Race Recap: Downtown Westfield 5K Run and Pizza Extravaganza

Last night I ran the “pizza 5K” in Westfield for the third year in a row. It wasn’t my greatest performance, by any means, but it’s always a lot of fun!

In its 12th year, the race has grown to be pretty HUGE. There were approximately 2,500 runners and their family and friends crammed into the Downtown Westfield area last night. Despite the crowds, I find this race to be, by far, one of the best organized local races available in my area. First and foremost, the bib/swag pick-up is always a breeze, and then there are a bunch of vendors and local businesses who participate in pre-race festivities with samples and giveaways. Basically, everyone grabs free tote bags and goes “trick-or-treating” through town, and I end up with everything from granola bars and pens to beauty products and toothpaste samples. Not too shabby!


As I’ve mentioned here, this race was my very first 5K back in 2011, so it’s always sort of a cool to return to this race every year and think about how far I’ve come since then! The race is NOT an easy one — there are a few fairly steep hills, and I think referring to the course as “rolling” would probably be a bit of an understatement. However, there are plenty of spectators and because there are so many runners, the energy is really high…and so I can (almost) ignore just how hilly it is. And this year, of course, I had my new favorite running buddy with me, so it was an extra special experience. :)


I went into this race knowing I had two things working against me. For starters, even though the heat FINALLY broke here in New Jersey, and the temperatures were much cooler than the last two years of this race, it’s STILL a summer 5K…and my performance just completely suffers in anything over, say, 65 degrees. Secondly, and not to share TMI, but my favorite monthly visitor is with me this week, and that inevitably leads to plenty of discomfort any time I run. Last night proved no exception; I cramped up within the first mile, and then just tried to deal as best I could for the remainder of the race. I went as fast as I possibly could, and did everything in my power to, at the very least, stay under that 9-minute per mile mark on my Garmin (which I did, but, barely!)


My devoted spectators! :)

Still, my ultimate goal was simply to beat my time from last year. In 2012, the race fell on a steamy 95+ degree evening, and that pretty much killed me — my finish time was 29:16. This year, I’m proud to announce that even though I was still way off my most recent 5K PR (by more than 90 seconds), I finished in 27:44. Todd, of course, smoked me once again, with a time of 24:33. But for me, the most important thing is seeing my own progress, so I was just thrilled to be able to finish in 27-something as opposed to 29-something!


Gotta love a post-race slice of pizza!

Of course, the best part of this race is THE PIZZA. This year, they seemed to try to be more organized when it came to feeding the thousands of hungry runners by having us form a single-file line (as opposed to having people swarm around tables full of pizza slices, as was the case last year). I’m not a huge fan of standing in line, but, we eventually got our pizza…and cookies! A live band played before and after the race, and people hung out in the streets…it’s a really fun time.


What I think is really cool about this race is that you see so many runners in all different shapes and sizes and ages, and at all different ability levels and stages in their “running career.” As in any race, there are a handful of SERIOUS athletes, but at an event like this you end up seeing a whole lot more runners who are like me. I remember arriving to the race in 2011 being absolutely TERRIFIED that I would look “out of place”…and that everyone would look at me and think I wasn’t a “real runner.” I no longer feel that way, of course, but I love that there are towns that will host a race with plenty of entertainment and food and fun so that nobody feels too overwhelmed to sign up, or to bring along their family and revel in their 3.1 mile accomplishment!


Rocking my “Will Run for…PIZZA” Bondiband!

What do you think makes for a GOOD race? The swag? The entertainment? The course? The spectators?



  1. I’m such a dork, but when I saw you pictures all I could say to myself was “OMG! Is that the teal colored sparkle skirt?!? I LOVE that color! I need to get that!”
    I enjoyed your recap too, but that was the most prevalent thought. As for me, what makes a good race is all of the above. It’s fun to get swag, have entertainment and great spectators, but what is most important is runner support. Appropriate water stations and fueling at the end of the race. As long as that is there, I couldn’t care less about swag.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey, Lena! HAHAHA, that doesn’t make you a dork at all! You know I loves me some Sparkle Skirts just as much as you do! :) It IS the teal one, which I purchased because I’m thinking of doing Merida for one of the Glass Slipper Challenge races next year! ;-D It’s my absolute favorite, so pretty in person…you have to get one!

      You’re so right — runner support is huge! And, of course, the necessities to keep us all feeling our best (in this case, yummy pizza, haha) after the race. Definitely more important than the swag!

  2. Pizza and cookies after a race? That sounds like heaven!

    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but I’ve yet to finish a race and get handed pizza, cookies, cupcakes or anything delicious that I read about in other people’s race recaps! :)

    • Jennifer says:

      It totally is! Not gonna lie — thinking of the treats waiting for me at the finish line is a BIG motivator to get there faster, haha. ;) You’ll definitely have to keep your eyes peeled for a race with goodies!

  3. I’m putting this race on my calendar for next summer! Looks like such a good time!

  4. My friends were at that race, I can’t believe I missed another one that you were running! They asked me join them, and I stayed local instead. Glad you had a good time! I love swag at races :)

    • Jennifer says:

      Aww, MAN! One of these days we’re DEFINITELY going to have to see each other at a race! It was definitely a good time!

  5. Yay for free stuff! I always look forward to what each race will put in their goodie bags :)

    Huge congrats on your finishing time, that is AWESOME!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks so much, Lauren! I know! I figure, we pay good money to run these races…so going home with some goodies is never a bad thing! :-D

  6. Hmm, if I knew that there was food incentives to do races, maybe I’ll get outdoors more quickly to start training lol.

  7. Wow a Pizza 5k sounds so fun! Loved your Sparkle skirt and BondiBand! Congrats on a GREAT finish time!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Aw, thanks so much! It was definitely a LOT of fun. Nothing better than pizza after a race, I’m telling ya! :)

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