Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K Race Recap

Live music, scenic vistas, and free beer and Irish food – what more could you ask for in a 5K race?


On Sunday morning, my mother and I headed way uptown to Washington Heights to run our first race of 2013. Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K is sponsored by Coogan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, NYC’s only track-and-field themed bar, right around the corner from the Armory Track. It was also my first race on the way to qualifying for guaranteed entry into the 2014 NYC Marathon through NYRR’s 9+1 option.

I was particularly excited about this race because the last time I raced a 5K was in August 2011, so even though I knew it was a very challenging course with three big hills, I was determined to break my old PR of 28:07. The weather forecast had told us the day would be 43 degrees and cloudy. Perfect racing weather, right? Except that we neglected to consider that it was only 9am, and that the course was right along the Hudson River, making it pretty windy. It was about 30 degrees at the start, and I ended up running with the fleece headband and fleece sweatshirt that I had originally planned to leave in bag check.


Coach Mary had me doing a 1-mile warm up before the start, which really got me loosened up and ready to race. The course was very crowded the whole way (almost 6,000 runners) so there was a lot of weaving around people at the start. It was an out-and-back course, and just a few minutes after I crossed the start line the elite runners at the front of the pack started passing us in the other direction. It was so exciting to see them whiz past us, particularly the lead female!

All along the course were different local bands and musicians, even a high school marching band, which really made the race fly by. There was also fantastic spectator support, especially towards the finish line.

My favorite part of the course was running a lap around the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval enclave in Fort Tryon Park. I minored in Art History in college, so there’s a special place in my heart for beautiful art museums, and the Cloisers is no exception. After we circled the Cloisters, we got a great view of the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey across the river. This is an aerial shot that best represents the view, although we couldn’t see the Manhattan skyline from where we were. And the trees certainly were not this green!



I really pushed hard in this race. I didn’t let myself relax, except briefly when I was trying to get rid of a side stitch that hit me on uphill #2, and I sprinted the last half mile, which was mostly downhill. I had to resort to a lot of positive self-talk and coaching myself through the pain in the last mile. I just wanted to get to the end, and didn’t want to slow down doing it! I sprinted so hard that as I got to the finish line I felt like my lungs were going to jump out of my chest (they actually felt sore for about an hour after, probably because the air was so cold) but it was all worth it.

I came in at 26:44, shattering my PR by almost a minute and a half!

I grabbed water and half a cinnamon raisin bagel while my breathing returned to normal again, before setting off on a very easy 1-mile cool down. Then I found Mom (who also ran a fantastic race) and we got in line for the best part of the race day experience: free beer and free Irish food at Coogan’s!


The beer was actually good (unlike most post-race beer), and even though I didn’t think I could stomach beer at 10 in the morning, it was surprisingly refreshing. We also got scrambled eggs, shepherd’s pie, corned beef on rye sandwiches, and mini muffins. Refueling complete!



Just on the offchance I hadn’t adequately replenished the calories I burned during the race with the Irish breakfast (ahem…I had), that evening I headed to my friend AJ’s house for a combination sushi-making lesson and British tea, Part 2. (Although Part 1 was pretty hard to top.)


AJ has become quite the gourmet chef in our post-college years, and he expertly instructed the other 5 of us how to make sushi rolls. We each took turns making rolls with different combinations of ingredients (which included tuna, salmon, sauteed sweet potato, spinach, avocado, cucumber, and spicy sauce), and they were all delicious!



After our sushi dinner, there was an elaborate dessert spread. I didn’t think I had room for any more deliciousness, but lo and behold, I did!


Chai scones fresh out of the oven.


Top to bottom: shortbread tea cookies that AJ brought back from London, macarons from a bakery in Brooklyn, chai scones from AJ’s kitchen


Assorted goodies from Ovenly in Brooklyn


All in all, an excellent way to kick off my 2013 racing season!

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4 thoughts on “Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K Race Recap

  1. Congrats on your new PR!
    I totally want to run this race one day, seeing as I used to live there. Free food and beer at the end is definitely an incentive to trek.

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