This is the only race that I’ve run every year! This was my 14th time!!!!! (In 2020, it went virtual so actually my 13th in-person FRW race.)
It is always held the Saturday after Memorial Day but due to COVID, the race was moved to the Fall.
My first FRW was in 2008 (my first year of running). At the time, it was the farthest I’d ever run:
Due to construction, they changed the course six years ago.
They say that this course is faster…less congested and has a less steep hill at the start and finish.
I did run the new course the past six years and I liked it better than the original..
Pre-Race Preparations and Activities:
As with this race every year, I never know what will happen… I could break my foot again (as I did in 2013) or could have a course PR as I did in 2018.
And this was also my sixth Freihofer Training Challenge.
Training is a loose term. I kinda just showed up on most Monday runs. But each Monday seemed to follow either a half marathon or a long run. As a result, although I registered for the Advanced group, I never participated in any of their speed drills. Instead I ran with the Intermediate group (since there was no Advanced group at the location I signed up for.)
But I was excited to be part of it and support all the runners who would be finishing their FIRST 5k. And see my “current and past FTC” buddies who would hopefully PR.
In past years, the day before I walked to Empire State Plaza concourse at lunch to go to the expo and pick up my race packet. They used to have a really big expo with vendors and health-related exhibits. But the past few years, they have held it at a local college. I was able to stop by after work and some things I needed or didn’t (like another pair of Goodrs!)
Due to COVID, the expo was cancelled and there was only packet pick-up at the same location.
I ran nearby on Thursday after work so I got my stuff at that time.
On Friday evening I volunteered at packet pick-up and then skipped playing mah jongg in favor of a pizza dinner and time to organize my #flatme.
I hate parking garages and traffic so I parked at a yoga place and walked to the start. I used to do this every year. However, with the new course, it was an even longer hike. Like almost 2 miles!
It was still strange to run down Madison Avenue and not see the race banners and not see the giant poster on the bridge.
The start was near a park across from the Capitol Building. I ran most of the way on the foggy paths. Though the temps were pretty cool, it still seemed humid.
Soon the start line as in sight.
I ran past it and entered the City Hall park..
in search of the Training Challenge tent.
I was quite early so I continued to run around until more runners arrived.
I chatted with many of my running friends and took quite a few pics.
Catching up with everyone made the time go by quickly and soon it was time to line up for our Training Challenge photo.
The fog had burned off along with the humidity… but the sun did come out. I’m not complaining. This was the best weather we’ve ever had for this race.
I was scheduled to start in corral 2 so I headed that way and bumped into a few friends there.
They were all faster than me but said that this would be a slow race for them. Ha Ha.
It is usually very crowded during the first mile but this year were fewer runners than in previous year (about 1000 vs 3500).
I actually made sure this time to start my Garmin.
The race began with a long steep uphill. It’s a good thing since it kept you at a slower pace.
Remember those runner friends who said this would be as slow one for them today. Nope. They easily surged ahead and I never caught up to them.
But I did run the whole uphill… it was slow but I did not have to walk.
Mile 1 continued as we turned left and entered the park (and the hill ended).
There were rolling hills throughout the park. They were not bad and even I could run them without walking.
The worst part were all the potholes and cracks in the roads…the worst that it’s ever been. There were cones over the potholes but you had to weaving back n forth to avoid them and you had to keep your eyes pealed to ground to make sure you didn’t trip.
There was a water stop around mile 1.25. Yes with cups, too. But I didn’t feel the need to stop.
More rolling hills during this mile as you ran around the park circling the lake. Only one of the hills was steep but it was very short.
I tried to pick up the pace for the second mile. I told myself that I would not walk until the next water stop.
That was around mile 2.5. At this point, I was starting to get thirsty so I did stop and get a drink. It was nice for a change not to have to carry your own water.
Finally we left the park and headed toward the street we started on.
It was a long downhill and I had to remember not to start sprinting too soon. I’ve made that mistake in past years.
Eventually I see the 3 mile sign and I started to run as fast as I could while posing for the photographers and running though the finish line.
I did see that the timing clock read 28:XX…. No course PR for this girl today!
Post Race Activities:
I knew with a walk and zero speed work, I couldn’t come close to a PR (and I was not expecting one). It was a decent time (even if it was slower than my last 5k and my last two Freihofer 5ks) and I was happy!!
I grabbed some food and some chocolate milk. There was much less congestion than in past years.
Then I went back to the finish line to cheer in some friends.
I ran into even more runners again that I knew. Every where I turned, there was someone familiar – from a job, tennis, races, etc. That’s what’s great about running a popular local race.
The first time runners were so excited. That put a smile on my face. I remembered why I love this race and it was never because of my awesome finish times.
I hung around for awhile and then we all went to cheer on the last runners to finish… It was two older ladies who flew in from Ireland!!
I knew that I needed to get going because I wanted to run more miles. On my way out, I caught some of the awards ceremony. Such amazing finish times. There was a runner, aged 58, who finished in 18 minutes!
Additional Race Reflections:
Many runners were excited about their PRs. I may not have run my fastest time but I still enjoyed myself.
You get what you put in. I did not do all the speed workouts so I can’t be disappointed. I also recently ran a half marathon (and am training for one next weekend) and I am no spring chicken. My time may not have been as fast as 2018 (a course PR of 27:37) but faster than many of my 5ks this year.
So I was very pleased with that.
- Safety restrictions in place (outdoors, staggered starts).
- Ample parking.
- Well marked course.
- Lots of familiar faces.
- Interesting course (through a beautiful park).
- Downhill finish.
- Friendly and abundant number of volunteers.
- Chocolate Milk.
- Decent post-race refreshments.
- Two real water stops (with cups).
- The electric atmosphere.
- Virtual option.
- Free finish and start photos
- Nice Swag for a 5k (mask, t-shirt, medal, cookies, bread)
- All women – all ages, all paces…
- A real race.
- Uphill first mile.
- Fewer runners.
- Uneven pavement in the park.
- No expo.
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. It’s a great local race. And having it be ALL WOMEN makes it even more special.
Negative splits!!!! Woo Hoo!
There was computer set up so you could check your time and to see if you won an age group award.
And 5th again…
Eventually I ran/walked back to my car. (It was uphill for about 2 miles).
I have a Half Marathon in a ONE week so I wanted to run another few miles. So I went back and ran around the park. This time I had more time to admire the fall flower arrangements.
So FRW #13 is in the books!
The tradition is still alive! It was again a great local race with many women running it. Can’t wait to run it again next year on the REAL date (and without any restrictions.)
Half marathon #52.
It is a race-cation in NH and will also be half marathon #4 for 2021:
The course is not supposed to be hilly and mostly along the ocean. My group of running friends will be either running the race or cheering. Can’t wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!