Rock’N’Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler

ashley and zoe rnr brooklyn 5 miler

Yesterday was my first race since giving birth to Katie on June 20th it was so much fun! My goal going into yesterday’s Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler was to run a smart race that would allow me to have fun and finish feeling strong and healthy. Since starting receiving the all-clear to return to working out from my OB-GYN at my 8 week postpartum appointment, my goal has been to ease back into working out in a smart, healthy fashion. For the past few weeks I have been running an average of two days per week, following a walk/run program during which I increase the running by one minute each run.

Based on this approach, I wanted to run the first 16 minutes of yesteday’s race and then switch to intervals, alternating walking and running. If I wasn’t feeling great, I could do 1:1 intervals, but if I was feeling stronger then I’d increase the intervals to either 3 minutes or 4 minutes of running.

rnr brooklyn gear

The race began at 7AM near Grand Army Plaza and the Brooklyn Museum, which meant that I hopped on a Citibike at 6:20 which placed me in the starting area by 6:45.

grand army plazaI had just enough time to make my way through security, use the bathroom and make my way into the corral before the 7AM start. Even before the race started, there were a few things that I really liked about the race setup this year.

  • I appreciated that the 5 mile and half marathon races started at the same time. This allowed people to mingle with their friends running the other distances, as long as you were in the same corral, and enjoy the support and energy of the larger, half marathon race.  There were only 959 people who ran the 5 Miler so the course felt pretty sparse once we split from the 8,500 half marathon runners.
  • I loved that RNR provided water, bananas and portapotties within the starting corrals. This is something I haven’t seen at many race starts and it seemed to be appreciated by everyone. While there were, of course, some lines for the portapotties, they moved very quickly.
  • While the race still started a few minutes late, it started far faster than years past.

Since Zoe and I have become experts at meeting before race starts, we easily spotted each other and discussed our race plan before we heard the annoucer start the race.

zoe

Since she is dealing with a nagging injury, she happily stuck with me during the race. It’s amazing to think that last year, we ran the half marathon together and, halfway during the race, due to increase heart rate, I told her I was pregnant! A lot can change in a year!

Rock'n'Roll Brooklyn 5 Miler Course

Within minutes after the first runners crossed the starting line, Zoe and I were giving each other a high five and starting our run. We both wore headphones for the first 16 minutes while we were running, briefly pointing out sights along the route during these first miles.  When we hit 16 minutes, just short of two miles, we switched to intervals, but since we were both feeling good, we decided to start with longer running intervals – 4 minutes run and 2 minutes walking.

Mile 1 Pace – 10:00

Mile 2 Pace – 10:41

For the first two and a half miles we enjoyed the slight downhill as well as the comraderie of the half marathon runners before we veered off and headed into Prospect Park.  The final 2.5 miles included the rolling hills of Prospect Park as well as the 3/10 mile climb during mile 4.

Mile 3 Pace – 11:38

Mile 4 Pace – 11:48

Mile 5 Pace – 10:33

As you can tell, our running pace increased during that last mile when we knew the finish line was close and we had the benefit of some gradual downhills.

We finished the race in 54:05 or an average pace of 10:49

rnr brooklyn finish

Overall, it was a great return to racing and made me even more excited to wake up for those early morning runs. I’m looking forward to the NYRR Jingle Jog on December 2nd which will hopefully be the first race Katie is at the finish line. We didn’t even try bringing her to yesterday’s race since she’s been pretty fussy this week due to the four month sleep regression. 

In case you’re wondering, here are my recaps from the past two Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Races:

Thank you to Brooks and Rock’n’Roll for the complimentary bib as part of my Brooks #RunHappy Ambassador partnership.

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Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap 2016

rnr-brooklyn-medal

 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to run the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half Marathon for the second year in a row and it was once again a great half marathon right in my own borough.  This years race was even better than last years which says a lot as it was my favorite half marathon that I ran. Admittedly, last year’s inaugural RNR Brooklyn Half Marathon did not go off with a hitch as organizers faced multiple problems including a late start due to issues with ensuring clear roads.  This year it was clear that Rock’n’Roll took all the feedback to heart and did their best to improve.

I headed to the expo on Friday afternoon and while I didn’t love the Manhattan location at Penn Plaza, I will be the first to admit that it was far more convenient than last year’s expo in Greenpoint. The expo was smaller than last year with far fewer vendors, but I also found it to be very easy to navigate. Including the shopping we did in the official race shop, where I picked up a Brooklyn branded Brooks shirt, we were in and out in just 15 minutes.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5:30, got dressed, sipped coffee and made peanut butter and banana sandwiches which I ate while heading to the starting area at Grand Army Plaza. I took an Uber since I was running a few minutes behind schedule, and found myself at the VIP security entrance at the Brooklyn Library just 10 minutes later! I met Zoe minutes later and we quickly checked our bags and then head over to our corral, just in time to find Nicole and stretch before the race began. While we chatted, I made sure to do my pre-race stretching routine which I’ve done during each of my long runs over the past five weeks.

rnr-brooklyn-sunrise

Check out the gorgeous sunrise the 17,500 runners were treated to as we waited for the 7 AM start? I know the race directors couldn’t plan this but man was it a perfect way to start the race. The weather at the start was 65 degrees, overcast and slightly humid. My only goal for the race was to enjoy the 13.1 miles with Nicole and Zoe for as long as possible. They are both training for the New York City Marathon and therefore our pace would be around their long run pace. As I had a far shorter training cycle than normal for this half marathon, I told them that I would drop back if my glute started giving me any pain or I found it tough to maintain their pace.

rnr-brooklyn-pre-race

At 7:01 the three of us crossed the starting line together, each with one ear bud in our ear and smiles on our faces ready for a great race. As Zoe lives on the Upper West Side, we pointed out local landmarks and navigate the course as we ran through this year’s course. I prefer this course over the May NYRR Brooklyn Half as it includes a shorter stint on the very boring, monotonous Ocean Parkway.

rnr-brooklyn-2016-course

The first eight miles flew by as we talked about marathon training, favorite races and injuries. We kept a 9:55 pace, exactly on target with their long run training plans.  There were multiple water stops along the way as well as small bands and local cheerleading groups motivating the runners.  At mile 8.5 as we headed back towards Prospect Park following the turnaround point on Ocean Avenue,  Zoe and I urged Nicole to run ahead as she was having an especially strong race. The next five miles weren’t easy but as we turned back towards the park I just kept focusing on the massage waiting for us in the VIP area.

rnr-brooklyn

When we entered Prospect Park at Mile 10 we were greeted by amazing cheerleaders, family members and supporters as well as the first signs of Fall. During those final miles I walked a 1/4 mile and ran 3/4 a mile to ensure that I was smart considering I only did 3 long runs in preparation for this half marathon.

I finished my 22nd half marathon in 2:14:14 and couldn’t have been more thankful. After fighting through injuries these past few months any day that my legs and body can carry me 13.1 miles is a great day, no to mention the wonderful conversations and laughter that Nicole, Zoe and I shared on the course.

After crossing the finish line we spent the next hour relaxing with fellow runners in the Westin Rock’n’Blog VIP experience which was the perfect way to end the morning. Zoe and I each enjoyed 10-minute massages, freshened up and dove into fruit and food before heading back towards the subway.

rnr-brooklyn-post-race-pic-with-zoe
rnr-brooklyn-with-dani

Thank you to Brooklyn and Rock’n’Roll for such a wonderful race and great half marathon!

Your turn – If you raced this weekend, how did it go? 

I was provided a bib and VIP entry as part of my partnership with Run Rock’n’Roll but as always the opinions in this post are my own. 

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NYRR Mini 10K 2016 Recap

medal

Yesterday I ran the NYRR Mini 10k for the fifth time in six years (20152013, 2012, and 2011 recaps) . Other than the NYC Marathon this is actually my favorite NYRR race. Running with thousands of other women is inspiring and there are more spectators and cheering squads than normal which provides an amazing atmosphere! I always see so many familiar faces either running or cheering!

Katie and I shared a cab from Brooklyn yesterday morning which was a brilliant way to sleep in a few extra minutes and avoid any weekend transportation stress.

cab to race

At 7:30 AM we met Jenna and Zoe at the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle in order to chat and hang out before the race began at 8 AM. The weather was sunny but cooler than normal, a refreshing change versus the heat and humidity we experienced most years.

ashley and jenna

pre race

At 7:55 we walked towards the corral to join the 8,832 other women running the race. The crowds and corrals seemed more manageable than years past, possibly due to the fact that the race didn’t sell out this year.

starting lineWhile we each did our own dynamic stretches, Zoe and I aligned on a race plan. Katie and Jenna were both racing the 10k but Zoe and I both hoped to treat it as a diagnostic race. Due to my hamstring and foot injury, it’d been almost six weeks since I’d run a distance longer than a 5k.  Zoe on the other hand rocked a few half marathons back to back and is dealing with a nagging calf pain.  We went into the race with three goals:

  • Run by feel
  • Finish under 60 minutes
  • Run the entire time

At 8:02, just minutes after the start, we crossed the starting line together. We each put in one headphone so we could get energy and motivation from our music but still talk.  After running this course so many times, I told Zoe that it was one of the more challenging routes but the first mile would be a nice, gradual uphill as we head up Central Park West before we turn into the park and start climbing Harlem Hill.

course map

I didn’t want to stress myself out by wearing a Garmin so instead I wore my Timex watch and just started the timer, allowing me to get an official time but also not seeing or hearing the ding and mile pace after each mile. I reminded my body a few times, especially in the first mile, that this was not a PR race. My body isn’t in PR shape and the goal was to understand my base.

I tried to entertain Zoe and take her mind off the hills once we entered the park, taking a few selfies and pictures. It seemed to work as we were all smiles through these middle miles.  ashley zoe selfie

mid race
By mile 5 I could tell that Zoe was ready to be finished and not feeling terrific. I did my best to keep her within a few steps of me so I could keep pushing her through the finish line. While it wasn’t an easy race for either of us, I crossed the finish line proud of my effort and for sticking with the race plan. I now know that my base is a 9:37 mile as we finished in 59:40. We definitely earned the pink and black medals the volunteers put around our necks after we crossed the finish line!

ashley zoe post

I love that we both accidentally color coordinated with both the medals and the carnations they gave us!  I’m wearing my Brooks Chaser 5″ running shorts and the Brooks Steady Short Sleeve, both of which I’m loving right now! Brooks sent me these to try and I have been wearing each of these non-stop. As I mentioned on Instagram earlier this week, the shorts have a nice, wide thigh opening that doesn’t chafe and the comfortable waistband also has two pockets for keys, money and fuel! The v-neck top is perfect when you want a bit more coverage than a tank and wicks moisture while keeping you 30% cooler than other fabrics!

Yesterday’s race serves as a great starting place for the rest of my training this summer in advance of the Rock’N’Roll Montreal Half and the Rock’n’Roll Brooklyn Half this Fall.  Is it frustrating that last year’s pace was almost 30 seconds faster per mile? Sure, but it’s the reality of the situation right now and I know that I’ll start seeing 8:xx sooner versus later with SMART training this Summer.

 

 

 

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