Benjamin-Ross 5k – Race Recap

by Sara on June 10, 2015

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Technically the full name of this race is the Benjamin-Ross Memorial 5K Run, it’s held in Woodbury New Jersey the first (ish) weekend in June, and it is a big deal to the neon orange sporting RRCW crew.  Two years ago we ran it for the first time, earning me my first ever age group award {2nd place F 25-29} and it wasn’t even close to my best time.  It was unexpected, and it gave me the push I needed to train and race and continue to get faster.  Ever since that day I’ve wanted to come back to that same place and prove just how much better I’d gotten by moving up in my age group.  Well that first year must have been a low turn out and all the fast people stayed home in bed, the field gets faster and faster every year making my chances for an AG slip further and further away.

I had some pretty high hopes about this race at the beginning of the year, I was going to be fresh off of marathon training, I would be in banging shape, and I would absolutely CRUSH this race.  It’s a good thing I’ve gotten pretty good at brining my expectations down to earth over the past few months because I needed a serious reality check.  Wednesday was that reality check, but with that race behind me I could spend the next few days relaxing knowing my fitness wasn’t exactly going to drastically improve overnight.

I would say I was legitimately more excited about my race outfit than I was to actually race.  Hey, whatever gets you through right?  I have been loving the Saucony Ride 7’s {so much that I may or may not have bought another pair…} and was psyched to repeat my long run outfit from the previous week. So bright! Much neon!

IMG_2198What about the actual race you ask? Oh yea let’s get to that.  The night before Ralph and I did our usual pizza and relaxed while watching TV.  We talked a bit about race strategy but honestly I wasn’t feeling all that serious for this race so I wasn’t even close to nervous.

Sunday morning I wasted no time making toast and coffee, the faster I could get it in my system the faster I could get it out {if ya know what I mean}.  I’m actually terrible getting out the door quickly in the morning, but I also don’t like waking up early so I always make sure eating is the first thing I do so I’m not running around looking for a bathroom at the last minute.  We arrived with plenty of time to pick up our numbers, chat with all our friends from the run club and then head off for a quick warm up.  1.5 miles later I wouldn’t say I was feeling “ready” but I was feeling “as ready as I could possibly be”.  I had never raced two 5ks so close together, I didn’t even know if I could finish this race never mind try to beat my time from Wednesday.  Still, I thought I would set my sights on at least getting better than 25:20 which seemed pretty manageable if I ran a smarter race.

The Course
The race starts midway up a small hill, in years past it has started closer to the bottom but the smart folks at RRCW must have figured out that is no one’s favorite part and adjusted the course.  Once you reach the top of the hill the course is fairly flat for the majority of the 1st mile and twists and turns through the residential area of Woodbury.  Mile 2 is where most of the rolling hills live but they’re pretty short and sweet and over quickly.  Mile 3 is mostly flat and heads back towards the start retracing the same straight stretch of road from the beginning of the race, and at the end of mile 3 you are treated to the sweetest of sweet downhills as you head for the highschool track.  The last stretch of the course is about a 3/4 loop of the track and while it’s hard at first to enter the track area and see how far away the finish is there is something sweet about running on a track to finish a race that gives you an extra boost of energy.

The Race
Goals included but were not limited to, don’t go out too fast, don’t throw up at the end, try to negative split if possible, try to run consistent splits if possible, and for the love of everything holy do NOT throw up at the end.  My start was pretty good I have to admit, I started off what felt like painfully slow and when I finally glanced down at my watch I was holding steady at just over a 8minute pace.  I was feeling great, not like I was dying, not like I was pushing too hard, and as hard as I was trying to not speed up my pace started to dip.  I even managed to get down to a 7:45 pace just before my watch beeped to let me know I’d survived the first mile.

BR5K15-3404-LAll the people you see behind me in this photo will go on to pass me by the end of the race.  Good times.  Also I’ve been taking some really bomb ass race photos lately.  Can’t insta-filter this stuff.   {Also thank you to the random guy who showed up to take these awesome photos and then let us download them for personal use.  Reason 5049337 that small local races are AMAZING}

1 mile down and my “omg so easy so fresh legs are feeling great!” pace was starting to feel hard.  I hit the first hill but was starting to feel my insides churn up a bit as I ran and subconsciously dialed back the pace.  This is where I need to get better at slowing down my brain and focusing on a mantra or motivation or anything but usually my head just goes negative.  I think about how hard it is, how much I want to stop and slow down. I keep pushing but it’s evident my fast pace from the beginning is not going to hold.  I make a decision not to look at my watch for the entire second mile and actually miss the sweet sounding beep at mile 2.

Finally I am on the last straight-away charging back to the finish, but I don’t feel like I am charging, I feel like I am dying.  A few friends from the club are out on the course volunteering and cheering and I half grimace half smile as I pass.  I am dying.  Why do I keep doing this?  I hate everyone and everything right now.  5ks are so dumb.

I am quickly approaching the exact spot that just two years earlier I had stopped and walked and that fuels me to keep going.  That and the fact that I can almost see the downhill, I can almost feel it’s relief.  My plan is to catch my breath on the downhill so I have some energy left for the track.  It works, and the closer I get to the track the more I can hear music churning out from the finish area.  My feet hit the soft rubber and I am re-energized, all I have to do is make it through one curve and I’m done.  I have no idea what my pace has been, no idea what my finish time is, and when I finally get close enough to see the finish clock I am disappointed that it is no better than my time from Wednesday.  25:18 a mere 2 seconds faster than only a few days before.

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On the one hand that shows me that both races are a pretty accurate judge of my fitness.  It might not be exactly what I want but the numbers don’t lie.  I have the same takeaways that I did from the Navy Yard race, I am proud that I raced despite not being in awesome shape and I had a great cadence as well as survived the whole thing without music.  A week ago I wasn’t even sure if I could physically handle running two races so close to eachother.  I thought at best I would have one sub-par performance and one did not start.

The best part about this race though?  The people.  I have so much love for the RRCW crew, these people who are all at various stages of their running careers from experienced age grouper to first time 5k runners.  I love running with these people week after week and seeing them all progress in the sport, even if I don’t get to as many fun runs as I would like because my job rules my life at the moment.  I love that we all hang around after the race, congratulating each other on PR’s and discussing what’s next and who we thought might have won their age group.  I love sitting around in grass clapping and cheering for so many of our friends as they collect their awards.  I am so glad that two years ago Ralph and I decided to come out and run this race and I hope that last weekend there was another round of first timers who saw all of the camaraderie and were just as intrigued about “those cool neon orange shirts”.  Maybe next year will finally be the year that I absolutely CRUSH this race.

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Hollie June 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm

It was great to see you, even if for just a moment! I wish I had been able to stay longer.

I agree that it was really awesome to see so many people in the bright orange shirts.

It was a lot of fun but I don’t think the course was the easiest either. I know you will crush it next year and of course crush your next race!

Sara June 11, 2015 at 9:00 am

Maybe we’ll run into each other at another race this summer!

Liz@NovelRunner June 14, 2015 at 10:40 pm

I love this recap. “5Ks are dumb.” <- Yup, that is me the whole time, until I finish. Then I go home and scout the Internet for my next race. I've had the same issue with getting sick at races and it is the WORST. Not just because it slows you down; it also just kind of ruins the rest of your day. I've found that the more frequently I race, the less of an issue I have. I don't think I could ever run two races in the same week though. That is really impressive!

Sara June 20, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Oh yea as soon as they were over I was already planning what I wanted to run next. The pain of a short race is sharp and hard but it’s quick and as soon as it’s over you forget all about it and want to do it all over again. #runnerproblems 🙂

jamie July 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

hi Sara, I am new here to your blog, I just started running last year I love it especially 5ks I actually did a back too back 5k in June ran Saturday and Sunday, yes it was tough to recover but I had fun. then Iran on the 4th of July 5k in Riverton. I also did 3 half this year 1 in march 1 in may and 1 in June
it great to run I meet a lot of good people and great runners ..are you in any running club..
im thinking of doing the HOT RUN SUMMER 5K IN WOODBURY….

Jamie hershberger July 8, 2015 at 11:19 am

Good job running ,i am new to your blog my name is Jamie,
I like to 5k a lot did 3 HALF marathons this year..
I did a back to back 5k races,man it was tough.
Need to recover soon,week later I did a 4th of july 5k ..
Hope to meet u some day..happy running

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