Running and food are a perfect combination

Downtown Westfield is doing something right. At first, you might think to yourself – why on earth would I want to run a 5k at 7pm at the end of July? That’s just asking for torture. Well, perhaps because you’ll get to eat all the pizza you want as soon as you cross the finish line. Yes, as soon as you cross that finish line the first thing on your mind is water and to continue walking, but once the nausea passes and you realize it’s over, hunger sets in.

For the past few years (I believe about 9) Downtown Westfield in New Jersey (my home town!) has been doing a 5k pizza run extravaganza. If you’re unfamiliar with Westfield, it’s a pretty nice town; it’s won the Main Street USA award a few years, the television show Ed was filmed here as well as tid bits of quite a few commercials and movies. It was also called home by the creator of The Addams Family, Langston Hughes, Dave Brown (Giants), Zora Neale Hurston, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe… you get the drift.

This is my second year running the race, and last year it was actually my first 5k, and second road race. It started to drizzle and there was some serious wind and lightning before the start, but I was hopeful it’d hold out until we were done – and it did! I decided to rock my newly acquired No Meat Athlete shirt, which is adorable! Even though I’m not 100% veggie and my fiancé joked it was false advertising, I think the idea behind the shirt, and the fact that I’m at least conscious and mindful about what I eat is what counts!

Happily rockin' my shirt pre-race

I had a little trouble starting MapMyFitness on my iPhone once the race started, so people were pushing me out of the way (rude!). It was honestly one of the rudest races I’ve ever run – people were cutting me off left and right, zig zagging so I couldn’t get in front of them, and elbowing me and invading my personal space! I had a cramp within the first half mile till the end, and my side is actually a little sore from it. But in the end I finished in 25:21, almost a minute faster than my previous PR, set last October. Hoorah! With the heat and humidity, and it being at 7p after a full day of work, I was very pleased.

Down the home stretch... I have no idea how both feet are planted

Once the race was over, my fiancé had a slice of pizza while I guzzled a ton of water, and we focused on trying to cool off. Since the race was in my home town, my parents so graciously offered for us to come over to enjoy dinner from one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Thailand. Being a creature of habit, both my fiancé and I ordered our ususals; I got Pad Kee Mao, and he got the Chicken Pad Thai (nice and spicy, of course). We also all shared an order of spring rolls, and some salad. I’m a huge fan of the salad because it comes with some fried tofu and a delicious peanut dressing. After relaxing a bit more, we shared a caramel pretzel Klondike bar, which are my newest obession. I’ve always been a huge fan of Klondikes, but these are amazing! Crunchy, sweet, and salty are the perfect combination. I highly recommend them.

I’m looking forward to some more deliciousness this weekend, including a trip to the beach tomorrow for our half day with a stop at WaWa, and some type of BBQ on Saturday. Oh yeah, and some running.

Happy healthy nomzing!

Race Recap – My First EVER Half Marathon!

I know this blog is mostly dedicated to food, but after picking up running this past year, I’ve noticed just how many people are into both food AND running! Maybe that’s because in order to eat everything that’s delicious out there, some type of serious exercise needs to be involved? At any rate, through good ‘ole Twitter, I’ve been able to connect with a bunch of people that share a love for eating and running! So because of that, I’m thinking about incorporating some of my running into this blog. But we’ll see.

Anyway, I finished my FIRST half marathon today!! The race was a first annual Rutgers University UNITE 1/2 marathon, sponsored by CGI Racing. We started on Busch campus by the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center, and ran through New Brunswick and Piscataway. It was so funny to start at that particular location, because from the age of 12 to 18 (and then after to cheer for my sister), I spent countless weekends at that location in the pool. Rutgers hosted all of the big swim meets during the winter season, and pretty much all of them during the summer season because they had two short course pools that converted into one long course pool. But enough about swimming, this post is for running!

Before the start of the race!

Today was actually pretty chilly. Both my fiancé and I were completely clueless as to outfit choices. I went with some cotton/spandex mix capris from Old Navy, a technical shirt I got from a 5k race last summer, and a throw-away long sleeve shirt from high school. Within two miles I had ripped off my long sleeve shirt, and was really glad I hadn’t worn any more layers. There was some wind here and there, and a mix of sun and shade, so I was pretty comfortable the entire race (temperature wise, that is!).

The first mile was a little difficult. When I had signed up for the race, I put myself down to finish between 2:16 and 2:30. I really had NO idea how I was going to do, because it was before I started training, and had never raced more than 4 miles. By the end of our training, though, I had completed 10 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and realized that even if I kept that comfortable pace the whole time, I’d crush my goal. So I definitely lined myself up with a slower pack – just behind the 10 minute mile pacers. My first mile wound up being just under 10, because I spent most of it dodging in and out of slower runners, and trying to make room for others passing. The race had over 3,000 entrants!

From there, I kind of hit a stride for the next 5 miles or so. I kept a just over 9 minute mile pace for the first half. I really felt great those first 6 miles. I remember thinking to myself “I can totally do this again! This is awesome!” The course had four spots where you pass runners in front/behind you, and I got to see my fiancé TWICE! The second time we high-fived. That was a really great motivator. He was flying through the course, and apparently to his standards I was too! [You can read his race re-cap over at]

My legs started to get a little tight after those 6 miles, but I didn’t really start to feel it until about mile 9. Holy moly. My hamstrings were NOT having fun. After mile 10 I had to tell myself that I only had a 5k left. But to be honest, I was a little scared, in our training we had never gone over 10 miles, so I really had no idea what to expect. I wound up slowing down a bit between mile 11 and 12. I realized that the end was near, and I didn’t want to look like one of those people coming down the finish line that you can tell is trying SO hard to move their legs, but just aren’t going. I ran down the main drag of the College Avenue campus (on College Ave.) and picked it up about half way, realizing I really had no more than a quarter mile left. I felt like I was going to puke, but I knew it was almost over.

Right at the 13 mile marker I saw my mom jump out from the crowd, and then my dad. Now these two went to almost every single swim meet of my 10 year swimming career (high school and college), and since I started running have been at most of those races too. It’s really great seeing them on the sidelines or up in the bleachers. My mom threw her hands up in the air, screaming for me, so I humored her and did the same back. It really was that final push I needed to give it what little I had left to get through that finish. The clock barely passed 2:03 when I finally made it to get my medal and a water. After looking up my time online, I officially finished at 2:02:15! I kept an average of a 9:20 pace!

Check me out finishing here [I’m in the bright blue and black]! (My fiance finished about 15 minutes before I did, so he was kind enough to video for me on his iPhone!):

I know it might sound a bit ridiculous since it was my first one, but man, if only I had known how close I was to breaking 2 hours, maybe I would have pushed it a little more somewhere between mile 10 and 13. My competitiveness is a bit much at times. I’ve been able to keep it completely internal, but it’s something that I focus and obsess over when I have goals in my head. I’m going to spend the next two weeks analyzing this race, trying to figure out what I could have done differently. But at the same time, I’m really not sure if I could have done anything else. At least I know for next time, I’m really not going to hurt until that 10-ish mile point, so I need to prepare my body for it.

After the race, my fiancé and I hobbled home to get ready to go out to lunch with my family as a celebration. We went to Red Robin, and I devoured a Santa Fe burger. After that, we came home and napped for an hour or two. The combination of being up at 6am and running 13.1 miles followed by huge hamburgers made it impossible to stay awake. Now, thanks to the Rita’s Italian Ice’s “Birthday club” we’re going to head over there to get some ice, since we have a coupon from my fiancé’s birthday!

I really think I’m going to do another one of these badboys. I don’t know when, though, since I still can’t really walk. I’m sure tomorrow will feel great! I’m totally wearing my medal to work, though. Let’s see if anyone notices 🙂

Here’s the breakdown of my race
7 miles – 1:01:41 (8:49 pace)
10 miles – 1:29:37 (8:58 pace) <– that’s over 11 minutes faster than my training pace! I did 11 miles in that time!
Last 5k – 32:39 (10:32) – YIKES! I told you I slowed down!
Final time – 2:02:15 (9:20 pace)

I just want to say a special thanks to all of the people that sent over well-wishes before my race… it really meant a lot to see such support from co-workers, former teammates, friends, family, and fellow running and/or foodie bloggers!!