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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!!
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.
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!!!
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.
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!