RACE REPORT: Big Chill 5K

Distance: 5K (3.1 Miles)
Date: December 8th, 2013
Location: Rutgers University- New Brunswick, NJ

Yesterday, I ran my first race since August, when I ran the 5K leg of the St. Mary’s Triathlon in Huntington, West Virginia. (I still don’t count the Electric Run as a race and I never will)

I ran the Big Chill 5K for my 5th consecutive year which takes place at my Alma Matar, Rutgers University. It’s one of the largest 5K’s in the state of New Jersey, and personally, one of my favorites. Not only is it one of the more competitive races in the state, but it also contributes to a great cause. In it’s 11th year, it grows larger and larger as a well-known race where thousands of toys are collected upon race registration to donate to children during the holiday season on behalf of the charity organization, Toys for Tots. Each year since I’ve ran this race, I’ve never been disappointed with the turnout. The mixture between the sense of community, enthusiasm, and competitiveness makes this a race worth running.

The course takes you through the College Avenue Campus at Rutgers University and enters into Buccleuch Park, which is a prime running course for many local high school cross country teams as well as the training grounds for Rutgers University athletes. The final stretch of the course brings you back down College Avenue, ending in front of the College Avenue Gymnasium where the course begins. This course is quick and fairly flat, which makes it great for setting a PR (personal record) There is a slight incline in the first mile, but it’s smooth sailing once you get into the park and are nearing the finish line.

I hardly trained for the race this year, and to be honest, I typically never do because I like to run this race for fun. It has become a tradition for me and although I’m usually hard on myself with my finishing time, I always have to remind myself that ‘you reap what you sow’.

The Big Chill 5K holds a special place in my heart with great sentimental meaning because I regard this race as the milestone race that got me back into running, post-high school.

(For those of you who have been following my blog, I was very serious about running throughout high school. It has always grounded me and it still grounds me. I’ve written many times about how unbalanced I become when I don’t run)

When I first entered college, I had a hard time dealing with the many transitions that came my way. Running was a significant remedy for me to cope with these periods of change. It continues to remedy me to this day.

Running the Big Chill 5K has become a constant these past few years. It reminds me that no matter how busy I get, I can always make time to run. To clear my head. To motivate myself. To challenge myself. To heal myself.

Although I hardly trained for this race, I’m still amazed at how strong I still am. It just goes to show how mental strength can so greatly surpass physical strength. Where the mind leads, the body follows.

Overall, I had another great year at this race and I plan on continuing to run this race no matter how un-prepared I may be.

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Spontaneity

Lately, my unplanned days have ended up being my best and most happy/exciting days. And for me to say this is absolutely shocking (This is coming from someone who’s life is based on the very foundation that everything must be pre-planned, pre-known, and pre-meditated)

However, knowing as much as I could possibly know about myself up until this point, I’ve realized that trying to be too in control of a situation never works out in the end. It often just leaves me with high hopes that are eventually shattered into a heaping pile of disappointment. That, or, I mess things up before they even begin. Or get sick.

Yesterday marked my 24th consecutive day of running, (due to the Runner’s World Run Streak) but more importantly, it was also a 5K PR day for me.

My co-workers and I spontaneously decided to do a 5K race in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Originally, I had plans to attend a “Runner’s Happy Hour” event that I was invited to by another co-worker. Instead, I decided to change up my plans and run the 5K because honestly, I’d rather spend $5 on running than $5 on drinking.

I found that it ended up being the best decision I made all day.

I had no expectations for this race at all and I learned that when you make a spontaneous decision that fast, there’s really no time to over-think the situation or stress out about the outcome.

I’ve always envied people who would just “go with the flow” or “let things happen” I never understood how someone could live like that. I was always a believer in “If you want something, go get it”, and that’s how I’ve always done things. That’s how things have always worked out for me in terms of success.

Yet, I now know that this mindset doesn’t apply to every situation, especially when it comes to having fun.

Yesterday, I went with the flow and let nature take its course. I didn’t stress or worry, and I ended up placing 1st in my age group and running a 5K time of 21:30 that I never imagined I could get back to after high school. It was a small restoration in my confidence and my overall quality of life.

A re-occurring theme that I am now settling on for this blog is balance. It’s a skill that I’ve been trying to grab a hold of and will continue to grab a hold of for the rest of my life. It’s necessary.

Sometimes you need to be serious, and sometimes you need to be fun. Not too much of one or the other.

So, I will leave off with this quote:

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller