Flying down the runway: JFK Runway 5K recap

jfk2A few weekends ago, Fernando and I participated in a very unique race – the JFK Runway 5K race. The venue: John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York. How awesome is that!

I had heard some of my former colleagues had done this race last year and it looked pretty amazing, but unfortunately I had another commitment that day. So this year, no matter how early we’d have to wake up, we were determined to do it! It was also going to be Fernando’s first race of 2014. He has been doing a lot of physical therapy to get his glutes and IT band and everything strengthened so he can run without fear of injury. 5K is a good distance for a person  making an injury comeback!

Anyway, before signing up, I had to confer with a friend who, in an inebriated state, made the comment that running is easy and anyone can do a marathon, etc etc….thereby entering into a bet that if he beats me and another runner friend in a 5K, he’d have to do 1 marathon per loss. (And if he wins, the loser will have to go clubbing until 3am every Monday for a month.) I am not allowed to train for a 5K and neither is he. So I cleared this race with him as not counting as training and Fernando and I committed ourselves to a 5am wake up with a 6am departure for the airport. So sleepy!

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It was a long commute to the airport, and it was very strange not to be getting on a plane! We got there in time, met with former colleages Sato-san and Sumi-san (and his adorable son) and did warm up laps in an open space as the runway itself was blocked by airport security. Apparently there was a “spill” on the runway, delaying the race, which was a bit unpleasant since it was cold and I was developing an urge to pee. We all waited and waited until the final moment when they cleared up said “spill” (there was nothing on the runway when we ran down it suggesting a spill!) and we could line up. Fernando, Sato-san and I went to the second corral – we humbly admitted we did not belong in the absolute front but we were all still contenders!

After way too many speeches, we set off! It was amazing – we ran down and turned onto a real runway, where they parked a picturesque plane at the turn around point. The runway was smooooooth like butter. No potholes (or spills) here! As usual, I started off too fast because I was freezing cold, and then got into a pace that felt fast and doable. I noticed one woman passed me but I could still see her and I didn’t see any other women coming back the other way, but I did see some strong women in the front corral so I dared not get any hopes up.

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At the turn around, I realized that the wind had been in my favor! It was pretty gusty on the way back. The only thing I focused on was that woman in front of me…she was going strong with no signs that the wind was annoying her like it was annoying me. I was determined not to get too far behind…maybe even catch up? I heard people cheering her who were still running out “Yeah, first female!” What am I, chopped liver? 😛 Ha, well I was encouraged that I was the second female and decided at least I was not going to lose that. I made sure no women were to be seen catching up behind me. I put my head down and made some progress catching up the Number One Overall Female. And I enjoyed the giant Air China 747 landing right by us. Finally I made it to the turn back to the Start / Finish Line, and I was running out of breathe and out of steam. Number One Overall Female actually sped up and crossed the finish! I came in 7 seconds later. We greeted each other and took pics together and all was merry. Hey, she had it in her! Turns out we were in the same age group as well! She said she heard me behind her which helped her go faster (greaaat…) and I told her in my attempt to catch her, I PR’ed!

New 5K PR: 21:03!

jfk6And then we waited and waited for the awards ceremony. It was cold, and the people running the show didn’t seem to have a sense of time, or order….well, we nearly froze and starved to death but eventually I got my medal and my pic taken. We then waited for a long time for an award for my colleague’s son, but unfortunately they lumped all the kids together even though he would have won his age group! Boo!

So that was the JFK Runway 5K – great times! I don’t know that I’d do it again without a lot of incentive due to the time it took to get there and back home (we got home well into the afternoon, which is crazy since we left the apt. at 6am. But for anyone thinking of doing it, it is quite the experience! 😀

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