Where: Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ
Time: 9:30 am
Entry fee: $25 on the day of the race
Swag: Short-sleeve cotton shirt and a small drawstring bag
Post-race Food: Bagels, orange slices, and bananas
Time: 24:09 (PR)
Performance:Overall 39/297; Gender 7/164; Age (30-39) 2/54;
Award: Medal for 2nd place in 30-39 age group
Weather: 71 degrees, 78% humidity
I had been looking forward to this 5K for a long while, in particular in these last couple of weeks. I ran this last year (27:15) and with my prior 5K being short, I was really eager to see what I could do in a 5K. Ben offered to pace me and I took him up on his offer. The weather was cooperating with us. It rained all day on Thursday and a part of Friday, which cooled down the temperature. Saturday morning was cool for a summer morning and there was no sign of rain in the sky. This was it. This was my race to see if I could run a sub-24 5K.
The race route was the same one that we ran the Earth Day 5k in late April. I decided to wear my Asics HyperRocket Girl because I was a bit worried about puddles on the course. I hate having wet feet. The Saucony Hattori provide no protection against water because of its paper thin uppers. I was committed to run the fastest race that I’ve ever run, so I decided that I would run through the puddles if it provided the shortest route, rather than run around it.
Ben and I warmed up by slowly running for a half mile. Then we waited by the green start line. Steven Fulop, the newly elected mayor of Jersey City was there to talk for a few minutes. In moments, I heard the magical words, “Get set, go!”
My feet flew off the ground as I surged with the front runners. Ben stayed next to me warning me that I was going too fast as usual. I paid no heed. I was worried that I was starting too slowly and besides, it didn’t feel too fast. Ben repeated himself more firmly and I reluctantly slowed down. It was difficult to watch and even more difficult to let other runners run past me, especially if they were other women. Ben reminded me that I can’t start out too fast and consoled me that I will be able to catch up with many of the female runners later.
The first mile went quickly. We had a plan that we would try to run 7:33 miles (I had once ran 2 miles on a track at a 7:30 pace and could do this pace on a treadmill for 3 miles). The first mile was a bit quicker than that, but I wasn’t able to hold it. Running on a treadmill is physically (albeit, not mentally) easier and I wasn’t able to translate it to outdoor running. I slowed down for the second mile. Seeing the sub-24 goal slip away, Ben urged me to go a little faster for the third mile. I was in pain. I couldn’t breathe despite the deep desperate gasps of air I gulped with each stride. At 2.5 miles, Ben motioned with his hand where the finish line was. I ran just a bit harder.
Finally the last turn and I could clearly see the finish line. On the clock, the time 23:50 was clear. I was in danger of not meeting my goal. I ran even harder ignoring the pain knowing that in moments it would all be over. The seconds ticked past. The 3 turned into a 4 . . . and I was just feet away from the finish line.
Final time: 24:09.
I missed my goal by 9 seconds.
Ben had veered away from the course in the last few yards to let me cross the finish line alone. He met up with me after I crossed worried that I would be upset that I came so close to my goal and missed it by seconds. Instead I was quite satisfied with my performance. I gave it my all. I knew that I couldn’t have ran any faster. I didn’t cave into the pain and slowed down. I ran hard each and every mile. I couldn’t have asked anything more from myself.
I improved by more than 3 minutes from last year and I set a new 5K PR by 43 seconds from my last 5K race. I’ll train some more over the summer and attempt this goal again in the fall racing season.
Ben was a great race sherpa. He poured water on me during the race to keep me cool. He carried my tiny hand water bottle in the last half mile of the race for me because I didn’t want to do anything other than just plain run for the finish.
We waited for the award ceremony that was at 11 am and I’m so glad we did. While waiting, Ben found the results sheet and reported to me that I came in third for my age group. I was thrilled. I saw several women passing me and although I passed a few of them later, I was worried that there were other age groupers faster than me.
They announced the overall winner and then the age group awards starting from children’s group. They announced the first place winner for my age group. Next the second place winner. A man walked up to collect the ribbon. Ben and I assumed that he was getting the medal for the woman. But the confused look on his face and the organizers quickly revealed that the guy had been miscategorized as a female runner.
That meant . . .
I came in 2nd for my age group!!!!! I leaped up in the air and squealed in delight.
Read Write & Run 5K was really well organized this year. Last year they ran out of water for the racers at one point. Ben went to go find water and when he did, they wanted to charge him. When several racers complained about the lack of water, the organizers finally got some more water. This year, cups of water were already poured and ready for us when we crossed the finish line. As the cups disappeared, they reappeared with more water. There was a HUGE container filled to the brim with orange slices that we gratefully ate on a warm morning. There were plenty of bananas (cut in half) and bagels (cut in quarters) for us to eat. The course had TWO water stops, which is unusual for a 5K, but very much appreciated for a summer race.
We took some pictures with Ben’s friends (one of them came in 2nd place overall for women) and headed home. After showering and devouring pancakes at Stacks, we went kayaking at Maxwell Place in Hoboken. On some summer weekends, the volunteers at the Hoboken Cove Boathouse offer free kayaking in the little cove. Ben and I saw this last summer and we wanted to try this, but we never got a chance.
After signing a waiver and putting on a life jacket, we climbed into a two person kayak ready to explore the New Jersey coast (or at least the Hoboken one). Then we found out that we were not allowed out of the cove, which is quite small. There really wasn’t much room to actually kayak, so we decided to just drift and enjoy being out on the water. After being out for about 15 minutes, we headed back to shore. This free kayaking opportunity in Hoboken is a fun activity for parents with little children or for people who have never gone kayaking and wanted to see what it was like. Ben and I thought that we would actually get to kayak along the coast, so it was disappointing to us because it wasn’t what we thought it would be. It’s a great opportunity for complete beginners, but not for people who have gone kayaking before.
Saturday was a terrific day and I was beaming with pride. Apparently my legs were really tired because all night long I dreamed that I was racing.