5K Coogan’s Salsa Blues and Shamrock Race in the Cloisters

running in the rain

My husband and I signed up for a 5K race, Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K, in the Cloisters, which is located in north Manhattan near Columbia University. It was the first race of the year, sponsored by the New York Road Runners, and it is one that counts toward the nine for automatic entry in the New York City Marathon.

Getting to the 5K race, Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K

Since we had not picked up our race numbers the day before, we needed to be at the pick up location between 7:30 and 8:30 am. We left our house on the south shore of Long Island at 7:00 am and drove through the Bronx into Manhattan.

I wore a series of mismatched items but decided to wear my first pair of Brooks Ghost sneakers. I also proudly wore my Team for Kids tank over the entire outfit. Team for Kids is a New York Road Runner’s Charity that helps kids in inner cities learn about nutrition and about running. To get into the NYC Half Marathon, I pledged to raise more than $1310 for the cause (I raised under $3,000 thanks to my family, friends and business associates.)

Parking was a disaster. We kept driving around and around. We finally saw a parking garage a few blocks away and parked there. It was 8:15 am. We had fifteen minutes to get our number, so we ran to the start line.

The weather

The weather reports were saying that it may rain in the morning but there was an 80% chance of rain after 12 noon, so we thought we would get in the race and stay dry.

As soon as we got to the New Balance Track and Field at the Armory, the pick up location, it started to pour. Of course we weren’t dressed for it but we decided that since we were there, we would participate in the race.

After getting our numbers and T-shirts, we went outside and stood under a tent. We had twenty minutes before the start of the race, so I decided to warm up by running around the block and stretching. My shins have been feeling so bad lately, that I wanted to try to see what stretching would do.

The race

At five minutes to nine, there was an announcement to go into the corals. We walked over to the appropriate coral and right after the Star Spangled Banner, we were off.

My husband and I started together but, once we took off, he pulled away from me. Actually, everyone started to pull away from me and I started getting psyched out as I watched myself slipping back and dozens and dozens of people pushing their way ahead of me.

The mental game

At that point, and many others along the route, I had an internal struggle. Should I drop out of the upcoming NYC Half Marathon? Maybe I’m just not ready for this? I can’t do this….

I kept pushing myself through the pain and through the negative self-talk. I kept trying to counteract it by saying to myself, “You can do this. Be strong! Keep on running.”

The first mile, I ran most of the way, but the second mile was tough.

It became more and more difficult as we ran uphill. As a matter of fact, it seemed like we were running up hill more than we ran down hill. The hills were steep and hard. This was probably the hardest race I ever ran! I had such a hard time with the hills that I decided to walk up and run down.

I ran alone in a crowd of 7,000 people. There were big potholes everywhere and I kept thinking that I need to be careful. I didn’t want to fall. The rain was getting heavier and heavier as the race was underway. Although my clothes were getting drenched, I started to pull my jacket off and roll up my sleeves. I was sweating.

I saw two old women run past me. One had bad scoliosis and was probably in her 80s but she didn’t stop for a moment. She was slow but steady. The other may have been a little younger than the first one and ran gracefully as she passed me. If these old ladies can do this, I can do this too, I thought. It motivated me to push through. I was in total awe of these two women.

Will we ever turn around?

I saw the elite runner’s on the other side of the barricades running in the opposite direction. Hmmm, I wondered when we turn around, but it didn’t seem like we ever turned around.

We went through a park, ran through the streets, and then under the George Washington Bridge.

When I looked up, and believe me it was difficult with the rain pouring down, I saw a street sign. We were on 177th Street. I didn’t think we were too far away from the finish line. I knew we were on mile 3 and was finally feeling a little more comfortable running. At that point, my legs and feet started to go numb but I kept pushing through it.

In the distance I saw a sign saying finish line. I couldn’t believe it. Could we possibly be finished with the 5K, I thought? I ran and arrived at the finish line in under 40 minutes. I had averaged 12.46 minutes per mile. I was happy. In my recent training runs, I was running around 14 minutes a mile and was getting very disappointed that I might not be able to finish the rapidly approaching NYC Half Marathon. Now, it’s only two weeks away.

This race gave me confidence to do harder races. Races like this do make you stronger!