NYRR Jingle Jog Recap aka Mom’s First NYRR Race

NYRR Jingle Jog

On Saturday, my mom participated and completed her first New York Road Runners race! As you can see from our faces, the morning was a great success.

I’ll be the first to admit, when my mom asked if she could do the NYRR Jingle Jog 4 mile race with me, I was worried. While I’ve completed more than 50 different New York Road Runner events over the years, I’ve always run or jogged. I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like for someone who wanted to “wog” or walk/jog the event.

We headed to Prospect Park around 8:30 since we needed to pick up our bibs and didn’t know how long the lines for bib pick up or the bathrooms would be since this race also included a children’s portion.IMG_0013

As soon as we arrived, my mom was excited and amazed by all the costumes and the swarms of people. There were over 5,000 runners in Prospect Park, all donned in their holiday best or, at least, red or green attire. I was thankful that we decided to color coordinate with red tops and black bottoms, adding to our festive mood.

 

Our line for bibs was only 5-10 minutes that seemed far shorter than most races. I think it moved quicker than normal since they rolled out their new bib system that features letters and numbers that are printed for you while you wait. Even though it seems counterintuitive to be faster, I swear it saved time since they weren’t flipping through all the bibs searching for my bib like a needle in a hay stack. The volunteer just scanned my QR code that NYRR sent the week before then within seconds there was a printed bib. We arrived at the right time, though, as the line was more than 200 people deep when we finished!  It seems like we weren’t the only Brooklyn residents who didn’t want to head uptown during the holiday season to pick up bibs.

IMG_6811

We spent the next thirty minutes, before the race started, stretching and watching the children’s races, affectionately known as the Reindeer Run. I loved the smiles on the children as they ran, walked and skipped towards the finish line. One girl yelled, “I’m tired” but then started sprinting once we cheered loudly for her.

IMG_6809

After using the restroom, we made our way towards the back of the corrals. Our goal was to hug the left side of the course, so we weren’t in the way of runners and then, once the course thinned out, walk alongside each other. My goal was to have mom jog for 15-30 seconds every five minutes. But, the ultimate goal was to have her finish her first NYRR race and enjoy it.

IMG_0015

Exactly at 9:35, just five minutes after the race started, we crossed the starting line. As I’d expected, the first few minutes were complete madness as we did our best not to get run over. I kept mom smiling by pointing out the crazy costumes and promising her that it would get better. She was so motivated by the runners that her first jog interval was more like a sprint.

By the time we hit the first-mile marker, we knew that mom’s initial goal of keeping a 15-minute mile pace was a bit aggressive due to the crowds and hills, but both agreed that the best goal was just to enjoy ourselves. For the final three miles, we were able to walk together, mixing intervals of power walking and jogging, while enjoying the sights of Prospect Park. Due to the unseasonably warm weather, the park is still in Fall mode and on Saturday, in the morning light, it was illuminated in red, yellow and orange.

IMG_0016

The volunteers were fabulous during the race, always giving mom motivation and reinforcing to her that she could do this. She never felt like she was the “back of the pack” or holding anyone up which was wonderful, based on my initial fears.

She jogged across the finish line, crossing in 1:04:07, smiling and happy to finish with the hills of Prospect Park. Considering that my mom does all her walking in “flat as a pancake” Savannah, Georgia I was pleased with the energy and attitude she used going into each hill. She followed my coaching of powering up the hill with her arms and remembering that what comes up must come down.

So, if you’re a walker who has been worried about entering your first race, I hope this post motivates you to sign up. Most races, unless they have a strict cut-off time, support runners and walkers of all paces as they are happy to have people motivated to be active. If you’re worried, email or call the race organizers in advance and ask the following questions:

  • Does the course have a time limit?
  • Is it open to walkers and runners?
  • Will there be support (water, volunteers, and medical staff) on the course the entire time?
  • Is it a race that is suggested for people of all abilities?

Thank you to the volunteers, NYRR employees and spectators for making my mom’s first experience a great one! We’ve already brainstormed a few Spring NYRR races to enjoy together!

Follow:

2015 Savannah Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon Recap – The Short Version

Going into Saturday’s half marathon, my goals were simple: leave everything on the course in hopes of breaking the elusive sub-2 hour half marathon and help my mom and aunt finish their first and second half marathons.

rnr savannah

I spent the week leading up to the Rock’n’Roll Savannah Half Marathon tapering like a seasoned pro. I slept an average of eight hours each night, I hydrated, I ate well, I practiced some gentle yoga, I put together a great pump-up playlist, and I prepared my mind for a great race.

If you want the abbreviated, short version of how the race went down, here is what you need to know as well as a few pictures:

  • The temperatures during the race hovered around 80 degrees with 99% humidity.
  • Due to conditions, I abandon my PR goal at mile 5.7 when my pace went from a solid 9:01 avg to 9:40 due to conditions.
  • My dad and brother were incredible cheerleaders, along with what felt like most of Savannah, and supported us five times along the course! 
  • My mom, aunt and I all finished the half marathon together while Bo pushed forward and ran the 13.1 miles.
  • The race organization and experience was wonderful and Rock’n’Roll continues to impress me though only half the course was in what I’d consider “gorgeous, downtown Savannah.”
  • Due to conditions, the marathon course was closed if you had not reached a certain point by 9:35 AM.
  • This was a smart decision as there were two deaths and hundreds of medical issues for both the half and full marathon. (News articles can be found here and here
  • The word that best describes this year’s running journey is FRIENDS. The majority of this year’s races have become more about spending time with friends (Yes, I consider my mom and aunt to be friends, just ask anyone who knows me well!) and helping others complete a race than toeing the starting line and pushing for a number on the clock. I do not regret this decision and am thankful for the experiences I’ve had. There is always another day for that number on the clock but how often can you run with friends in multiple countries, states and races?

IMG_5946

IMG_5963

IMG_5979

Now, if you want to read the longer version, come back later. Between work and life, this recap has taken longer to type than expected!

Follow:

2015 Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco Race Recap

How can you not fall in love with a half marathon that includes gorgeous, sweeping views of Golden Gate Bridge and enough hills to challenge even the strongest of runners?

kristine ashley golden gate

As planned, Kristine and I made it our goal to PR in fun this weekend versus giving ourselves a time goal. We wanted the girls weekend in San Francisco to be enjoyable versus filled with race stress that comes along with a goal race. We took a Bar Method class together, we walked for miles exploring Marina and other neighborhoods, we stayed up watching our favorite shows and laughing, and we enjoyed a fun night on the town with her amazing boyfriend.

After last night’s unconventional, yet delicious homemade pre-race dinner of pork chops, roasted squash and Brussel sprouts, we said goodnight around 10:30 knowing that the alarm would be going off soon. This race starts at 6:30 which, while a dream for this morning gal, means that we had to be awake at 5 AM.

ready to race

After chugging some water and coffee we donned our race day gear and hopped in an Uber with our pre-race meal.

From her neighborhood it was an easy 15 minute ride down to Union Square, where the half marathon took over the entire area.

IMG_5440

Within minutes of arriving to the start, Nike proved that they know what they are doing when it comes to this half marathon. Everything was planned and organized flawlessly.  Even though over 25,000 women participated in this race, the bathroom and bag check lines were shorter than most races due to the strategic placement of them inside each individual corral.  There was even NUUN water stations within each corral! Well done Nike, well done!

At exactly 6:30 AM the first runners crossed the starting line, signaling the start of the race. It took 10 minutes or so until our corral, the 9:00-9:59 corral crossed the starting line. I will say that as soon as we started we came to a dead halt due to bottle necking. Not a good thing if you’re trying to PR the race but if you’re hear for the fun then it is no big deal.

nike womens half marathon course

The first 5k included lots of turns and hills as we headed west through The Tenderloin area of the city towards Golden Gate Park. While my hip flexors and glutes felt these early hills, including the second steepest one of the race, the three of us just kept talking as we powered up each of the hills.

San Francisco Nike Womens Half Marathon Course Elevation

We entered the gorgeous Golden Gate Park around mile 3.5 and proceeded to weave through it for the next four miles. The park was a welcome change from the first few miles. There was lush greenery, gorgeous buildings, waterfalls and beautiful views everywhere. The course plateaud during these miles, allowing us to rest our legs a bit.

IMG_5445 IMG_5449

IMG_5443

There were three aid stations in the park which included water, NUUN, a medical tent and bathrooms. We took advantage of the bathrooms early in the race, around mile 4.5, in order to ensure we could enjoy the rest of the race.  It amazes me how the temperature and weather vacillates in San Francisco depending where you are. While the start was cool, the miles in the park were warmer and humid due to the initial morning fog, which typically holds in the humidity.IMG_5444

As we exited the park, I laughed knowing that while we’d passed the halfway point, the hardest part of the course was waiting for us at mile 10.  Sun, hills and thicker crowds greeted us as we navigated the neighborhood streets en route to The Presidio.

IMG_5459

I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the beauty we’d encounter during these miles. While the climb from 9.5 to 10.5 was nothing short of soul crushing, the views were well worth the effort. Unlike last year, Karl the Fog lifted in time for our climb which meant we could see the bridge, bay, and rocky cliffs perfectly.

IMG_5466

Since we were running the race for fun, we took full advantage of the scenic vistas, posing for fun photos and taking pictures of fellow runners. The energy that the cheer stations provided during this climb was on par with the New York City Marathon. Special thanks to the November Project, Team in Training and Nike for the signs, cheers and motivation.

IMG_5463

What goes up must come down and as soon as we crested the climb we turned the corner for a fast, steep downhill towards the coast line. As soon as we finished the downhill dash towards the coast line, we entered a wide path along the coast line which included a chocolate station and final water station as well as a few bands and Asian dancers.

I didn’t enjoy these final miles as much as I expected due to a side stitch and the urge to finish. Since we ran at a conversational pace the entire time, we still had two miles left when my watch beeped 2 hours. Even though the path was along the water, nothing could compare to the incredible views of miles 9.5-11.5.

As soon as we saw the finish line we gave it a final kick over the finish line, literally running into Emily.

IMG_5475

Our final time was 2:27, more than 25 minutes slower than last week’s half marathon due to a fun, conversation pace and multiple picture stops. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve come as this was a “difficult, hard to talk pace” during my early years of running half marathons!

IMG_5479

After grabbing chocolate milk and filled water bottles, we made a bee line for the highly anticipated medals, aka Tiffany necklaces.

IMG_5481

We were a bit disappointed to see that they replaced the fire fighters with volunteers this year. In years past, tuxedo clad fire fighters presented each winner with her teal box.

It’s been a while since I ran a half marathon for fun and I would happily do it more often. For most of the miles, it felt more like a casual long run with a  good friend than a half marathon.

kristine and ashley pic

Too bad all long runs didn’t include Tiffany finisher necklaces, race support in the form of cheering and NUUN, and great company.

While the $200 price tag of the Nike Women San Francisco Half Marathon can provide some with sticker shock, I would highly recommend adding it to your race list. It is a wonderfully executed half marathon in a gorgeous city. In addition, the Nike tank, re-usable bag filled with race swag and Tiffany necklace are included in that price.

Final stats:

Nike results

Follow: