Spring classic 5K race recap and other updates

Thank you all again for your support last week. By way of an update, Ari is still feeling a bit under the weather but is back home and on the mend. If you want the full story direct from the source, you can check out his blog post here.


A few months back, I signed up for what I’m pretty sure was my first 5K in 4 years. I generally find it hard to justify dropping $40+ on less than 30 minutes of exercise. But there was some peer pressure involved and I decided to sign up a couple of months ago, figuring it would be a good test to see if the speed training I’ve been doing would pay off in a shorter race. I’m going to spoil the end of the story by saying that I hit the fastest splits I’ve ever managed in a race and finished in 21:45 (a PR for sure!), averaging exactly 7-minute miles and coming in 34th out of 2,252 female racers. While I’m really proud of my time, this race didn’t feel great and here’s what I think happened. I’m going to entitle this next section…

Struggle city.
Struggle city.

How NOT to run a 5K!

  1. Definitely plan your race on a busy, stressful weekend: Friday and Saturday nights of this weekend were my family’s annual Passover seders, which are SO much fun but they involve late nights, wine, and heavy food.
  2. Be sure not to drink enough water before the race: Passover food is not only heavy but it’s also really salty, and Sunday morning I was too groggy to be focused on hydrating as much as I should have been. All of a sudden, the race was starting and my mouth was so dry and sticky I don’t think I swallowed once during the 22-ish long minutes I was running.
  3. Be sure to freak out as much as possible before the race starts: On top of everything else, the fact that I was in shape and the conditions were perfect led me to a full-on internal freak out about having to run this thing super duper fast.
  4. Start cold and go out too fast: Despite the fact that I wasn’t feeling awesome and hadn’t warmed up at all, I still got really excited and ran my first mile as if I was feeling 100% (6:38). Positive splits FTW…

So! It worked out ok in the end. And the race was really fun–it’s actually part of a series of 5Ks on a relatively flat course starting and ending near Central Square. Super extra fun bonuses on this one–lots of friends at the start and finish lines, my brother came out to cheer with his cowbell (thanks, Ari!) and my friend K ran her first race ever! Such a rockstar!!!

I actually ended up going for an easy 5 miler later in the day since I hadn’t gotten my long run in yet, and that felt great. It was my first time doing two runs in a day! Also, I think this is supposed to be something you do when you’re training for a Ragnar…? Three weeks and counting (eek!)

The best places to run in Boston

Sunset gawking at Jamaica Pond

I have had the unfortunately common young adult experience of moving every year since I graduated from college. So far, I’ve lived in Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, JP, and Fenway–where I have thankfully signed on for a second year of my lease. Even though moving is THE WORST, one of the pluses is that I’ve gotten to explore lots of different running routes in and around the city. Below is an overview of my six favorite runs in different neighborhoods, with some photographic temptation to help get you out the door. I’ve also included some notes on where to find water fountains and restrooms… so hydrate it up for those long runs!

11356970_404836979724246_630599518_nIn JP, head to Jamaica pond and the Arnold Arboretum, which are both part of the Emerald Necklace. This gorgeous series of parks/green spaces around Boston provides an incredible backdrop for your runs! When I lived in JP, I ran around the pond almost every morning and absolutely loved it. If you want to get your hill training on, head to the arboretum, where the well-marked paths will lead you up a couple of pretty steep hills (keep an eye out for some sweet skyline views). Major bonus–there are tons of water fountains in the warmer seasons! Public restrooms are also available at the pond 🙂

  • Hilly: Yes
  • Separated path: Yes
  • Cleared in winter: Sometimes 

    Pictures of strangers are cool, right?

In Brookline/Brighton, I love the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. This little gem is a 1.5 mile dirt/gravel loop around a reservoir, just outside of Cleveland Circle. The separated path gives your knees some welcome relief and the views just can’t be beat. Bonus tidbits: this is a really easy add-on to a longer run up Beacon Street from Coolidge Corner, and it can also continue up Commonwealth Avenue to the Newton hills (see below). Hit up the Starbucks in Cleveland Circle for an easy bathroom option.

  • Hilly: No
  • Separated path: Yes
  • Cleared in winter: No

If you want a challenge in Coolidge Corner, head up Summit Ave. One of the steepest hills in the area, Summit will get your heart pumping and your quads burning. If you want to attempt this one with a group, November Project runs free workouts here every Friday. There’s a super clutch water fountain at the top of the hill.

  • Hilly: YES
  • Separated path: No
  • Cleared in winter: Sometimes

    Good lookin’ even in stormy weather

In Cambridge/Boston, you can’t miss the Charles River Path. One of the most iconic runs in the city, this path is endlessly customizable and offers some of the best skyline and sunset views in the city. Click here for a helpful map with distances and bridges noted. In season, there are plentiful water fountains/bathrooms and the esplanade section is well-lit for nighttime runs.

In Somerville/Arlington and beyond, I love the Minuteman Bike Path. A fantastic route for your longer runs, this path runs 10+ (mostly flat) miles out to Bedford. Click here for maps and other info. I did both my 18 and 21 milers along this route and really appreciated the shade in the summer! If you veer off the path there are restrooms at lots of businesses along the way, along with public restrooms at the turnaround in Bedford.

  • Hilly: No
  • Separated path: Yes (but watch out for cyclists)
  • Cleared in winter: No

    Blue skies, clear hearts… can’t lose!

In Newton, head up the famous Newton hills. If you’ve heard of a little race called the Boston Marathon, you’ve probably heard of Heartbreak Hill. What makes Heartbreak so tough is that it’s part of a series of hills stretching from mile 17 to about mile 21 of the race. Even if (like me) you’re not training for Boston, this is a GREAT place to run! The separated “carriage lane” on Comm Ave is pretty much taken over by runners on the weekends, making for a really fun atmosphere all year long. There is an awesome private home with a water fountain just past Lowell Ave. and restrooms at the Newton Public Library.

  • Hilly: Yes
  • Separated path: No, but when you run in the carriage lane it can feel like it
  • Cleared in winter: Yes

Where are your favorite places to run in Boston? Let me know where I should check out next!

p.s. If you like these photos and want to see lots and lots of running sunset shots (and more), follow me on Instagram @leahohh!