It was a jolly good time, indeed (and we're not just talking about that sub-9 pace LOL).
There was plenty of green to be had. Oodles of sunshine kept our hearts warm and our smiles bright. Let's not forget the numerous twisty hills to navigate. And, a new location for all the lads and lasses.
Sound familiar? Those were just some of the makings of the 2021 Leprechaun Chase!
Ironically, last year's race happened just a few days prior to COVID-19 hitting the fan. This year's race had a very hopeful vibe to it, as the world (or, at least the vicinity of Omaha, NE) slowly opens back up. The 2021 Leprechaun Chase was every bit as fun and festive, as in years prior, but there were a few changes.
|image from Leprechaun Chase|
The weather gods definitely smiled upon the morning, blessing us with temps in the low-40F's at start time. Due to COVID-19 protocol, staggered start times were implemented with the addition of waves (based on projected finish times). The official start time was 8:00 for the first wave of lasses, and the elite/first wave of lads began 4-1/2 minutes later. I was in the second wave (8:10 start time), and the hubby had an 8:40 start time.
Now in it's 11th year, the traditional location (the SAC Museum, in nearby Ashland) also had to be modified for 2021. The venue got moved to the SumTur Amphitheater (Papillion, NE), which allowed for a more open area for the pre-race and after-race. Unfortunately, with all the excessive snow melt and mud, a portion of the race course (between the 4th and 6th miles) had to be detoured, shortening the route to an 8K distance.
|ready for some serious chasing!|
Prior to 2020, there also had been a Des Moines-based Leprechaun Chase, which the hubby and I had run numerous times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019). When the sponsoring company decided to discontinue the Des Moines Chase, we ventured to Omaha in 2020 (I had won a free registration from the previous year's Des Moines event). Last year had been our first time "racing and chasing" on Nebraska soil (recap HERE), so we eagerly returned this past weekend to give it another go.
The format of the Leprechaun Chase is such a fun and unique concept. As the name implies, it's a chase. The Lasses (all the gals) get a 5:30-minute head start (modified to 4:30 this year) before the Lads (all the guys) are released across the start line. Whomever crosses the finish line first earns a free green beer for all their fellow teammates (Lads OR Lasses).Totally fun!
Since the hubby had a good hour before his wave started, he stayed in the car (as we were instructed to do, until 10 minutes before our respective waves' start times). I headed out, for a quick 1-mile warm-up run, and then made my way to the line-up.
|My first Leprechaun Chase in a mask|
In all honesty, it felt very much the same as in years past (both in Omaha and Des Moines). Most of the runners were decked out in green (as they should be LOL), there was Irish music playing, and the announcer was razzing the Lads about the Lasses having won more chases in the previous years. The only major difference was the spacing out of all the runners (and all of us were in masks until crossing the start line).
Even without being elbow-to-elbow, the excitement was crazy! Since there were implemented start waves this year, and I was in the second wave, there were lads and lasses both starting at the same time. No big whoop...the faster runners were already on the race course anyways. As they counted down, and then released us to go, the adrenaline was already flowing. I could feel a lump in my throat, and the sting of tears, as I pulled off my mask after crossing the start line. The feeling of not only being back in a race, but also coming back from my stress fracture, was pretty intense.
|right outta the gate!|
Right outta the gate, we had a good hill. Since we didn't have a huge herd of runners crowding the road, though, it wasn't difficult getting around each other. It was a nice treat to NOT have to do the usual weaving through the crowd.
Unsure of just how cold (or warm) I'd be, I started with a base layer (with a tank underneath), arm warmers, and a light 1/4-zip jacket. Well, the gloves came off just after the first mile mark. A short ways later, I slid the arm warmers off as well.
|...about to shed the gloves...|
I'd noticed my first mile clocked at 8:14. That was a big oops. It didn't feel that fast as I was running (and there was a good downhill following the big climb, just after the start line), but still. That's way too fast for this gal, especially when there's four miles remaining.
As part of the COVID-19 precautions, we were encouraged to bring our own hydration, if possible. There was a water stand, near the 2-1/2 mark, with canned water. I had never seen that on a race course, but it made sense. I only wish the cans would have been much smaller. These cans were maybe 10 oz., which was way too much for me to slam in one gulp, and too cumbersome to carry (with the open top). I walked for a few seconds, and drink a few swallows, and (regrettably) tossed the can (and remaining contents) in the trash can.
|numerous races done, and I still cannot pin a race bib on straight|
I have done a lot of races, many of which have seeded line-ups (by pace or projected finish time). It's no secret that many runners line up where they choose, and don't always honor or respect where they should be. I got to say, this was the first race where it felt like everyone was where they needed to be. There wasn't much passing, by others or even myself, which was a nice change. I guess that's a huge perk of the staggered start times that I had not realized.
This race course had a lot of curves and twists and turns, and numerous rolling hills. There certainly wasn't any time, or opportunity, to be bored. There was a brief segment, where the 4-mile and 1-mile marks almost ran parallel for a brief distance...and that's where I spotted the hubby! Ironic that he was barely one mile into the race, while I had less than a mile remaining.
|Original 10K route on the lower right, modified 8K route on the upper left|
Almost immediately after seeing each other, the route turned to (somewhat) muddy gravel. It was near this area that the race course had been altered. The last stretch, to the finish line, was on this gravel surface. It wasn't slippery, but it was a bit unstable underfoot.
I could hear the music and fanfare, for the final 1/4-mile or so, as we made our way around (yet) a few more curves to the finish line canopy. It felt so good to see the finish line, and even better to cross it. And, best of all, it felt great to be back, doing what I love.
I honestly do not have much of a "racing" mentality, but I do love the feeling of running steady and strong. It's hard to read my Garmin under the glare of sunlight, so I don't pay much attention to it while running or racing. The advantage of that is the "great reveal" when I stop running and can actually scrutinize what said Garmin shows me.
Official time: 44:52.3
Splits: mile 1 - 8:14
mile 2 - 8:44
mile 3 - 9:07
mile 4 - 9:03
mile 5 - 9:01
remaining .10 - :52
Stats: 466th out of 1321 (overall)
154th out of 760 (women)
10th out of 58 (age group)
Not bad for having rallied back from a stress fracture (with a 2-1/2 month sabbatical from all things on-foot)! There had been ZERO speedwork (other than those seven continuous treadmill runs a few weeks prior). I'd also kept my mileage on the low spectrum, so I'm grateful how well that all had worked for me. Quite grateful, indeed.
|Whew! That felt great!|
Once finished, I knew it would be awhile before the hubby crossed the finish line, so I took my time stretching, rehydrating, and people watching. I grabbed my snack bag and walked back to the car (about 1/2-mile away) and returned just a few minutes before the hubby finished.
|no finish line pics because he'd taken off the sweatshirt, so his bib didn't show LOL|
So, how about five fabulous features of the 2021 Leprechaun Chase:
**The change of venue made for a fun adventure! It was a new race course, but still had all the familiar St. Patrick's Day-themed nuances from previous years.
**I ran the entire race sans music, and honestly didn't even miss it. This is still a pretty new thing for me, and it's been a lot more enjoyable than I ever anticipated.
**I am so proud of the hubby! He did not train at all, in regards to running, but finished much faster than he expected. He was able to run the first 3-1/2 miles before taking any walk breaks.
**The COVID-19 precautions were easy to follow, and did not hinder the race experience at all (for me, at least). Even the masking was easy to accommodate (I just slid my mask onto my wrist while running, so it was accessible immediately after finishing).
**Finally, the swag is top-notch. The shirts are a cotton/poly blend. The koozies have the event logo. Instead of a medal, all runners receive a glass pint (also with the event logo). And, this year, we also received a pair of socks.
As I've said, many times, this race is a fun one. Even with the drive to Omaha (3ish hours), it's a worthwhile adventure. I mean, where else can you dress in green and chase one another, on a quest for green beer? By the way, the lads won this year.
Have you ever dressed in green for a St. Patrick's themed race? Would you? Have you done any live races with COVID-19 protocol?
Congratulations, Kim!!! What a great finishing time!ReplyDelete
My goodness, I also had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye while reading how you crossed that starting line. That must have been a wonderful feeling.
The Leprechaun Chase sounds like such a fun event - I'd love to do that with my husband. Well done, both of you!
Thank you, Catrina! The start line emotions kind of blind-sided me LOLDelete
Congrats on a successful rallyback race Kim! That sure does look like a fun one. The field seems pretty large too. Glad they were able to follow Covid protocol with all those runners. When did RnRDublin they gave out 24oz bottles of some kind of Power Ade at the water stations. It was nuts!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Marcia ;-) This really solidified my rally-back...now, on to my April 13.1!Delete
This sounds like so much fun! I never noticed before that your Garmin is green. I'll be running my first St Patty's race this weekend, deferred from last year. I'll be wearing my Chicago shamrock shuffle shirt and my Brooks Luckys, so I've got the costume down.ReplyDelete
Yes, the Garmin is green, but I never think of that LOL It is what it is, ha ha! I"M excited to hear how your Shuffle goes!Delete
Congrats on a great race Kim - way to rally back! It sounds like a fun race and well managed with protocols, etc. Love that you and your hubby did this one together :)ReplyDelete
The COVID protocols were really not a big deal. I think all of us Chasers were just so glad to be back on a race course, we did whatever was necessary and were ever-so-grateful to be doing it ;-)Delete
An 8K is always a fun distance that you don't have the chance to run often. Sounds like the perfect first race back. Congrats on your speedy finish. I don't think we will have races here until fall realisticallyReplyDelete
This is a fun distance! Not quite as long as a 10K, but has a little more "substance" than a 5K.Delete
What a FUN RACE! I loved the part where you teared up at the beginning... I can imagine what an emotional moment it was for you. And congratulations on that pace!!! Do you feel like you didn't really lose that much fitness?ReplyDelete
Thanks for posting- I love race recaps!
This race has been one of those that I've loved since the beginning. Somehow, the two Omaha events (that we've done) have had great weather, but all the Iowa ones had temperamental weather with wind, rain, snow and cold temps (some all on the same day!).Delete
Looks like such a fun race. I love doing ones that you can repeat year after year. And your hubby ran it too...so great!ReplyDelete
I'd say that your pace is fast even if you hadn't come off an injury.
Each one we've done has been great, but have had very different race day experiences and weather. Such a fun event, though!Delete
What a great race for you! Just reading this has me excite to run a real race again.. except those hills...lolReplyDelete
HA ha! I seem to be a magnet for hilly races LOL I'm glad I train on them ;-)Delete
Brilliant, how lovely that you got to do this! Well done to both of you!ReplyDelete
Thank you ;-) This race is a lot of fun, especially when the hubby comes along!Delete
Congrats on your race! Im glad they were able to figure out a way to make it work. It must have been so exciting to race again after so much time away!ReplyDelete
Oh gosh, it was SO nice doing a race! It felt like it had been forever, but also like it had just been a few weeks ago...Delete
How fun to do a real race! Sounds like it was done safely too. Congrats!ReplyDelete
They did a great job with all the COVID precautions without losing any of the race's integrity. Such a fun event!Delete
Congrats Kim! That look like a fun race. I've dressed in some green gear for the Shamrock Shuffle but that's it. I love the glass and the socks you got this year.ReplyDelete
This company also sponsors the relay I've done with my co-workers (which didn't happen last year, and isn't happening this year either), and the glass pints are their "thing." I have one from each of the previous Chases, as well as all the team relays (5?).Delete
Incredible! This race sounds so fun, and I bet the theming and the vibe made it even better! Congratulations on an awesome job and welcome back!ReplyDelete
The theme is fun (hello? St. Patricks!!), but the chase format is really unique and a fun twist to a race.Delete
fun race and well done to you both! as you know I haven't done any races for a year now and I think I won't be doing any this year so there is some FOMO over here!! The swag looks sweet!! I have only dressed in green for the two years I ran the RnR 5K in Dublin. I have a sweet InknBurn tank that's a celtic knot design, but I wasn't alone in dressing a bit Irish for those events :)ReplyDelete
I probably have less than 10% of Irish heritage in my genetic makeup...but I'm 100% Irish for St. Patrick's Day ;-)Delete
I don't have much green, so even though I used to do some St. Patrick's races, nope, not usually dressing in green.ReplyDelete
This sounds like such a fun race, I love the chase aspect of it -- you both did great, Kim! Congrats!
It's a really fun format with the chase aspect. I love all the green...some really go to extremes! Lots of lads in kilts and fake red-haired beards LOLDelete
Congratulations to you both! I do remember you running this race in previous years, I'm glad it was still able to take place! I would love to run a race in Nebraska some day since it's where my husband was born and raised :)ReplyDelete
Congrats, Kim, on a great race! How nice it was to read a race report after the past year of practically no races. Also, I love all the pictures they got of you. I have not run in a St. Paddy's Day themed race so I haven't had the opportunity to wear green, but I would if I signed up for such a race. April 17th Courage Day 5K will be my first in person race since Covid hit so it will be my first masked race. Hopefully, it will be like yours - mask on until crossing the starting line and back on after we finish.ReplyDelete