A sub 8 pace on a hilly 5k inside New York’s Washington Heights around the Cloisters, awash with spectacular cross river views.
The NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k is a rather festive morning run. First it’s a popular and crowded 5k hosting about 5,000 participant runners from a 10 wave start, each separated by 2 minutes. The course runs outbound then retraces it’s path for its return leg, affording most runners (in waves D thru F) the opportunity to watch elites pass by on their return leg, a definite treat for aspiring amateurs to say the least.
Second, it’s a tour through a festival of music. I passed a band every half mile, each one showcasing their talents playing music of a different genre. There is no doubt this is the origin to this race’s long name.
Third, in support to a probably unspoken objective, NYRR racing seems to deliver a repeating theme to run a city course scape awash with great vistas and views, probably necessary to help runners get through some kind of voluntary self inflicted punishment we all subject ourselves to at every race event.
Last and perhaps most memorable, the Washington Heights 5k does not disappoint by providing the necessary tools to fulfill that runners’ masochistic prophecy to enable said inflicted punishment. This time it’s in the form of elevation gain. The Washington Heights 5k leads runners into a multiple of seemingly relentless uphill battles, over 250’ of elevation gain in just 3.1 miles.
It was a chilly but clear day. Wait to start left my core to much time to cool. A moderate breeze kept things that way until mile 3. Indeed I fought my way through the hilly battles and meet my goal sub eights pace. I finished top third again, a regular race finish objective. While not mind blowing, I won the sequential battles, if not the war.
Some would say I left something on the course, evidence of a somewhat low stress 146 average HR. And yet, the rewarding views, speedy race recovery, and the morning race cap Irish coffee procured at the neighborhood pub Coogan’s, crowded with fellow racers, whet my whistle and seduce my future return.