My First Pandemic 5k and my first trip to NYC since January.
As I mentioned to friends, I was more excited about leaving my home and going to NYC than racing. But this race was a good excuse as well as being able to see the city during the holidays.
All week long, they had forecast rain for both Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t want to go if it was raining (since I planned to be outside most of the time.) Then they changed the forecast to only rain on Saturday. Eventually, it was only going to rain on Saturday morning. So I kept my hotel reservations and made train reservation to arrive in the late afternoon.
I took the train and with all the restrictions in place, I felt pretty safe (with my mask on and empty seats around me.) When I arrived, I walked to my hotel (for which I had a free room due to points) and left off my luggage.
Even though it was the day before a race, I still planned a lot of walking (as I wanted to avoid the subway as much as possible) and check out all the holiday decorations.
Then I had dinner (that I brought from home) in my hotel room. Not my usual pasta/pizza (and a big mistake, I think).
I went back out to explore more of the city and the night time holiday decorations.
Finally I returned back to my hotel to plan out the next day – the race!
Before registering for this race, I checked their COVID restrictions:
- You may not attend the event if you have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive in the fourteen (14) days prior to the event.
- You must wear a face covering throughout this event other than when running.
- When running, you may remove the covering only when you can maintain social distance and the covering must remain around your head in some fashion so it can easily be reapplied. The covering must be worn for the first 500 and last 500 feet of the race (it should be on when you reach the mile 3 marker.)
- No guests are allowed at the race site
- Upon entry to the race site, a medical professional will take and record your temperature.
- To avoid crowding, you must show up on time for your designated wave and leave immediately after completing your race.
- Running in a group of two or more is not permitted.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 within the fourteen days following the event, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may notify staff and participants as necessary.
NYCRuns also had two 5ks already and both received excellent reviews. So I was not nervous at all about this race compromising my health and others.
Last 5K: June 2019!!!!
In addition to not having run a 5k race in 18 months, I was a little worried that I had done ZERO speed work and had only been running at a slow easy pace. But in my eyes, it was only a run in NYC. There would be no age-group awards just a gaiter given to everyone.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
As I mentioned above, I arrived in NYC the day before. I already had my bib so all I needed to do was explore the city on foot, have dinner in my room (on the 32nd fl), explore the city some more in the evening and try to go to bed early.
I also had to decide what to wear (which is harder when you travel.) I chose to wear my gaiter (but had a mask in my pocket just in case.) Otherwise, I tried to be matched and warm (but not too warm).
Unfortunately I had a miserable night of sleep (if any). My room was uncontrollably HOT and that soggy Subway sandwich did not sit well in my stomach). I woke up with a headache and upset stomach.
I brought my oatmeal and coffee with me to eat it in my hotel room but had no appetite. Ugh! Surprisingly, I didn’t consider staying in bed. I couldn’t wait to get into the fresh air and to the race. I knew it would make me feel better (and I was right.)
I had to decide which was safer an Uber or the subway. It was way too far to walk as my hotel was on 39th and the race started on 108th (or so I thought). I chose the Uber and then I would walk home after the race. I brought a bag to check a jacket since I knew I would be cold after the race.
This race will start and finish near 108th Street inside Riverside Park. You’ll wind through tree-lined paths and waterfront walkways on this totally traffic-free and peaceful course. The course is challenging, but offers plenty of downhills to make up for the uphills!
The waves started as early as 8 AM and ending at 12:30PM. I was scheduled for a 9 am start.
I checked the race email one more time in the Uber and it said to enter the park at 96th St. Very confusing. So I got left off around 100th (in the middle).
I walked down to Riverside Park. I was very early luckily. I had no idea which direction to walk. I saw no racers. I asked a runner and she said that she saw a start line around 97th St. And she was right. They changed the start (from previous races) to 97th St.
It was only 8:00 so I got to see the first group of runners take off.
I walked around as it was FREEZING and chatted with other runners waiting to start. I didn’t want to leave my jacket at bag check until the very last moment.
Eventually I had to and around 8:30 I entered the medical area where someone took my temperature. As you can see from the pic above, you stood two by two 6 ft apart and the person behind you was also 6 ft apart.
I wound starting with the 8:30 group (accidentally).
I actually wore my Garmin and was planning on recording my time with it (for the first time since Feb 2020).
(Too cold to take pictures during the race or after but below are a few from previous runs here:)
As you can see from the map above, the race course was in a park along the Hudson River. This park is not one I have run on frequently (I usually run in Central Park. ) But it is a nice place to run, walk or bike. What I am getting at is that it was not closed to other runners, bikers and dog walkers. Due to the pandemic, it probably was not as crowded as it could have been.
So I took off with a younger runner and we ran together (masked) for a little bit. She was faster and got ahead but could see her in my sight the whole race.
I had no time goals but since it was a race you know I wanted to not have an embarrassing time (that differs for everyone but for me it would be over 29 minutes lol).
I glanced down at my watch and noticed that my frigid hands had apparently not started it (!?)
Alrighty, another naked race.
So I just ran. Looking down so not to trip on cracks or slip on mud puddles (from yesterday’s rain) and more importantly, avoid the dogs.
I found out later from my friend that before 9 am, dogs do not have to be leashed here. OY!!!
Also a lot of walkers had no idea that a race was going on.
All this kept me from obsessing about my time. It was not only COLD (20s with the wind chill) but crazy WINDY. My hands and feet were frozen (but that didn’t keep my shoe that I doubled knotted from untying :).
I wish that I had started my watch so I could show you the elevation. It was VERY hilly. Up and downs but that made it interesting. I thought I might try to run up the hills but in the end, I walked/ran most of them.
Most runners had on their masks the whole time. Not sure if it was for safety or the cold. I think I had mine on…don’t remember but I’m glad it was a gaiter so it kept both my neck and face warm. (It was required at the start and finish lines.)
For the 2nd mile, we turned and were running more along the river…colder and more windy. Yay! But I think this part was flatter.
It was also now sunnier. I put on my sunglasses. But they kept fogging up. Grrr.
At mile 1.5, there was the turn around.
Now we were running along side other runners who had started the race in later waves. But it was wide enough not to feel crowded.
A little past mile 2, we returned to the first part of the course. Yup, those annoying hills in the reverse direction.
I just kept moving, passing some runners. Runners were not passing me as they stayed ahead the whole race.
Finally I saw that finish line. And the camera. I tried to smile…Ha Ha. I was wearing my gaiter.
The clock read 1:02:XX but who knew what my actually time was.
I just wanted to get warm!! They handed you a bag of food. I sanitized my hands and headed to get my jacket.
I immediately texted my friend who lives in Manhattan to arrange a meet-up. Unfortunately, Cari was still quarantining.
But first thing was to find a Starbucks to get a hot cup of coffee. Ok, in NYC there is usually one on every corner. Well, not during pandemic times.
After striking out 3 times, I found one.
I kept walking and met up with Elizabeth around 72nd Street. We proceeded to chat our way around Central park until around 1 pm.
I then walked all the way back to my hotel, had lunch and checked out so I could continue my holiday sightseeing before taking the train back north.
18 miles for the day!!!!!!! I think it makes that I skipped my normal 10 mile run okay…
Additional Race Reflections:
It sounds like this was a negative experience. You can’t control the weather. And my feet did not hurt. That’s a good thing.
Could I have run faster?
Do I wish I has started my Garmin?
YES! I love stats and in a short race, I think I could have made up time.
I have come in FIRST in my 6 previous NYCRUNS races. But no AG awards were given for this race.
Even so, at my best, I would not have won.
It would be nice if the site didn’t remind me of my last two races lol.
I’m ok with it. Totally 🙂
This is me now!!
- Safety restrictions in place (temp. checks, staggered starts).
- Wave starts so I got to start whenever I chose (between 8 am & 12:30 pm)
- Views of the Hudson R.
- Well marked course.
- A real race.
- Gaiter as swag (received beforehand in the mail).
- Well organized.
- Bag check offered.
- Bib mailed ahead of time.
- Post race refreshments (goodie bag along with Gatorade, Dole Fruit Bowls in 100% Juice and other snacks.)
- No age group awards (a positive for me so I didn’t feel disappointed that I didn’t win one).
- Free photos.
- Spending time in NYC at holiday time.
- Opportunity to connect (social distancingly) with a friend.
- A real race.
- No water stops (no volunteers).
- No spectators.
- Those nasty hills.
- Used to be the Hot Cocoa 5k and you got hot cocoa at at the end (but understand why it was changed).
- Expensive for a 5k ($40-60) but it is NYC.
- My NYC friends were not able to join me in this race.
- Tired legs (from the previous night’s walking).
- Lack of speedwork prior to the race.
- No sleep and upset stomach.
- Dogs to trip on during the race.
- Course advertised as starting and finishing on 108th rather than 97th.
Who knows? Nothing local is currently scheduled. I’m not interested in running any virtual races.
Maybe a half marathon in Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 14 (if it is live and if it is safe to go.)
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.