts printed and delivered ahead of time thanks to the great folks, Tony and Jennifer Balzano, at Hanging By A Thread.

After a great couple of weeks to start my training for the 2016 Austin Marathon in February, I was convinced that I would achieve a PR in this race.  Additionally, this was the first 5k in a while that I would be able to have a rest day before the race (my last PR had an 8 mile run the day before and a morning run prior to the evening race).  Things turned out that Friday night lasted a little longer than expected.  Katie and I were invited to an 80s themed birthday party at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge (that place would make for an interesting Breakfast Night Out Run Review…It was great, but upon entering I first felt like I was in the scene of True Detective Season One at the Biker Bar).  Katie really got into the spirit of the party with some 80s style Big Hair:

Hoping Katie doesn’t mind this look on the blog!

One thing led to another and I did not exactly have the recommended pre-race evening intake of hydration and healthy food.  Rather, I was up past midnight and enjoyed too much a couple of adult libations.

Fortunately, I was miraculously up with the sun in time to hydrate, have a breakfast snack, and run a 1.5 mile warm-up to the start line (this is one of the most shocking changes for me since running this race a year ago.  Last year I was sure not to waste a single step running during warm-ups in fear that it would cause me not to finish the race).

It looked like there was a decent turnout for the race and we had fun watching the Kids  Childrens (kids are baby goats!  Does that sound snobby; I don’t know) Fun Run prior to the start (disappointingly the total race turnout was around 50 runners).  Earlier this week, I did scouting run on the course which would be 5K on Baxter Boulevard.  We’ve run the Boulevard many times, but I wanted to get another look at it in order to plan a PR strategy.  My goal was a sub 23 minute race, so my pace would have to be around 7:24 per mile.  I planned to run a 7:30 first mile with 7:20 the last 2.1 miles.  I did some further pre-race cheatin’ preparation with a Gu (I can hear the “real” runners’ groans) and a (gasp!) Red Bull.  I feel like the 5k race is about an energy burst, so I wanted as some excess in the tank for a fast (for me at least) pace.

A few minutes before race time it was time to shed the warm-up gear (no wool needed today since the temperature was near 60 degrees) and pin on my bib (even for this race my hands were shaking…still get nervous for races!)

Getting ready to run the Harvest Hustle!

As Katie previously posted, our daughter, Addie, was in this race also with Katie.  It was fun to have them there and would later be exciting to cheer Addie on at the finish!

So, as I’m heading to the start line, the Race Director informed us that the race would be the full Boulevard (3.6 miles).  Ugh!!!  What!  My thoughts were now that even if I hit a 5K PR it wouldn’t count!  WTF! (What the Frak!…any BSG fans out there?).  Most of the racers were students from Saint Brigid (I’m so impressed with many of the 9-12 year olds who ran this race with awesome times…a 12 year old won it with a sub 7:00 per mile pace!) who didn’t pay attention to were unfazed by the announcement, but the adults groaned knowing an extra half mile had been snuck in there!  At any other race this would have caused a riot an uproar, but everyone seemed to take it in stride.  After some encouraging words from our Principal, Bill Burke, we started the race!

The pace started fast.  Many of the students shot out at a full sprint not really comprehending how long 5K is.  I had my sights set on beating matching a couple of middle school students that I teach, but they set out at a sub 7:00 pace.  I was drawn in for a quarter mile, but I managed to pull it back before I totally flamed out.  at the 1/2 mile mark I found a runner to pace off of.  She was definitely experienced (turns out she has run many races and is a parent of a former student of mine) since she was maintaining a 7:10-7:15 pace, and at her heels, I managed a 7:09 first mile.  Shortly after, I passed my competition students (I feel bad because I think they were a bit upset that I passed them and they expended too much energy early on and finished well below their potential times; still, they had impressive times).

Just around mile 2 of the Boulevard there is a slight incline.  In prior races and training runs, I have been able to turn it on here and pass other racers (Katie sometimes jokingly I think calls me the “Hill Killer”).  I had been pacing off of my “rabbit” and was convinced I would pass her at this point.  I made two moves and each time she picked it up to stay in front.  Just couldn’t muster enough to pass her.  I think she was just toying with me, because it turns out she was staying just behind her son (12 years old) and husband for the race.  Try as I might, I was not able to catch them (they finished about 15 seconds ahead of me in the end).

The biggest disappointment from this race is that at the 5K mark, my TOMTOM Runner GPS Watch had me at a 7:20 per mile pace which would have been my PR, BUT (!) I still had to run another half fraking (BSG again) mile! I gutted it out, but still watched my average pace time climb.  I was happy that no other runners passed me during the home stretch (usually a horde seems to pass my burnt out, slow ass  me by at the finish).  I finished the 3.6 mile course in 26:26.  Turns out this was a PR time which is very exciting, but I won’t officially count it until I achieve it in an official 5K race.  Looks like I’ll have to wait for our race in December, the 6th Annual Portland Brewer’s Holiday Dash 5K hosted by Ri Ra Irish Pub.

It was a great day despite the last minute distance change.  I hit a PR, came in 8th overall (first top 10 finish ever), and most importantly, it was great to run the final stretch with Addie as she completed her first 5K ever!

I’m hopeful this race will continue with some improved organization.  It is for a great cause (and my employment!) and Portland is a great venue for a race.  Many people are hoping the race can move back to our neighborhood (that’s another story) where the turnout will have an increase.  Maybe we’ll have to take a shot at being Race Directors for 2016…

See you on the road!



  1. Okay, One more question. Will there be more photos of the event? Many volunteers of Maine Running Photos just go to races without waiting for an assignment. We know we should do a better job of this. Was there anyone there this year to take photo?



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