Get Outside on Governors Island 10k Recap: The Good, The Bad & The Salty

Spoiler alert: My goal for the Governors Island 10k was 58 minutes. While I didn’t quite hit this — coming in at 58:42 — I am incredibly content with both my time and performance. I raced my heart out, I worked my ass off, and I did so after completely throwing my carefully designed pre-race training place out of my 11th floor window and running 10 miles less than 24 hours before the event. At the end of the day, what we sometimes need to remind ourselves is this: Running is all relative.

Plus, I definitely caught a nice tan.

So here’s my official recap of the Governors Island 10k, a small, intimate, fun and back-soaking kind of a race just off the tip of Manhattan.

It was a beautiful morning from the very start. Much nicer than, say, waking up at 5:30 am for a winter or early spring race when it’s pitch black and cold.

The ferry ride over was well-organized and kind of beautiful, almost immediately easing a lot of the anxiety I was feeling from having run 10 miles the day before. I met my oldest childhood friend, RS, her boyfriend and a few other great competitors for the 7:10 ferry, and we headed over to the race. We had about an hour to kill before the start, giving us time to stand around and chat. Some snacked on bagels and coffee, offered at a few tents, and picked up metal water bottles courtesy of the race’s sponsor, The North Face, which was pretty awesome — they really urged everyone to avoid the use of plastic water bottles in exchange for free drinking vessels. Free fitness gear? I’m in.

We walked a short 40 yards to the start of the race around 8:20, with 10 minutes to spare. There definitely could have been a few more bathrooms near the start (so I didn’t end up waiting on the line and had to pee a little during the 10k; I’m lazy like that), and there definitely could have been more of an effort made by the organizers to at least pretend to create corrals of some sort. I know there were only 1,500 of us, but it all seemed a little confusing as to where we should stand.

Nevertheless, we figured it out and ended up somewhere near the back of the pack awaiting the official start of the Governors Island 10k. As a side bar, RS and I did not coordinate outfits before the race; we just both apparently love neon pink gear cut from the same roll of fabric and sparkly headbands. I guess that just happens when you’ve been friends since the 2nd grade.

As this was RS’s first 10k (she was actually entering the race having only run 3.5 miles before, and so her goal was to run 4 miles without stopping and to play the rest by ear), I started off slowly with her and the rest of the crew. Honestly, you couldn’t go much faster than a snail’s pace for the first half-mile or so anyway because of the narrow inaugural pathway. (This turned out to be a little annoying, along with a few other aspects of the course; mainly cobblestones, staircases and a half-mile grassy field to boot.)

Fortunately, it was beautiful out, and once the crowd dispersed a bit, it became a lot easier and more pleasant to be running.

3 elements I loved about the Governors Island 10k: 

Scenery. The views were spot on for a majority of the run, especially during those 2 miles around the outer loop of the park. Even the internal course pathways were engaging for the most part, and so all 6.2 miles went by pretty quickly.

Flat roads. The course was generally flat, which makes me think that, had my muscles not been depleted of all energy from the day before, I could have really crushed the race. (I’m not saying I regret Saturday’s 10-miler at all. There’s just no question that running that kind of distance the day before a race is, as my cousin put it, “foolish.”)

Shade. By the 8:30 am start, it was beginning to really heat up out there. Do I wish I could have run the entire race in the shade? Obviously. Still, the trees and buildings provided a good amount of coverage that made the morning a lot more tolerable, and I was definitely thankful for that.

3 elements I would change about the Governors Island 10k:

  • Grass. I know that we were warned about the course change a couple of weeks in advance, but I’m not quite sure that I realized that there was a half-mile stretch of grass involved in the mix. Not only that, but we faced the field during the final half-mile before the 2nd lap and the finish line, which made it especially difficult during that final push. Pavement would have been really, really welcomed here.
  • Water stations. Or the lack thereof. I was shocked at how poorly the water stations were set up, especially for a race that discouraged the use of plastic bottles. (Did they really expect us to race holding a giant metal bottle? My hands are far too small to grip that comfortably.) Also, the only water stations available were set up within the internal guts of the race, leaving us high and dry for the outer 2-mile laps. And one of the few water stations they did have was set up less than a third a mile from the finish line. While that was all fine and dandy after the first loop, it was pretty much useless on that final lap as we were pushing toward the end.
  • The Mr. Softee Truck. Really? I mean, the only thing more cruel than setting up a water station less than a third a mile from the finish line is plopping a closed down Mr. Softee ice cream truck on the race route. What I would have done for a double twisted baby rattle (rainbow sprinkles, duh) at that moment, you have no idea.

My official mile-by-mile recap of the Governors Island 10k: otherwise known as, what it feels like to race a 10k the day after a 10-mile run.

Mile 0-1. Even though the path was too narrow and made of bricks for that first quarter of a mile or so, I felt great. Not oh-my-god-this-is-the-best-run-ever great, but generally loose, comfortable and happy. I was ready to assess how my body felt, and simply enjoying jogging alongside my oldest childhood friend and Co. Kaskade’s Coachella set was playing quietly in my headphones. (Sorry, race director, I really couldn’t see the fun in running your race sans tunes, even though you requested that we do so.)

Mile 1-2. Typically I’m at my worst during this stretch, whether it’s race day or just another morning run. Maybe it’s mental, or maybe it’s just my body switching gears. Another factor may have been that my calves could definitely feel the previous day’s load, despite the fact that I made Noah massage my legs intermittently throughout the day. It was at this point that I started to wonder: I know I’m going to make it, but will I do so with ease or misery?

Mile 2-3. I wasn’t regretting having run 10 miles the day before, but goddamn it I was respecting the crap out of it. Miles 2 to 2.5 were pretty much flat and on pavement, though a little sunny, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I was maintaining a pretty steady 9-9:30 pace, and was satisfied with it for the most part. Until we turned onto the grass from mile 2.5 to 3, which during that first encounter seemed to never end. It was slightly hilly, very cushiony, and exactly what I didn’t feel like dealing with. (P.S., there was a single file stair case too. Just saying.)

Mile 3-4. Okay, here we go. Round 2. The first lap wasn’t so bad, save for the grassy stint, but I was finally able to settle into a nice, comfortable pace for about a mile or so here. I also ended up running into a colleague who was struggling with his music during his first ever race. While all you can do is really shrug it off and say ehh, it happens, we all know how annoying that really is. Really hope it didn’t ruin the experience!

Mile 4-5. This felt like the home stretch to me because, even though my body was tired and aching and really working hard here, I knew that once I got to mile 5, all I’d have was a mile to go. That’s when I really started to concentrate. “Use your yogi breathe,” I said to myself over and over, repeating that mantra in my head in order to maintain — or at least try to maintain — a consistent breathing pattern.

Just as I was approaching mile 5, I got a tap on the shoulder by a friend.

“Hey!” he shouted. I was surprisingly ecstatic to see his face.

“How much longer is the race?” he asked.

“Just another mile to go!” I shouted back.

“That’s it?” he exclaimed, and he sped on ahead.

Just a moment before that I had been dreading the final mile, knowing that conquer-the-grass round 2 wasn’t far away. His eager, eat-my-dust-with-a-smile attitude reenergized me though, instilling me with the final burst of energy and motivation that I needed to make it through to the end.

Mile 5-6.2. Tired. I’m so tired. But I could tell from my music (I don’t wear a Garmin or other timer) that I was also within reach of my 58:00 goal. At this point though, I could also feel my head tingling, my skin seeping with salt, and my eyes starting to blur. Was my brain swelling? (Hint: A water station would have been really nice sometime during the past mile or so, but as mentioned before, there were none.)

By the time I reached the last leg — the now infamous grassy field — I knew I wouldn’t accomplish that 58-minute goal; but I did know that if I worked my ass off and pushed it across the field, I could break an hour, which was still something worth feeling proud of, especially considering the circumstances and especially during my first ever 10k.

That last half mile sucked. A lot of the runners had slowed to deal with the change of surface; some had even begun to walk. It was hard to navigate around everyone while staying on the inside of the track (after all, I wasn’t trying to add distance to the race). Eventually, I made it across the field to the — wait for it — small, narrow stair case and the line of runners waiting to get down it. Annoyed, would best describe my attitude here, but with the finish line in sight, I picked up my pace again and sprinted.

I want to say that I feel really accomplished after this weekend, but part of me is now even more curious what I’m capable of during a 10k race when I don’t plague my body with 10 miles the day before. Then again, there’s nothing like the way I currently feel (utter exhaustion) to serve as ample motivation for the next time around. Maybe I’ll stick to the training plan, but for those of you who know me, I probably won’t end up doing so.

The best part of my day, besides breaking an hour and brunching with friends (mint Prosecco smoothies, anyone?) actually doesn’t have to do with me at all. Like I said, before Sunday, RS had never covered the 10k distance before, and despite very little training and a whole lotta laziness, she managed to run the entire thing (even though her “goals” were to 1) get to 4 miles without stopping and 2) to not finish in last). Long Island girls set the bar high, if you didn’t know.

After the race, my energy turned into absolute worthlessness. I did a little work, crashed in bed, woke up with an overheated body (I really should figure out why I get fevers and headaches constantly after hard runs), ate a lot of candy (the fever antidote, besides cowbell)…

…and enjoyed a nice glass of rose by myself while enjoying the sound of the city streets below.

I’m forever glad that I signed up for, participated in, ruined my potential for and nevertheless managed to work hard during this very small, unique race in — but not on — Manhattan. While traveling for events is always fun, at the end of the day, there really is no place like home.

Next up, the Philadelphia RnR Half Marathon with my cousin in September. For now, I’m ready to enjoy a month or so of running without any sort of plan or goal.

With that said, consider this my “Will Run For Wednesday” proposition. This week will be to simply run for the fun of it. Since there’s probably no reason to reiterate that tomorrow, and because I’d love to keep my recap up on the homepage for more than 24 hours, let’s just call it a day. Happy Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ll be back bright and early on Thursday!

I’m full of questions today, so pick one or answer ’em all! 

  • Have you ever set a goal, not achieved it, and been totally OK with it because you knew you worked your ass off anyway?
  • Do you enjoy running on a variety of surfaces during a single race? What’s your favorite part of any race you’ve participated in? What’s your least favorite?
  • Best post-race snack, meal or drink. Go! 
  • What will you run for this week?
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12 thoughts on “Get Outside on Governors Island 10k Recap: The Good, The Bad & The Salty

  1. Woohoo, congrats to both of you! That’s an awesome finish – and you can totally shave those 48 seconds off by the next 10k you run.

    My first race ever was like that too. I missed my goal by 55 seconds, but I was okay with it – I trained hard, felt great…and was psyched for the next one!

    • Right? Esp if I don’t overdo it the day before. Um, woops! Oh well! It was a beautiful day for a race at any rate.

  2. Nice job! I think that since you were still within the minute of your goal, it totally counts 😉

    I did the Warrior Dash one year, and hated running on mud, grass, etc. At that race, there was also an extreme lack of water stations–even at the end they only handed you a small Dixie cup of warm water. The temp was 105 that day, and many people suffered from heat-related illnesses.

    • It’s so dangerous! I know there were only 1,500 of us, but we all could have used some water in between miles 1-3 and 4-6. Had I realized, I’d have prepared myself with a small water bottle during the run. Oh well though, it was still a nice day, though I do like to think that if I weren’t hitting a dehydration wall, I might have crushed that 43 second spillover. There’s always next time.

  3. I did my first 10k too this week-end. And there was only 1 water station! I had a huge dehydration headache at the end.. Mine was a trail run so there was mud, grass, scary downhills on roots and rocks etc and I loved it lol But I guess a grassy patch on a normal race would put you off! Well done on nearly reaching your goal. Sounds like you would have made it in 50 min if it wasn’t for the day before haha
    If you’re interested this is how mine went: http://healthyfrenchie.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/my-first-10k-race-recap/

    • Hah who knows. That’s kind of what I loved about Saturday’s run. Sometimes, you just can’t stop! Ok, now I sound like a wimp for complaining about a mile of grass, but I signed up for a pavement run! Perhaps I could have had a bit of a warning.

  4. Happy to discover someone blogged this race! Great recap – I agree completely with your assessment of the course. I know one of the course directors a little and he asked if I thought people liked this year’s course (in contrast to last year’s) and I told him it seemed kind of random in spots and I don’t think anyone appreciated the narrow stone stairs. The lack of water was definitely an issue too, as you pointed out. I’m a ‘mature’ runner (i.e pushing 50) and was feeling a little light-headed by the end.
    Nice Blog!

    • Thank you! Very much appreciate it. In all, I had a great time. They were minor annoyances in the scheme of the day. Beautiful weather, beautiful course (minus the stairs) and an all around awesome time. At 25 though, I really could have used some water too! I made a beeline for the water tent right at the finish.

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