Run O’ the Mill 5K (Clinton, NJ)

Start and conditions:
8 am start, high-30s at start, low-50s by awards at 9 am

21:55, 7:01 pace
Splits: 6:46, 7:20, 7:00, allegedly paced 6:20 for the last tenth of a mile

Course description and event logistics
Started off with a gentle downhill, a small rectangle in town, then right back up past the start (pass the starting line about 1.2-1.3 miles in). From about .9 until mile 2 is a slight but definite uphill until the turn around, then you get to run that hill back down to the finish line. While there were many local runners at the race, it was not a spectator-laden event. There were maybe a dozen people spectating in the first mile, and then no one besides course marshals the rest of the way. It was a pretty quiet race which gave me a lot of time to do mental math and question if I was really going to hit my goal time or not!

Logistics for this race were so simple. I pulled into a grassy lot around 6:50 where there were volunteers from NJ-NY track club directing cars into widely-spaced rows (this was very easy to get out of post-awards as well since half the participants were gone by the end of the ceremony). The next block down was where the community center and packet pick-up was. Super easy. Checking in took me about 1 minute, and everyone was really nice and helpful. I was parked and pinning on my bib by 7:05. There was no bag check, but people kept their bags in the gym or outside with no issues since the only people there were race volunteers/coordinators and participants/participants’ families.

I didn’t train specifically for this race. I threw this into my race schedule two weeks ago as a fun event. I really just wanted to PR at a 5k with all this great new training cycle fitness. This 5k was at the end of a 60-ish mile training week, so it was probably not the best conditions to get a huge PR, but I really wanted to nab a sub-22 minute 5k and knew I could do it.

Gear and fuel
I had a bowl of oatmeal before I left my apartment to drive the 45 minutes to the race, and drank a cup of coffee in the car on the way. I wore my Oiselle Pacers singlet, Saucony Ignite tight shorts, some Feetures socks, and my teal Saucony Breakthrus.

Now, with the shoes, I wore them because I’ve had amazing speed workouts with the Breakthrus on the treadmill. However it’s 50/50 when I run outside in them. When I run in them at group runs at night: no problem. When I’ve run in them on a Saturday morning: problems galore! I had considered bringing two pairs of shoes and deciding between them at the race, but then last-minute chose to just take the one pair because the Breakthrus are so fun and cute! (Note: stop making running gear choices based on cuteness!) So around 2 miles into the race, my right shin got really tight and felt like it was about to cramp.  In hindsight, I wish I’d brought my tried and true Saucony Ride 8s along. They may be a bit heavier, but they never give me any issues! Had I worn different shoes, I think I could have done sub-7 for pace and cut maybe 15-20 seconds off my time overall.

My goal originally was sub-22 minutes and #1 AG placement. But as the day got closer, I started to tell myself I could do 21:30… maybe even 21:15 and take a clean minute off last fall’s PR!

I tend to self-sabotage in this way. My original goal was spot-on and achievable. But I often let myself dream big and set harder goals as the race nears, and then I am disappointed not to reach them even though I knew it was a long shot anyway. This is a big mental hurdle I want to overcome this racing season (and I’ll probably write a blog post all about it).

Your finish and feelings
Overall, I finished in 21:55, which was a 7:01 pace on my Garmin (clocked it at 3.13, so a very fair course!) and 7:04 by the race results. I came in 1st in my age group (women 20-29), I placed 6th out of all women and 36th out of all finishers. I nailed my original goals for this race: I came in under 22 minutes and first in my age group. I am going to call this a success, even though I was a bit disappointed (only because in my head I wanted 21:30, a 6:55 pace, even though my training only sort of supports that kind of time). My second mile really dragged my pace down (7:20!), and I just keep thinking that if I’d been able to push it a little more on that mile, I’d have run an even faster 21:XX and broken the 7 min pace barrier. Oh well. There’s always next time! I refuse to let this bring me down or let myself think of this as a “bad” race when I achieved the (realistic!) goals I set for myself when I signed up for the race 2 weeks ago. I need to stop setting self-sabotaging goals, or I’ll never be happy with my race performances!

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 3.43.22 PM
Post-race happy face. Even though my shins were quite upset with me.

And, well, in summary…
Overall, it was a good race, and I’m glad I made the (beautiful and scenic!) drive up from Princeton. The race had a fun, local feel: AG awards for 20 and up went by whole decades, but they had AG awards for 0-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, and 15-19 to reward as many kids as possible for being active, which was awesome. Special shout-outs went out to AG and overall winners who were local runners, be they adults or local high school athletes and local running clubs.

Though I didn’t go above and beyond my goal for the race, I got done what I went there to do, and it was an excellent way to kick off my spring racing season for 2016! Looking forward to more PRs! Next race: April 3 at the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon!


General format is borrowed from this article in Women’s Running.


One thought on “Run O’ the Mill 5K (Clinton, NJ)

  1. Pingback: Training Recap: March 14-20, 2016 | She's A Gift

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