On Sunday morning, I accomplished two firsts—my first official 10-K race and my first New York City running event!
Held on Roosevelt Island, the NYCRUNS Hot Chocolate Run offered both 5- and 10-K courses, and as soon as I heard about this best-of-both-worlds race (running and drinking hot chocolate—need I say more?), I knew tackling the 6.2-mile course would be the way to go. Not only would it be the next step up from running the 3rd Annual F-M Turkey Trot 8-K, but it would also serve as a confidence-building and peace-of-mind event: Looking ahead to the 2013 triathlon season, there’s a good chance I will become very familiar with Olympic-distance events (1,500m swim; 40-43-K bike; and 10-K run). Even though running 6.2 miles off the bike will be completely different, it was important for me to complete a “straight up” 10-K. At the very least, I could tell myself I’ve run the distance before in a sanctioned event.
Anyway, after going to the Open House at Random House with my mom Friday (recap coming soon!), we headed to The Running Company for race bib pickup. It surprised me when I didn’t have to provide ID, which set the tone for the event itself; it seemed like a relatively low-frills race. Another surprise included this mug. I anticipated a long-sleeved tech t-shirt, but the mugs seem much more fitting, right?
[Instagrammed after the race, of course!]
Around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I took the subway to Roosevelt Island. For those who regularly go to races in larger cities, this won’t seem like a big deal, but I found it really cool to be riding public transit with other runners. Everyone made small talk during the commute, and once we arrived, I couldn’t believe how many people were there!
Again, bear with me, but it was really cool to see different types of people from various boroughs all pumped to run. (During packet pickup, volunteers said about 700 signed up for the 5-K and 600 registered for the 10-K.)
The 5-K race started at 9:30 a.m., and after the runners set off, I followed the crowd to the 10-K start line.
One of the high points of the day occurred before I turned on my Garmin: I saw my future internship supervisor, which was a really nice surprise. This sounds corny, but seeing her at the event further confirmed this publication is a great fit for me. I met Abby for the first time in real life, and she’s just as friendly, spunky, and down-to-earth as she seems on her blog, and I also met Julie after the race. (Check out her recap here!) So nice finally meeting you, girls!
Like the Turkey Trot, my goal for this event was to practice pacing. Since I haven’t been running intensely—it is priority number three right now—I knew “racing” wouldn’t be logical. Plus, since I’m relatively new to the Garmin world, I’m still in the process of assigning concrete times to perceived efforts. Anyway, I told myself not to go sub-8 minutes until reaching mile four or five, but I stuck to that plan for all of two seconds; I accidently clocked a 7:40 opening mile. Whoops. The pace felt good, but I knew going out at this speed could led to a blow up later, aka my worst fear ever. Also, since I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the course itself—would it contain flats, climbs, rolling hills?—I knew holding this tempo run pace wouldn’t be a good idea. During miles two, three, and four, my splits fluctuated between 8-8:20; it was difficult to dial into a speed and maintain it.
Overall, the course was a little weird. Most of it seemed flat, although there were a few rolling hills sprinkled in. The route itself forced runners to tackle many surface areas—pavement, grooved pavement, grass, and dirt roads. However, in fairness to race directors, they had to change the course because the original one suffered severe Hurricane Sandy damage. The most bizarre aspect of the route, though, was the fact that it wasn’t a closed course; runners weren’t the only people allowed on the road. During miles four and five, I played leapfrog with a guy riding a bike/walking his dog. He would pass me, but then slow down and pull over to the side of the road, let me go in front of him, and then overtake me again. Oh, and at one point, there were also two tractor-trailers on the road. At least there was a police officer directing traffic.
When I hit mile five, I started to pick up the pace. I had run pretty conservatively, so I had a lot left in the tank. During the final 400m or so, I caught up to another runner, and we started racing; we both kept speeding up, challenging the other to counter and match the pace. In the end, I broke away—and he let out a disgruntled sigh, ha!—and finished strong; my final mile clocked 7:20, and my official time was 50:42 (8:11 min./mi.).
OK, some key observations from this race. First, based on this outing, I definitely enjoy the 10-K distance more than the 5-K. In fact, when I passed the 3.1-mile mark, I thought to myself, Wow, that went by quickly! I was really glad I had another 5-K to go because it seemed too short, and I didn’t want to stop running. Second, even though I’m proud of my finishing time (hello, default PR!), I definitely need to continue to work on pacing. I started too fast, and my splits weren’t super consistent. Third, from a mental standpoint, I had a really, really strong outing; my thoughts remained positive, and I didn’t need to use my mantras at all. There were a couple times that I felt pain, but I acknowledged it, told myself that it was a non-factor and did my best to dismiss it. (Also, the fact that I ran pain-free for basically the entire event means I didn’t push it, which is true. Even though I wasn’t “racing,” maybe in hindsight I should’ve tried to hold a tempo-run pace.)
Overall, I liked the 6.2-mile distance, and I really loved seeing familiar faces and truly experiencing the NYC running scene; I can’t wait for the next event!
What’s your favorite distance to race? Do you like big or small races?