Coogan’s 5K race recap

Yesterday was a great day for so many reasons. The weather was g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s and I had a lot of fun at the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K in Washington Heights. I lived in this ‘hood during my first 2 years in NYC, so running through the hilly streets brought back memories. By the end of the morning, I almost missed the days of pastelitos and bachata music. Almost.

I was a bundle of nerves, so I was up well before my 6am alarm went off. I started off with a cup of coffee (yup, even before races!) and a slice of toast with banana and a few spoonfuls of nutzo nut butter.

Frida coffee mug

Banana and pb on toast

This was the first race that I was EXCITED about running in a long time. I have a few solid weeks of workouts/long runs behind me and no nagging injuries. 

  • 2 mile warm-up and strides
  • First mile was a conservative 7:00 and then I picked up the pace.
  • Mile 2 was ~6:40 (MAJOR hill at the turn-around point)
  • Mile 3 was ~6:30
  • Final time was 20:50 (6:43 pace average)
  • 586th place out of 5,629 runners, 64th out of 2,612 women, and 7th finisher for the Central Park Track Club’s women’s team.
  • 7 mile cool-down (30-ish minutes with Jacqui and Sarah and then another 30-ish minutes back to my apartment…7 miles is a generous estimate, hah)
  • 12 miles total for the day

Despite being in the first second corral, the start was ridiculously crowded, I felt like I wasted a lot of energy weaving in and out of the crowd. Luckily things thinned out a bit after 800 meters and I was able to speed up. The hills on this course were pretty brutal, but at least the last 1/2 mile was mostly downhill! Last year at this race I ran 21:43, so I think it’s a good sign that this year’s time was nearly a minute faster. Also my time was a PR for a non-track 5K. My previous PR was 20:51 at Open New England’s Senior year (cross-country). Wahoo!

However, there’s always room for improvement. Next time I’d like to make my way up to the first corrall (less crowding, better start position) and pay more attention to running the tangents. I felt like I wasted a lot of unnecessary energy today fighting the crowd. Also, my first mile was too conservative, I need to focus on feeling comfortable with a faster start.

Onwards and upwards, NYC Half Marathon…here I come!

Once I returned home, I immediately devoured a plain chobani greek yogurt, chopped apple, with a spoonful of lingonberry jam.

yogurt and apple

After my shower, I re-hydrated with an Odwalla Superfood green juice (looked like sludge, tasted delicious!) and a chocolate chip peanut crunch clif bar.

Clif and Odwalla Superfood

And then…it was time to frolic in the amazing sunny weather! Nothin’ says spring like big sunglasses and a $5 Starbucks mocha frappuccino. I took advantage of the spring temperatures and went for a lil’ walk to stretch my legs. I really think that some light activity after a race or long run goes a long way in preventing soreness.


Around 4pm, I was hungry and ready to EAT (again). I made myself a plate of homemade nachos while I contemplated what to have for dinner. TJ’s reduced-guilt tortilla chips + shredded cheese + salsa + 20 seconds in the microwave = nachos!

Salsa and chips

Dinner ended up being leftovers from a creation I made the other night. Inspired by Tina’s breakfast pizza, I rounded up a slew of pantry ingredients and made my own version. My favorite thing about this dish is that you can easily make substitutions based on what you have in your fridge/pantry.

Polenta casserole

Polenta Casserole

Polenta Breakfast Casserole


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs earthbalance (or olive oil or butter)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large yellow carrot, chopped (feel free to substitute other veggies!)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 chicken sausage links, sliced (these had been in my freezer for months, so I used them up, but you could also use vegetarian sausage links!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, coat a 9″ pie pan with cooking spray
  • Heat water in a medium sauce pan, once boiling whisk in the cormeal, and reduce heat to low.
  • Allow cornmeal to cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Once sides of polenta begin to pull away from the sauce pan, turn off the heat, and stir in shredded cheese and a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Pour polenta into prepared pie plate and smooth down with a spoon.
  • In a large pan, heat earth balance and cook the onions and carrot until softened (about 3-5 minutes)
  • In a medium bowl combine cooked veggies, sliced sausage, egg whites, milk, and more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour veggie-egg mixture over polenta and bake for about 40 minutes or until top is goldent brown.

Yum! This was a very tasty dish that not only used up random leftovers in my fridge (that bag of cornmeal has been hangin’ out in my freezer since 2007), but it also provided a good mix of post-run carbs and protein.

Polenta Casserole

I ended the night with a cup of tea and some thin mint cookies.

Thin mints and tea

Note: I probably only took photos of about 75% of what I ate today. On days that I run fast (and long) I find that my appetite goes into overdrive. There were definitely some handfuls of Kashi crackers, spoonfuls of nut butter, and extra tortilla chips that went un-documented. After racing a 5k and running 12 miles, my body needed the fuel 🙂

Question: If you’re a runner, what’s your favorite race distance?

Is your ipod mix getting a little old? Score some new workout music from Cadence Revolution’s free weekly podcast.

Wondering what to do with leftover bread? Check out this yummy whole wheat panzanella salad recipe.

  • My favorite distance run is 12 miles. I think it’s the perfect distance; comfortable enough that I could run it every week, but still challenging (it is almost a a half marathon after all). Also, I don’t feel as drained after 12 miles like I do with 16, 18 milers (but I am still super hungry).

    After this weekends long run I couldn’t wait for a cheeseburger! Yum!

  • Awesome run girl! You were moving! My favorte distance is the half marathon. I feel like that race distance is PERFECT and it allows for some errors…like if you start out too slow or get stuck in a pack you have time to make it up!

  • Oh hey…jump over to my blog because I posed an interesting question about race qualifyng time versus men and women and I am SUPER curious as to what you think…thanks girl!

  • I think 10k’s are definitely my favorite. I like how you have to really push the whole time but not as hard as a 5k. I like the distance, where you can get in the zone but you don’t have time to “check-out” like you do in longer distances.

  • P.S. Run soon? Maybe next week when daylight savings time starts and it is light outside after the work day?!

  • My favorite distance always changes. It used to be the half marathon, then the 10k, then it was the marathon. Right now none of the above sound fun!

  • I have only run two 5Ks to date. I am running my first half marathon this coming weekend so will let you know which distance I prefer Monday … if I survive!

  • Wow – congrats on the awesome race and the PR!! I used to live in Washington Heights too — I went to grad school @ Columbia’s medical campus up there — but still haven’t made my way back uptown for the 5K yet. I heard similar things about overcrowding from lots of people, though 🙁

    I’m a big fan of 4-milers and 10Ks, but that’s probably because I’ve never run a half-marathon at my best (in terms of weight and training level).

  • Wow you run fast! But 5k is my favorite. I’m a newbie runner so I can only run up to 4 miles without stopping at any time. Your blog is so inspirational 🙂

  • WOW girl, that is truly an AWESOME run!! thats so great!!! your pizza looks out of this WORLD too! 🙂

  • Oh gosh, I can’t believe how fast you run! You cool 7.30 CONSERVATIVE!!?? Lol that’s very very fast for me :p Big congrats on the race anyway, it sounds like it went fabulously 🙂
    I like 10k and half marathon distance 🙂 But I have my first marathon in Oct….!

  • Kacey

    Nice race, your time rocks!

    My favorite distance to race is the 15k–not too short, not too long, but just right 🙂 It’s long enough to challenge me, but not too short that I feel like I’m spriting the whole time.

  • Yeah! Awesome job! It was great meeting you, and your race experience sounds a lot like mine: nonsense at the beginning and a hard push at the end. I refueled at the Whole Foods across the river. It was awesomeface. And I’d love to see ya again @Colon Cancer.
    I used to say 10 miles was my favorite distance, but I got super fired up at the 5K yesterday. So I’m not sure…

  • Awesome race!! I think my favorite race distance is the half marathon. It’s tough, takes some serious training, and isn’t over in a flash, but I’m not completely drained after and I feel like I can actually race it.

    Have a GREAT half on the 21st!! I’ll be out there cheering you on 🙂

  • Great run! I think 10 miles-half is best for me

  • Tricia

    Ohhh, I’m going to go with a 15K! Perfect in that it is not too long and not too short 🙂

  • I like extremes in racing. My fave distance is the 5K but my 2nd fave is the marathon. I have trouble adapting to anything in between 🙂

  • Ellen

    Awesome job! A “moderate” seven minute mile, eh? Pacing yourself is tricky…you don’t want to run out of steam, but feeling like you have plenty of energy left over at the end stinks too. I like to run (usually nothing over six miles), but I’ve never done a race. I think I’d be best at mid-distances. Maybe a 15k? Guess I should sign up for some to find out!

  • Sounds like a fun race! I haven’t decided what my favorite distance is yet…I think I’m probably naturally inclined for “middle” distances, but I’m not entirely sure yet…Guess I’ll keep running so I can find out 😉

  • Congrats on the PR! And that polenta dish looks yummy!

  • Awesome race! It was such a gorgeous day for it. Can you please channel some of your speediness my way for my marathon in May?! 🙂 Pretty please!!

    I’m not sure what my favorite distance is – I have never run a 10k, so I definitely need to try that first before I decide.

  • Way to rock that race 🙂 Time and place were both impressive – congratulations! I think my favorite distance to race is 13.1. I know I can go farther, but am thankful to be done.

  • Congrats on your PR! You did awesome!

  • I am totally resisting trying your yogurt, peanut butter, vita-muffin top concoction, because I just fear I am going to enjoy it way too much! Looks scrumptious.

    Great running weather in Boston too! Congrats on your time.

  • I really like 10 milers and half marathons. I’m not very fast, so those are distances with manageable training that I have time to complete while still working and having a life. Thought of you last night when I snacked on banana w/PB as dessert/snack!

  • Jen

    So a few things:
    1. I love that it took you a little over the time it takes me to run a mile to run a 5k
    2. your “cool down” from your 5K race was a seven-mile run

    I think I need your running brain to get me through this training!

  • Polenta is everywhere on blogs recently, (usually in some combination with eggplant). Thanks for the recipe idea!

  • I looove lingonberry jam! We lived in Sweden for awhile when I was younger so I grew up on it. You are SUCH a speed demon! You’ve been inspiring me to really bump up my speed training for my upcoming half (which is DEFINITELY my favorite race distance)

  • Amazing job on the race! Seriously, I’m going to start calling you Sonic the Hedgehog because your speed is just that impressive.

    You know what else is impressive? That delicious looking casserole!

    Have a great week!

  • I’d say somewhere between 10k and a half!

  • Wow, that casserole looks delicious. I was in NYC quickly this past weekend — saw B&A, but missed you… sorry I didn’t do a better job of reaching out. Hope to see you next time!


  • Jonah Blumstein

    Hey Megan, nice seeing you yesterday (twice in one weekend–holy cow!). Anyways, Nick made your peanut stew tonight. It’s really good, needless to say. Keep on rockin’.

  • CaitlinRose

    My favorite distance is definitely the Marathon!! anything less isn’t challenging anymore — like really, really I cannot walk up stairs for 2 days challenging. That is the most satisfying!! Plus, I love how there is so much time for strategy, and so much opportunity to improve

  • Jacqui

    “We’re totally running 8 min pace”


    Regarding favorite race distance.. I don’t know! It’s so hard to decide! Right now I’m leaning toward 4miles, 10K, or half marathon, but that’s only because those races went well for me. I feel like I need to run each distance at least twice before truly deciding!

  • Congratulations on a great race!

    My favorite distance I think is the 10K. I think it’s because I feel like a more established runner when I can do something beyond a 5K.

  • holy moly woman – you are a running beast! and i mean that in only the best of ways. kudos to you on a fab run!

    and that breakfast casserole – also genius! i am totally digging all your recipes lately. definitely adding this one onto my ever-growing list.

    have a great monday 🙂

  • I’ve just recently discovered your blog and love it (even referenced it on mine a few days ago). That polenta casserole dish looks YUMMY and EASY – looking forward to trying it sometime soon.

    Favorite race distance? Possibly 10K – that’s the one I’ve done the most (not that I’ve done that many so far). But I ran a 15K last year and really liked that too. Up for my first marathon this fall – will see how that goes!

  • Pingback: I love peanut butter | The Runner's Kitchen()

  • Pingback: Coogan's 5k Recap | The Runner's Kitchen()