NYRR Mini 10K 2016 Recap

medal

Yesterday I ran the NYRR Mini 10k for the fifth time in six years (20152013, 2012, and 2011 recaps) . Other than the NYC Marathon this is actually my favorite NYRR race. Running with thousands of other women is inspiring and there are more spectators and cheering squads than normal which provides an amazing atmosphere! I always see so many familiar faces either running or cheering!

Katie and I shared a cab from Brooklyn yesterday morning which was a brilliant way to sleep in a few extra minutes and avoid any weekend transportation stress.

cab to race

At 7:30 AM we met Jenna and Zoe at the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle in order to chat and hang out before the race began at 8 AM. The weather was sunny but cooler than normal, a refreshing change versus the heat and humidity we experienced most years.

ashley and jenna

pre race

At 7:55 we walked towards the corral to join the 8,832 other women running the race. The crowds and corrals seemed more manageable than years past, possibly due to the fact that the race didn’t sell out this year.

starting lineWhile we each did our own dynamic stretches, Zoe and I aligned on a race plan. Katie and Jenna were both racing the 10k but Zoe and I both hoped to treat it as a diagnostic race. Due to my hamstring and foot injury, it’d been almost six weeks since I’d run a distance longer than a 5k.  Zoe on the other hand rocked a few half marathons back to back and is dealing with a nagging calf pain.  We went into the race with three goals:

  • Run by feel
  • Finish under 60 minutes
  • Run the entire time

At 8:02, just minutes after the start, we crossed the starting line together. We each put in one headphone so we could get energy and motivation from our music but still talk.  After running this course so many times, I told Zoe that it was one of the more challenging routes but the first mile would be a nice, gradual uphill as we head up Central Park West before we turn into the park and start climbing Harlem Hill.

course map

I didn’t want to stress myself out by wearing a Garmin so instead I wore my Timex watch and just started the timer, allowing me to get an official time but also not seeing or hearing the ding and mile pace after each mile. I reminded my body a few times, especially in the first mile, that this was not a PR race. My body isn’t in PR shape and the goal was to understand my base.

I tried to entertain Zoe and take her mind off the hills once we entered the park, taking a few selfies and pictures. It seemed to work as we were all smiles through these middle miles.  ashley zoe selfie

mid race
By mile 5 I could tell that Zoe was ready to be finished and not feeling terrific. I did my best to keep her within a few steps of me so I could keep pushing her through the finish line. While it wasn’t an easy race for either of us, I crossed the finish line proud of my effort and for sticking with the race plan. I now know that my base is a 9:37 mile as we finished in 59:40. We definitely earned the pink and black medals the volunteers put around our necks after we crossed the finish line!

ashley zoe post

I love that we both accidentally color coordinated with both the medals and the carnations they gave us!  I’m wearing my Brooks Chaser 5″ running shorts and the Brooks Steady Short Sleeve, both of which I’m loving right now! Brooks sent me these to try and I have been wearing each of these non-stop. As I mentioned on Instagram earlier this week, the shorts have a nice, wide thigh opening that doesn’t chafe and the comfortable waistband also has two pockets for keys, money and fuel! The v-neck top is perfect when you want a bit more coverage than a tank and wicks moisture while keeping you 30% cooler than other fabrics!

Yesterday’s race serves as a great starting place for the rest of my training this summer in advance of the Rock’N’Roll Montreal Half and the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half this Fall.  Is it frustrating that last year’s pace was almost 30 seconds faster per mile? Sure, but it’s the reality of the situation right now and I know that I’ll start seeing 8:xx sooner versus later with SMART training this Summer.

 

 

 

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JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Race Recap

jp morgan corporate challenge 2

On Wednesday night, I ran the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with 14,999 other runners and walkers. While I’ve heard about the event for years, this was my first time participating. While I had a blast running with Meaghan and Ashley, this event unfortunately lived up to the rumors I’ve heard for years.

  • Too crowded
  • Takes forever to cross the starting line
  • Chaos in Central Park with people EVERYWHERE 

The race started at 7pm but we didn’t cross the starting line until 7:17, even though we were in one of the closer corrals. I have no idea how corrals were decided though it seemed that they were based on company versus pace so people could spend time with their co-workers while they waited for the race to begin.

jp morgan corporate challenge 1

The 3.2 mile course was the bottom loop, starting right at the Loeb Boathouse and finishing on the west side of the park, avoiding the park’s largest hills. Regardless of the wonderful course, this is not a PR course due to the huge crowds and the fact that many of the participants are first time racers. I loved seeing the people of all shapes and sizes out their with their co-workers but when people were walking in the first few minutes of the course – five people across – it made things pretty crowded and cramped.

jp morgan corporate challenge race route

Luckily, our plan for the race was to chat and enjoy ourselves. I knew that my legs would be tired from running the Brooks 5k just 12 hours earlier after a month long running hiatus. Due to the crowds in our corrals and on the course, we were only able to keep around a 10-minute pace. As we dodged people we passed the time by laughing at team t-shirts, taking in the sights and enjoying a warm, Summer evening in Central Park.

We finished in 31:05 (9:42 mins/mile) – a far cry from a PR or even typical pace for me pre-injury. But, as you can see from the picture below, the crazy course crowds didn’t stop us from having fun together!

jp morgan corporate challenge 3

If you’re trying to decide whether to run this race with your company, I would suggest that you do so but know what to expect. Focus on the time with colleagues more than the workout or race pace and you should have a great time! Some companies rented out area bars or restaurants for after parties which sounds like the ingredients for a perfect evening – a run in Central Park followed by beers!

Thank you to JPMorgan for the complimentary bib and VIP wrist band. All experiences and thoughts are my own.

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Flying Pig Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday I had the opportunity to my twentieth half marathon with my friend, Amy, who also ran my first half marathon with me nine years ago!

Flying Pig finishers
The Flying Pig Half Marathon has been on my race list for years. Many of my Procter & Gamble co-workers run or even pace this race each year since it takes place in Cincinnati, where our company is based.  This is the cities primary race and therefore locals passionately support the race through volunteering, spectating and running. Now that I’ve finally experienced the Flying Pig Half Marathon, I understand the hype.

Amy and I chose to run this half marathon together with no goals other than enjoying every mile. We each have a lot of pressure and demands going on outside of running these days and therefore have taken a step back from trying to set personal records during half marathons and instead focusing on the fun that can be had when two best friends spend 13.1 miles running together.

We set out our race gear Saturday night, unsure what Sunday morning would bring. The forecasters projected a wet weekend, including temps in the mid 50’s and rain during the race. We made a last minute Brooks purchase on Wednesday to ensure we’d have the necessary gear in case it rained.

Flying Pig race outfit

Race gear included: Lululemon Energy Sports Bra, Brooks Launch 3 shoes, Pro Compression Socks, Nike Tempo Shorts, Brooks Drift Jacket, Brooks Steady Short Sleeve Shirt, Brooks Sherpa hat and lots and lots of Glide

When we woke up bright and early Sunday morning we heard the rain drizzling. While we ate our typical pre-race peanut butter and banana toast we decided on a game plan for our race outfit.  Since it was raining we decided we’d play it safe and wear our rain gear, deciding we could always tie the jacket around our waist if the rain held off or we got too warm.

Flying Pig starting line views

There was no traffic heading from Madeira to downtown Cincinnati so we were able to easily find parking in a deck downtown by 5:45. As P&G employees we were able to quickly go into the downtown offices in order to use the bathroom one more time before heading down to the start. Since more than 40,000 people were signed up to run the half marathon and full marathon we knew that there would most likely be long lines for the bathrooms around the start. The walk to the starting line was about a mile, a perfect way to warm up our legs before the race.

Flying Pig pre race

We found our starting corral “Pig Pen C” and easily slid in just as the national anthem finished. Less than a minute later, at exactly 6:30 the elites crossed the starting line. I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around our corral as there were at least 50 people, men and women alike, dressed up as pigs. Lots of people ran in all pink, similar to us, but added pig tails, pig ears and even pig noses! It was such a sight to see! Due to the multiple “pens” we actually crossed just two minutes later, unheard of for a large race like this. As you can tell from the below picture, we are nerds who like to match when we run together. It makes it far easier to keep track of each other and the people cheering seem to love it too!

Flying Pig ready to run

Throughout the half marathon, there were multiple things that surprised me along the course and helped me understand why people rave about this race. The first mile brought the first delight – no bottlenecking! The entire course is very wideso there was no bottlenecking, a welcome change from many races I run back in New York.

The second mile brought the first of many delights – a water station and bathroom at EVERY single mile. I have never seen so many water and Gatorade stations in a race, even Summer races. Due to the wide course the stations never got in the way and runners could easily run to one side of the road to avoid them. The volunteers at these stations were so friendly, offering support in addition to the water.  While we never stopped to use the bathroom, we both noticed that there were never more than 2-3 people in line for the bathrooms due to their frequency – another nice change from most races.

Flying Pig half marathon elevation

The first few miles of the race were a gradual incline with the only noticeable inclines being the bridge we crossed over the Ohio River, leading us into Kentucky and then the bridge we took back into Ohio a few miles later. At the second mile marker Amy and I realized that we’d made a bad choice in wearing both a hat and waterproof running jacket as we were sweating buckets. The sun was shining and the temperature quickly rose from 55 to 69 by mile 2. We tied the jackets around our waist for the rest of the race – a first for me.  Anytime we walked through a water station I would use the opportunity to tighten the jacket since it was constantly slipping down my hips. Oh well, live and learn.

The third thing that impressed me with this race was the level of crowd support. In many half marathons, there are clumps of crowds but rarely are the crowds throughout the entire race course. Whether it was the outskirts of Cincinnati or through the Kentucky miles, there were people everywhere! My favorite group of supporters were the elderly who cheered outside of their nursing home. Their signs were hilarious!

nursing home cheer squad

After crossing back into Ohio and downtown Cincinnati, mile five was filled with spectators as well as the anticipation leading into the arduous climb that would meet us beginning at mile 5.5.  During the mile 5 water station I took the opportunity to stretch my left hamstring and glute in preparation for the hills.

Flying pig downtown

The next few miles were the prettiest of the course as we climbed through Mt. Adams towards the Cincinnati Art Museum and Eden Park. I knew that we would be rewarded at the top with gorgeous views so instead of focusing on the incline we just chatted our way to the top enjoying the spectators and reminding each other how lucky we are to have each other as running partners who have run multiple races together in different states over the years. up the hill

Flying half marathon views

gorgeous views

The rest of the race is downhill as the course leads you back down towards Cincinnati. There were constant spectators and high school bands including a fun balloon arch across the course with the local football players and cheerleaders cheering. There were also a few groups giving out orange slices and Twizzlers! During the final few miles I definitely started to slow the pace a little bit due to some nagging in my left glute and hamstring. Unfortunately the constant foam rolling, stretching and deep tissue massage didn’t solve the issue so the last thing I wanted to do was injure myself during the race.  We both were also feeling a bit of fatigue in our legs since neither of us logged very many long runs over the past few weeks so miles 10-13 included jamming to our Spotify playlist and high fiving all the kids.

Flying Pig medal

Finally, we turned back to towards the waterfront area for the final dash to the finish line. We crossed the finish line in 2:15:17. While this is 15 minutes off my PR time, it is around what we expected since we ran for fun, conquered some crazy hills, enjoyed the sights, and talked throughout the race. It was a very different experience, and great reminder about the joy of running. Many other races, where I’ve targeted a specific goal, are a blur as I’m so focused on pace and conserving energy.  If you are looking for a new Spring half marathon to add to your schedule next year, the Flying Pig Marathon race weekend includes a race for everyone – 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon distances. Even though it is a hilly race, if you can spend the winter months focusing on hill training, this is definitely a race where many of my co-workers have PR’d or even BQ’d during this race!

Your turn: What race is on your wish list for 2016 and beyond? 

Thank you to the Flying Pig Marathon for providing a complimentary bib to this race. While I was provided a complimentary bib, the reviews are entirely my own.

 

 

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