A while back, the folks at the Riker Danzig Newport 10K in Jersey City asked me to sign on as an Official Blog Partner of the race and invited me to run for free. Initially I was stoked because this was billed as the “fastest and flattest 10K course in the tri-state area” and who doesn’t love a fast, flat course? But I also knew that I might still be recovering from the 19.3 mile challenge of Disney just a few weeks prior, and I didn’t want let my mouth go writing checks that my ass couldn’t cash.
Spoiler Alert: I woke up race day feeling ready to run and left it all on the course for a big PR!
Race morning arrived humid and cool with loads of clouds and fog. Already I was optimistic about my performance: with cloud cover and low temps, running would be SO much easier than it had been in Florida a few weeks prior.
The race organizers really knocked it out of the park with an easy-to-find start area, ample (FREE) parking, tons of clean port-a-potties, and loads of volunteers. It really was one of the most well-organized races I’ve ever run.
After we parked and made the short walk to the start & finish areas (conveniently located near each other), I picked up my bib and tech shirt and we futzed around for a bit while the rest of the crew arrived.
I managed to connect with Meesh from The Slow Sheep (hey girl!) and it was so fun to meet a blog/IG friend IRL! We chatted about how glad we were that it wasn’t all elites running the race, compared our race goals and wished each other luck as we headed into the start area. PS – she PR’d that day as well! Congrats, mama!!
The “corrals” were just signs on the sidewalks that indicated pace per mile, and since I was feeling optimistic I seeded myself between the 10:00 and 11:00/mile markers. The race kicked off promptly at 8:30am and immediately I could tell the conditions were right for a PR. I just felt good. So I pushed for Mile 1 (10:27).
The only negative of this course is that much of those first few miles were on badly paved roads filled with cracks and potholes, so I spent the whole time looking down to make sure I didn’t twist my ankles. But once we got through Mile 2 (10:20), we entered the more residential areas and the roads smoothed out.
From here the course had lots of twists and turns – because I couldn’t run perfect tangents, the final course was almost 6.4 miles by my watch. But it was nice to see all the folks cheering us on from their porches and sidewalks. Plus the aid stations were well staffed and plentiful – I never found myself wondering when the next water break would be.
After I finished Mile 3 (10:27), the wind picked up and we turned a corner into a wall of wind. I pushed through, kept an eye on my watch and made sure not to slow down, and thankfully we turned the corner about a quarter mile later and the wind died down. That became the theme of the last half of the race: running INTO wind then away from it as we wound our way through the city. I was pleased to see that I stayed consistent through Mile 4 (10:32), and when we passed an “Executive Dog Spa and VIP Dog Lounge” I lol’d: is the DOG the Executive, or the owner?
With a few miles left I grabbed some water and took a gel then picked up the pace to finish Mile 5 (10:25), and then we headed out and around the piers that overlooked the NYC Skyline. It was a nice view, even though the wind smacked us in the face every time we turned a corner.
The sun came out with a half mile to go and by the time we hit mile 6, I was shocked to see how consistent my splits were – and that I finished Mile 6 in 9:52!! With a quarter mile to go, my iPod died and my legs were finally feeling the fatigue of running sub-10:30’s for almost 6 miles, but I knew I was going to PR by a lot so I pushed the pace for the final stretch and passed quite a few people.
Finally I turned the corner and spotted the finish line so I dropped the hammer and sprinted past Mike, finishing with a nearly 6-minute PR at chip time 1:05:54 (10:36/mile).
I left it all out on the course and damn, did I feel great. It was one of those confidence-boosting races where everything just clicks into place. The only other time I’ve had such an incredible experience was when I set a 15-minute PR at the NJ Half Marathon last year.
Now I’m wondering just how much faster I could run a 5K if I gave it a go. After all, my current 5K PR was set in roughly 90 degrees and full sun back in September, so who knows what I could do on a cool, overcast day?
Overall I give the Newport 10K an A+ – if you’re looking for a course to PR on, this is your chance!