Running 2 races in one day requires a bit of extra planning. In the case of the Woodcliff Lake 10K and 5K, the 10K had a race start time of 8:30 am while the 5K was scheduled to start 2 hours later at 10:30 am. That meant that I would have about an hour in between races……to do what?
The only other time I ran a 10K and 5K back to back like that was a couple of years ago, and I had about 20 minutes between races. Perfect for changing shirt, socks, and shoes and having a recovery drink and banana. Also perfect for still being warmed up and loose from having run a 10K already. Having an hour in between kind of freaked me out a little, but I figured I’d refuel, change clothes and hope for the best.
June 9 was an absolutely beautiful day! Race start time was about 70 degrees, sunny, low humidity. I have issues with running in the heat, but I hoped that the low humidity would make it bearable. Since I was going to be running over 9 miles at hard pace, I decided not to warm up — instead I drank a lot of water, took a Saltstick capsule, and did some walking lunges, leg swings, squats, etc., to loosen up a bit.
They had a beautiful blue and yellow balloon arch at the start/finish area, and the shirts were yellow with blue lettering. It turns out they chose these colors in honor of the 2013 Boston Marathon. At race start, after the National Anthem there was a moment of silence for the victims of Boston.
I ran the Woodcliff Lake 10K 4 years ago, and I remembered that it was a brutally hilly course. By brutally hilly I mean you need to be part goat to do well at this thing. At the beginning, the race announcer always says, “This is Woodcliff Lake. We have woods. We have a lovely lake. And we have hills…..lots of them!” They are not kidding.
I was going to have a strategy of starting off slowly and speeding up as the race went on, but I quickly changed that strategy when I realized that I was going to lose a LOT of time on the hills so may as well bust it out on the flat parts…..what few flat parts there were. The quickness of strategy change happened in the first mile when someone mentioned that the first mile is flat, and I got caught up in the excitement of racing.
This race was well organized with markers at each mile, frequent water stations, and a bucket of water bottles at each mile marker as well. I guess they’re used to the fact that June can be hot, and hot runners need water.
Garmin beeped 8:20 at mile 1 (too fast…). Right after mile 1 we hit the first hill. There was a lady running beside me wearing a North Jersey Masters singlet, and I commented that I hate hills, and she agreed. These NJM members are at every race I go to, and many of them are familiar faces though I’ve never introduced myself. I guess when you’re in your 50s and 60s and your kids are all grown it’s a great way to spend your spare time — wish I could now, but with 2 active kids that’s just not possible. Mile 2 had its share of rolling hills. On one downhill, an older guy was walking and I asked him if he was OK. He said he was hanging in there, and I wished him good luck. The guy behind me asked the same thing and wished him good luck too.
Garmin beeped 8:40 at mile 2.
We came out of the rolling hills just after the 2nd mile marker and onto a flat area to cross the causeway. There I could get a good look at what women were directly ahead and behind me. There was one woman in a peach tank that I really wanted to pass, and I made my move on the causeway. I kept repeating to myself, “Easy pickin’s, easy pickin’s” which probably isn’t very nice but it worked.
At the end of the causeway, Garmin beeped 8:17 at Mile 3 as we headed back into a residential area. I heard footsteps as a woman in a black tank top and pants came up by me. We kept passing the lead back and forth. She looked a lot younger than me, so not an age group threat (ha ha — see how we runners think of these things?). We started up a long, steady hill and I told the girl that I hate hills. She was like, “what, what?” as she pulled out an earbud. I tried to engage her in conversation about whether she’s done the course before, the hills, but she didn’t seem to want to talk. OK whatever. I guess I’ve grown accustomed to talking as I run because I’ve been running with my friend a lot. Plus, I like either being social during a race or trying to freak out the competition (ha ha).
This is where the race got interesting…..or painful…..depending on your point of view. We kept going up and up. We’d go up a hill, then there would be a slightly flatter point, then up again. We kept climbing.
Garmin beeped 9:35 at mile 4. And we kept climbing. We passed another water station and a bit later a nice lady who would spray us with her garden hose if we wanted it. I did and thanked her!
I also kept freaking out my black-tank-top-clad friend. I’m terrible on the uphill and lose a lot of time, but I bust it on the downhill. So she’d pass me going up, and I’d blow by her going down. I wanted to say, “Don’t freak out, this is just how I run”, but I didn’t.
My legs started feeling like they were being squeezed by a vise-like grip. We were on one particularly brutal and long uphill and I asked a race volunteer if this was the last one. She said, yes, this is the last one, then you get to go downhill. Thank goodness!
She was right — we got to the top and turned left onto a straightaway. Garmin beeped at 9:07 and we started a series of flat and downhill portions. One one downhill I blew by black-tank-top-clad-girl and she looked over at me again, startled. I kept running like a bat out of Hades. Turning left and downward again, I heard footsteps behind me, but it was a guy, so who cares. He said, “You’re running a great pace”. I said, “Thank you, so are you”. I followed him the rest of the way down through the neighborhood. I saw by Garmin that we had about half a mile to go. No big deal, I do 800 m repeats all the time, that’s routine.
Garmin beeped 8:00 at mile 6. I was running as hard as I could and I knew I had about 400 m left to go. We turned left onto the main street, then left again into the school’s parking lot. I could see the blue and yellow balloon arch. I knew if I busted it I could beat my time from 4 years ago.
I crossed the finish line as Garmin said 53:58 though official time said 54:00 (later my 5K time would also be 2 seconds slower — maybe a glitch with the timing system but who cares). I grabbed a water bottle and started heading towards my car to get my stuff. Then I saw my friend/neighbor Peter who was coming to run the 5K and I took him over to registration. After he registered, we put his stuff in my car as he had parked about half a mile away and I was parked at the school (easy exit). I drank my protein shake, ate a banana, took another Saltstick capsule, and went back to the school to change. Peter and I hung out for awhile drinking water, and then noticed people gathering around the race results. I checked the results and found that I had won my age group!
Awards were given out before the 5K started, and I picked up my medal. Not having enough time to put it away before race start, Peter suggested that I wear the medal, but I was afraid it would be annoying bouncing around, so I wound the ribbon around it and held it in my hand. We headed over to the starting line.