Jingle Bell Jog 6k Recap

After my half-marathon disappointment, I decided that I needed a bit of redemption, so I signed up for a Jingle Bell Jog in Prospect Park. It was originally slotted to be a 4-miler, but some last minute course changes resulted in a 6k distance. I was (am?) in pretty good shape from Fall half-marathon training, so I decided to capitalize on that fitness and vie for a new PR, even in a weirdo distance like the 6k. Now, let me lay the groundwork for this race: 1) I don’t like short races i.e. anything less than 15k. I think I’m just better suited for races that require aerobic strength and mental calculation vs. pure speed. With shorter races, there’s not much time for thinking or strategy…you just GO. 2) I have not run a single workout in the 3 weeks since the Philly half, just easy miles. This is probably not the best way to run a fast 3.7 mile race. 3) Remember when I bragged about never getting sick? UGH. I’ve been congested and phlegmy (nice visual, eh? you’re welcome) for the past 2 weeks.

So there you have it, I had plenty of half-assed excuses for why this wasn’t going to be a good race.

But you know what? It actually wasn’t so bad. This was by no means the race of my life, but it could have been worse. And I found the finish line, so that in itself is a victory. On Saturday morning, I dragged my congested self out of bed, drank some coffee, nibbled on some dried cherries, and headed to the starting line. I warmed up for about 3 miles because my philosophy is: the shorter the race, the longer the warm-up. I might not warm-up at all for a marathon, but I wanted my muscles to be ready for this shorter effort. The race itself was rather uneventful and was over before I knew it. I finished the 6k (3.7 mile) course in 24:57 which is about 6:42 pace. My miles were fairly consistent, although the second mile might have been a little slower (hill!) and the third mile was probably a little faster. The only other 6ks I’ve run have been on cross-country courses and my fastest time was a 25:19 (2005, Junior year of college), so I suppose you could consider this a 23 second PR, buttt it was on the roads and not grass/dirt, so I don’t know if it counts. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t run slower than my cross-country PR because that would have sucked.

What did I learn from this race? Oh yes, that my “race pace” does not vary much, regardless of whether I’m running a 6k or a half-marathon. I also realized that I don’t know what 5k, 6k, or 10k pace should feel like. I was sure that my first mile was going to be like 6:20, but in reality it was a 6:40. I suppose some dedicated track work would make me a faster 5k and 10k runner, but I like longer races better, so screw that.

The temperature was pleasantly mild for this time of year (sunny and 40 F), so I wore my singlet and shorts. Racing while practically naked always makes me run a little faster. Honestly though, I really wasn’t cold at all. I generally think that people overdress for races. If you’re working hard enough, you don’t need 17 layers.

After the race, I covered up a bit and ran some cool-down miles with my friend Sari. My rave review of the Gregory dipsea backpack convinced her to buy it as well. Twins! I wore the backpack during my 3-mile warm-up and 4-mile cool-down and didn’t feel it at all. It’s amazing for run commuting. And no, Gregory isn’t paying me to say this, but they should.

Judging from the festive costumes out on the course, I don’t think that many people went balls to the wall in this race. I was the 201st finisher out of 5,774 runners and the 20th female out of 3,479.

I also finished in the top 10 in my age group which is very, very rare for me in NYRR races. The NYC running scene is competitive, yo.

Immediately after the race, I grabbed a small cup of hot chocolate and an apple and then embarked upon my 4-mile cool-down. Then I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for even more hot chocolate. No, this is not the most natural, gourmet stuff in New York City, but I love it. I think last winter I drank it nearly every day…

And then I went to Target and spent all of my money. How does that happen?!? When I heard the total, I immediately thought the cashier must be wrong, but no…I just bought a lot of things I probably don’t need. But the tights! Oh the tights. Target has the best ones…and they’re only $10, so when I inevitably get a hole in them, I don’t feel so bad. I also managed to pick up a dress and a sweater…all in shades of grey and black. New York City, year 5. This is what happens to your wardrobe. Also, Fage yogurt was (is?) only $1. I couldn’t pass that up.

The fact that I am posting my entire Target purchase on the internet is probably indicative that I could use some more social interaction.

The whole race and shopping extravaganza took over 4 hours and I was ready for some lunch when I got home. As part of the Foodbuzz tastemakers program, I received a coupon for Green Giant steamers (aka frozen vegetables) and since I’ve been eating so much Christmas junk lately, the vegetables were a nice change. Yeah, local and organic vegetables from the Farmer’s Market are best, but that doesn’t always happen. You know what sucks? Spending half your paycheck on organic arugula and beets only to have a busy week and have them decompose in your crisper bin. Frozen fruits and veggies can sometimes have more nutrients in them since they’re frozen at their peak and don’t have time to lose freshness. Listen up lazy (and busy) girls – frozen produce is your friend!! I would like to say that about ice cream as well, but it’s probably not true.

Anyway, my veggie medley in light basil butter sauce was pretty good and I’d buy it again. I ate the whole bag (lolz 3 servings, more like 1) and topped it with some smoked mozzarella.

The rest of my day involved eating, napping, more eating, and baking approximately 4 dozen cookies. I spent my Saturday night in sweatpants and went to bed before 11pm. It was awesome (no, I’m not being sarcastic – it really was awesome). There’s always a bit of pressure to “be social! go out! do something awesome on a weekend night!” and I felt a little guilty for being such a homebody, but in the end, I did exactly what I needed (and wanted) to do this weekend. And my cold seems to be on its way out, so huzzah for (occasionally) making good decisions.

If you have an entire weekend day to yourself (no social or work obligations), how do you spend it?

  • That weird weekend fun pressure- where does that come from? Because I definitely feel it too. I actually had one of those obligation-free weekend days this past Saturday. Not only did I have nothing to do, but all my roommates were gone so I had the whole apartment to myself. I ended up taking a long walk around the neighborhood and reading on the couch all night. Oh and I went out to get Ben and Jerry’s too. It was fantastic.

    Nice race! I bet there are ton of fast, high-powered young runners in NYC so that’s awesome that you broke top 10.

  • I had a great weekend, and was in bed “early” both nights. Friday night because I planned to get up early for a group run the next day, and Saturday night because after the group run I spent the majority of the day in downtown Chicago doing Christmasy stuff and eating delicious food. I think I’m over trying to prove how cool I am with a late bedtime on the weekends. Honestly the stuff I’d rather spend my weekend doing (running, doing “family-friendly” things even though I don’t have kids) takes place during the day anyway. Going out to bars or sitting up drinking at someone’s house, just to stay up “late”? Boooooring. 

  • Congrats on placing so high in the race! 

    I basically had Sunday all to myself, and I ran, went grocery shopping, baked 3 batches of cookies, watched reruns of The Practice (while cooking and baking), made some stuff for lunches during the week, and did a little bit of cleaning.  

  • beastly race! i am similar (back in the day of my in shape-ness) with the same pace problem.

    i spend my weekend days off cooking/baking, reading, yogaing/running, and chatting on the phone to catch up with friends. good times.

  • Fact: I blame Target (er, my lack of self-control when facing down a Target) for my post-college credit card debt. Yup. I’m now allowed one trip quarterly (it helps that there isn’t one in the city. yet.)

    Sweet race and great age group finish! I flew to Miami this weekend for 36 hours with my best friend from high school, a little more than two of which I spent running a very humid half-marathon. 40 degrees sounds heavenly to me after that! When I have a weekend day to myself, I like to run, drink coffee, read, cook a dinner that will make lots of leftovers, and catch up on terrible television!

  • Ugh I did the same thing at Target this weekend… tights and all!  11pm bedtime on Saturday is far from lame, it sound amazing.  Actually a 9pm bedtime sounds even more delightful! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    target tights!!! I totally agree with you. Just seeing all the choices of tights makes me want to buy them all. definitely worth stocking up. Also, nice racing! It’s my goal in life to get o nthat top ten list, even if I’m like 85.
    I love relaxing nights in – and I don’t care who judges. Sometimes it’s just what I need after a busy week or weekend!

  • Liz Engelhardt

    My god you have the world’s greatest legs! I could run 24/7 and never have legs like that! Now, that’s completely unrealistic, and I’m also quite the slow runner, but I do actually log those miles when forced 🙂 And my boyf is one of those “must go out on Saturday night” types whereas I am not, so I am totally with you on awesome nights like that!

  • Liz Engelhardt

    Holy hell I did NOT know it was going to post my full name. Awesome. Noted.

  • Anonymous

    haha, the photo does not show my weirdo calf veins, but thank you for the compliment! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    i’m trying to figure out how to remove your last name! this commenting system can be weird.

  • Anonymous

    Two thumbs up to your Ben and Jerry’s excursion 🙂 I need to get myself a pint of Jimmy Fallon’s “late night snack” flavor, to you know…put on top of my pecan pie. yay holiday desserts.

  • are you rocking eyeliner with your cptc uniform? if so, i am so 100% behind this decision.

    sometimes it’s so nice to withdraw from everyone from a weekend and just take time to yourself, especially when you aren’t feeling well.  i think we should make up for it this saturday though. hot spiked drinks for all?

  • ~Jess@Almost Over Now~

    I agree with your racing technique, and your thoughts on distance vs. speed.  People are always surprised at how slow my 5K pace is relative to my half/full marathon times (which in themselves aren’t that great, I just mean relatively speaking!) because I have one top speed, whether it’s for 5K or 26.2 miles.  It’s all to do with fast/slow twitch muscles I suspect…that and I hate the ‘run till you puke’ element of 5Ks!  I really don’t enjoy shorter races – they’re always over before you’ve begun, and don’t feel like much of a journey or experience, and I have no idea at all how to pace for even a 10K – I completely concur with the miles needed to warm up though, particularly as I don’t seem to really ‘get going’ in terms of splits until I’ve gone at least 10 miles.

    I also usually overdress for races, but I am learning to be more like you – if you’re working hard enough, you don’t need to bundle up, as you say.

    This is a very superficial comment but you have killer legs!  Sorry, I’m just trying to hide my jealousy right now 😉


  • Anonymous

    hahahaahah, yes i am wearing eyeliner. i went to a party the night before and did not wash it off.

  • Anonymous

    re: that “run till you puke” feeling…sometimes i wonder if it would hurt just the same if i pushed myself a little faster. after saturday’s race, i found myself thinking that i should have been running closer to 6:30’s. could i have done it? would it have been any more painful than 6:40’s? ugh, to be determined i guess!

  • Skierchick03

    free weekend days are such a luxury–i would spend it Sleeping in, drink coffee, go for a long run with friends and make a really good dinner!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    i laughed when you said you found the finish line 🙂  congrats on a top 10 AG finish – so impressive given the many NYC speedsters!!!!

    i spend my plan-free weekends in sweats, watching movies, running, and sleeping!

  • Organizing, cleaning, running (if I can), watching youtube. I had a homebody weekend because all of my med school friends are out of town interviewing. [And my other friends are sick, such as you!] It was pretty boring, but I did babysit 2x. 

    Also, “and then I went to Target and spent all of my money” = STORY OF MY LIFE.

  • Nicole

    I’m just loving your tone these days..SAD be damned! I have something to return to Target, so I will be on the lookout for tights, thanks to certain children outgrowing their shoe size when I buy them Christmas gifts after not seeing them for a while!

    Let’s run soon…though I am taking off a few days after my typical 5-month long XC season!

  • If I have an entire weekend to myself, I usually spend it running errands, running, cooking, and watching endless episodes of (insert any number of television shows available on dvd or hulu).  Target is dangerous – I’m in the market for some tights, I’ll have to try them out.

  • Congrats on the race! And for finding the finish line! 😉 haha 

    I know what you mean about only having one pace. I’m the same way (maybe why we’re just meant to be long distance runners?) I always feel like I should be able to go faster for shorter distances, but I have a hard time crossing that threshold. There have only been a few races where I’ve felt like I’ve been able to kick it into a different gear – otherwise I just get stuck in my “comfortably uncomfortable” zone, which makes for times that don’t seem all that much faster than my half marathon/marathon pace. 
    Either way, you ran a PR (road or not, it’s still a PR!), so congrats. Your entire weekend sounded awesome. I think running + Target + Christmas cookies + sweatpants makes for the perfect Saturday.

  • Congrats on the race, and sad I didn’t get to see ya there! And yes, I know exactly what you mean by only having one pace. For some reason, my half-marathon pace is faster than any 5 mile or 10K race I’ve done. 

    And, a saturday in sweats is totally awesome- there is no shame. I spent Friday night by myself rearranging my dresser drawers and clothes- until 1 a.m. Social butterfly, over here. I think it’s good to have a balance between those chill nights and the crazy going out nights.PS- Your legs look lean and mean in that mirror pic…watch out, roads!

  • hillary

    Thanks for the backpack reco; I run home along west side highway a couple nights a week and have been gradually transferring my entire wardrobe including shoes to the office (changing clothes at work, not carrying anything home).  Also wanted to ask you about running in prospect park at night: have you ever felt unsafe there after dark?

  • Anonymous

    hmm, i am admittedly not the most cautious person, but i’ve never had any Prospect Park safety issues. i’ve run there as early as 6am and as late as 9:30pm.

  • Ced

    Judging by your marathon PR vs. shorter distances, it appears that you either are 1) extremely well developed aerobically or 2) inherently slow-twitch. Or both. If you’ve been running for a while, then #1 must be quite true.

    We’re in a similar place in terms of half marathon pace (probably 1:27 to 1:30 shape +/-) but I can run a 10k at 6:20 pace and 5k/4M around 6:10. On the other hand, I don’t even want to mention my marathon time. So I’m the exact opposite of you when it comes to the “1 pace”, and it comes from the fact that I’ve only been running since 2009, and on low mileage (20-30 mpw).

    Since you’ve got that huge base, if I were you I’d incorporate sessions to develop some speed bio-mechanically first, and not focus on traditional speed workouts or tempo runs. By incorporating some strides first, you could increase your speed without working on raising your lactate threshold. With that extra speed, I would then proceed to a few higher end aerobic runs, to start feeling some discomfort, and after that, I think progressive tempo runs would be very helpful. 

    As an example, run a very slow first mile at 9:00, while moving towards 8:15 at mile 2, picking it up to around 7:30 for the third mile, and then strong 4th at 7:00, hard 5th at 6:40 and final sixth mile 95% of all out. That should come down to 6:10-6:30 and this pace would really feel good.

    I once got caught in the middle of a CPTC workout in that fifth mile and someone passed me while running 6:10 pace, doesn’t happen often but that helped me speed up even further and I ran a mile PR (5:55) at the end of a tempo run!

    Hope this helps and congrats on the blog. Let me know if you need new running buddies (I don’t have a blog though!)


  • NICE Congrats on placing in your age group! I totally agree with you on preferring longer racing vs. shorter – during my turkey trot 5K I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.
    Glad you got some rest – weekends like that are so necessary now and then. A weekend day to myself? Hmm. I would probably run, walk my dog, window shop around philly, and then lay on my couch and watch reality TV, bake something, get some awesome take-out, and watch more TV. 🙂

  • Either that mirror is crazy or you have crazy long legs!  I’m supporting the second one and color me jealous.  In other news, yay for a top ten finish at an NYRR race!

    I always wonder how fast I could go at shorter distances, although after training for marathons for so long, I think I get too scared to go out so fast even for a shorter race.