Tag Archives: Downtown Westfield Pizza Extravaganza 5K

Race Recap: Downtown Westfield Pizza 5k

Running a 5k at the end of July on a Wednesday night takes strategy. You have to know what to eat throughout the day and when, how much water to drink so you’re well hydrated but not bursting, and you have to be able to mentally push yourself while also knowing when you need to take it easy because of the heat. Those three things seem easy enough, but as race day progresses it becomes more important… and annoying.

Going in to Wednesday night’s run, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. My runs at home had been feeling less than stellar thanks to the heat and humidity, but while I was up in Rochester visiting my sister over the weekend, my runs felt great in the cooler and less humid temperatures. I talked with Jason, and he said I really had two options: run hard and maybe feel like crap at the end, or take it a little easier knowing that I am faster than my finish time. I figured I would play it by ear, since I really didn’t know how it would feel until I started running, and making a decision while sitting on my couch in air conditioning seemed silly.

Since the race started at 7pm, I arrived in Westfield at around 5:30pm. This gave me enough time to grab my bib and t-shirt (and snazzy bright red hat since I was one of the first pre-registered runners) and get in a warm-up. I was supposed to do a 3 mile warm-up, but felt lethargic and was covered in sweat within a mile, so I called it at 2. Being the smart cookie I am, I brought three different shirts: one for warm-up, one for the race, and one for afterwards. After making a pit-stop at the port-o-potties they have set up by the train station, I made my way over to the starting line. Since the race starts right in the middle of downtown, they leave the traffic open until the very last minute. Being the good citizen that I am, I waited patiently on the sidewalk, while I watched runners haphazardly walk in the street. At one point a cop yelled “GET OUT OF MY STREET!” to which I laughed. Isn’t it the tax payer’s street? But anyway…

After waiting for a few minutes (finally in the street), it was go time. As usual, it was a crowded and bunched up start. So much so, that at one point someone must have tripped over someone else’s feet and a whole slew of people were almost taken down. I don’t think anyone actually fell, but I was pushed and slammed into quite a few people. I’m not sure how I didn’t get taken down, but I managed to stay upright and get away from the mess. The first half mile felt decent, but the second half is all uphill. That’s when I realized the race wouldn’t be anywhere near what I had hoped it would be back when I signed up, so I resolved to just try my best, but not push it too much because of the weather.

The second mile has a  lot of turns and a few more hills and, by this point the heat was starting to get to me. I wound up slowing down a lot in the second mile, but I still felt like I was working hard. It’s amazing how deceiving hot weather and humidity can be while running! There were plenty of residents outside cheering, a lot with hoses spraying out into the street and I made sure to take advantage of any cool drops of water coming my way. Despite slowing down, I was able to pass a lot of people during the second mile. I knew that if I could just save a little energy I would be able to pick it up for the last mile, especially because the majority of it is downhill.

As we started the third mile, I tried to dig down as best as I could to finish strong. I reminded myself what Jason had said to me when we were making a race plan – it’s just a mile. I picked it up as best as I could in the first half, and then let the final hill carry me down the last half. I usually pick it up too early on the home stretch and wind up getting re-passed by people I’ve passed on the downhill, but I managed to hold my ground and even pass a few more people in the final quarter. I got myself across the finish line in 21:38, which turned out to be a 19 second PR from my last 5k in December. Considering the weather, I’m quite pleased. Originally I was bummed, knowing that I have a much faster 5k in me (my 4 miler’s average pace was 9 seconds per mile faster), but then came to my senses and realized that even the slightest PR in the heat and humidity would have been impressive.

After I finished, I immediately grabbed two water bottles and made my way back towards the finish so I could watch other runners. Unfortunately, I made it back just in time to see a girl start to really struggle, and then almost collapse about 200 feet from the finish. Thankfully a spectator ran out into the street and eventually a cop and race official grabbed her too. Understanding the drive and determination of a runner, the cop actually picked her up and hurried across the finish with her in his arms. I cheered for a few more minutes, and then made my way over to get some pizza!

PIZZA!

PIZZA!

After enjoying a slice, I figured I would check the posted results to see if I placed. The race is pretty big for a local week night 5k, and it attracts a lot of fast runners (especially high school and college runners getting ready to start XC season). Assuming I didn’t place, I quickly scanned the results. WRONG. I wound up coming in 3rd in my age group! So I took some time to grab another water and wander around the different vendor tables. As I was waiting for the awards, I noticed the sky getting darker and darker, and the deep gray clouds moving at a rapid speed. I knew it was only a matter of minutes before a serious storm started. Since the race started at 7pm, they wanted to wait until 8pm to do the awards. Under normal circumstances this would have been fine, but by 8pm the lightening had arrived, and I was watching it flash across the sky as I stood in the middle of the street hoping not to get struck. They got through about 5 age groups before they called it, because the lightening had moved to being right over us, and rain drops were starting to fall. I ran up to the table to grab my medal and just like that, the sky opened. It started to torrential downpour, so hard and fast that I couldn’t see in front of me. I laughed that I had finally dried off, knowing that a cool-down wasn’t going to happen. So instead, I sprinted (probably just as fast as during the race, if not faster) to my car, which was just under a mile away. I let that count as my cool-down.

The medal I waited for in severe weather. Logical.

The medal I waited for in severe weather. Logical.

I made it back to the car safely, tried to towel off as best I could, and made a beeline to Chipotle to pick up dinner.  While eating dinner at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night isn’t ideal, it was a fun evening. I whine about the race every year and swear I won’t sign up the following year, but do anyway. I used to be envious of everyone in my hometown that could run, so when I finally started running this was a race I knew I had to do. I mean, it was my first 5k back in 2009! Even though I missed the last two years due to injury, I’m probably going to keep doing this race for as long as I can. And I’ll probably keep complaining about it, too.

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Running and food are a perfect combination

Downtown Westfield is doing something right. At first, you might think to yourself – why on earth would I want to run a 5k at 7pm at the end of July? That’s just asking for torture. Well, perhaps because you’ll get to eat all the pizza you want as soon as you cross the finish line. Yes, as soon as you cross that finish line the first thing on your mind is water and to continue walking, but once the nausea passes and you realize it’s over, hunger sets in.

For the past few years (I believe about 9) Downtown Westfield in New Jersey (my home town!) has been doing a 5k pizza run extravaganza. If you’re unfamiliar with Westfield, it’s a pretty nice town; it’s won the Main Street USA award a few years, the television show Ed was filmed here as well as tid bits of quite a few commercials and movies. It was also called home by the creator of The Addams Family, Langston Hughes, Dave Brown (Giants), Zora Neale Hurston, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe… you get the drift.

This is my second year running the race, and last year it was actually my first 5k, and second road race. It started to drizzle and there was some serious wind and lightning before the start, but I was hopeful it’d hold out until we were done – and it did! I decided to rock my newly acquired No Meat Athlete shirt, which is adorable! Even though I’m not 100% veggie and my fiancé joked it was false advertising, I think the idea behind the shirt, and the fact that I’m at least conscious and mindful about what I eat is what counts!

Happily rockin' my shirt pre-race

I had a little trouble starting MapMyFitness on my iPhone once the race started, so people were pushing me out of the way (rude!). It was honestly one of the rudest races I’ve ever run – people were cutting me off left and right, zig zagging so I couldn’t get in front of them, and elbowing me and invading my personal space! I had a cramp within the first half mile till the end, and my side is actually a little sore from it. But in the end I finished in 25:21, almost a minute faster than my previous PR, set last October. Hoorah! With the heat and humidity, and it being at 7p after a full day of work, I was very pleased.

Down the home stretch... I have no idea how both feet are planted

Once the race was over, my fiancé had a slice of pizza while I guzzled a ton of water, and we focused on trying to cool off. Since the race was in my home town, my parents so graciously offered for us to come over to enjoy dinner from one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Thailand. Being a creature of habit, both my fiancé and I ordered our ususals; I got Pad Kee Mao, and he got the Chicken Pad Thai (nice and spicy, of course). We also all shared an order of spring rolls, and some salad. I’m a huge fan of the salad because it comes with some fried tofu and a delicious peanut dressing. After relaxing a bit more, we shared a caramel pretzel Klondike bar, which are my newest obession. I’ve always been a huge fan of Klondikes, but these are amazing! Crunchy, sweet, and salty are the perfect combination. I highly recommend them.

I’m looking forward to some more deliciousness this weekend, including a trip to the beach tomorrow for our half day with a stop at WaWa, and some type of BBQ on Saturday. Oh yeah, and some running.

Happy healthy nomzing!

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Filed under Running, Vegetarian/Vegan