On March 3, 2013 I ran the NYRR Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.
Short Version: The course was very hilly...there was literally not one single flat portion on the course (the elevation profile once I uploaded my Garmin info confirms it is a fact and not all in my head, there was no part that was not up or down a hill)....but I still managed to PR by a full minute (former PR 33:33). Official time: 32:30.
(warning: very long....I'm a wordy person, sorry!!)
History: After several attempts to start running with varying degrees of consistency, a friend of mine convinced me to sign up for an October 2012 5K. I began training for it in August. Ran my first 5K on October 13, 2012 with a chip time of 37:07. I had been bitten by the racing bug and never looked back! I ran my 2nd 5K on Thanksgiving Day 2012 and had a huge PR for only 5 weeks in between, at 33:33. I ran a 10K on December 16th, 2012 with a time of 107:47. I began training for a second 10K that would have been on January 26th, 2013, but unfortunately my IT band started misbehaving during my second week of training and I ended up needing to take almost a month off running and DNSed that 10K. I began running again at the beginning of February, rebuilding mileage very slowly, and doing a bunch of things to combat the ITBS (cross-training, physical therapy, stretching, foam rolling, strengthening, ect.) Even though I missed a month, I found that I had not really lost any fitness, pace-wise, and in fact it seemed my easy pace had dropped a little bit. Last weekend, on 2/23/13, there was a 4 mile race in a park near my apartment. I registered last minute on a whim, and even though I ran it as a training run and didn’t “race” it, my paces indicated that I could expect a PR today if my knee held up and if the hills weren’t too bad (the NYRR website advertised the course as “hilly” ).
C- Finish, without aggravating my IT Band.
I knew A was not likely to happen today…. But it was one of those things that I kept in the back of my mind. My race strategy was to “race” it but don’t go too hard…. I would rather leave time on the course than aggravate the IT band enough to warrant another long lay-off. The whole race was going to be a “we will see” situation. If the hills were too difficult for me and the ITB was acting up, I was ready to give up all goals and just go easy. If a PR seemed possible without hurting myself, I was going to go for it. If I was comfortably running near sub-30 pace and feeling ok I was gonna push for it. I knew I would have to let the race unfold as it would.
Pre-Race: New York City is a lot bigger than I think people give it credit for, because the race was in the neighborhood of Washington Heights, which is a full HOUR AND A HALF by subway from where my apartment in Brooklyn is...so that meant a very early morning. Gun time was 9:00am, and my alarm went off at 4:40. Laid in bed until 5:00 (planned) while using a heating pad on my calves and hips (very tight areas for me). Got up, foam rolled and used The Stick, had a cup of coffee and my typical pre-race breakfast of a whole wheat English muffin (sometimes it’s toast or a bagel) with peanut butter and sliced banana on top. Then I drank half a bottle of water and half a bottle of Gatorade and got ready. It was supposed to be in the low 30s, so I chose my warmer tights, SmartWool socks, a short-sleeved tech shirt and a long sleeved tech half-zip. I don’t really have any green, but I have a teal half-zip so I figured that was close enough, and I put green bows in my hair. I was going with a friend of mine who also runs, who lives in my neighborhood, so I met her at the subway station at 6:30 and we were off. Got there at 8:00am on the dot, got our bibs, checked our bags, met up with another friend of mine that was there, warmed up, and found our corral. I was slotted in the second-to-last corral, but my 2 friends were in the last (both by mistake, they forgot to tell NYRR their paces and got put in the last corral by default!) so we split the difference and lined up in the very front of the last corral.
Me, before the start:
My friend and I before the start:
Other friend and I before the start:
The Race: Temperature ended up being a little colder than predicted. At the starting line it was 30 "feels like 21" with a bit of wind. The course was an out-and-back with a loop in the middle around Fort Tyron Park. Therefore, the course was one side of Ft Washington Ave with the other direction on the opposite side. The race was sold out, and there were 5,825 total finishers. There were 2 lanes on each side of the street , but that is not much room for that huge of a volume of runners. Therefore race was extremely congested, and it never really opened up much my entire race… I was literally dodging, weaving, and passing people for the whole 3.1 miles. There were a lot of atrocities the whole time that made the congestion even worse, such as someone who would squeeze around me and dart in directly in front of me, only to start walking 3 seconds later (I crashed right into this person), people walking 4 across, racing couples stopping suddenly to kiss (seriously!) ect. This was worst at the beginning, but continued the entire race. Very frustrating. There were a lot of live bands playing throughout the course, which was a lot of fun, and I often paused my iPod to listen as I ran by. There was also a pretty decent spectator crowd, which added a lot of energy.
Mile 1: Being in the last corral, we did not cross the starting line until over TEN minutes after the gun. Amazingly, .29 miles after I crossed the start, the leaders sprinted past us on the other side of the street to the finish. JUST OVER A QUARTER MILE, and people were finishing! The winner finished in just over 14 minutes! This mile felt slow, because there was so much dodging and weaving, but whenever I glanced at my pace, I was surprisingly pleased...was not going nearly as slow as it felt. My friends were running at a similar pace to me, but because of the congestion we did not run together, we each bobbed and weaved a little differently, got stuck behind different slow people, and all ended up running our own race. We ran under the George Washington Bridge early in the first mile, which was cool. The first hill came at about .5 miles in. I was able to maintain a decent pace, and my legs were fresh. The hill was kind of steep, but did not feel torturous. It was followed by a quick downhill, and I made up some time. Then another slow uphill climb began, and the first mile marker was at the top of that hill. My Garmin beeped for Lap 1 just as I was passing the mile marker. 10:22…definitely under PR pace!
Mile 2: This mile was rough. Started off well with 2 fairly steep downhill stretches, and my pace here was awesome (I glanced down at the Garmin a few times and saw paces like 8:55, 9:00, 8:51, ect). But the downhill quickly turned back into an uphill, and this time a very slow, somewhat steep, long, gradual climb that lasted over a half mile. Looking at the elevation profile, it actually appears as a climb, a little drop, a climb, a tiny drop, and then a climb but it did NOT feel that way…I didn’t notice any drops it just felt like I was going up and up and up. Pace dropped a lot here (when I looked down and generally saw 11x) but I never stopped running even though I was dyyyyying. In my head I kept saying “F U HILL!!!!” Mile 2 marker came at the top of the Hill of Death, as we were looping around Fort Tyron Park with beautiful views of the Hudson , Palisades Park over on the Jersey side, and the George Washington Bridge. 10:25….SHOCKED considering how awful that hill was.
Mile 3: I barely remember it….haha. I remember running through more of the lovely park and then back to the streets. Going down the other side of the hill did not seem as easy as going up the hill felt hard….no fair. I was trying not to let myself fly to make up time because downhills can be worse on my knee than uphills, I was already running below PR pace but not fast enough to dream of sub-30, so there was no need to kill myself, I tried to stay in control and take the downhill easy. There was a water station somewhere towards the beginning of mile 3, and I was really thirsty, so I stopped momentarily and downed a bit of water. Lost 30 seconds here, according to the difference between “total time” and “total moving time” on the Garmin. Then there was another uphill, followed by another downhill, back under the GW Bridge, then the finish line was in sight! 10:30
Last .14: (course was a tad long) I did not sprint, but I picked it up a bit. 1:14, pace 9:07
Official time: 32:30 a PR by over a minute!!!
Me and my two friends after the finish (my friend "A", in the yellow also PRed today, by a few seconds!):
Race T-shirt (and bows that were in my hair, but were too far back in my hair to show up in pics):
I am very, very, pleased with my race. It was a challenging course, and incredibly congested…. I can't help but imagine what I can do right now with a "flat and fast" course with less people. I honestly think that sub-30 is within reach for me this year! But for now, I am going to enjoy my shiny new PR.
Thanks for reading!!!
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14) Full- 5:55:33 (11/1/15)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
Congrats on the new PR! Awesome improvement, even considering all you've been through lately and the tough course. I cannot wait to see what you'll do on your next.
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
It's always fucking hot in Miami!
Fear is a Liar
Awesome job Kristin! Great report. Remember hills build strength. You are going to fly on a flat course!
I'm so vegetarian I don't even eat animal crackers!
Great job on the PR!!
YAYpril - B-Plus
Congrats, Kristin! You must be over the moon! Love the pictures, too!
Eeek, kristin10185, congratulations on your PR!
Smaller By The Day
Congratulations! Your pacing looks great, and I think the cross training during your down time really paid off. Awesome job!
Weight 100 pounds lost
5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)
10K 48:59 April 2013
HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013
MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013
Kristin, just how fantastic are you?! a PR!!! Congratulations on a great race! And you and your girlfriends are so adorable looking!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010
Congratulations on a PR on such a tough course! And how cute do you look in your green? I've been waiting so long for this race report - I used to live on this race route and it's where I got my start in running! It's fun to hear other folk's opinions of the hills! Did you go to Coogans for a post race Guiness??
Thanks guys I'm very, very happy
That's so cool! Wow this is where you started running? You must be so good at hills!!! Haha. I've never been to Washington Heights before so I enjoyed the little tour. That park is really nice .
We were going to go to Coogan's, but one of the pitfalls of being on the slower side is a LOT of people....like a few thousand....finish in front of you. By the time we collected our bags and made our way around the corner to the bar the line was out the door, around the corner, down the street.....basically worse than a line for a roller coaster in a theme park lol. So we had to skip it and had post-race coffee in Starbucks instead
Congrats on your new PR! You've had a lot of struggles with that IT band, so to still be improving your speed during all that is great. Good job on a tough course...stay strong and healthy.
Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn
Miles to Go
2 more races until Goal A !!! Great job with those hills, Kristin.
Last:: 10/22 ScotiaBank Waterfront HM
Congrats, Kristin... You did an awesome job...
2XU HM - 29 Mar
Congrats on the PR Kristin! Great race!
Covenant Health Knoxville 5K 4/7/13 (and cheering on DH for his 1st Marathon!!)
Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon 7/21/13
Tower of Terror Ten Miler 10/5/13