Race Recap: Downtown Westfield 5K and Pizza Extravaganza (2015)

Hey, guys! So, I do have an update on my second week of training for the New York City Marathon — plus some karate-related news! — but I’ll share that later this week.

In the meantime, Todd and I ran our annual pizza 5K for the third year in a row last Wednesday, and it was just too delicious fun to not share a quick recap!

In 2011, the Downtown Westfield 5K and Pizza Extravaganza was my VERY FIRST 5K. So beyond the post-race food and festivities, I also like to run this one for the nostalgia. :)

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Did I mention it was 90+ degrees that year?!

Beyond the pizza, the second best part of this race is that the entire “downtown” area is packed with local vendors and giveaways and a live band and all sorts of excitement. And my favorite running store, the Westfield Running Company, just so happens to be located right in town, so it becomes sort of the local gathering place for runners.

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We got our bibs and race shirt — which I have to say is always one of the ugliest and most ginormous (even in a size small!) race shirts I collect every year — and enjoyed some of the pre-race festivities. I was in excellent spirits because unlike 2011, 2012, 2013, AND 2014, the weather forecast for this year’s race was NOT supposed to be insanely hot and humid (SAYWHAT?!)

I swear, I did NOT pose Miles like that, LOL

Well, at least somebody’s enjoying it…

The high only reached the low 80s that day; temperatures were still hovering in the mid-70s by the time the race started at 7pm, but there was practically no humidity. The weather conditions were — dare I say — downright pleasant. As a result, I wasn’t (secretly) dreading this race like I normally am, because I knew I wouldn’t feel that overwhelming urge to drop dead after “only” three miles.

The race draws some 2,500 runners (translation: it’s freakin’ crowded), and the course is pretty much all rolling hills, so this is definitely not a PR race for me. Plus, seeing as how it was only my second week of marathon training after an extended running hiatus, I knew I had to maintain realistic expectations. We both looked at the race as a mid-week training run followed by lots and lots of yummy pizza.

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Getting ready to run…

When the race started, I was surprised to see that we were easily maintaining around a 10-minute/mile pace. My half marathon pace (in cooler conditions, of course) is right around a 9-minute/mile — so I’m pretty thrilled whenever I can hold something in the realm of a 10 when I’m running in the summer months.

There were plenty of spectators and ample water stops, and there were lots of people shooting runners with hoses and offering their sprinklers for us to run through — an offer I always gladly accept. I probably look like an idiot, but there’s something strangely satisfying about running through a sprinkler (other than the fact that I’ll do anything to cool off during a hot summer run). Makes me feel like a kid again or something. :)

In the second mile, our pace slowed just slightly as we climbed a few hills, but I was still proud of myself for being able to hold that 10ish-minute/mile. I knew I wasn’t performing anywhere near my usual “racing” potential, but I was okay with that. Plus, I kept thinking back to last year’s 5K…which was pretty disastrous. It was boiling hot and the humidity was unbearable, and I struggled THE ENTIRE WAY. Yes, even for just “three miles.” We finished in over 34 minutes last year, which was probably my longest (non-Disney) 5K time ever. This year, we weren’t “racing,” per se’, but I knew because it was cooler that I could expect to perform a little bit better.

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Last year’s race

As we approached the finish line, we were able to spot Todd’s parents, who are seriously the best race spectators ever. They could not be more excited to see us and cheer us on, and you can’t help but feel like a total rockstar. ;)

We finished under 32 minutes this year, which, again, is nowhere near either of our 5K PRs under any circumstances — and I actually performed a bit better in this race in 2012 and 2013 — but I was more than happy to finish with a comfy 10:15 pace in a summer race on marathon training legs after a lengthy running hiatus. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. :-D

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After you cross the finish line, you’re immediately directed to the pizza area. UM, YES, PLEASE! There are countless pizza boxes and dozens of volunteers handing out as many slices as you can eat. Granted, the pizza is typically cold by the time you eat it, so it’s not exactly the most scrumptious meal in the world…but after a sweaty race, it still tastes DAMN GOOD.

We met up with Todd’s parents, found my parents, and we all chowed down on pizza. Oh, and cookies. There were lots and lots of yummy chocolate chip and sugar cookies for dessert. Nom nom nom.

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‘Cuz, you know, running for 30 minutes totally warrants scarfing down pizza and cookies, yes?

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Afterwards, Todd and I hit the running store to check out their clearance shoes (god forbid they EVER have my sneaker in the correct size…), and I ended up buying a replacement pair of the sneakers I’ve been wearing since March (for full price, of course). Plus, they had the new 2015 design, and since I have to wear a men’s shoe because of my freakishly wide foot, I loved that they were snazzy and (somewhat) girly…plus, I love anything ombre. :)

Men's Brooks Glycerin 13 Aurora - Ombre - Outside

My new kicks. Photo credit: boulderrunningcompany.com

I’m the type of runner who simply buys the same exact pair of sneakers over and over again: Brooks Glycerin. Granted, I hadn’t done a WHOLE lot of running after the marathon in April, but my feet were definitely feeling the effects of worn-out shoes and I knew it was time.

So, all in all, it was another successful year at the Westfield Pizza race. And I’m sure we’ll be back again to eat pizza run in 2016. :) IMG_5023

Is there a race you run every year?

Have you ever run a pizza race?

Do you ever run local races as weekly training runs for a half/full marathon?

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