The Catch the Leprechaun 5K is one of the most fun local 5K races in the Charleston area and benefits Pattison’s Academy, a school for special needs children. The race is held on the Thursday night before St. Patrick’s Day and is a great way to kick off the weekend celebrations.
Whether you’re looking to win a 5K or run your first 5K, Catch the Leprechaun offers something for you. The organizer, Mike McKenna, along with the rest of the team, put a lot of heart and hard work into the race. The winners receive a pot of gold and cash prize, age group awards were nice water bottles, and everyone who “catches”- or finishes before- the leprechaun receives a plastic mug. It’s nice to have incentives for all runners!
Catch the Leprechaun is very special to me, and I’ve shared many memories at Catch the Leprechaun 5K throughout the years. In 2013, I spectated the 5K and cheered for the Moore On Running Couch to 5K “graduates” (Catch the Leprechaun would make a GREAT first 5K). I ran the 5K in 2014 and 2015.
Last year, I was out with peroneal tendonitis, so Cindy and I volunteered together at packet pick up, then cheered for the runners. Cindy’s birthday was March 13, so we called it her birthday race.
My real life friends- and some of my online friends- know that the week of this race was a rough one. The Monday morning before the race, I received some upsetting news that basically made me a depressed ball of mush. The Tuesday before the race, I had my first PT dry needling session, which went well- but that afternoon, had the bloodwork from hell.
It took four “little pricks”- two in each arm- to take eight vials of blood from me. Both arms were black and blue the next day.
Real life was getting to be too much, and I debated just skipping altogether and going to the gym for BodyPump because I’m not in race shape. The day before the race, I travelled to Florence to work in the corporate office, where I learned my workload was increasing, then came back to relieve stress at Fleet Feet Mount Pleasant’s Pi Day run. The run was pretty painless, and I received a LOT of emotional support from friends.
The night before Catch the Leprechaun, I decided that I’d at least SHOW UP at the race. If I didn’t want to run fast, I’d run with a friend, and if I didn’t want to run at all, I’d volunteer on the course. No matter what I did, it was Cindy’s birthday race and I’d carry those memories in my heart.
Despite traffic craziness, I arrived at the race about 40 minutes early to chat with some friends, take some pictures, and do a warm up run. My friend and one of the wisest runners I know, Howie, was working the registration table and told me not to worry about the race or time and that I might even surprise myself. Our friend Dan took this picture- I was trying to show my bloodwork bruises off for the camera.
Aside from the wind, the temperatures were perfect and it was a gorgeous evening. I tried to pinpoint the direction of the wind, and figured out we’d have a tailwind on the way back on the course- score.
The race started promptly at 6:30 after the bagpipers played. I was totally fine with people going out ahead of me, but I was sad not to have any large guys around to tuck behind in that headwind. I don’t pay attention to my Garmin in “comeback” races, but I hit the first mile in 7:46. Starting so conservatively with the injury and wind helped me negative split the race.
In the second mile (7:27), we ran past the USS Yorktown, near the harbor, and by a golf course. I saw a lot of friends at the turnaround point, and they were having strong races. I also heard a few people cheer for me by name, a nice reminder of how great the running community is here. I haven’t felt like a runner in months, but I felt really loved at that moment.
Whether you’re in shape or out of shape, the last mile of a 5K is tough. I was glad to have the wind at my back but so ready to be done! I saw the leprechaun on the course encouraging people, and I tried to stay strong until the finish. My watch beeped for Mile 3 (7:27) early, as I wasn’t particularly trying to run the tangent. With the week I had, my mental game for tangents just wasn’t on.
I crossed the finish in 23:58, catching the leprechaun and earning a coveted mug.
I ran back on the course to cool down- at a rather speedy pace. I guess I’ll have to re-learn how to push myself once all this injury/physical therapy/dry needling saga is over. After two miles, I came back for the finish party and to take some more pictures and chat with friends. It was great seeing everyone and enjoying the band, beer, and refreshments. I miss racing and running fast, but I mostly miss people- injuries can be lonely.
This was my slowest 5K in a long time, but I’m proud I ran and escaped all the other crap in life for just under 24 minutes. I didn’t have any glute or hammie pain, so I guess I had a PR in Pain Relief. I hope the dry needling and PT help so that I can keep increasing my mileage and run some solid races this Fall.
Race Name: Catch the Leprechaun 5K
Location: Mt. Pleasant, SC
Date and Time: March 15, 2018 at 6:30 PM
Price: $20-35. Discounts available for local running clubs.
Swag: Soft cotton t-shirt (gender specific).
Post-race food: Hot dogs, sandwiches, chips, cookies, bananas, apples. Plenty of beer and it is unlimited (non-ticketed).
Weather: 59 degrees, 16 mph SW wind, 51% humidity.