Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rook Run 5K (Long Branch, NJ)

First off, HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I am so thankful for all of you for checking out my little slice of the interwebs and for all of your love and support these last five years!

Has it really been two months since I last blogged? Has it really been two months since the epicness of #Keyport2Rook went down? Guess that's what happens when you get a promotion at work and a sinus infection. Oh well. 

Anyway, if you haven't already read my KeyportFest 5K recap or just want a refresher, go and check it out. I'll wait for you. ;-)

Are we good now? Good. =) 

Here's how part 2 of #Keyport2Rook went down.

After leaving Keyport, I hopped on the Parkway and went down to Long Branch to check in for the Rook Run. I wanted to check in early, since race day check-in always takes FOREVER, and with a race of 2500+ people registered, any time I could spare before race day would be a plus.

Check-in was at the Rook Coffee roastery in Long Branch, and was really fast. All you had to do was show your bib if you got it in the mail, which I did since I registered in April, for your swag bag. They also sent out a ticket which you had to turn in for your shirt. I was in and out in about 15 minutes. Win!

 Checking in at Rook HQ!

The rest of Saturday was spent refueling and recovering to get ready for Sunday's race. I already had the experience of a double race day, so doing two in two days was easy peasy. I did lay out my flat runner on Saturday night, and it was almost exactly the same as last year's Rook Run, except that I was in neon green instead of orange. 

This race had a late start (10:00 a.m.), so I got to sleep in until about 8:30. I wasn't nervous at all for this race, since I got the PR the day before in Keyport. The goal was just to have fun and finish. Not going to lie, the thought of PR'ing again had crossed my mind, but it would be a wait and see.

Unlike Saturday, Sunday was sunny and warm. It was cool at first, but warmed up really quickly. Total opposite of Saturday. I wasn't sure of how the wind would be, but was ready for just about anything.

Except for the crowding. I knew this was a race of 2500+, but it was just a fight to get to anywhere in the start area. I knew that this race had a start mat, so my time wouldn't officially start until I hit the mat, but it was just a struggle making my way around that area. I wound up in the middle of the pack. MISTAKE! I did spot my friend Regina though, we wished each other luck, and that was all we saw of each other that day.

There was a countdown to the start on the race clock, but other than that, there was no fanfare. Just lots of people. 

Soon enough, we were off! Time to close out #Keyport2Rook!

The course was totally different from last year's Rook Run, since the boardwalk in Long Branch was completed. It was almost the exact same course as the New Jersey Marathon 5K I ran back in April. A very narrow out-and-back. So no matter where you were on the course, unless you were in the super front of the pack, there were people all around you. 

I was attempting a PR again, but as a result of all the crowding, it wasn't going to happen. My first mile was at 11:18, and at that point, I knew I needed to go back to my original goal of finishing with a smile and having a blast.

After I let go of the PR attempt, I just soaked up all the energy of what made the Rook Run so awesome. Plus the ocean views didn't hurt either. ;-)

In a crowd of 2500 or so, "thinning out" is not a thing either. In smaller races, I can usually bank on faster runners breaking away early, and get into my groove. Not so much in this race. I positive split and big at that. My second mile was at 11:59, partially as a result of the crowds, partially because I was starting to feel the effects of running a second race in just over 24 hours. I probably should have done some type of mini-streak before this weekend. Live and learn, I guess.

I kept weaving in and out of crowds, and had a third mile of 12:15. I gave it whatever I had left and crossed the finish with a clock time of 38:10. The Garmin had me at 36:30 for 3.12 miles. Just under 2:00 off Saturday's PR, but still under 12:00/mile pace. Not too shabby for my second race of the weekend with huge crowds at that!

After I crossed the finish, I got some water and checked out the sponsor tents. They gave away quite a bit off stuff, and had some cool demos as well.

Oh, and I got a selfie with Rook co-owner Holly Migliaccio! We chatted very briefly, but it was so cool to see her. She is the nicest person ever, and I thank her very much for making Rook Coffee happen. ;-) 

I did get my official chip time before I left, and I came in at 36:25, which had me at a pace of about 11:40. I was very happy with that. #Keyport2Rook ROCKED!

Before I went home, I HAD to go to a Rook Coffee shop and get a big coffee, because after the Rook Run, how else are you supposed to do it? ;-)

If it's one thing I took away from the Rook Run, it's that running is not always about the time on the clock, but always about the time on the course. If you're not enjoying it, then even a PR isn't worth it. I made the most of my time on both courses that weekend, and that was what made it so awesome. I got the PR I was chasing, and once again, proved to myself that I am stronger than I think I am. I would gladly do another multi-race weekend again, but would streak a bit before doing it, and not attempt a PR in both races. Just try to make it the best I can that weekend.

Have you done a multi-race weekend? #Keyport2Rook was my second (both this year and ever)!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

KeyportFest 5K (Keyport, NJ)

It's been two weeks since #Keyport2Rook ended and I have been so busy with work that I never had time to recap what was a crazy race that had an awesome ending!

The KeyportFest 5K on September 24 was the first leg of the #Keyport2Rook adventure. 

There were mixed weather forecasts throughout the week and guess what Saturday brought?

Rain. And cold.

As you probably guessed, I was NOT prepared for either when I planned out my race outfit. Oh well. I didn't need to stay warm for too long, right?

I left my house around 7:30 that morning. Right after I stepped off my porch, I felt rain, so I went back in the house and grabbed a poncho. I knew that I didn't need to worry about staying warm so much as staying dry. If I let myself get too wet, then I would never warm up at all. 

After a 20ish minute drive, I got into Keyport, and was able to park only a short walk from the race area. I stayed in my car and in my Yankees pullover for as long as I could, because once I left the car, I would be down to the tank and poncho. This was not getting off to a great start at all. Still, I had the PR mentality running through my mind, hoping that the cool weather would work to my advantage.

The upside to this race was that it is a small one. There were only about 250 registered participants, so crowding would not be an issue as much as it would be the next day at the Rook Run. I also heard that the course was flat and the finish was along the water. Uh, we'll get to that in a bit...

Soon enough, it was time to head up to the start area on West Front Street. Since this was one of the main roads in town, it's kind of weird to see it shut down like that. Anyway, there was no start line or timing mat of any kind, so it would be "Clock time is my time" deal. I wasn't sure how this would go, but I was ready.

I was going to attempt to run in the poncho, since it was still raining a little bit when the race started. Worst case, I would take it off if it dried up or I just couldn't tolerate it anymore.

Well, here goes nothing!

After some last minute instructions and the national anthem, the air horn sounded and we were off!

The course is a 3.1 mile loop that started on West Front, and went up a bridge a little bit later. So much for totally flat. Still, I started strong and hit my first mile at 10:33! I knew that I would end up slowing down (of course), but this was the start I needed to boost my confidence and push for the PR!

I wasn't taking too many pictures as this was a PR attempt, so I knew I needed to focus on the running versus the picture taking. Still, I knew I had to snap a pic of the cemetery we went past. Hey, you can't say you run past too many of those, right? I hope?

As for the poncho? I made it just past the first mile with it. It was starting to stick, and I was literally ripping it off me. At that point, the rain was starting to break, and I knew I would be fine for the rest of the race. 

The halfway mark is on a section of the Henry Hudson Trail that lasts for about a half mile. The pavement was rough at that. I ended up pulling back because I knew I needed to stay smart too, since I had another race the next morning. 

Pulling back on the trail, along with another bridge, resulted in 11:49 for the second mile. Still on PR pace, but I knew I needed to negative split miles two and three, which I've only done once in a race (last year's Rook Run, which was a PR). 

Sure enough, I gave it everything I had, and my third mile was 11:35. I knew it would be cutting it close for the PR, so I sprinted all the way to the finish. I saw the clock at 34:15 or so, so I just BOLTED, and crossed the finish knowing I had the PR! I cut it super close (with my last glance of the clock saying 34:26), and had to wait for official results, but I knew I had it! I was feeling all the emotions, and all the My Garmin had me at 34:39 for 3.08, so I would just wait for the official results and see what happened. No matter what, this would be my fastest race of the year, and I gave it all I had, so I was happy with that.

There was an awesome surprise at the finish: medallions! There was no mention of them on the event page, just the shirts, so that made it even more awesome. I love when a 5K gives medals. Just another way to make the racers feel like cool kids...haha. ;-)

At the finish area, I met up with some of the Old Bridge Road Runners (one of the local running clubs I'm part of on Facebook). One of the best things about the running community is that no matter how fast or slow you are, we all celebrate just doing it! This group made me feel that, even if they cleaned house with the awards. =)

After a few minutes, I got to see my official time. I came in at 34:31 (11:07/mile)! It was only by TWO FREAKIN' SECONDS, but I got the PR! I was feeling everything at that point. I went into this race with the goal of the PR, and it was close, but I got it! Leg one of #Keyport2Rook was in the books with the ending I wanted! 

I hung out for the awards and raffles, which I got nothing in either, then headed to Dunkin' Donuts with some of the OBRR people for a much needed coffee. I went with hot since I wanted to get warm. I got a pic of my coffee and my medallion, which I shared on Monday for Medal Monday.

Eventually, we all parted, since some of them were running the Bronx Ten-Miler on Sunday while I had the second leg of #Keyport2Rook the next day: The Rook Run!

Before I left, I got a picture by the water with my medallion. It clearly shows that I was feeling all the emotion at that point.


The KeyportFest 5K is definitely a small town, no-frills race. The shirt was basic, the crowd is small, and the post-race is nothing fancy (just some light refreshments on folding tables by the water). Still for $20, with a finisher medallion, it was a nice race! I would love to come back, and just might if I am looking to PR again next fall. Just hope that the weather is a tad bit better!