So I know I overuse this phrase, but Sunday was one of the best days ever: My Full Throttle Endurance teammates and I biked from Manhattan to Fort Lee, NJ, did the Escape to the Palisades 5-K, rode around Jersey some more, and then headed back to New York City (and celebrated Cinco de Mayo).
We left New York City at 7 a.m., biked north across the George Washington Bridge (my first time ever!), and arrived at the race site around 8 a.m. Although the ride over was a little stressful—mainly due to a super-narrow uphill bike path that led to the GW Bridge—it was worth it.
This video tours the half-marathon course, which we rode after finishing the 5-K. It was absolutely beautiful and reminded me of Central New York riding. During the season, most FTE members ride to and around Jersey at least once a week, so I’ll definitely be back soon.
Anyway, at the race site, we signed wavers, picked up packets, and stowed our bikes in transition the secured area. And took a few team photos of course!
We ended up hanging out in transition by our bikes for a while, so I didn’t visit any of the booths. It seemed like a home-grown race, so there weren’t a ton of national vendors, but there was a huge Muscle Milk table.
About 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. start, I had this strawberry Hüma Chia Energy Gel. (Full disclosure: Hüma contacted me and asked if I’d like to test two gels in exchange for a review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.)
In terms of road races, I don’t take gels for any event shorter than a half-marathon, but I knew a pick-me-up after biking and before running would be a good idea. I’ll post a full review after I test the second gel, but so far, I’m a huge fan. This one tasted exactly like strawberries, and aside from its flavor and consistency being spot on, it also didn’t give me any stomach trouble. Total win-win.
Anyway, onto the race. An out-and-back course, the route contained lots of hills, including a killer one at the beginning that spanned half of a mile.
Screenshot from the first 1.5 miles of the half-marathon course, which is why the image is so tiny.
But what goes up must come down: on the bright side, this hill made it easy to negative split the race, which was my primary goal. During both Nautica South Beach and the most recent two-mile time trial, I aimed to get progressively faster each mile, which didn’t exactly happen. My pace group teammates were on board with doing a progressive/tempo run with the goal of negative splitting, so we decided to stick together, but if one of us wanted to make a move, then pulling away was obviously OK.
This was my first 5-K race in nearly one year (was RUNapoolza really my last one?), and I forgot how quickly it goes by! We held a steady 8:20 pace on the hill, which actually acted as a great separator. Yes, it was a smaller race anyway—about 150 runners—but it was still nice to have lots of space. Shortly after clocking the first mile (Garmin said 7:58 I believe), we saw our coach and two teammates making their way back already! Our coach won the entire race (casually running 5:20 miles, crazy!), and our two teammates took second and third. Nice job, FTE!
Once we hit the turnaround mark and headed back, a lot of runners cheered for my female teammate and me. (One guy is also in our pace group, and he was holding strong with us too.) Apparently we were the first two women. What the what?! Guess there’s a first time for everything, right?
At mile two, my teammates told me I should leave them and make my move, but I couldn’t find the next gear; maybe it was biking to the race, maybe it was forgoing a true warm up, maybe it was a combination of the two. It just wasn’t my day; what can you do? With the downhill to the finish line in our sight, my female teammate opened up her stride and flew down. She rocked it and took first overall for women! When I saw her attack, I knew she was gone. I crossed the finish line a few seconds later and posted a final time of 22:29 (7:14 min./mi.), which was good enough for second place overall for women and (lucky) thirteenth overall, including the men. Gotta love the local races!
Overall, FTE did really well: eleven finished in the top 14! Unfortunately, we didn’t stay for the awards ceremony, and it wasn’t until after we were back in NYC we found out there were plaques for the winners. Maybe we’ll bike back next weekend to pick them up!
Do you prefer doing races with friends or by yourself?