NJ 5K XC Series Race 2 Recap

Last week I ran the second race in the NJ 5K Summer XC Series with my mom. This 5K series is every Wednesday evening and is only 10 bucks! It’s a low-key event with plenty of food and refreshments post-race for runners. 

I ran the first race in 30:53. I had no expectations since it is on a trail/XC course and the hills are crazy (see hill profile in my previous recap). My goal for the second race was to just do better than the first time.

I actually ran watchless this time around. Not by choice though…I only had 1 GB left on my cell data plan (and 2 weeks left before the new month rolled over) so I couldn’t use RunKeeper, and I didn’t have my watch on me. Oops. So my strategy was to just go out easy and speed up. 



I think I ran the first half pretty well because by the second loop (it’s a 2 loop course) I still felt great. As opposed to last time when my pace dropped from 9:43 to 10:45…yikes.

My mom was actually doing really well but twisted her ankle and fell on the second loop. She was a bit cut up but got back up and kept running to finish the race! She’s fine – she took a few days off to ice and rest.

I felt like I probably could have ran a bit faster this time around but I was cautious in the first half so I didn’t feel awful on the second loop. A thin, one track dirt/grassy trail is tough to run on! My calves were sore (again) the day after, but I’m really liking running on new terrain.

I finished this race in 30:13 – 40 seconds faster! I think as the races go on I will get more used to running on uneven terrain. Right now there is a portion where I slow down because I’m really nervous about twisting my ankle or stepping in a hole I don’t see. My goal for the next race will just be sub-30!

It’s so funny how much of a time difference terrain can make. I am seriously impressed by the high school XC runners who run like, 18 minute 5ks here like it ain’t no thang. Yes I just used that phrase.

I won’t be running it this upcoming week because my mom and I are running our first NYRR race of the year on Saturday (and shooting for a 10K PR), but I’ll be back the following week.


A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on

Anyway, trail runners, what tips do you have for a newbie trail runner?? How do you get over your fear of twisting your ankle? 


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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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