2016 is finally over and 2017 is here. Who knows what this year has in store for us, probably even worse things than 2016, but let’s just take it one day at a time. And the Central Jersey Road Runner Club’s 35th annual Hangover 5k is a good place to start.
This was my second time running this race, and despite it being on New Year’s Day, I like it a lot. You get a decent hoodie, there is hot chocolate at the end and the course is mostly in a park near my in-laws house so I’m pretty familiar with it. The race starts with 1 3⁄4 laps around the 0.8-mile loop in the park, then out on the local streets for less than a mile, and then back into the park for another full loop in the opposite direction. It’s flat and there aren’t too many turns. If you’re not hungover, you can do pretty well.
We took New Year’s Eve nice and easy last night so getting up this morning was a lot easier than three years ago. We started the night off with a couple beers at our favorite bar a few blocks from our house with a couple of our friends and then we all came back to our place for some games and snacks. None of us got more than buzzed and we got to sleep before 1:30. Thanks to a noon start time for the race, there was plenty of time to sleep in and be lazy for a bit before heading out.
The weather was great for a 5k today. 47º at race start. There was a decent wind elsewhere, but it was mostly calm in the park.
As far as my plan for the race, I just wanted to take it easy and not actually race it. With the Dopey Challenge coming up next weekend, this is the first of five races in eight days. No reason to push my legs hard.
We made our way to the start early and snagged a spot near the front, but not too far up. The race started right on time which is rare for small local races.
At the gun, Danielle took right off and left me behind. She’s “only” doing the half marathon in Disney World and isn’t looking to race it so she didn’t need to worry about anything. Not more than a few seconds later, my friend Sarah flew on by on the right with a quick “hey Amelia” as she blew by. She went on to take second place overall.
I started off much quicker than I wanted to, but I was barely keeping up with the people around me. My legs felt good, but I felt like I was breathing a bit hard already. We made the first lap around the park and then passed the one mile marker as my watch displayed a 6:57 for the first mile. Oops. That was a solid minute faster than I was planning on doing.
That’s when I said “ah, fuck it” and decided to keep at it. Despite crushing Chicago Marathon less than three months ago, I’m not in tip-top shape right now. Between dealing with some ankle tendonitis and keeping my effort level easier since I’m not “training,” I’m just not at my fastest. I felt like I was running just about as fast as I could probably hang onto for 3.1 miles, but I knew it wasn’t exactly the smartest idea.
I rounded out the rest of the second lap around the park feeling like I was working for it but still within reason. The section outside the park went by pretty quickly as I focused on getting to the second mile marker—I knew exactly where it was because we parked right by it. I passed by at 7:00 and told myself it was okay to let off the gas if I had to. At this point, I knew even if I really pulled it back, I’d be pretty happy with my time.
Once I made my way back into the park, I knew it was just one more 0.8-mile lap around the park and I’d be done. I decided to keep it steady and not give it anything extra. Dopey and all that.
With a little less than half a mile left, I saw Danielle up ahead. I was gaining on her very slowly, but didn’t make much effort to try to catch her. I was starting to get that end of race nausea thing I get sometimes so I knew I couldn’t push it anymore unless I wanted to risk dry-heaving. I spent the final third of a mile with her just barely ahead of me all the way to the finish.
I crossed the finish just as the clock said 21:44, a new PR by over a minute! I was 12th woman overall out of 367 and 4th in my age group. I would have placed in my age group, but Danielle’s 21:36 took 2nd and the woman between us was apparently in our age group as well.
For a race that was just supposed to be an easy three miles and my first 5k since this same race three years ago (if you exclude the Dopey Challenge 5k from last year), I was pretty happy to have a new PR. Of course, I’ll probably regret as I’m trudging through Dopey next weekend, but Future Amy will have to worry about that. For now, this is giving me a little motivation to work on the 5k a little this spring and see what I can do when I’m actually in shape to be running fast.
Not a bad start to 2017.