My Last Race of 2018: The Ted Corbitt 15k

My Last Race of 2018: The Ted Corbitt 15k

On a chilly Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 6:00AM. It was time for my last race of the year – the Ted Corbitt 15k in Central Park. This race completes my 9 NYRR races in 2018. I’m volunteering at the Midnight Run on December 31st which will complete my 9 + 1 challenge and allow for guaranteed entry for the 2019 NYC Marathon.

I didn’t have too many goals for this race. The main reason I ran the Ted Corbitt 15k was to complete my 9 + 1 program. My goals were very simple this time around:

  • Complete the race
  • Have fun
  • Cross the finish line smiling

I’m happy to announce that I did all 3 and more. I unexpectedly PR’d for the 15k distance on Saturday. I completed the 15k in 1:10:44 for a 7:36 average pace per mile. I’m really excited about the new PR and attribute it to two items:

1.) The Weather

Historically, I always run better when it’s colder. The majority of my PRs have occurred during cold weather. Yesterday was no different as it was 26 degrees during the race. I started off with a jacket, beanie and gloves but ended up giving my wife the jacket and gloves on the second loop as I was getting too hot. That was the right decision as I automatically felt better and lighter.

2.) No Pressure

It’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to always perform at a high level. For the NYC Marathon, I put a lot of pressure on myself to hit my goals and for whatever reason, I fell flat. For my races in December (this one and the Jingle Bell Jog 5k), there were literally zero expectations or pressures besides finishing the race. I told myself that as long as I crossed the finish line, I did my job. Without any added pressure or drive to hit a PR, I locked in during the Ted Corbitt 15k and focused solely on running. I felt strong, my legs felt good and I glided with other runners in my corral.

This year was filled with highs and lows, but I finished it on a high with a new PR!

Ted Corbitt 15k
Post race smiles after hitting a new PR!

 

Jingle Bell Jog 5k: Jingle Bells, Hot Chocolate, and Running

Jingle Bell Jog 5k: Jingle Bells, Hot Chocolate, and Running

What better way to kick off the holiday season than running a Jingle Bell Jog 5k in Prospect Park! Out of all the NYRR races, this is the most festive race. It’s great seeing people decked out in their Santa costumes, festive compression tights and elf suits.

I took an Uber to Prospect Park in Brooklyn shortly before the start of the race. For this race, I didn’t have any strong goals. Normally, I have a minimum of two goals for myself – trying to PR, hit a certain pace per mile, run the whole race without walking, etc. For this race, I didn’t worry about any of that, because I can tell my body and knees are tired of constantly trying to push the pace in races. It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to constantly compete at a high level, but sometimes it’s needed to take a step back, remember why you started running in the first place and just enjoy the sport.

I told myself going into the Jingle Bell Jog 5k that I didn’t care about my speed or time. I wanted to enjoy the race, enjoy the festivities and have fun. My body was very relaxed at the start of the race, especially since it’s a course I’m very familiar with. It’s about ¾ of a loop in Prospect Park.

Summary – Race Results

In the end, I ran a great race! My official race time is 22:47 for a 7:20 pace per mile. Honestly, I’m surprised I ran that fast. It’s funny that just last week at the Turkey Trot 5k, I was running as fast as I could and only ran a 22:55. Today, I ran on cruise control and had a better time.

At the end of the Jingle Bell Jog 5k, they had hot chocolate, red bagels in the shape of candy canes, green bagels, and the usual race amenities. It was a great way to kick off December and the holiday season. Next weekend will be my last race of the year – the Ted Corbitt 15k through NYRR.

Jingle Bell Jog 5k
My festive bib number and beanie

 

Gobble Gobble: Turkey Trot Time!

Gobble Gobble: Turkey Trot Time!

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is all the great traditions. My family has specific traditions that are only for Thanksgiving. For instance, the night before we always feast on an assortment of appetizers – usually a spread of fresh cheeses, bread, homemade stuffed mushrooms and other samplers. The day of Thanksgiving, we all pitch in to make our annual favorites: Our secret recipe stuffing, the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green & white salad, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, pies, homemade egg nog and more. The Macy’s parade is always on television in the morning, naps are usually expected in the late afternoon, and the evening brings out the wine and games.

A New Thanksgiving Tradition: 

This year, I started a brand-new tradition: A 5k Turkey Trot. My wife and I swap holidays with our families. This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with her family in Wisconsin. I decided a few months prior that I’d run a 5k Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving. I landed on the local Racine Turkey Trot right off Lake Michigan. It’s a beautifully scenic route. In fact, it was the same course I ran over Labor Day for the Bacon & Beer 5k. I ran with a runner friend of mine I met off Instagram (Twinningtherace).

It was a chilly morning and I bundled up in my beanie, running gloves and compression tights. I was determined to run a fast race and land in the top 10 – depending on if my knees could hold up (still recovering a bit from the NYC Marathon).  For a 5k Turkey Trot, the race is actually challenging. Since it’s right off the lake, you get the cold and windy lake affects. There are also 3 hilly areas (note to myself: Start doing more hill workouts – you need it!). Even with the cold weather, I love waking up early to run local races while on vacation. It excites me and I was mostly smiles.

Thankful to Run: 

Starting off, I paced with my friend for the first couple hundred yards until I locked into a slower pace. I knew if I kept his pace, I’d end up gassing out before the end of the course. I sprinted as fast as my legs would allow and finished in 22:58 for 7th overall out of 250+ runners. Props to my friend for claiming first place! Although I didn’t get a PR, I had a great time running a scenic race. My knees are a little sore from the speed – as they probably need a little more recovery time post marathon before sprinting a 5k.

As I analyze the year, I’m thankful for so many people and items in my life. I’m not trying to sound corny, but I am truly thankful to have the health and ability to run. I’m also thankful that it was only a 5k Turkey Trot and nothing more! I thoroughly enjoyed the local Turkey Trot: The scenery, crisp air, turkey medals, fun t-shirts and bibs. It was a fun experience and it started my day on a great note and put a smile on my face! This is definitely a tradition I plan on carrying over for Thanksgiving 2019.

5th Avenue 1 Mile Race

The 5th Avenue Mile (September 2018)

I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to run the 5th Avenue Mile – a 1 mile sprint starting near the MET and ending near 56th street. Since it was only 1 mile, my wife decided to participate and run too – which was awesome!

When I signed up, I didn’t realize how big of a race event this is. They broadcast the event live and elites came into NYC to compete. It’s always a privilege to run races with elite athletes.

I always focus on endurance over speed, so running a 1-mile race was a brand-new experience for me. I was always curious how fast I could be for only 1-mile. Today was my day to prove it. Unfortunately, my marathon training just picked up so I wasn’t in the best shape for a sprint. I had just completed a 10-mile run the day before, so I was a little stiff. Even with that, I completed my mile in 6:01 – my fastest mile that I’ve ever tracked (also my only 1 mile race I’ve tracked).

I definitely want another crack at this event next year as I know I can do better. I’d like to see myself push 5:30 and I think that’s totally realistic given the right circumstances.

The takeaway: If you’re like me and run in NYC all the time, consider yourself lucky and blessed. Our events our top notch, elites come in from all over the world and a lot of the events are broadcast live. It’s a privilege and honor to run with so many great runners in NYC. If you haven’t run in NYC, you totally should. It’s really special to sprint down 5th Avenue, race in Central Park, or even do a training run across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Beer & Bacon 5k Run

The Beer & Bacon 5k Run (Wisconsin, September 2018)

My wife’s family lives in Wisconsin. It’s a tradition of ours to visit them for the long Labor Day weekend. I had a little more free time this trip than usual and I was looking for a race in the area. I literally found the perfect one: A 5k Bacon and Beer Race. After the finish, they served unlimited beer and bacon. It sounded too good to be true and an amazingly fun race!

So naturally I signed up. Even my wife signed up for this one. The 5k wasn’t up to speed (pun intended) on the timing at the start of the race. I get spoiled living in NYC where every race is top notch with elite athletes. When they started the clock, you just started running. If you were one of the last ones to cross the start line, you were 15-20 seconds behind everyone else’s time. There wasn’t a clock time and then your time. Everyone had the same start time which is not accurate, but whatever, it was a smaller race event.

The course was beautiful – I had walked part of the course before (right on Lake Michigan). Due to rain, it was a little wet and sticky, but totally fine. Again, the humidity caught me off guard (all Summer it caught me off guard) and there were a few hills that were pretty steep. I started off too hot – I was trying to keep with the front of the pack. I ended up slowing down at the half way mark. I was thrilled when I crossed that finish line as the humidity, hills and too quick of a start got the best of me. But my finish was good enough for 5th place overall out of 150+ runners/walkers. No complaints there. First time finishing a race in the top 5, so I’ll take it!

Then, there was the after event. I’ll tell you, this was my favorite small race I’ve ran and by far the best after-party. Wisconsin does it right in the most mid-west, Wisconsin way ever. Unlimited cups of bacon, bacon nachos, unlimited beer, a BLT from Jimmy Johns, Swag bag with a mug and other trinkets, a bag of chips, etc. SO. MUCH. FOOD. I loved every minute of it.

In all honesty, I actually didn’t eat that much. I had my half BLT, one piece of bacon, 3 small nacho chips and a sip of beer. The rest was water for me! I won first in my age group (awarded with a pack of bacon), my wife won first in her age group (awarded with a pack of bacon) and I won a random raffle that I didn’t even know existed (which granted me with another pack of bacon).

I left that race smiling, with 3 packs of bacon, a medal, t-shirt, swag bag and a pin for top overall finisher by age-group. I also made a few friends in the process. If I’m around during Labor Day next year, which I usually am, I’m definitely coming back for more.

The takeaway: Don’t ever lose the love of the sport. Not every race has to be intense, a PR or even for training purposes. Sometimes, you just need to kick back, relax and enjoy the sport and gift we’ve all been given – to run. We all need more of these races!

The Manhattan 7 Mile Race

The Manhattan 7 Mile Race (August 2018)

Two days before I leave for Europe and guess what I’m doing? Yup, you guessed it – running and racing. I wanted to squeeze in one final race before heading out of the country for two weeks. I chose the NYRR Manhattan 7 Mile in Central Park because it’s a good training run and a decent hill workout. Plus, as I’m trying to do the 9 +1 for 2019, and I need as many races as possible to fulfill that goal.

For me, the most challenging season to train in is the summer months. This is a shame since so many marathons are in the fall. New York is always hot and humid in August, so I knew in advance that it wouldn’t be a fun training race, but a needed one.

Since I was pretty inconsistent with training over the summer, this race was harder than I anticipated. I normally don’t stop while running any distance under 13-14 miles unless there’s an equipment malfunction or injury. However, being that it was so hot, I actually took a second to walk. This happens and it’s ok to do this if you need a second to reset.

I finished the race which was one loop around Central Park. I was dripping wet and underprepared, but I accomplished it. The main takeaway is to always listen to your body. If you need to stop for a minute and walk to reset, then do it. The most important part is that you cross that finish line injury free.

A Thursday Night 5k Race in Central Park

A Thursday Night Race! (July 2018)

Hot. Humid. And Brutal.

Before this race, I had never run a race at night. Or a race on a Thursday for that matter. Since it was only a 5k and it’s a course that I like in Central Park, I decided to give it a whirl.

Thankfully, it was only 3.1 miles. Out of all the runs and races this summer, this one was by far the most challenging. I didn’t realize that coming directly from work and being tired from the day would have such an impact. It also didn’t help that the subway I took to the upper west side had zero AC. I was drenched in sweat before I even began to run!

Overall, the race went well. I started too fast on a decline hill and had to push the last .5 mile up a gradual incline. I paced well – under 8 minute miles – but felt sick afterwords. Everyone was hot, sticky and gross. The best part were the icy pops we received after the race in lieu of medals.

I think the takeaway here is to always remember that if it’s your first time doing something (first night race, first race after work on a Thursday, etc.) that there could be unexpected results good or bad. Every situated is going to cause your body to react in a different way. The more experiences you have, the more prepared you are for a variety of challenges and circumstances. Although overall I performed well, I decided that night races aren’t my thing. I love training at night and will continue to do so. But for races, it’s important that I put my best foot forward (pun intended) and it’s hard to do that at the end of a work day.

The NYRR RETRO 4 MILER

Summer Racing: The Retro 4 Miler (July 2018)

I’ve been easing back into marathon training as I’m beginning to gear up for marathon #2 – NYC in November 2018. Instead of running long distance only, I’ve decided to throw in some short distance races. There are 2 main reasons for this 1) It’s nice to switch things up and focus on speed from time to time and 2) I’m trying to do the 2019 NYC Marathon through NYRR’s 9 + 1 program for 2019. Essentially you must run 9 of their races and volunteer at 1 race in 2018 to qualify for admission into the 2019 NYC Marathon.

The NYRR RETRO 4 MILER was one of my first short distance runs. The only other short race I’ve run was a 5k in 2016 (Color Run). However, I’ll continue to throw in smaller races in addition to longer training ones this year.

I really liked running the 4-mile distance. We did a small loop in Central Park, it didn’t take the whole day, and I wasn’t really sore after. Surprisingly, it was still challenging in its own right. Since it’s the summer, it was obviously hot, humid and sticky. I didn’t realize how humid until I started running. I really should’ve hydrated more beforehand. I also ran a little under the weather, which probably contributed to me not feeling 100 percent while running.

Even with those challenges, I locked in and knew that the race would be brief. My only goal was to run sub 8-minute miles. I accomplished that and then some! My average pace was 7:27, which is the best PR I’ve ever had!

NYRR does a great job making their events fun and festive! Everyone was decked out in retro running gear. There was even a band playing old time songs at the finish line, and an old, retro VW which doubled as a photo booth inside the VW (such a great idea – I should have done that for my wedding!).

All in all, it was a great event. It was nice to be done by 8:35am. We started our Saturday early and were left in Central Park to leisurely stroll through the best park in the world!

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Round 3

To Run or Not to Run (April 2018)

The hard part about races is that you must sign up months in advance for marquee races. Otherwise, you won’t be able to participate. I signed up for the Cherry Blossom race in November. The race wasn’t until April. In November, I wasn’t injured. In April, I was.

My IT Band still wasn’t healed and I was having trouble deciding whether to run at all. I had bought better, more supportive running shoes. I also had knee braces. I also was doing different stretches to help it improve. However, with all of that, it still wasn’t great.

In hindsight, it would have made more sense not to run. However, since I already signed up and paid, I decided to run. This also was going to be my 3rd year in a row running this race and I desperately wanted to race it.

I really pushed myself and ran in some pain. I still ran faster than my first two DC Cherry Blossom races, which was proof of how far I’ve come. However, it wasn’t a fun experience at all. I didn’t walk and really pushed myself.

After the race, I was done. I would have liked to enjoy more of the festivities, but I opted to hail a cab, head back to the hotel, shower, eat and catch the bus back home.

I grinded this one out, for better or for worse.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Round 2

Back For More: CUCB April 2017

After expecting to never run 10 miles again, the fall of 2016 slowly rolled around. Questions within the family started to surface of whether we were going to run again. This time, my sister was out because she was pregnant. But her husband desperately wanted to take a crack at the 10 miles after experiencing severe FOMO the first time around. So naturally, we accepted. Me, my wife, my brother-in-law and his brother all decided to train for this race.

However, this time, I promised myself to do the training right and commit. I started my training 3 months ahead of the race. 1-2 weeks before the race I ran a full 10 miles (without stopping) in Central Park. This was a huge step as I put in the work and lost a lot of weight in the meantime. It was still difficult to run the 10 miles, but I was hungry for a change in my life and I had a lot of incentives:

1.) I was in a tough transformation challenge with a college friend
2.) I did not want to experience the severe pain of 2016’s 10 Mile Race
3.) I wanted to get in shape for myself
4.) I wanted to beat my brother-in-law and his brother. We are all highly competitive (especially me) and I didn’t want to lose.

All four of these points drove me to train hard (still not perfect). I ran this race under 200 lbs with way more miles under my belt. At this point, I was still not an experienced runner and had a lot of work to do, but I was in way better shape than the previous year.

Same course. Same person, but a different body running it in 2017.

I promised myself I would not be beat by my brother-in-law. Our wave started and I practically sprinted ahead. I never looked back and ran the whole thing without stopping. I beat him and his brother. I also beat my wife. I crushed my time from the previous year. This year, I was proud of myself. I trained way better, performed at a higher level and I beat everyone on my team (which was the plan).

The pain after the run was not nearly as bad. However, I was still pretty stiff/sore and got a headache. Although I trained better, this was still not a cake walk. Because I didn’t want to be beat, I ran much faster than what I had trained for – contributing to my soreness. I was still a novice running and I was still making mistakes (not training adequately, running faster than my training, dehydration, etc.). My training was steadily and slowly going in the right direction. I was on the right trajectory, but the journey was slow.

I received my medal and was happy with my overall progression. I got my race photos. I was proud this year.