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Coogan’s 5k Race Report, Or: Why I won’t be running this race again next year

Posted Mar 07 2010 12:00am

This morning I ran the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5k in Washington Heights (an area of NYC that is even further uptown than the area in which I live).  As I said yesterday (I think it was yesterday, anyway…I’m too lazy to go back and check), I wasn’t necessarily looking to PR, though I was also planning to run strong and see where it took me.  Well, all I can say is that I’ll really never know if I could have PR’d today, because I wasn’t really able to run my own race.  It was more like the race of everyone around me.  Just to warn you, this post will probably get a little bit rant-y.

I’ll start with the positive things about the race.  First of all, it was organized by NYRR, and their races are always very organized.  The shirts were fun too, in a stand-out turquoise color that is a nice change from the standard white.  There were bands all along the course (I’ve run some races that claimed to have bands along the whole course and that actually turned out to be pretty lame in that regard, so this was pretty neat), and the atmosphere was festive.  The course was also pretty, with a turn-around point that overlooked the Hudson River.  And since I was running so slowly at that point, there was time to admire the view.

Which brings me to the negative things about the race.  Like all NYRR races, this one utilized the corral system.  And like every other race I’ve ever done, people completely ignored it and just placed themselves wherever they damn well pleased.  As a result, people who were either walking or just loping along seeded themselves up toward the front of the crowd of runners, and people like me, who actually made the mistake of trying to follow the corral system, kind of got screwed being stuck behind them.  I’m a huge supporter of people running at a pace that is comfortable for them, but it really bothers me when people who are running at a slower pace place themselves so far up in the crowd.  All that does is make things difficult for everyone.  It was especially bad during this race because the course was an out-and-back, so we had to cram down to one lane of traffic on a two-lane road to accommodate the front-runners.  For the first two miles of the race, I was afraid I was literally going to trip over someone as I tried to weave through the crowd to find a place where I could run at my race pace, and this showed in my splits: 9:21 for the first mile, and 8:37 for the second.  There were also a lot of children running the race, which confused me because there was a separate race for kids after the 5k.  I’m really not a fan of having children run races with adults–in my experience, they tend to stop and start very haphazardly (of course, there are adults who do this, too), and it can be very hard to see them since they are small and will not be in your field of vision if you are paying attention to what is at eye-level.  The course was somewhat hilly, and I think this helped to thin the crowd out slightly by the time I got through the second mile, but for the most part the whole thing was just one big clusterf*ck.  I was finally able to hit a pace that felt right by the third mile, which I finished in 7:45.

According to my Precious, my finishing time was 26:58 for a distance of 3.19, which potentially means that all the weaving I had to do added up to nearly .1 mile.  That’s a lot of weaving, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that that’s what explains that extra bit of distance.  There were definitely times when I felt like I was running laterally rather than forward.  It was really frustrating.  My official time, according to the race results, was 26:56.  I think I posted yesterday that my 5k PR is 26:11–I should mention that my second-fastest 5k is 26:4x, and that was a race during which I walked.  So essentially, I’ve run faster 5ks with walking breaks.  I wish I’d had a chance to run at a more consistent pace, because I think I could have PR’d today.  Overall, this was sort of a disappointment and although this might be a good party-time race (on a Sunday morning) to run with friends, that’s not really what I look for in my races.  So.

I’m still planning on trying to go out later for another 6 miles, to meet my training goal for the week.  For the rest of the day, I’m just going to try to take care of myself.  I know my good friend the depression monster is lurking in the dark corners of my room, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.  I’m hoping to be able to hold him back.

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