If you read my blog, you may know that I LOVE races in NYC especially running ones in Central Park. (Even though, they are HILLY!)
The Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off race takes place just one week before the New York City Marathon and covers 5 miles of the roads of Central Park and ends at the Marathon finish line, with Poland Spring brand water available on the course and in the post-finish area.
I was scheduled to meet friends for lunch on Sunday, October 28 (the same day as this race) and then go to a Broadway show afterwards (an annual thing) with my tennis friends.
So it was a no brainer to sign up for this race. Plus, another Skirt Sport Ambassador, Elizabeth, was planning to run this race, as well.
Luckily I signed up early because the race sold out pretty quickly.
Thank to numerous trips to NYC for work, I had enough points for a free hotel room.
I knew that the race would be a hilly one (see map below) but I did run an 8K there in August of 2017 so I thought that although this race was 5 miles not 8K (4.97), the course would be similar in difficulty.
Unfortunately, I had had a pretty off running week. I had a head cold. Plus I was exhausted from my trip to France and then to MA for a bridal shower. I had planned to run 5 miles with friends before I left for NYC on Saturday morning (the day before the race) but that run got rained out. So I guess with Wed, Friday and Saturday as rest days, I should have been pretty well rested for the Sunday race.
So I took the bus to NYC on Saturday. After I checked into my hotel, I headed off to pick up my race packet by subway. I would have walked but it was pouring and windy.
The miserable weather saved my legs because normally I would have walked around the city but instead I went to a movie. (A Star is Born. Go see it!!!)
When I got back to the hotel, I tried to plan out my race outfit for the next day.
This is always difficult for me at this time of year. Capris or skirt? Short sleeves or long sleeves?
After a sleepless night, I got up the next morning around 6:00 am and had my usual oatmeal and coffee pre-race breakfast.
It was in the 40s with a possibility of sun and so I compromised on my outfit – capris, short sleeves (with arm warmers), gloves and I would leave my wind breaker in bag check. What I forgot this time was a throw away shirt or heat blanket- DARN!!
I decided to save my legs and grabbed a subway to Columbus Circle and followed runners into the park.
I knew they were all headed to the same place.
I got there very early. There were many runners just running. Probably warming up for the race or doing their last long run before the marathon the next weekend.
There would be more than 5000 runners in today’s race and the air was buzzing with excitement (most likely for next week’s NYCM).
Finally I approached the race start. I wasn’t ready to check my jacket. I was pretty cold!!
So I headed to the Race Pavilion to stay warm.
There was water and coffee – all sponsored by Poland Springs (of course).
Eventually I had to give up my jacket and head toward the corrals.
I really regretted at this point not dressing warmer and was definitely missing my throw away. I.Was.Cold!!
I walked around to stay warm and headed toward my corral and then toward Elizabeth (fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador)’s corral.
Believe it or not, I bumped right into Elizabeth.
We chatted a bit but I had to head back up to my corral. We planned to meet up after.
And so I waited and shivered until it was time for my corral to get to the start line. It was probably only 5 or 6 minutes but felt like forever. Brrrrr!
So what was my plan for this 5 mile race?
I had run a 20 km race two weeks prior and spent most of this week battling a cold. Definitely not feeling my best today…the cold windy temps certainly did not help.
No plan. Finish strong. Not get injured. Walk up the hills. Have fun! (Spoiler alert – I ran the whole thing and enjoyed it immensely.)
So I’m back to recaps in miles not kms:
Mile 1: We started on Central Park’s West Drive near 67th Street and then headed south around the southern loop of the park. I made sure that I didn’t start out too fast and die. Since it was very crowded at the beginning (and the whole race), this was not a problem. I also made sure to run all the tangents as we looped around the park. I often have run this loop when I enter the park at Columbus Circle with Wollman Rink on the right and then Sheep Meadow on our left. Believe it not, I actually warmed up quickly. By the end of mile 1, I had already rolled down my arm warmers. There was a water stop at the end of mile 1 (and every mile) but I was not thirsty at all and didn’t stop. There was also timers at each mile. Since I wasn’t sure exactly when I started, it was not very helpful (but I am sure some runners appreciated them.)
Mile 2: We then beared left and ran north on East Drive, climbing Cat Hill (about 600 meters) between 72nd and 78th streets. Although, this was a big hill, it didn’t seem as intimidating as when I ran it as part of the Shape Half Marathon. Even running slowly, I was passing runners all the time. Maybe because I started in corral I and was running with slower runners. But it felt good. We continued on East Drive, running along the Great Lawn (on the left) behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art (on the right). Again, I ignored the water stop and kept trudging alone. The sun peaked out and I was sweating now. I took off my gloves and just held them (and used them as a tissue for my runny nose.)
Mile 3: We continued north on East Drive on a straight, flat section along the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (on the left), then a welcome downhill to a left turn onto the 102nd Street Cross Drive. Then we continued downhill to West Drive. Hooray for downhills but this one was not as steep as I would have liked or as long. I continued to ignore the timers and the water stops at the end of each mile.
Mile 4: We turned left again on West Drive and ran a series of three rolling hills between the Cross Drive and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (one of my favorite places in the park to run.) The uphills were long and I barely noticed any downhills. Just seemed to be one hill after another. Though I never train on hills, I was determined since I my legs felt great, to just run up each hill. And I did.
Mile 5: We enjoyed a slight downhill, and then a flat section of the course, before finishing on West Drive at 69th street.
I gave it all I had (which wasn’t much at this point) as I approached the finish line.
But I finished happy!!
and so did they:
I really didn’t care about my time. I knew that I ran a lot slower than any other 5 mile race that I had done. My watch beeped way before the finish line indicating to me that the course was long (even with taking every tangent possible.)
I felt like I had run easy the whole time. I was not tired at all. And I was so pleased to NOT have walked At ALL! This is a rarity for me. I even walk during 5ks.
I was immediately handed a bottle of water and then picked up a bagel and an apple.
I headed directly to bag check to get my jacket. I was sweaty and very chilled. There was a line to get a Poland Spring water bottle (that I didn’t need.)
and another to take a photo of the 9+1 qualification for the 2019 NYC Marathon.
I was cold and decided to head back to my hotel. I called Elizabeth and we agreed to meet up again the next time I’m in NYC. The sun went in and the wind picked up. I had a blustery 30 plus blocks to walk and a long hot shower in my future before meeting up with college friends for lunch and tennis friends for a Broadway show.
So it was fun-filled day. I highly recommend the Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off race. It was well-organized as all NYRR races are. I will do it again if I have the chance.
Mile 1 – 9:32
Mile 2 – 9:29
Mile 3 – 8:46
Mile 4 – 9:28
Mile 5 – 9:13
.1 – 7:49
Garmin Time: 46:59
So not a PR. My 5 mile PR is 45:09 (from April 2018) but I did barely beat my 8K time on a similar yet slightly shorter course (47:02).
and I did win an award!!
It’s Tuesday so don’t forget to link up with these wonderful ladies:
Happy Running! What is your favorite city to race in? What is your favorite NYC race? Do ever run 5 mile races? What is your favorite distance?