NJ 5K XC Series Race 1 Recap

Last night I ran my first 5K that is part of the NJ 5K XC Series. I discovered this group last summer on their last race of the year (of course) and have been so excited for it to start back up this spring/summer.

The NJ Trail Series group organizes a 5K every Wednesday evening at Central Park in Morris Plains, NJ. The best part is that it’s only $10, or if you pay for the full series ($75) it comes out to like, $4 a race!

Your $10 includes chip timing and food and refreshments at the end. Yesterday they had pretzels, brownies, chips, juice packs, beer and more.

They actually used some high-tech timing that I have yet to see at other races. They placed a velcro chip around your ankle (like an ankle monitor) which you gave back at the end. I personally liked it better than having to pin something on my shirt and take it off at the end to return it to them for the next race. I’m lazy, I know.

The course is actually a cross country course. The local high school XC team has meets at this park, and big meets (sectionals, counties, etc.) are held here as well. 

My dad ran the race with me, and my mom and aunt (who is visiting from Argentina) came to watch and cheer us on. I love that my dad came to run a 5K with me on his birthday! 

NJ 5K XC Series
The race itself wasn’t anything great for me, time-wise. But I knew that going in. First of all, it’s a XC course, meaning it’s all grass, gravel or dirt. Second of all, I took about 2 weeks off because I was sick before the half marathon I was supposed to run, so I wasn’t in 100% shape. But it was still awesome!!

I don’t know why, but I was so nervous driving to the race and lining up…like butterflies in my stomach. I thought to myself, “Why am I so nervous for this fun run 5K race where I know I’m not even going to PR??”

The race starts in this grassy field then goes out to a dirt, grass and gravel path where we did 2 loops. There are about 3 hills, the first one is really short but steep, the second is longer but not super steep, and the third goes straight up. I swear it felt like I was running at a 90 degree angle. It’s only a few feet long but I had to stop and walk once I got to the top. 

I mean, check out this elevation profile:

I also like that the updated RunKeeper shows you how many steps you take per minute…very handy! I run around 175-180 steps apparently.

Anyway, I struggled a bit on the second loop but told myself once my RunKeeper told me I had a mile to go I would try to push it. My splits were 9:43, 10:48, 10:15. Like I said, that second mile was tough.

I finished in about 30 minutes and my dad finished in 27:XX minutes. Despite my time, I felt great afterwards. Just happy to be there and happy to be running. I was definitely feeling that runner’s high! I’m really excited to keep running every Wednesday with this group, and perhaps I’ll make some new runner friends! It will be a great way to get in a workout once a week as well, especially on trails.

If you live in New Jersey, I highly suggest you come to a race! Everyone is really nice and welcoming and it is not a competitive atmosphere at all.

Have you run a 5K series or something similar before?

Would you prefer an ankle monitor type thing for racing or good ol’ bibs?


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New Jersey Running Trails Bucket List

There are so many great places to run in New Jersey, but I have yet to explore many of them! I usually just run in my town or local parks, but this summer I want to make an effort to explore new trails.

I wanted to share my “to-do list” with you, and hear what your thoughts are. Let me know if you’ve ran on any of these or if you have any suggestions! I prefer paved or packed dirt…I’m not a hardcore trail runner yet ;)

Columbia Trail


This is an 11 mile trail through the High Bridge, Califon and Long Valley. I live about 20 minutes away from this area, so I really have no excuse not to check this one out! According to this trail website, “After about 2 miles, the trail enters the magnificent Ken Lockwood Gorge, where steep slopes reveal rapid water and dramatic rock formations.” Sounds beautiful!

Duke Farms


Technically I’ve ran here once (my last 5k), but I need to go back for training runs. It was such a beautiful park and only 15 minutes or so away from me! It’s located in Hillsborough, NJ.

Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park


Pictures don’t do this trail justice. I regularly ran on this trail from New Brunswick. But the reason it’s on my list is because it spans 68 miles! It goes from Landing Lane in New Brunswick to Frenchtown. I’d like to run on the path a bit further south and explore it down there.

Traction Line Recreation Trail


This is a 3 mile track that runs alongside the train tracks in Morristown, NJ. My boyfriend actually lives there, so how have I not ran here yet? Morristown also has other great trails, such as Patriot’s Path, which I do run on regularly. I’d like to check out this trail since it’s flat and paved! Perfect for easy runs.

Where are your favorite places to run? Do you explore trails and parks?

Any suggestions?


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