Blooming Race at the Bloomfield Sunset Classic

20130628-122345.jpgName of the race: Investors Bank Sunset Classic 5 Mile

Where:Foley Field, Bloomfield, NJ

Date: June 27, 2013

Time: 7:30 pm

Distance: 5 miles

Entry fee: $20

Swag: Technical t-shirt

Post-race Food: Hot dogs, ice cream bars, orange juice, and yogurt

Time: 42:11 (PR)

Performance: Overall 198./531; Age (35-39) 4/9

Weather: 75 degrees and muggy

20130628-122355.jpgWhen Ben asked me if I wanted to do this race risking rain last week, I answered that I would do it if he did it. The Bloomfield Sunset Classic is one of Ben’s favorite races because you finish on a track. He loves races with a track finish. He did it last year while I was away in Maine. He warned me that it would be a hot and muggy race.

It was hot and muggy. We were a bit worried all week because the forecast predicted rain all week. Except for a brief hard storm on Wed evening, it hadn’t rained at all. We woke up on Thursday thinking we were in the clear, but the weather report told us that it was going to rain all day starting in the early afternoon. When the clouds came over and it poured around 1 pm, my heart sank. The thought of running in pouring rain didn’t appeal to me. Then in a few minutes the rain stopped. I breathed a sigh of relief. We were safe.

Bloomfield is a cute little town about a half hour east of Hoboken. We had a quick drive over, parked on a side street and walked over to Foley Field to check in. The kids run was in progress. It was adorable watching the little kids excitedly run with their parents. At 7 pm was the 1 mile fun run. The 5 mile race didn’t start until 7:30 so we hung around the finish line to watch the finish. A male high schooler was the first one onto the track, but a little girl was right behind him. We watched him slow down, take a look past his shoulder to see the girl right on his heels and he began speeding up again. Then he purposely slowed down while making a big show of making a lot of effort to run fast to let the little girl win. The girl zoomed past him and ran a 6 min mile! Wow! Ben couldn’t believe it and thought she didn’t really run the entire distance and only joined at the end. A lady who overheard us told us that the girl was really that good. Ben thought about it and realized that when the girl crossed the finish line, she stopped her watch “just like a runner.” The announcer told us that the girl was only 11 years old. She was so tiny! We thought she was in elementary school. I was impressed by her. I would love to run a 6 min mile one day.

20130628-122428.jpgThe 5 mile race starts in town in Bloomfield. It’s a really cool event because the whole town gets into the race. The streets close down and hoards of runners fill in. It was the 25th anniversary of this race, so there were a few words about the race. Then we were off!

Before the race Ben and I discussed my strategy. I wasn’t feeling all that great, just really hot and tired. It was humid and I didn’t feel like pushing it. I talked about taking it easy and completing in 45 minutes. Ben looked mildly annoyed and said that the pace was worse than my HM pace and this was a much shorter distance.  “Fine,” I answered, “I’ll do it in 44 minutes.” That would be a 8:48 pace. Ben accepted that. Because it was such a hot evening, we both ran with a large bottle of ice water. In the beginning I was a bit annoyed about having to carry such as large water bottle with her, but as the race went on, I became increasingly grateful for its presence. I could cool and hydrate myself at will.

I tried not to go out too fast on the first mile. I watched Ben’s orange shirt go farther and farther away from me. I allowed several other runners to run past me. I ran my own pace. Normally I feel great at the start of a race (hence I run too fast). This time I felt lousy. Much to my surprise at the first mile clock, the clock said, “7:19.” Oops. No wonder I felt so bad. (Later on I found out that the mile marker was a little short and I really ran the first mile just under 8 minutes. The reason why Runtastic has my first mile as 8:32 pace is because I set the app about a minute earlier than my actual start. After dropping my phone at the start a few weeks ago, I decided that I would always set my app early so it would already be put away when the race started.) The race goes through Bloomfield and the whole town is out watching. People set up their hoses as cooling stations. People sit on the lawns cheering the runners on. Extra water stations are created. It’s wonderful.

Ben warned me that there was a big hill right after the first mile. It was a steady climb up for a while. Around Mile 1.5 I found a girl who appeared to be running at about a 8:30 pace. She was obsessively checking her Garmin so I thought she would be a great pacer. I love running with a pacer because it takes the stress of worrying about my pacing off of me. I stayed with her as long as I could. I felt terrible the entire time I ran. I decided that I would run as hard as I could until I crashed. I stayed with “my pacer” until about Mile 3.5 when I started to lose her. I picked another girl to be my pacer at that point and I stayed with her til the end.

About three-quarters of the way til the finish line, I was tired, but I began thinking of a friend from high school. She was a soccer player and a cheerleader. We were in drama together and senior year we were lab partners in marine biology. Five years ago, she and her husband were on vacation celebrating their anniversary. They were in a small prop plane to fly somewhere when it crashed. Luckily everyone survived, but she came out with a spinal cord injury. Although she does have some limited mobility, she’s usually in a wheelchair because walking is really not feasible for her. I was hot. I was in pain. I wanted to stop. But thinking of her helped me to stave off the temptation to slow down and ease the pain induced by running. I was feeling pain and I knew that my friend would have given just about anything to be in the same situation as me. I can run and she can’t. You can’t complain about pain when you think of this. So I ran for her. I ran with her in my thoughts. And from my splits, you can see that it was one of my fastest mile of that race.

Victory

Finishing strong and proud with Headsweats

I was so happy when I got to the track because the finish line was so close. The girl who was my second pacer was slowing down a bit, so I sped up as much as I could to pass her. I ran in front of her for a few yards when she kicked it up and handily ran right passed me to the finish line. I wish I could have passed her, but I gave it all that I had.

When I crossed the finish line, I was surprised that I ran as well as I had. I didn’t feel good the entire time I ran. I thought I was going to have a bad race, but I ended up doing quite well, especially with the heat. My final time was 42:11 (pace 8:26).

Ben and I got our post-race food. He wolfed down several hot dogs. I ate an ice cream bar and yogurt. Then we watched and cheered other runners crossing the finish line. After sitting around for 20 minutes, we decided to head home as most of the runners were done. Just then, the skies ripped open and it began pouring. Perfect timing for the race organizers. It rained as the race was pretty much over anyway.

Ben had a great race (he ran 32:29) because he ran conservatively in the first mile and picked off several runners in the last mile. We both had a great time. I know why Ben loves this race so much. It’s a really fun, well-executed race with lots of great things going on at the finish line with music, massage, and good post-race food. If you’re in the New York City/Northern New Jersey area, I definitely recommend this race.

We posed for this finish line photo.

We posed for this finish line photo.

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2 thoughts on “Blooming Race at the Bloomfield Sunset Classic

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. It’s amazing what running for someone does for you–urging you on to a PR. Sounds like your training is paying off! You look so happy in your race photos.

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