A year of running in New York, and some other places too

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I did a LOT of running in New York this year.  I’ve completed my NYRR 9+1 race/volunteer requirements this year, which means I’ve got guaranteed entry into the 2016 marathon.  

Seriously.  I’M RUNNING THE FREAKING NYC MARATHON NEXT YEAR

I’m already excited.  I’ve never run a marathon before, but I’ve been running short distances for over a year now so I’m ready.  It’s time for the next big challenge.

It seems like a good time to do an end-of-year review of my races (only a month late!). Between my running in New York and also in surrounding areas, I’ve completed 19 races in total – nearly 2 a month!  It’s been a good year, and going into 2016 I have built a good base to build on with even more challenging goals.  With that, let’s recap on my busy running year!

RUNNING IN NEW YORK (AND THE REST): 2015 IN RACES: 

Race 1: Scotland Run 10k

4th April 2015: Finishing time 1:16:18, average pace 12:17min/mi

Running in New York City
Posing with the Edgewater Running Divas (and honorary diva) before the race

This is my favourite NYRR race in the entire race calendar – although I think I’m the only actual Scottish person to run in it!  The Scotland Run is usually my first 10k of the year, spring is in the air and the icy chill of the winter months is starting to subside.  Weather is perfect for running at this time and everyone is in great spirits.

Running in New York City
Getting ready to start!
Running in New York City
Post run celebrations

 

Race 2:  Palisades Rock The River 6k Trail Run

3rd May 2015: Finishing time 1:17:40, average pace 20:53min/mi

The Rock the River takes place every May right across the Hudson from NYC, and was my first ever trail run.  The first quarter mile was brutal, a steep uphill climb that had me really out of breath and feeling very unfit by the time I reached the top.

Excited at the start line....
Excited at the start line….
Not so excited after climbing the mammoth hill at the start!
Not so excited after climbing the mammoth hill at the start!

Unfortunately I injured myself on this run (hence the slow finishing time).  I was less than 1 mile in when I felt something twinge in my lower back – I ignored it and kept running for a while but it became so painful that I had to stop and walk the rest of the race.  I must have been a funny sight, waddling along holding my lower back with both hands and feeling quite sorry for myself.

I was out of action for a couple of weeks after this one, the day after the race I couldn’t even stand up!   The issue had been a muscle spasm, and I’m still not sure to this day what caused it.  It may have been due to not training on trails before the race, or not using appropriate shoes for trail running – or maybe it was just one of those things that you can’t really prevent.

I haven’t done another trail run since, but I would love to try more.  Hey, on the plus side, i’ll have a really easy time to improve upon when I do the race again next year!

 

Race 3: National Distance Running Hall Of Fame 5k

17th May 2015: Finishing time 0:36:54, average pace 11:53min/mi

The Hall of Fame 5k was a smaller race in Utica, NY, with a nice route and a great atmosphere.  There was a half marathon, a relay half marathon and a 5k race, I was originally doing the half marathon but dropped to the 5k as my back wasn’t 100% back to normal yet.  Utica is where the Boilermaker 15k takes place every year, which has been called the world’s best 15k.  After this race I’ll definitely be back in the future to brave July humidity and run the boilermaker!  It’s also nice to do some running in New York State, I spend so much time in the city which I love, but there’s so much of New York that I love to explore!

Running in New York
The perks of knowing the race organiser – check that out for a race number!
Running in New York
That face you make when you realize what you look like running
Utica running
A MEDAL!! I HARDLY EVER GET A MEDAL!!

This was the first race I’d ever travelled for, it was 3 hours drive from home and I spent the weekend in Utica.  It was a lovely, if quiet, town and I had a great weekend there.  I also learned what Utica Greens are, a local dish which is basically a really tasty, amazingly unhealthy way to eat your vegetables.   Highly recommended!

Seriously, Utica green. Try them out!
Seriously, Utica green. Try them out!

 

Race 4: George Washington Bridge Challenge 5k

7th June 2015: Finishing time 0:35:54, average pace 11:39min/mi

This was my second year running the George Washington Bridge Challenge, a super fun 5k and 10k that runs along the lower level of the bridge into NYC and raises money for American Cancer Society.  There’s something cool about running through two states in a day!  The race has great views of the NYC skyline, and a lovely downhill sprint towards the finish line.  There’s also a small expo at the finish line and usually some good freebies!

GW Bridge ACS race
Ready to go at the start line
GW Bridge
Stunning views of the George Washington Bridge
GW Bridge NYC
Posing for a group photo before the race

 

Race 5: Front Runner New York LGBT Pride Run 5M

27th June 2015: Finishing time 1:08:55, average pace 13:47min/mi

This wasn’t my best race time, I struggled as I hadn’t run at all since my previous race.  5 of those minutes were waiting for a restroom though, so it’s not as bad as it seems!  All in all, not my best effort of the year.

No photos of this one I’m afraid!

 

Race 6: Hoboken Party With Purpose 5k

14th July 2015: Finishing time 0:48:32, average pace 15:37min/mi

I ran the Party with Purpose 5k with a friend who was heavily pregnant at the time of this race.  With that and the humidity (crazy humid!), we took this race VERY easy, with more of a walk/run.  I’ll definitely be doing this race again next year, the course was completely flat and looped along the waterfront in Hoboken – so amazing views of the NYC skyline for the entire race.

Hoboken PWP 5k
A gentle jog over the finish line
Hoboken PWP 5k
Obligatory NYC skyline selfie

I had my  next race 2 days later, so I was quite happy to run this completely at my friend’s pace, and really enjoyed this one.  We finished up the evening with the most amazing lobster mac and cheese – because a 5k run/walk justifies a huge portion of mac and cheese, right?

Hoboken mac n cheese
I only run for the food, let’s be honest

 

Race 7: Verizon Corporate 5k

16th July 2015: Finishing time 0:35:38, average pace 11:29min/mi

The Verizon Corporate Classic 5k is a race in Morristown, NJ, with a mix of individual runners and corporate teams – although the vast majority are corporate teams.  I ran this with a group of people from work, with all our matching company branded t-shirts.   The first time I’ve run 2 races in a week, I was thankful that the humidity had died down for this one!

Reckitt Benckiser Running
I didn’t take a lot of photos at this race, but here’s my pre-race photo. Company branding!

This was the first race where I really felt I was starting to get back into the swing of things, so I was pleased with my finishing time – especially as the race had some brutal hills in it!  I thought I had reached sub-35 times, but I just missed it!   From this point on, sub-35 was my target time.

Verizon Morristown 5k
I even got a medal!

 

Race 8: NYRR R-U-N 5k

6th August 2015: Finishing time 0:35:00, average pace 11:16min/mi

I signed up for the R-U-N 5k last minute as a midweek fun run.  August in NYC is still hot, still humid – but any excuse to run in Central Park is good for me.  I love running in New York, and especially in Central Park!

RUN 5k Central Park
Post race food makes everything worth it

I really pushed for sub-35 minutes in this race, and finished in…. exactly 35 minutes.  Technically, I was ONE SECOND away from my goal.  Close but no cigar!

Summer running is bloody brutal
Summer running is bloody brutal

 

Race 9: NYRR Percy Sutton Harlem 5k

22nd August 2015: Finishing time 0:34:02, average pace 10:58min/mi

I was adamant I’d be finishing this race in sub 35 minutes.  I really, really tried, despite the heat and humidity that still wasn’t shifting.  The Percy Sutton Harlem 5k took place almost directly opposite my house in New Jersey, but on the other side of the Hudson river.  I headed over early for this one and spent some time just watching the crowds gather and absorb all the pre-race energy that I love.  I was feeling good for this race!

NYRR Percy Sutton 5k
Running in wayfarers. Completely acceptable.
NYRR Percy Sutton 5k
In the starting corral

This race had a few killer hills but also had some great downhill sprints so I finished this race optimistic that I’d made my sub-35 target.  However, I was SHOCKED when I saw the final time.  Almost sub-34 minutes!

Happy days!
Happy days!

 

Race 10: NYRR France Run 8k

29th August 2015: Finishing time 1:04:16, average pace 12:56min/mi

The France Run 8k was an especially fun race because my Dad was visiting from Scotland and ran the race with me.  Well, when I say he ran the race with me, what I mean is he ran the race almost 20 minutes quicker than I did!

This race was a struggle, really hot and humid and I found myself taking more walking breaks than usual.  My race time wasn’t great, but it was another run in Central Park which I love, so it was worth it!

Central park France Run
At the starting line with my dad and another running friend
Central Park France Run
The family that runs together…

 

Race 11: Wipeout Run 5k Obstacle Race

19th September 2015: Not timed

This was my first obstacle race, with inflatable obstacles based on the show ‘Wipeout’.  The obstacles ranged from huge slides to big wrecking balls to foamy slip’n’slides – nothing was particularly challenging but it was so much fun!  My biggest complaint about this race is that most people walked between the obstacles (and some of them were spaced very far apart) – this took the energy out of the race for me.

ROC race
The ‘difficult for a fat girl’ jumping photo
Wipeout run new york
Getting ready to climb up the water slide

I started capturing my running and dieting efforts shortly after the Wipeout Run,  as by this point they had dominated so much of my thoughts that I decided to create a ‘memoir’ of my efforts.  See this post for my in-depth review of the race.

Wipeout run new york
I failed at jumping across big red balls

 

Race 12: Down & Dirty 5k Obstacle Race

4th October 2015: Not timed

This was, I guess, my first ‘proper’ obstacle race – as the Wipeout run didn’t really offer any physically demanding challenges (or even any running!).  The Down & Dirty 5k was an action packed course with obstacles such as rock walls, hurdles, mud pits, military walls, and even a wade through the sea!

down dirty nyc race
Looking a bit like an overgrown sea otter
Pull ups are now on every workout plan to avoid this struggle
Pull ups are now on every workout plan to avoid this struggle

I’d definitely do this race again, I opted for the 5k in 2015 so will probably do the 10k option for 2016.  See my in-depth review here.

Down dirty race nyc
Rocking that ‘don’t take my photo I’m filthy and knackered’ look

 

Race 13: NYRR Poland Spring 5M

25th October 2015: Finishing time 0:59:34, average pace 11:55min/mi

October’s a great time for running.  The weather is cooler, the scenery is more pleasant and everyone loves running in the Fall.  The Poland Spring 5M was another Central Park loop, and was my most successful 5M effort of 2015.

Central park running poland spring
Post-race high
NYC Central park running
Obligatory ‘look at me I’m running’ selfie

This race reminded me of how much fun it is to run in the rain!  I don’t do enough running in the rain, that’s something I’m going to work on for 2016.  It’s good to be prepared for all race day weather possibilities!

For my full review, see this post.

 

Race 14: NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5k

31st October 2015: Finishing time 0:35:22, average pace 11:23min/mi

I ALMOST missed this race.  I nearly missed my race bib pickup on the Friday, and then hit traffic on the way into NYC for the race and just made it in time.  I was literally at the back of the crowd!

The Dash to the Finish Line 5k was so cool, it ran up midtown Manhattan with the roads closed to traffic, and then entered Central Park to cross the finish line of the following day’s NYC marathon.  It was such an inspiring moment to run across that iconic line and think of how amazing the runners were going to feel crossing it themselves the next day.

Dash to the finish line NYC
Checking out the NYC Marathon Expo
Dash to the finish line NYC
Happy finisher at the NYC marathon finish line!

See my full race review here.  This year, I’ll be crossing that Marathon finish line for real!

Race 15: Garden State Plaza 5k

8th November 2015: Finishing time 0:35:38, average pace 11:29min/mi

I won’t lie, this was probably my least favourite run of 2015.  The course consisted of 2 loops around the Garden State Plaza mall in New Jersey.  It was a smaller, more local race, and there was a strong turnout for it – and a huge post race food selection!  So organization and swag was great, but unfortunately running around a mall car park just isn’t that interesting.

Garden state plaza race
Car park selfie. I really need to start bringing people with me to these races, get some better photos!

My favourite part of this race was the crowd support.  There were lots of funny signs, the best one saying ‘Pain is temporary.  Internet race results last forever’.  So true – and highly motivating!  I even tested that theory afterwards and found some old race photos.

internet race results
Everyone loves a ‘before’ picture. Internet race results really do last forever!

 

Race 16: Lynbrook Fly With The Owls 4M

14th November 2015: Finishing time 0:46:04, average pace 11:31min/mi

I travelled to Long Island for this one, a small community race starting and ending at a local school.  The route looped through a residential area which sounds quite boring, but as the leaves were falling it made for some very pretty scenery.  All in all this was a fun, mostly flat course that made for a fun Saturday morning.  See my full report here.

"Jon take a photo of my race number, and don't get my face in it"
“Jon take a photo of my race number, and don’t get my face in it”
A nice, suburban, Saturday morning run for me this week
A nice, suburban, Saturday morning run for me this week
I always go for the flattering, hide-the-stomach front facing photo, so here's a more realistic photo for a change...
I always go for the flattering, hide-the-stomach front facing photo, so here’s a more realistic photo for a change…

Race 17: NYRR Jingle Bell Jog 4M

5th December 2015: Finishing time 0:47:06, average pace 11:47min/mi

The Jingle Bell Jog was my first race in Brooklyn, a 4M jaunt round Prospect Park on a chilly December morning.  I had bells on my shoes for this one, and in a run with several thousand runners it can make quite some noise!

Jingle Bell Jog Brooklyn
Bells on your shoes, hours of fun annoying your other half

I took this race easy as I added an extra 3.5 miles on at the end, my last long run before the following week’s 15k.  Festive runs are the best, always such a great atmosphere!

Jingle Bell Jog Brooklyn
Wonderful day for running

 

Race 18: NYRR Ted Corbitt 15k

12th December 2015: Finishing time 1:50:38, average pace 11:53min/mi

The Ted Corbitt 15k was the big one for me – my longest run of the year.  I didn’t train as much as I probably should have, but I still felt ready and excited to start.  It was unusually warm for December in NYC, almost 60F / 16C!!

Ted Corbitt Central Park
Ready at the starting line with a running friend

I loved this race.  Weather was amazing, I felt good after 5k, I felt good after 10k, I struggled for the last few miles but I kept my pace up.   It was another Central Park race, as so many of my races were in 2015.  There really is nowhere else like it for running though, the atmosphere in the crowds is electric.

Ted Corbitt Central Park
The evolution of expressions while running a 15k – 5k, 10k, 8 miles, bagel

You do feel more proud when you finish a longer race, it’s a demonstration of your hard work paying off.  Last year I did a half marathon and didn’t train properly, and it really showed on the day with a 3 hour finishing time.  Next year, I’m doing a couple of half marathons and my training will definitely be strictly in place!

 

Race 19: Jingle Bell Run 5k

20th December 2015: Finishing time 0:31:03, average pace 10:00min/mi

My last race of 2015.  I travelled to Massachusetts for the Jingle Bell Run, I was visiting a couple of places to use up vacation days and tagged this on to the end of my trip.  The run took place in Somerville, MA, with the race having a few challenging hills and taking place mostly round the city centre.

The previous week after the Ted Corbitt 15k, I realised that my 5k pace was similar to my 15k pace.  Surely this meant I should be running faster in my shorter races?  I’d also quit smoking in August too, and the effects were really beginning to show, I was much less winded and could run further without needing any walking breaks.

So I decided to test the theory.  I didn’t push for a specific time, but just tried to run at a constant pace that was a little higher effort than usual.

My result – 31:03.  10 minute miles!!!

Somerville 5k
Because running makes me happy

I was so elated after this race, I couldn’t believe it.  It’s really pushed me to set myself ambitious targets for 2016 and was the perfect way to end my running year.

Somerville Massachusetts 5k
A t-shirt AND a medal for this one. That never happens to me!

So that’s it.  A ridiculously long blog post to capture my entire year of running in New York, with a little bit of New Jersey and Massachusetts thrown in for good measure.  2015 was a blast, but I can’t wait to top it in 2016 and give an even stronger performance!

Pam x 

 

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