NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K

racing shoes by the wall in a hallway

Pre-Race

A couple weeks ago, anticipating the coming spring showers and the possibility of having to race in the rain, I bought an outfit from Tracksmith’s new Thaw collection. As usual, I brought all my running clothes to NYC, not knowing what the weather has in store. After all, it wasn’t supposed to snow last race. I woke up at 0500 since the MTA trip planner told me I’d need to start my journey at 0544 to get to The Armory by 0730. It was in the 40s outside so while I brushed my teeth I waffled about what to wear.  By race time (0900) it would be in the 50s. Complicating things: it was almost guaranteed to rain during the race. So my mid-layer was out. My jacket was waterproof, but that would certainly be too hot for the race. Should I wear it and unzip? In the end, I decided to go for just the Thaw long sleeve shirt, Thaw half tights, Thaw beanie, and inverno gloves. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a quarter cup of raisins and headed out the door.

The walk was fine. I felt I had chosen the right clothes. The train arrived on time and my journey to to Washington Heights had begun.

selfie on a NYC train
morning train ride to the race site

This is my third in person race this year and my first in-person 5k since the race that inspired this whole racing journey at the Red Hat Summit 2019. I believe it’s also my first time in Washington Heights. I don’t believe the wife and I have ever traveled up here in the 21 years we’ve known each other.

The Armory in Washington Heights
The Armory

When I arrived at the 168th St stop, it was a bit windy and while I know my outfit was perfect for the run, I wasn’t sure I could be outside for an hour and a half until the race started. Luckily, the bib pickup was at The Armory, which has been converted into a track and field space. (Tracksmith filmed a documentary there about a guy who tries to beat his mile record every year at midnight January 1st) I took advantage and used the indoor restrooms instead of the porta potties. I stayed in there until about 0815 when I decided it was time for my warmup run.

people in a race corral

The Race

Having completed my warmup, I headed to my corral. As usual, I was the only one there until just a few minutes before the run. At that point, it was time to try and keep warm, listen to what I could hear from the race warmup guy, and psych myself up for the race. This was the first race where I could barely hear the National Anthem being sung. As they got ready to sound the horn, it started raining lightly and I was happy with my choice of clothing. It became apparent that this shirt wouldn’t keep me dry in a downpour, but it served well to keep me dry so I wouldn’t freeze. The rain either stopped shortly after our was light enough for me to ignore while focused on the race.

This was the first road race I’d done with NYRR. Yes, technically we were running (at least partially) on roads in Central Park but this was the first time on major roads. Consequently I had to keep my eyes on the road to make sure I wouldn’t break my ankle by stepping into a hole; there were a few near misses. The course was almost a straight there-and-back affair, but there was a loop at the top between miles 1 and 2. I kept watching for where we were going to loop around, but suddenly found myself on the other side of the loop. It was a nice boost to see that I suddenly only had one mile left. One nice thing about a road race in New York is that as I was nearing the end I could see how many blocks I had left and pace myself accordingly.

GPS track of NYRR Washington Heights 5K race
GPS track of NYRR Washington Heights 5K race

Speaking of pacing, I had a goal of achieving negative splits. Ever since that first 5k, I had learned that in 5k you are supposed to do each mile faster than the last. I thought that was absurd. How could you possibly have any gas left in the tank as you deleted more and more of your reserves? But I resolved to try. I’m happy to report that I succeeded! If you look at the splits from Garmin, there’s a slight hitch in mile 2, but there are two causes for that. First, mile one’s average is a little extra low because I came out of the gate a little hot. I can find and maintain a good pace for a race, but I’m not yet good at realizing my pace without checking in with the watch. Second, because of the way the course was laid out, there was a bit of an uphill part in mile 2 where I got stuck behind someone. I definitely clocked faster mile 3 than mile 1. I also felt I had more energy than I expected at the end so I may program in a faster pace for my next 5k; I was able to sprint at the end without feeling like dying, for example.

race stats

Once again, I’m really happy with my results compared to the field. Overall in the top 12%. Gender: top 20% Age group: top 28%. My heart-rate zones during the race:

Heart rate zones graph

Every race so far has had folks who weren’t volunteering with NYRR cheering us on. The last race even had someone with a DJ system playing music. This was the first race that had live musicians playing. That was a lot of fun even if, at a 5k pace I wasn’t going to hear too much of it before I was past it.

selfie post-race

Post-Race

It was a great 3rd race for me and I’m excited for the rest of the race calendar. I’ve got some big, exciting races coming up and I can’t wait to tell you about them as they happen. I’m also excited for it to warm up. I know running when it’s hot isn’t fun, but I’d like to not be freezing in the pre and post race time. 

selfie post-race
After the NYRR Washington Heights 5K

Next up is a virtual half marathon next week. I paid at the level that not only gets me a physical medal, but also guaranteed entry for next year. (And hopefully a shirt!) I’m not sure if I’ll blog about that, but we’ll see.

One last little thing – I was looking at my NYRR runner overview and I was tickled by the distances

Sure, the running distance isn’t a perfect half marathon, but it’s nearly a half marathon and right next to a virtual 10K, I just found that fun. I also like that all my personal bests are listed here. I’m hoping to beat some of those in the coming year, so here’s to hopefully toppling some of those in the future.

Stats slightly different due to GPS vs race path

Published by Eric Mesa

To find out a little more about me, see About Me

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