Rockin’ Good Time at Washington Heights 5K

Name of the race: Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K

Where: Washington Heights, Manhattan, NY

Date: March 3, 2019

Time: 9:00 am

Distance: 3.1 miles

Terrain: Rolling hills; lollipop route

Entry fee: $23

Swag: Shirt

Post-race Food: I don’t think there was any, but I’m not really 100% positive.

Time: 24:05

Performance: Overall: 1303/5129; Gender: 262/2529; Age (40-44): 27/374

Weather: 37 degrees, 48% humidity

I signed up for this race because I heard good things about it and it’s an NYRR club points race. NYRR in their effort to make sure NY runners keep shelling out moolah do all sorts of things to entice us to sign up for races. One of them is the club points competition. Basically, there’s a subset of NYRR races that are “club points” races meaning that the top runners get to score points for their running club. In the last two years, my team has been putting more of an effort to do better in team standings. Two years ago, the women’s team moved up to the A division and the men’s team moved up to the A division last year. We’re doing rather well, considering that in the A division, we’re competing with clubs with sub-elite athletes (or ringers, depending upon how you see this).

I texted Ari to let her know that I was running the race too. We made arrangements to meet up in our corral, now that I finally moved up to the D corral.* I found Ari in the D corral and I hung out with her and her teammates (the Harriers) before the race. My own teammates were in other corrals.

I was warned by my teammates that this was a hilly course, so I wasn’t expecting a spectacular time. I wanted to run hard, but I had no plans to race this. I decided to just run by feel – whatever comfortably hard felt.

Because of the sheer number of runners in this race, NYRR had the runners go off in mini waves. While the first mile was still congested as heck, the waves made the congestion manageable, rather than being sheer chaos. As we moved up to the start line, I saw that Karla was working as one of the announcers. I shrieked, “Karla! Karla! Give me a shout out!!!” She looked over and obliged me by announcing that I was about to cross the start line. I heart Karla. She makes me feel like a rock star. 🙂

My teammates were not kidding when they said this was a hilly course. The first mile starts out with a climb. I focused on running well and picking a way through the congestion. At about a half mile in, I heard my name being shouted out by a spectator. I knew that some of my teammates had planned to do a long run up to Washington Heights to spectate and cheer. I was happy to hear them and knew I could look forward to seeing them again toward the end because the route is a lollipop design. A lollipop route is where the first section and the last section of the race are exactly the same and the middle section is a loop; thus it looks like an outline of a lollipop.

The cool part of the Washington Heights 5K is the sheer number of entertainment out on the route. I’ve never run a 5K with as much entertainment as this one. There were soooo many bands and musicians. It was awesome and made climbing the hills more fun.

As I approached the loop section (and there was another hill), I saw that the front runners were heading back to the finish line. I moved over so I could cheer for my teammates. If I had been racing, I wouldn’t have had the energy to cheer while running, but since I was treating this as a “workout,” I had some energy to spare. It was fun and it was nice when a couple of them returned the favor.

I ran around the loop and then settled in to run back to the finish line. I was getting tired, but I focused on running hard and not letting up. I saw Ari just ahead of me. I knew if I pushed myself I could catch up to her. As I started to push myself, I suddenly thought, “Do I feel like hurting today?”

The answer was a resounding no.

I let up and continued to run at a comfortably hard pace. It was a nice mental break to not push myself to the edge. Instead I ran what I could and had fun. I crossed the finish line, found Ari at bag check, got my own bag, and then went off to my teammates. I congratulated everyone who had a good race and then headed home.

*One day I’ll write a post about the running culture around NYRR. It’s interesting, especially if you’re not familiar with how NYRR works.

14 thoughts on “Rockin’ Good Time at Washington Heights 5K

  1. Meanwhile I DID feel like hurting which was the only reason I wound up ahead of you! I would LOVE you to write a post about NYRR culture because I’m so new to the whole club thing, I’m sort of on the fringes of fully understanding how it all works. And please write about ringers. 🙂

    • You’re not actually all that much slower than me on shorter distances, so I’m sure you can beat me fair and square when we both decide to race.

      Considering all the interests on an NYRR post, I’ll write one up sooner rather than later.

  2. “Do I feel like hurting today?” is the question we ask ourselves every single race. Sometimes we just don’t.

    I get enticed by the points of a race series every single year. That was probably the best part about being injured last year. I couldn’t compete in the series. Hooray!

  3. I always enjoy your posts because 1) at least one comment always makes me smile or laugh (like your shout-out at the start line) and 2) I always learn something (I never knew courses like this are called a lollipop route).

  4. So cool that you and Ari met up. I totally respect the running comfortably hard at a race like this. I always tell myself that is what I will do and then I get too competitive and swear off 5k’s. I’d love to read about the NYRR culture. Love your posts!

    • I think if I hadn’t exhausted myself so much at Phoenix, I would have wanted to push it, but I really need the down time. I’m enjoying not pushing myself and just ambling about.

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