First 5k

Not my first 5k, my daughter’s.

This past Saturday was the Rutgers Big Chill 5k. The entry fee to this event is a new toy for ages 3 to 14 so each year thousands of toys are donated and distributed. I’ve written about this event before because it’s a fun event. This year it wasn’t particularly chilly though.


A wall of gifts


Party before the start

Last year I raced this event, but it’s not set up well for racing. They set up a front area and only people with certain, different colored, bibs are allowed up there, and I never seem to get one even when I’ve indicated how fast I’d be running (and talking to people with those bibs in the past, it never seemed to be about speed anyway, and they even had no idea why they had one).

Now my daughter is 7 I decided I wanted to do it with her. It seemed like an ideal race for her first one because the entry fee was for a great cause, and with that many people it didn’t particularly matter how fast we went and I knew there’d be a lot of walk breaks because the furthest she had run before was 1 mile (we did have to weave around a lot with that many people, including walkers who had, for some reason, decided to start further forward).

The day didn’t quite start as planned. I had intended to use the trail-a-bike to ride together to the start (about a mile and a half) but didn’t realize the new rack I had put on my bike was blocking me from attaching it. So, she agreed to ride her own bike to the start (duathlon!).

We successfully met up with her friend at the start (despite not arranging it, and there being over 8000 people) and once it started we moved slowly towards the start line. I started my watch as we crossed the line so I could record the time.

The start


They both did well, keeping it going for the first mile without walking. We had long breaks at the two water stops, where it seemed they were never going to stop drinking, which was probably the only time they stopped talking along the way too. They got lots of support along the way, with a few people saying how amazing they were. After the 2 mile mark, somehow talk turned to getting money if they could keep running (I’m really not sure exactly how that came up, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised) and somehow before I knew it, I was promising 50 cents to get to the water stop without walking, and another 50 cents from there to the finish. They pretty much did it (there was a very minimal amount of walking) but they didn’t get any money from me… yet.

As we neared the end, there were lots of people cheering everyone on, and they definitely got a boost from that. The time on the clock as they crossed the finish line was around 44:45, and of course I forgot to stop my watch for a little while, but it took us about 2 minutes to cross the start line (when I finally stopped my watch, which wasn’t too long after) it said 42:53.

Strava apparently calculated a moving time of 39:43, I told you we stopped for a long while for water:


They got their food, we cycled back home, and then she went off to run around some more at her friend’s house.


When you think you have nothing left.

Last week started with something I haven’t done all year (at least I’m pretty sure I haven’t) – I ran four days in a row. I have to admit that this was, in part, because I really want to set up a new course for the Highland Park Run in the Park 5k so that it starts in the same general area as the finish (I think I worked out how to do it in case you’re interested, now I just have to convince Main Street of the benefits, and get it certified).

I did not run on Wednesday, partly because it was snowing, but also it would have meant running the night before the Ashenfelter 8k Classic – this was the last USATF NJ Men’s Team Championship race of the year, but given my recent record I wasn’t expecting too much. I would have been happy with matching my time from the previous year (which was pretty much the same as the year before).

There were still flakes of snow in the air during the morning, but it wasn’t too cold so I ditched the long sleeves before the start (kept the hat and gloves though). The start was a bit of a mess – just started running when a bottleneck point caused everyone to pile into each other – but I was cruising along after that. I thought (knew?) I was going too fast, and fully expected to crash and burn at some point, but somehow I kept it going. The splits were pretty consistent (just look at the last 3 lap paces – all 6:31/mile – the final part was slightly less than 1 mile because 8k is just under 5 miles)


I honestly felt that I had nothing left to give at the end, but someone came bearing down on me and passed me extremely close to the finish and I had to react and pushed a short sprint to pass them again before the line – if they had gone ahead any earlier, they would have beaten me but I just squeezed out that last bit of speed, and to be honest I have no idea where it came from. I thought I was done, but having that challenge just gave me that boost to sprint to the line. It has certainly made me question what I may be capable of in those closing moments of a race.

As for how I did… the first 5k was similar to my most recent 5k race times, and I kept the pace going, finishing over a minute faster than my previous times (clock time was 32:33 and Compuscore have messed up my chip time because it says it’s exactly the same as clock time – my watch was 32:30, but I know I started it before I got to the line).

(I think this is a great pic of me at the start line, from Race the State NJ):