Newport 10K Race Recap

This past Saturday, I ran the Newport 10K┬áin Jersey City. Even though this race is in our backyard, it’s the first time I have run it. Right now, I’m not actively training for anything specific except to maintain base mileage before the start of fall marathon training so I am enjoying these weeks to run whatever mileage I feel like. The Newport 10K starts in Newport Town Square which is about 2.5 miles from our apartment. I used this as a warm-up run as I find that lately I struggle in the first couple of miles before finding my groove. As a side note, I never thought I would one of those people who runs extra miles before a race. I used to look at those runners and think woah, they ‘re committed (and nuts!). Ha, now I’m one of those people – not sure about committed though but definitely nuts.

There was no pre-race bib pickup so I knew I needed to leave enough time in the morning. The race website and emails did advise against bringing a bag to the start area but since I knew I would want to take an Uber back and it was cooler when I left the house, I ran with my running backpack (by the way, I have the Deuter Speedlite 15 and I love it!) to make sure I had a clean shirt and bottle of water with Nuun for after the race. All of the information about the race said that bags would need to be left in an off site location but it didn’t mention that you could not get into the area where bib and t-shirt pickup is with a bag. That whole area was completely fenced off with police and I was directed to bag check first to drop off my bag before I was allowed in the area to pick up my bib. This is counterintuitive as I didn’t have a number to pin to my bag and the volunteers at the bag check tent needed to write my name on a sticker that was then pinned to my bag. Since I didn’t have my bag anymore, I didn’t pick up my t-shirt in advance of the start. I quickly grabbed my bib and then made my way to the start with a couple of minutes to spare.

There were signs to line up based on pace. I wasn’t sure what to expect with pacing so I just lined up with the 9:00 min/mile area which was likely conservative but I also didn’t want to push my way up further. The first mile or so was extremely crowded and I spent a bit of time dodging and weaving through the crowds. I’m familiar with Jersey City but it was still nice to run through the different neighborhoods, some of which I haven’t explored before. The weather was really humid and parts of the course were extremely windy. There were also potholes along most of the route. You’re not really supposed to run looking down but I did for a good part of it to avoid the potholes and puddles. I was extremely worried about turning my ankle or tripping which I’m known to do! The last mile of the race was along the gorgeous Hudson River waterfront. I don’t know my official splits and my watch was slightly off due to the weaving and it looks like some of the buildings affected GPS signal in the last mile (my watch recorded a 6:30 last mile which is definitely wrong), however, I think I ran a fairly consistent race of roughly 8:30-8:50 minute miles. It definitely helped that I warmed up in advance. My official chip time is 55:02; 8:51 min/mile. Towards the end I thought I may have been close to a PR (which would have been awesome given the lack of speed work in the last 1.5 years), but it turns out I’m about two minutes off – hey, not terrible though!

After the grabbing a cup of water at the finish, I wanted to pick up my bag first before getting my shirt since it was in the direction of home. However, the police made it clear that I couldn’t go back in to get my shirt if I had my bag so I opted to not get it. It was annoying that to exit the area after picking up my bag, I had to cut through the course. While it wasn’t a huge deal to do that I’m always afraid of getting in the way of runners especially so near the finish line.

And my last rant about this race was that while the race was timed in both clock and chip times, ranking was done based on clock time. I’m used to races that pick either clock or chip time and by default ranking would be done off of that. If chip time is available and there is over 1,500 runners, I would think ranking on chip time would make sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the runner who is gunning for prize money but I am gunning for self-motivation and accomplishment. It appears that based off of clock time, my placing is lower than that of chip time and hey, every place matters even when you’re the average runner!

Overall, I’m glad I ran this race but will it do it again next year? Not sure… hopefully some of the logistical challenges of bag check and timing gets worked out.

The Outstanding Half Marathon Race Recap

We’ve been back from California for about a week and I’m still feeling a little loopy. In the last month, we’ve been on 4 flights (actually doesn’t seem like a lot now that I type it out), but it sure feels like it wrecked havoc on our routine or whatever one I can have with a 9 month old.

We decided the last minute to (re)book the trip to Southern California for the sun and warmth. We were able to get fairly inexpensive flights and found an Airbnb (our first time) in a great location. I had decided to not sign up for another marathon and when I learned about A Better World Running and The Outstanding Half Marathon in Santa Monica, it seemed like a lot of fun. A low-key, really casual race along Santa Monica State Beach – perfect!

The race was the day after we arrived and between tired legs and jet lag, I had serious thoughts about downgrading to the 10K or 15K but am glad I stuck with the half. The start and finish line at Crescent Bay Park was an easy Uber ride from where we were staying (though if I had planned my morning better, I could have easily run the mile there). The race is measured in clock time so in type-A fashion, I was super anxious about making sure I got there in time. Bib pick up was easy and there was also in-person registration available that day. A race that doesn’t sell out months in advance, wow, very different from the NYRR experience at home. I pinned on my bib, dropped my bag off behind the registration table, and stretched out a little all and then we were off. The course goes along the different beach paths on Santa Monica State Beach. There is chalk marking the turns for the 5K, 10K, 15K, and half. The half marathon goes a little over 2 miles north and then turns back around. You run the out and back loop 3 times. I’m not generally a fan of out and backs but this one wasn’t so bad. I enjoyed the flat course, knowing about how much distance I had left before turning around, and seeing others on the course at various points in their race. All of the runners and organizers were super nice. The runners cheered each other on during the course (a benefit of an out and back), which is also very different from what I am used to with the crowded NYC runs.

The water and fuel station was at the start and finish line, so it was only available 2 times for the half. I hadn’t really thought too much about whether this would be an issue for my hydration and as I watched others on the course with their own water bottles, I probably should have carried one as well. The temperatures were in the low 60s at the start but by the time I finished it was well into the 70s. Parts of the course were shaded and there was a nice breeze from the Pacific Ocean but it was still hot (especially in comparison to home) and I was a sweaty mess.

While this race was not a PR (and I wasn’t aiming for one nor am I in shape enough), I ran a very well executed race. The first mile was 9:59 and the 13th mile was the fastest at 9:10. I gradually ran around 10 seconds faster for the first 6 miles and from mile 7 on, ran at a very consistent pace ranging from 9:22 to 9:10. While I was feeling tired and my legs started to cramp a little towards the end, I knew Josh and Charlotte were waiting for me at the finish (thank you Forerunner 35 for the text notifications) so I was motivated to run faster. This was Charlotte’s first time spectating one of my races so it was extra special to see her at the finish. I even ran over to hug her right before the finish — I think she was confused who the sweaty weirdo was wearing a hat and sunglasses. My finish time was 2:04, a little less than a minute slower than my Central Park Half time in February. I have some work to do, if I want to get back to the fitness level I was at pre-baby but I am in no rush and just happy to be able to run these distances.

Overall I had a great time running The Outstanding Half Marathon and really enjoyed my first casual race environment. It’s also of course hard to not enjoy running along the beach and watching the sun rise along the Pacific Ocean. If I lived in the area, I would probably be running one of A Better World Running’s races every weekend! There’s something to be said about the weather and simplicity of a low-key race culture.

And oh, we had a great time eating our way through Santa Monica afterwards. There were a lot of walks along 3rd Street Promenade, Tongva Park, the beach and Santa Monica Pier. With a baby, our vacation was much more low-key but it was exactly what we were looking for.