Tag Archives: Westfield New Jersey

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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Filed under Pizza, Running

Jam-Packed

Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes on Thursday! Because one day of celebration isn’t enough, I was able to extend the festivities throughout the weekend.

After a half day of work and a trip to the doctor’s (I finally have my diagnosis – more on that later!), I got together with my family for dinner and fro-yo in my hometown. Only in Westfield, New Jersey would it be appropriate to have two self-serve fro-yo establishments within blocks of one another. We decided on Yapple Yogurt for two reasons: the inside of the store is cute, and they have salted caramel pretzel flavored yogurt. I didn’t even need to question my decision.

Each year on the Friday after my birthday, I know I have plans. Ever since my teammate and friend was tragically killed back in 2006, we all get together for a golf outing to support causes that were near and dear to his heart. It’s great to see familiar faces that I spent so much time with in college, and it’s also an excuse for everyone to go out in Philly afterwards. Since it’s close to my birthday, I always get suckered into birthday shots (not that I’m complaining), and no matter how old we get, our old college selves come out to play for a bit. This year we headed to City Tap House in University City, and thanks to their rooftop lounge we got to watch the awesome thunderstorm from a cool location (we tried to sit outside, and the 97 degrees at 11pm thing wasn’t happening).

After a quick 4-mile run on Saturday morning through University City, it was off to The Pop Shop in Collingswood. If you are ever in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, you NEED to go here. Aside from their soda shop throwback look, they have tons of different grilled cheese sandwiches and fries available for you to devour (and don’t forget about the flavored soda or milkshakes). They also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, which I think is pretty neat. Being the bad food blogger that I am, there are zero pictures from The Pop Shop. Assume it’s because I spent the entire time shoveling food into my mouth. The rest of Saturday was spent trying to get things together for our Eurotrip, and an early bed-time for Sunday’s long run.

The weather has been nice and toasty the past few days, so getting up early to run on Sunday was a must. Because I’m going on vacation and I won’t be able to get in a super-long run while I’m away, I figured I’d split the difference between this past Sunday’s scheduled run and next Sunday’s, which left me with 11 miles. I luckily ran the majority of the miles on a shade-covered path, but that didn’t stop me from looking like I jumped in a pool when all was said and done. Thankfully, I was able to literally jump in the pool when I got home.

The weekend wrapped up with a seriously delicious dinner – Caribbean Jerk Salmon Bowl with Mango Salsa, courtesy of A Pinch of Yum. This was so easy and flavorful, and I had enough leftover to justify bringing it for lunch the next day.

While the weekend was jam-packed, the next few days are going to be even more-so. I’ve got a lot to do in the next two days before heading to my parents to run the annual Firecracker 4-miler, and then jet off to Europe! I have plans to blog while across the pond, but I’d say the odds are forever not in my favor (like what I did there?).

Tell me: what did you do this weekend?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Restaurant, Running

A Love Affair

I’m lucky enough to live only about 30 minutes away from my parents, so I’m able to stop by and visit a few times a month. They happen to live in a town that’s full of yummy restaurants, specialty shops, and grocery stores, so it’s only natural that I try to take advantage of that as much as possible. There is one place, though, that seems to have a magnetic pull, and I can’t bear to leave without making a pit-stop – Trader Joe’s! Naturally I went this past weekend when I was visiting for Mother’s Day.

The store is always packed, and parking can be a nightmare. That would typically keep me away from a store, but I’m never disappointed with what I find once inside. There are some things I grab every single time I go, whether or not I’m actually in need of them. I’m a big fan of tempeh and tofu, and theirs is always reasonably priced. I can get a block of 7 grain tempeh for under $2, and it’s usually double at most grocery stores near me. They also have really delicious soy chorizo and sausage-less sausage. Non-meat and meat eaters alike should be impressed with their substitutes!

I also almost always pick up some quick lunch options, and can never pass up some Indian Fare. Paired with a tortilla or naan, all you need to do is heat up the pouch in the microwave for about a minute or two, and lunch is served! It’s also really great over rice. They have a bunch of different kinds – some with chickpeas, lentils, paneer, spinach… you name it, they’ve got it. I have one in my lunchbox for today.

There are a lot of other “staples” I pick-up from Trader Joe’s each time I visit, but the most decadent and far from necessary treat is their Cookie Butter. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I’m obsessed. I had it for the first time in the winter, and was immediately hooked. There was a brief period after I had it for the first time where it was on hiatus at the store (I think they underestimated it’s popularity), so as soon as it was back in stock I grabbed multiple jars. Now that it’s regularly in stock I make sure to grab just one jar. If you’ve never had it before and there’s a Trader Joes anywhere near you (or you have someone that can mail it to you), I HIGHLY suggest getting it. But, be forewarned – it’s addicting!

So there you have it  – my love affair with Trader Joe’s. I’m sure if I lived closer to a Whole Foods that would be an equal affair as well (it’s just a little too far, but I get excited any time I do have the opportunity to go). I have quite a few trips to Westfield planned for the next few weeks, so Trader Joes will definitely be seeing me more, and I don’t think my bank account is going to like it!

Do you have any favorite groceries, or particular grocery items? 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Vegetarian/Vegan