A couple of my good college friends were getting together in New York City for the weekend and I decided to join them. I was scheduled to run 9 miles that weekend for my training, so I decided to look to see if there were any races going on that weekend to help me knock the miles out. That’s when I came across the Scotland Run, put on by the New York Road Runners, a 10k race in Central Park.
RACE DAY WEATHER
I get a little nervous about packing for races that aren’t at home. My fear is that the weather will totally change from what I packed for. The days leading up to my trip, I watched New York’s weather and it showed great running temperatures. I packed accordingly and come race morning, I decided I packed just right. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 30’s, but felt like the 20’s. This might be my last cold race for the season, so I embraced it.
I forgot to that a picture of the weather before the race. This is the post-race weather snapshot
FEELINGS GOING INTO THE RACE
When I saw this race online, I got really excited about the idea of running around Central Park. Before I signed up, I mapped it to see the elevation. Since it is New York City, I expected the course to be pretty flat, but the second I mapped it out, I started to question if I should sign up or not. The elevation chart showed all kinds of hills. I don’t know why this made me think twice, but for whatever reason, the hills momentarily deterred me. I got over that and signed up, knowing full well that I’d be encountering hills. Then I got excited about running in Central Park again. Since race was first thing in the morning, I told my friends that they didn’t have to come if they wanted to sleep in. A few days before the trip, they both said they’d love to come watch! I got excited about the idea of having my friends watch me race. We planned out where they’d be so I knew to keep an eye out for them. Come race day, I got really anxious about them watching the race. Nick doesn’t come to many of my races (there are so many of them) and I’ve gotten used to not expecting familiar faces that when I knew (roughly) where my friends would be, all I could think about was getting to that point and getting it over with. I know this is silly, but I felt an extra pressure (beyond what I normally put on myself) to do well in this race, which ultimately made me feel uneasy and dreadful about this race.
MEALS BEFORE THE RACE
Once my other friend got in on Friday night, the three of us went out for Italian.
I ordered the black linguine with shrimp, broccoli, and chick peas.
We also had a nice bread basket with our dinner. It was pretty tasty and I scarfed my entire meal down.
On race morning, I didn’t have my usual English muffin with nut butter and jam since I was traveling. Instead, I picked up a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Larabar at Trader Joe’s before I left town to have as my race morning breakfast.
I normally don’t like to deviate too much from what I usually eat on race morning, but I needed something simple that wouldn’t cause a lot of ruckus in the morning since my friend lives in a studio apartment and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. The Larabar seemed like a good choice. I ate in the bathroom as I got dressed.
WHAT I WORE
Lots of usuals here! I wore my Brooks Glycerins with my ProKynetic insoles, my pink Smartwool socks, my Nike thermal leggings, my long-sleeve white Nike dry-fit shirt, and my blue Nike dry-fit zip-up. I also had my grey Flip belt on, my Road ID, my Garmin, and. my throw-away gloves. It was pretty chilly standing around before the race started, but I got a little hot as we got going and ended up pulling off my throw-away gloves (which I kept end put in my zip-up pockets) and pushed up my sleeves as far as I could get them to go. I thought about taking off my zip-up in the middle of the race, but I decided that would slow me down so I kept it on.
This race was in Central Park and we ran along the six-mile loop around the park, starting at the south-west corner and running clock-wise. To get the final 0.2 miles in, we had to run past the start line and up the same initial part of the course again.
As I mentioned before, being in the middle of the New York City, I assumed Central Park was fairly flat. Ha! Central Park is quite hilly and, man, at each “corner” of the park, there is a huge, winding hill to conquer. I’ve tackled worse straight up hills, but the winding component made me feel like we were winding up a mountain each time. But for every challenging uphill there was an equally wonderful downhill! And of course the last 0.2 of the race was going uphill.
THE RACE ORGANIZATION
As I just mentioned above, this race was put on by the New York Road Runners, a pretty well-known running club and this was the 10th anniversary of this particular race. NYRR had packet-pickup the days leading up to the race, but being as I flew in the night before the race, I had to pick up my packet the morning of. The Scotland Run website said to arrive early for race-day packet-pickup, opening at 6:30 AM. I needed to get three extra miles in for the day so I decided it would be best to get there right when packet-pickup opened and get my additional miles in while I waited for the race to start. The night before, I planned out my travel route from Queens to Central Park, initially planning on taking the subway the entire way with one transfer, but the morning of, I decided to skip the transfer, and run from the intended transfer stop all the way up to packet pick-up in the park. My watch was having issues at first and probably didn’t start working until about a quarter-mile in, but I stopped and cleared my watch right when it buzzed 1 mile which put me right at packet-pickup.
Packet-pickup was very smooth. They had one big tent and lines for each letter of the alphabet representing the first letter of your last name. I’m sure the crowds picked up, but when I got mine, there was only one person in front of me. I got my timing chip and race number and was directed over to the T-shirt area.
Unfortunately they were out of smalls so I grabbed a large for Nick. I thought it was a pretty nice design. I love the blue and green colors. The shirt itself is just a cotton T-shirt. Nothing too special.
They also had canvas bags that they were handing out and in them was a brochure about Scotland and a Scottish flag knit hat. The hat came in handy after the race when I got cold!
After I put my race number and timing chip on, I dropped my stuff off at the bag check (which was more-or-less a self-serve fenced in area with volunteers checking to make sure the tag on your bag matched the number on your bib) and headed out to do the rest of my pre-race miles. I started along the first part of the course and then cut through by the lake and landed on the end of the course. Once I got close to the start line, I veered off on the trails and wound my way around for a while until I hit a total of two miles, bringing me up to 3 miles on my Garmin and a little over that with my run for my friend’s apartment to the subway and from the subway to when my watch finally started to work. In all honesty, I felt a little cliché for running around in Central Park. I feel like I see so many scenes in movies or television shows that start out with the character running through Central Park. Oh well, it was a cool experience, even if it was cliché!
Once I finished my miles, I wanted to walk around the park for a little bit and take a few pictures, but time was ticking and everyone was heading to the start line.
Being such a huge 10k, this race had 11 or so corrals based on expected finish time. I gave up on the idea of taking a few pictures of Central Park and joined the masses and headed towards my corral.
The crowd support was good. There were a ton of course monitors (mostly yelling at runners to stay within the coned area) and a few of them were super peppy and supportive. And of course, my friends came out to watch too! I was worried about spotting them, but we planned out the night before roughly where they’d be and based on the mile markers, I kept an eye on my watch to have an idea of when to expect them. Sure enough right around the 5.5 mile mark, there they were! Also, a fun feature about this race; at several points along the course, there were people playing bagpipes. I thought that was pretty cool!
As I made my way to my corral, the race kicked off with a procession of bagpipe players. They were actually kids flowing in from Scotland for this event!
Shortly after that, the race began. As I mentioned, we started on the southwest side of Central Park and wound around clockwise. The beginning was insanely packed. We were barricaded in for the first half of a mile so there wasn’t any room to spread out. Initially, I feared the whole race would be like this. I was stuck behind people who I wanted to pass, but there was no way of getting around them. Finally, the fencing ended and the cones filled in every several yards to keep runners out of the outer edge of the street for non-racers to be on. Unfortunately for the volunteers monitoring the course, the racers didn’t stay within the coned area, me included. I stayed within the cones as much as possible, but every now and then, I stepped out to pass people. Some of the volunteers were quite vicious about runners staying within the coned area. It was almost amusing. I know they were just trying to do their job, but some of them took it to the extreme, and truthfully, the course wasn’t wide enough based on the number of people how they coned the course.
There are some races when I feel like I’m doing more passing of people than being passed. This was not one of those races. I felt like I didn’t pass a single soul! Well that’s not true. But I was definitely being passed by more people than I was passing myself. New Yorker’s are fast runners! But with that, I heard plenty of people huffing and puffing fairly early on, even though they were passing me.
We hit our first “mountain right around mile 2.5. Ugh, it was torture. The winding made it seem like the climb was never going to end, but as soon as I hit the peak, I quickly wound down the hill and started to head east into the sunrise. I was getting pretty warm and was eager to turn out of the direct sunlight. Luckily the east and west stretches were the shorter legs of the race. But with the turn brought another “mountain”. These two “mountains” at the north part of the park were by far the worst hills in this race, but the entire course was pretty rolling. I made my second climb right around the 3.5 mile mark.
The water stops along the course only had water and there weren’t any volunteers handing the water out. Instead there were hundreds of cups on tables and runners grabbed a cup off the table. I didn’t take any water during the race, but I thought the setup was different from what I see in Texas.
From the second I crossed the start line to about the 5 mile mark, I was pretty anxious about seeing my friends. I don’t know why I got so worked up over it, but the anxiety made me want this race to be over with. I turned the corner and spotted them before they spotted me. I began waiving my hands and caught their attention. Despite my anxiety leading up to this point, seeing them gave me a little boost to wrap this race up. I wound down on the south side of the park, though the starting corrals and start line and then hit the final hill before the finish line. The finish was in sight and I picked it up and pushed through the finish.
The finish corral was pretty long, but I cut through at a small opening and headed to the bag check.
Despite my anxiety throughout this race, I maintained my pace pretty well and finished with a new Personal Record!
POST RACE FOOD AND VENDORS
I didn’t stick around for the after party festivities, but they were handing out good-looking bagels (it is New York, I’m sure they were way more awesome that the bagels we get at the end of races here in Texas!) and apples.
I didn’t see any specific vendors, but they had Scottish music and dancing, face painting, and other fun, festive activities after the race. Once I got my bag from bag-check, I headed out to find my friends and we immediately left Central Park and went out to breakfast.
NO PAIN NO GAIN
The days leading up to this race, I was having some abdominal pain and I felt some of that in my initial 3-mile run, but once the race started, my abs were fine. Instead, I was having a few twinges of pain in my left arch. It wasn’t unbearable, but it was definitely noticeable. After the race, we walked around for several hours before heading back to my friend’s place to shower and change. During our time walking around, I continued to have some arch pain and I couldn’t have been happier to take my shoes off once we finally got home!
OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS
Hmm. I can’t think of anything I’ve left out on this review.
Oh, I guess this is one random thought. In my initial 3-mile run before the race, I questioned how well I’d do with this race. My time wasn’t too fast with this initial run, so I didn’t know if I had a good race speed in me for the day. Of course I thought that too soon.
Crowded is definitely the first word I’d use to describe this race, especially for the first half mile. Deceivingly hilly is another word I’d use to describe this race. But overall, besides my unusual mid-race (unlike pre-race) anxiety, I thought this was a great race. I probably won’t ever do it again unless I happen to be in New York on the same weekend as this race, but those odds are pretty slim. NYRR has their system down well and I think they put on a nice race.
Bib Number: 7669
Division: Female 30-34
Official Chip Time: 54:06
Official Gun Time:
Official Race Distance: 6.2 miles
Official Average Race Pace: 8:44
Official Rank: 3380 out of 7748
Sex Rank: 924 out of 3671
Division Rank: 253 out of 937
Garmin Time: 54:04
Garmin Distance: 6.36 miles
Garmin Average Pace: 8’31”
Mile 1: 8’58”
Mile 2: 8’29”
Mile 3: 8’15”
Mile 4: 8’32”
Mile 5: 8’24”
Mile 6: 8’36”
Mile 6.36: 8’01”