The Throwdown that Never Was: Passaic Chanukah 5K Race Report

Name of the race: Passaic Chanukah 5k

Where: Passaic, NJ

Date: Dec 17, 2017

Time: 10:00 am (delayed race so actual race time was 10:30 am)

Distance: 3.1 miles

Terrain: Pretty flat loop in Passaic Park

Entry fee: $30

Post-race Food: Bananas, apples, and water

Swag: Long-sleeved tech shirt

Time: 22:58

Performance: Overall: 3/19

Weather: 34 degrees, 59% humidity

Back in October, I sent Annie of The Little GSP this message:


Yup, I challenged Annie to a 5K throwdown!

20171216_092150.jpgFor several years, we’ve been following each other’s blogs (and PRs) and just as I think I’m about to catch up, Annie speeds away by setting another PR. Well, for once and for all, she and I were going to settle the issue with this 5K challenge. This was going to be Rumble in the Jungle running blog style!

Mother Nature had other plans for us. A snowstorm came upon us Friday afternoon, which meant that the race was postponed to Sunday because of the icy pathways in the park. Argh! Annie proposed a temporary truce by suggesting we go for a snowy trail run in Okehocking Preserve, a delightful 180-acre nature preserve. It was a lot of fun running with her as we chatted about blogging, running, and our lives outside of what we write (wait, there’s more to life than blogging and running?!?!). There’s something magical and lovely about running in the woods right after a snowfall. Everything is so still and quiet. I should take greater advantage of this at Prospect Park, but I suffer from inertia on my warm cozy couch, wrapped up in a fluffy blanket, and Bandit snuggled up with me. After our run, Annie and I had an enormous breakfast at First Watch. I very much loved my biscuits with sausage gravy and scrambled eggs and a side order of Millionaire’s bacon, spicy-sweet candied bacon (insanely delicious and a must order if you love bacon). It was so great meeting Annie after all these years of reading her blog about her running and the marvelous Piper, whom I did not get to meet this time.

So what to do???

20171219_220447.jpgMy friends from PPTC were already planning on doing the Passaic Chanukah 5K on Sunday because Leiba of Running Break wanted to do a Chanukah themed race. I decided to join them at the last minute because I wanted to race a 5K to take advantage of the accrued fitness from marathon training before I lose some in the detraining intersession between training cycles. It’s recommended that you don’t race again within a few weeks of a marathon, but I’ve never had a problem with racing a short distance within 2-3 weeks of one. In the last two weeks, I had taken three full days off right after CIM, ran a few very easy slow 2-3 miles, and did a set of strides a couple of days before to perk up my legs.

The night before I texted Annie telling her the throwdown was still on, but virtually since she was still running the Downhill 5K, which was no longer downhill because of the last minute changes to the course, and I would be in New Jersey. She was ready.

Sunday morning was a little nippy, but the sun was out and it was very pleasant for December. My friends and I were standing around, minding our own business when a lady came up to us and demanded to know what paces we were going to be running. I was startled because it seemed like she came out of nowhere. Captain A cheerfully announced that Leiba was going to run a 6:30 pace. She immediately protested that she wasn’t going to run that fast. I shrugged my shoulders and offered, “I’m not sure. 7:30 probably.” I hadn’t given much thought and since it was before I did a warm-up, I wasn’t sure how responsive my legs would be. If they felt good, I thought I could get 7:20 out of them. We looked at her and asked what her plans were. She suddenly played it coy and said, “I’m not running as fast as you,” and disappeared. Oh, no! You don’t get to play sneaky with us. The challenge was on!

The men’s race was first and the woman’s race was a half hour later. There was a 30-min delay, which meant more standing around and shivering when we weren’t in the cafe. The course consisted of 3 loops of the park, so we got to cheer the guys several times. Then it was our turn.

The men’s field was small with fewer than 50 people. We had 19 people total. We stood around waiting for the signal for the start. There was an initial rush of people and I saw the lady who asked about our paces immediately tuck in behind Leiba. It was clear what her strategy was – draft off Leiba and then try to outkick her. Internally I scoffed because I had done a little scouting of last year’s results and knew that Leiba was much faster. My goals were not to start too fast and to coax some speed out of my legs.

I’m not normally a fan of races that consist of multiple loops, but this one wasn’t bad. For one thing, it was nice to cheer the constant cheer from my teammates. Captain A was cowbelling like crazy and another teammate took tons of photos of us. I got to Leiba and the other lady in front of me for the first half of the race and then they got too far in front of me to see anything else. But from the loud boisterous yells of Captain A I knew Leiba was in front the entire time. Leiba won the race handily.

I’m pretty happy with the effort I gave in this race.

Mile Splits

  1. 7:20
  2. 7:10
  3. 7:22
  4. 6:40 for the last .1

Total time: 22:58

If you look at my mile splits and the total time, you might be confused because it doesn’t quite add up correctly. Garmin measured the course “long,” and as much as I would love to say that I actually ran a faster 5K (lol), the only result is the official time of 22:58. I was running tired on the last loop and I knew it. I could feel myself slowing down. What pleases me, however, is that somehow, unbeknownst to me, I managed to kick it for the last .1. If you asked me if I had a kick in the last .1 I would have said no, because I didn’t feel like I was running faster. When I first started running, I had no kick whatsoever and I always fell apart the last mile of a race. I’ve been working hard in the last three years to develop a kick. It took over a year before I saw any reliable progress and now I’m kinda excited at the thought that for the end of a race, I still have another gear that I can shift into without thinking about it. Since a kick is not something that naturally came to me, it will always be a work in progress, but it’s exciting to see something that hadn’t been there before.

Our running club cleaned up at the award ceremony. Leiba came in 1st overall. I came in 3rd overall. Captain A came in 3rd overall for men. There were several age group awards. The prizes given at this race were very generous. Leiba won a blender (which she was thrilled about because she needed one), $50 in gift certificates to a local running store, and a bottle of wine. I won $50 in gift certificates as well and a bottle of wine.

What about Annie and her 5K? Well, it turned out that even with a flat course, she ran faster than she did last year with the downhill help. She ran her 5K in 22:37.

Annie 1; Elle 0

This duel is far from over. Watch out for the spring, because the second reiteration of the throwdown might be coming up.

19 thoughts on “The Throwdown that Never Was: Passaic Chanukah 5K Race Report

  1. Great recap! I have been eagerly awaiting your version of the story. 😄 I bet you could muster up an even faster kick if the official throwdown title was on the line! Also, the prizes at your race were insane. $50 in gift certs + wine for 3rd place?? You definitely won the battle for the best prizes of the weekend. Oh, and thank you for introducing me to millionaire’s bacon. It was delicious!!!

    • Thanks for breakfast!

      This was definitely one of the biggest purses that I’ve seen at a small race. The last race where I technically “made money” was at another race organized by a Jewish organization.

  2. Okay, I am *very* glad to not be a part of this throw down, LOL!!!!

    I’ve always had a “kick” and it’s why my husband has always said I could run faster if I just put more effort. My little end of race spurts are always super fast (for/to me) and never ever close to the splits in the race. I guess it was a sign I had fast in me but I just was too scared to try.

    And yeah, holy shit those are some great prizes. I seriously wish I lived in your ‘hood (minus the cold weather).

  3. Oh my gosh, how fun! I need to look up that preserve. And millionaire’s bacon is the best. I had it on a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich once and it made all others a bit of a bummer. It would be awesome to win wine at races. I’d be signing up for quite a few! Congrats!

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