1st Run 5k To Ring In 2015

Happy New Year... now bundle up it will be a chilly one!

Not sure it is smart to look at the weather before a run when winter hits New England. It just chills me to the core and makes me want to roll over and stay in bed.

THEN I remember that I must train in any weather conditions AND I had convinced folks to register for the 1st Run 5k so I had to show up! Plus, it was a real feel of 6 degrees... down right balmy in my opinion! Did that sound convincing?

Well it worked enough for me.

The wife and I bundled into the car around 9:30am to make the 35 minute ride north to Lowell. The 1st Run 5k starts at 11am, which is nice for spectators and runners alike. Really for those that actually celebrate New Year's Eve. We did not so it didn't matter to us what time it started.

This was the third-consecutive year I'd be running the 1st Run 5k so we have directions, parking and packet pick-up down!

On the way to the VFW (race HQ), we bumped into Leah.

I met Leah through social media and she is an awesomely inspiring mom and runner. She would be taking on the 10k - two rounds of the windy 5k loop - and looked ready to crush the PR she was after. We snapped a quick pic before she went off to meet her friends and I went to find my bib.

I love the swag - winter knit hat and running clothes. :)

I took my time putting my bib on and having my pre-race snack while we were in the warmth of the VFW. With about 20 minutes to go before the race, I dragged my feet and finally headed back into the cold to hit up the port-o-potty.

It was awesome seeing some familiar faces before the run and meeting some of the wife's hockey teammates who were also taking on the 10k.

The announcer let us know there were 10 minutes til go time so I gave the wife a kiss and headed to the Start corral to get some stretching in. The 5k and 10k start together so I tried to get closer to the front since I know it can bottleneck when the gun goes off.

Look at that dynamic stretching in action. ;) I saw a race photog snapping pics when I was in the corral, but didn't notice this one until a friend pointed it out. :P

The corral starting filling up and it was time to go. I didn't know what the legs would do - I had run 6 the day before - but I was hoping for a course PR if nothing else.

The National Anthem was played by a local resident on the trumpet, the countdown counted and off went the gun - it was Go time!

We headed down the chute, which takes you out of the VFW parking lot, and took our first right on to Old Ferry Road. It is a brief stint on Old Ferry Road before a right on to Varnum Avenue.

I knew there was an incline at the turn, but forgot it continued to climb during the first mile. Apparently I blocked it from my memory. ;0)

Being in a neighborhood did shield us from the wind that would inevitably meet us later in the race.

I once again opted to run without music as I am slowly but surely getting used to training/racing without it (for the most part). However, listening to the breathing of the folks around me and the heavy steps were throwing me off mentally on this day in particular. So I made the decision to speed up a tad to get away from the distractions.

Mile 1: 7:17

Alright faster pace than I expected, but I felt strong through the first mile or so. I even felt up to a mid-run selfie.

I have been slacking in the mid-run selfie department of late so trying to step my game back up.

Plus it wasn't as icy and slippery as the previous year so there was that to celebrate!!

Just past the halfway point in the 5k, you take the downhill out of the neighborhood and a right on to Pawtucket Boulevard. Now you take Pawtucket Boulevard straight back to the Start Area. Pawtucket Boulevard however is where the wind decides to join the party. I tried to prep my friends for it. The wind just all of a sudden hits you and it's like you are running in place for the remainder of the race. Fun right?

As we made our way down Pawtucket Boulevard, we stay in the breakdown lane. Thankfully it is wide enough that you can avoid a single file line and stay in your own rhythm.

Just before Mile 2, there is a DJ blasting some tunes and calling out names of runners. Pretty sweet set-up.

There you also find the one water stop of the race.

Mile 2: 7:10

To distract from the wind, I focus on the beautiful Merrimack River across the way. It truly is a wonderful sight while running.

The wind picked up as if to say I needed more of a challenge on this run. FYI I didn't. :P

I saw the race photog, but wasn't in a good position to get a good shot - as you can see above. At least my Sparkle Athletic skirt (teal) looked good. ;)

As the tenths of miles clicked by, I felt for the 10kers who would have to do this twice. Good for them - I was happy with the 5k! :) Especially since the 10 folks have to run past the Finish chute for their second loop - no thanks.

Just before the Mile 3 marker, we take a right back on to Old Ferry Road to re-enter the VFW parking lot. The start chute doubles as the finishing chute. Make sense?

Mile 3: 7:28

How about that wind for killing my Mile 3 pace. Can I blame the wind?

I happily moved to the right of the 5k/10k sign and tried to give it everything I had into the Finish. I was wicked close to a course PR.

The wife took this awesome shot as I was about to cross the Finish Line.


Yes 6 second course PR. Still 1 minute and 2 seconds slower than my 5k PR, but I was happy with how it went on such a windy course.

I grabbed my medal and went over to meet the wife.

The timing company - Yankee Timing - offers on-site results. You wave your race bib in front of a sensor and the info is displayed on a large TV. It's such a cool concept. Now placement results - at least for me - can change as more folks finish, but the time itself was confirmed. Woo!

We headed to a sunny spot to wait for friends to finish. It is so awesome going to a race and seeing so many friends start the New Year kicking some asphalt.

Antonette, Melissa (my WW member) and I

Heather (friend and fellow WW leader) and I

Susan (friend and fellow WW leader) and I

Plus I have the pleasure of meeting some amazing online friends and readers.

Instagram friend Michelle and I

Big thanks to readers Kathy and Becky for saying Hi post-race! It made my morning...

Since I was able to say Hi to everyone I knew that was going to be there, we headed inside to see what the race was offering post-race for runners: soup and Bud Light. Yeah I opted to pass on the Bud Light and have a good celebration beer at home!

Once safely warm at home, I checked my email and saw the official results were in.

It was funny that the results had 23:01, but the rankings had 23:02. I opted to take 23:01. :)

Second place in my division? Say whhaa?? I doubted that 100%. And here's why.

Two of the three top females overall actually belonged in my division too. It looks like the officials keep the Top 3 overall females separately from the division placements.

Really I was fourth in my division not second - but I will pretend along with second if that is what Yankee Timing wants to give me. ;)


Overall it was a great morning and a great race. I will continue to take part in the 1st Run 5k as long as I am able to and it is offered.


So my New Year’s Day races are:

1/1/11 – I had a herniated disc and had to walk the New Year’s Day 5k in Chicago so it took the wife and I finished in 48:37 (15:41 min/mile)

1/1/12 – I was healthy, besides a small knee injury and was able to run the New Year’s Day 5k in Chicago in 25:27 (8:13 min/mile)

1/1/13 – I ran in honor of my Grampa and hopefully made him proud in the 1st Run 5k finishing in 23:07 (7:27 min/mile)

1/1/14 - I had such a fun time at the 1st Run 5k in 2013 I came back for more finishing in 23:43.1 (7:39 min/mile)

1/1/15 - I went for a New Year's Day PR at 1st Run 5k and it happened in 23:01.2 (7:25 min/mile)


Did you run into the New Year?