Race Recap: Downtown Westfield Pizza 5K (2014)

Hey, guys! I’ll share my workouts from last week in the next day or two, but first, I wanted to post my slightly-belated recap from last Wednesday’s Downtown Westfield Pizza 5k!

Much like the Firecracker 4-Miler on July 4th, I run this race every year…and, back in 2011, it was my very first 5k!


Is there any better way to celebrate your first 3.1…? ;)

This year, AS PER USUAL, the race just so happened to land on a disgustingly hot, humid evening — the “real feel” temps were near 100 all day, and even though the race kicks off at 7pm, it didn’t do a whole lot to curb the humidity. I was breaking a sweat just walking to the starting line. (Pretty, right?)

Anyway, I didn’t go into the race with high expectations or anything like that. I mainly run this one for the pizza. And the cookies. Not even gonna lie. ;)



It’s held in the downtown area of Westfield (obviously), and has sort of a fun, festival atmosphere with lots of giveaways and goodies from various local businesses and vendors prior to the race — and, of course, a pizza party at the finish line.

When Todd and I arrived with his parents (my parents and sister met up with us later on), we headed straight for the local running store, Westfield Running Company, which was having a giveaway of its own — free “Run This Town” tech shirts with the store name on the back for anyone who signed up for their mailing list/entered a prize drawing. Sounded like a pretty fair trade to me. They ran out of the men’s shirts by the time it was our turn to sign up, so Todd got a free gray Nike tech shirt. Not too shabby. :)


We also walked away with swag including ice packs (which I anticipate using an awful lot over the next several months) and the usual snacks, t-shirts, etc., on top of the tech shirt that came with race registration. Which, as per usual, I don’t particularly care for…in fact, I think it may be their most unattractive shirt yet, and it’s not even “real” tech material (it’s that weird polyester I’d never even consider running in).


Anyway, it’s a hugely popular race, attracting some 3,000 local runners, so we lined up somewhere near the 10:00/mile pacer and started out nice and easy. Mainly because there was NO WAY I was pushing myself on a 90-degree evening, but also because there really is nowhere to run due to the crowds. Unless you start right in the front with the super-fast runners, you’re not going anywhere for the first mile or so. Which was fine by me.


Everything started out well enough. The course is very familiar to me, obviously, and even though it’s a tad hillier than I’d like for a 5K, at least I know where all said hills are located and can prepare myself mentally. Todd and I were casually shooting the breeze during the first half mile or so, and I felt okay, but by the first mile marker I knew the remainder of the race wasn’t going to be all that pleasant for me.

I was guzzling water at every station, running through every sprinkler and hose the kind folks of Westfield were blasting upon us sweaty runners, and even stopping to WALK through the water stations — which I normally would never do in a 5K — but I was feeling like crap. My legs were tight and sore, which I chalked up to the previous evening’s martial arts classes, but overall I just did not feel well. I wasn’t pushing myself by any means — my Garmin reported an average 10:30-11/minute mile, my usual “comfortable” pace in hot temperatures — but my body just wasn’t having it.

It still amazes me how a 10K or even a half marathon can fly by, but sometimes a measly 5K at “only” 3.1 miles can feel like an eternity. It felt like those final two miles dragged on FOREVER, and I know I wasn’t the only one struggling. We saw a runner on the ground receiving medical attention in the third mile, and I heard of at least two other runners who went down on the course, presumably as a result of the weather conditions.

When we finally crossed the finish line, I thought for a moment that I might be one of those runners — I immediately felt lightheaded and needed to sit down RIGHT AWAY. I was really afraid of fainting, so I found the nearest curb and plopped myself down. Todd gave me some water and the feeling passed in a few minutes, fortunately, but when I stood up again I still didn’t feel quite “right.”

Not surprisingly, this year proved my worst finish time ever for this race. Even better, it is now my official worst time for a 5K ever (not including runDisney races, of course). We came in a few seconds after my very first 5K time of 33:03, with a chip time of 33:09.

It’s not an encouraging stat, to say the least, but all I can say is that a.) I know my body doesn’t perform well in the summer, b.) It’s not bad given the fact that we really weren’t “racing” and all of my previous attempts at this race have definitely been for time, c.) I’m in marathon training and my legs are not “fresh” in any way, shape, or form, and d.) I wasn’t feeling right and did not want Todd scooping me off the ground and having to alert the paramedics during what was supposed to be a fun 5K race.

We found both sets of our parents and I felt a lot better once I started gobbling down pizza. (Gotta love the salt.)

IMG_7246I’m going to go ahead and assume that I was dehydrated, but as I will discuss in my forthcoming weekly workouts post, this seems to be an ongoing issue. I’m working on figuring out what I’m doing wrong, because my last couple of runs have NOT gone well. And I will be definitely be asking for your advice!

The remainder of the evening went well — it was the first time our respective parents met, so we were chatting and having a grand old time chowing down on pizza and cookies. A reader also came up and introduced herself, which also has a way of boosting my mood. :)

But then the sky turned black and race organizers started warning people to get to steppin’, because that evening’s forecasted severe thunderstorm was rolling in FAST.


We took a few final photos with the lovely backdrop that was the BLACK sky and started to make our way out, but not before the sky opened up and I found myself doing just a little bit more running — to the car.


I definitely didn’t mind getting rained on at that point, and I counted our lucky stars that the storm held off for everyone to finish the race and grab some pizza before we all had to get the hell out of there. I would have been more than a little upset if the storm started earlier and cancelled the race!

Have you ever felt sick/dehydrated during a race?

Has a race you’ve signed up for ever been cancelled due to the weather?





  1. Ugh, sorry you felt bad, but just think how good it will feel when fall comes (I feel like I keep saying that to everyone!). I mean, at least you are continuing to run and push yourself. I would love to do an evening 5K sometime. That sounds more appealing than getting out of bed early on a weekend to run 3.1 miles.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hahaha, I hear ya — I know we’re all struggling right now, but you’re right, it will all be worth it in the fall! To be honest, I’d much rather get up early for a race — I have issues with knowing what I can and cannot eat before running, so planning for a night race stresses me out. lol

  2. I’ve never felt dehydrated during the race, but the half marathon at Disney this January was so humid, my fingers swelled up. When I got the food box, I immediately ate all the salty stuff.

    • Jennifer says:

      Super easy to feel dehydrated in Disney, that’s for sure! There’s NOTHING better than the salty stuff afterwards…that’s how I know I’m dehydrated!

  3. That Run for the Pizza shirt is a bit sad looking, but at least Todd scored himself a nice Nike tech shirt!

    I’m running an evening 5K next month and I think I’ll be taking it easy too. The weather right now is just such a killer! Plus, we’ve got all fall/winter to shoot for PRs right?! :)

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s even sadder in person, LOL. ;)

      My thoughts exactly! For me, attempting to “race” in the summer is completely useless, so I’d rather run for fun and save my energy/sty uninjured for when I know I can really run. When it’s about 30 degrees cooler. ;)

  4. A race where you get pizza at the end?? This sounds like heaven! I need someone in my town to start doing this race ASAP.

  5. I have felt very dehydrated during a race and it caused some serious crampage. Lots of water and electrolytes for the entire week leading up to the race is very important and that is what caused my cramps during that race! Lesson learned :0)

    Sometimes I wonder why a 5K feels so much longer than a 10K or half marathon. Maybe it’s because as long distance runners we just kind of expect it to go by fast? Joke’s on us LOL!

    Seriously though, great job to you and Todd both! Summer running is HARD, but when pizza and cookies are at the finish, that is totally a good enough reason to run!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Lauren! Oh, the post-race goodies more than made up for the sucky weather that night! ;-D

      UGH, that’s the worst feeling. I’m really trying to be better at hydrating in the days BEFORE the race, not just the day OF the race.

      Hahaha, could be! Or maybe just because a 5K tends to hurt more, since we’re really pushing our pace? I’ll take long, slow distances any time!

  6. SO glad you got out before that crazy storm hit! It was creepy! The weather was nuts, and I am bummed that I missed you! Maybe next year lol and let’s hope the shirt improves, it was a little dull!

    • Jennifer says:

      RIGHT?! But thank goodness it held out long enough for us to run and get our pizza, haha. And I wouldn’t count on the shirt improving…it’s ugly every year, lol.

      Me too! We were looking for you when everyone started lining up. But it is a pretty crowded race!

  7. I’m so sorry that this race was so rough for you! I felt like that after the Disneyland 10K last year. I was struggling through the whole thing and is the only (knock on wood) time I’ve felt sick after a run. But I also know what you mean about “only” a 5K. In fact, that last 3.1 is always the hardest part of a half marathon for me because I’m so close that my mind and body translate it as done. I don’t know why the shorter distances are so much harder for me, but they are.

    On the plus side, there was pizza! Every race needs to end with pizza.

  8. Pizza and cookies? I’m in! Sorry you didn’t feel great for this one. I’ve had that faint feeling just a handful of times and its pretty scary. Could be a heat/hydration/fueling issue. Good idea to figure it out if its ongoing. Hope the next one if better!

  9. christi in ma says:

    I run a 5K every July 3 and I know how you feel. It’s always so hot and humid!
    Last year after mile 1 I was starting to get the chills. I looked at my HRM and it was at 190! I realized I was dehydrated and slowed down to a walk to get things under control.
    This year I carried water and was so happy I did. I’ve never done that in a race before.

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