Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Five & Dime Race Recap

Catching up?


If I were to tell you that a race that was incredibly hot and hilly could also be an absolute blast, would you believe me? I hope so, because somehow the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Five & Dime races managed to be sweaty, challenging, sunny and FUN.

Bright Running Shoes

When I was invited to participate in the inaugural Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill race weekend, I was immediately intrigued, excited and intimidated. They want me to participate!? But I’m not a great runner. I’m not a running blogger or a competitive runner. I’m simply someone who runs for the fun of it. I’m a runner who runs to exercise her overly energetic dog. I’m a casual runner who has a blast at races and feeds off of the energy and enthusiasm of other runners and fitness-minded people. I’m a runner who runs to clear her mind and zone out to a new playlist for a little bit of “me time.”

When I arrived at the start line of the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill 5K, I realized something that made me feel like maybe I did belong there. I was surrounded by runners of ALL different abilities. Most of us out there on race day morning aren’t super speedy. We aren’t running to break any records (other than our own!) and we simply run for the joy of running and the benefits – both physical and mental.

I think I feel the need to share this with you guys because I know that many fitness-focused bloggers are fantastic runners and if we get sucked into the comparison trap, we can quickly feel inadequate about our running abilities. These bloggers are incredible and inspirational… but it’s okay if you’re not like them. If you want to run, DO IT. The beauty of running, and what drew me to it back in 2007, was the simplicity of running and the ability to see progress if you commit to it.

Here are a few fantastic training plans for those who may be new to running and want to work up to a 5K:

Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Five and Dime 

Prior to arriving in Boston for the race weekend, I registered to participate in the Five and Dime race – a 5K followed immediately by a 10K. The 5K was the first race of the day on Saturday and after waking up and quickly inhaling at LUNA bar, some of my blogging buddies and I left our dorm rooms and walked to the start line conveniently located on the Boston College campus.

Boston College

I loved the historic feel of the Boston College campus and was impressed with all of the gorgeous greenery! I wish I had more time to walk around and explore the area.

We made our way to Linden Lane and stationed ourselves in front of the Babst Art Library.

Heartbreak Hill Races

By the time we arrived at the start line, there were a ton of runners waiting by the various pace signs. Despite the large number of people, the race atmosphere didn’t feel hectic or incredibly congested which was nice. A little before 7:15 a.m., I lined up with four of my blogging friends, Anne, Dani, Presley and Marnie.


The four of us didn’t really have much of a game plan going into the race but all vowed to take it easy and pace ourselves since we had another 6.2 miles to run immediately after the 5K.

Before I knew it, I was running onto Commonwealth Avenue and the miles were flying by thanks to lots of chatting with my blogging buddies! If I could run with these women every day I would because they know how to make time fly!

5K Run

(I owe a big thanks to Anne for sharing her race day photos with me! Her ability to snap running pics on the fly is unmatched!)

The most scenic part of the run took us along the Chestnut Hill Reservoir where runners were able to take in the beautiful views before running along Beacon Street.

5K course heartbreak hill

Our little group crossed the finish line in just under 30 minutes with a time of 29:53 (9:37/mi).

Runners World 5K Results

When we crossed the finish line, a few of us wanted to make some wardrobe changes since it ended up being a lot hotter outside than we initially anticipated. I wanted to throw on some shorts instead of my capris and after a mad dash to the dorms to change, we made it back to the 10K with a minute or two to spare before it was time to run again!

Start Line Round two!

Heeere we go!

Fannetastic Food and PBFingers

Changing into shorts was definitely a good decision. It was a hot race but thanks to running in Florida, I am relatively used to the heat. What I am not used to is running up and down hills!

The 10K course was a challenging out-and-back that took us up and down the famous Newton Hills. We could tell right away that the course was going to be difficult and I knew I needed to save some steam if I was going to make it up Heartbreak Hill at the end of the race without crawling.

I began the 10K with the same crew from the 5K but after about two miles, our group dispersed a little bit and Presley became my running buddy for the remainder of the race. She is so much fun and I’m pretty sure we didn’t stop chatting once during our run together. The two of us trucked along, cursed the hills and kept each other going. Presley totally made this race for me and she’s lucky I spared her 5,000 sweaty “thank you” hugs once we finally crossed the finish line!

Here we are recreating what we looked like on Heartbreak Hill on mile five of the race:

Heartbreak Hill

We both felt like we looked like Quasimodo as we tried our best to keep up our momentum on Heartbreak Hill. Our running pace turned into a sweaty shuffle but we kept going! I couldn’t help but think about all of the runners who have tackled that hill at the end of the Boston Marathon. You have my respect!!! The hill is intense and I and pretty sure I would fall over and cry if I came upon that hill at mile 21.

Soon after we made it over Heartbreak Hill, we ran through the finish line and straight to the food tent!

Our 10K time: 1:04 (10:23/mi)

RW 10k


Once we refueled with bananas, bagels, chips and water, we met up with the Runner’s World bloggers and waited for more people to finish.

Heartbreak Hill BloggersTwo races = Two medals!


The 5K and 10K races at the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival were such a blast! I was challenged and inspired and thought the courses were beautiful. If you’re in the area next year, I highly recommend both the 5K and the 10K – or both for an added challenge! Some superstar runners also ran the Hat Trick and completed a half marathon the following day which thoroughly impressed me!

Big congrats to all of the runners last weekend! And thanks again to all of the blog readers out there who said hi and encouraged me along the course. I’m sure I looked like death out there but your positive words definitely motivated me and made me smile!

Question of the Afternoon

  • Do you have any races coming up on your calendar?

I started researching Charlotte races last night and am eyeing a fall half marathon…


  1. says

    Ahh yes!! Do the Thunder Road Half Marathon! I participated in the 5K last year and I loved it! It was very organized. I would totally have done the half marathon this year if I hadn’t already signed up for the Savannah half.


  2. says

    Thank you for that intro brushing on the “comparison trap” topic … we are all at different levels but we are ALL runners!

    I just signed up for a half marathon in Oct, this will be my second one and I’m hoping for a personal best 🙂 No fair though that you get to run yours in Charlotte … leaving us Floridians on our own to battle the heat and humidity 50 weeks out of the year 😉


  3. says

    Well done!!! Hard to keep up the momentum when you know you’re straight in to another one!!! Love that you were involved and running isn’t “officially” your thing..such an inspiration to all us “semi” “part-time” or “occasional” runners! 🙂


  4. says

    Double the medals, double the fun! Looks like a FANTASTIC time! I hope to do the race (races!) one day in the future. I live on Vancouver Island in Canada so it is a little farther away, but worth it I think!

    Ooh a fall half marathon would be fantastic! I say sign up and don’t look back 🙂


  5. says

    GREAT job lady!!! You’re absolutely right about not falling in to the comparison trap. I try not to worry about what other runners are doing (or posting) but use their updates to motivate me! It’s hard not to want to for a run when you have a twitter feed full of posts about how great people feel after pounding the pavement!

    I just ran a half marathon June 1st and an 8K on Saturday. My legs are a little sore so I’m taking a few days off before a 5K June 21st. I don’t usually race this much but there are lots of local races in the summer! I’m also doing a Colour Me Rad run a the end of month (and giving away a free entry today< PLUG haha!)

    Have a great evening!


  6. Heather says

    I’m running the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon on the 21st!! Definitely excited and a little nervouse! It will be my second half marathon, so I’m hoping to improve my time and finish in 2 and a half hours. I may run slower than a turtle through peanut butter! But I run!!


  7. Amanda says

    I ran that race too! I ran right behind you and I thought it was you, but wasn’t 100% sure and didn’t want to run up to some girl saying ‘are you pbfingers?!’ so I refrained myself, I wish I hadn’t!!! When I saw your pictures on your blog with Presley, I immediately knew it was you two I was behind! Looks like you had a blast!!


  8. says

    I’m a casual runner too and would definitely feel intimidated by other fitness bloggers! I’m glad you decided to take on the challenge and you did a wonderful job with your pace! Looks like you had a ton of fun!


  9. Ashley says

    Wow! 5K and 10K in one day! Congrats – that’s awesome!!
    If you are not a hill runner, be warned – Charlotte is a very hilly city (even though you wouldn’t notice at first glance!). I live here and on my “bad run” days I try my best to avoid hills, though it’s quite difficult. And the half and full marathon here (Thunder Road) are killers!


  10. says

    This looks like SO much fun, and I’ve signed up for alerts for next year! Congratulations on both races! I’ve got a 10K coming up this weekend, a duathlon the following weekend, and my 2nd half marathon of the year coming up next month. It’s on trails and I’ve never done a half on trails before so I’ve got lots of practice to do between now and then!


    • Cat says

      That actually isn’t true — the four hills through Newton from miles 16-21 are collectively referred to as “The Newton Hills,” and each has an individual name, with Heartbreak being the fourth. It got its name following the 1936 Boston Marathon, during which famed marathoner and leader Johnny Kelley patted competitor Tarzan Brown on the shoulder during the ascent — an act that stoked Brown’s competitive fire, propelling him past the wall (and Kelley) and onto the winner’s podium, thus “breaking Kelley’s heart.”


  11. Barbara says

    I did the hat trick and it was so fun to be back at my alma mater, boston college! Those were my old running routes 🙂 comgrats on running your races! It was such a fun weekend!


  12. Nicole says

    If you’re interested in challenging runs, look up trail runs. There is a 5 peaks trail running series in several spots across Canada, so I am sure there are all around the US. They are super pretty, fun and there is great sense of community. I completed my first one a couple weekends ago and it was 5km, pretty much all hills. I’ll be completing my second race, which is 6km this saturday out in Canmore (by Banff). I don’t think I’ll enjoy road races as much now. 🙂


  13. Vicki says

    You should come (back) to the Chicago area and do the Fox Valley Marathon – they also have a half and 20-miler. I signed up to do the half marathon and am currently in training for my very first half. I’m kind of excited! My dad was going to do it with me (at my egging him to), but he can’t run right now due to some tendonitis so he’ll go with me on my weekend long runs on the bike, though he says he might sign up if he gets better soon.


  14. says

    That looks like so much fun!!! And tough runs and races are always better with friends! I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon in October with the American Cancer Society’s Team DetermiNation. It will be my first full marathon and I’m pumped! Hoping to do some shorter races before then.


  15. says

    Funny you should ask … I ran my first and only half marathon at Disney (the Princess) four years ago and have finally thought about running another distance race. I’m thinking the San Francisco Women’s Half! I just need to commit.


  16. Pua says

    I’ve never done a race before. I’m not really a runner, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do… start off easy with a 5k? Any suggestions? 🙂


  17. says

    I can’t even imagine running up a hill like that…we are pretty darn flat up in Indiana!! The next race on my list is the “Neon Dash” which is a night time fun run. It’s my first “fun run” and I can’t wait to do it!


  18. Liz L. says

    I live south of Boston….I was thinking of you and the other runners! It was a beautiful weekend but hot, especially for tackling Heartbreak Hill. I am not much of a runner…but I may check out the links that you provided for beginners. Thanks and congrats on completing the two races!


  19. Whitney Money says

    I am doing Run for Green half in Davidson in September. There and back, hilly course! I did the Thunder Road last year, challenging as well but fun to run around downtown Charlotte.


  20. says

    Congratulations on finishing the double race. There is one in KC that I want to try. It is a fun and different challenge. No races coming up for me until October. I’m doing a half the week before my wedding.


  21. says

    this looks awesome — i’d love to do this! i did a 5K and a 10K back-to-back a few years ago for a Turkey Trot and it was the opposite experience — so cold! but so great. 🙂


  22. says

    I love the fact that you try not to compare yourself to other runners. I struggle with this myself but am getting better at just racing my pace and being happy when I improve. I have a 12 miler coming up in August which I sure will be super hot and sweaty! Looks like a fun race! Congrats!


  23. michelle says

    I just completed the half this Sunday and I couldn’t agree with you more on how much respect I have for the Boston Marathoners who tackled those hills at the tail end of a marathon. Whew!
    But it was a great race!


  24. Jenn says

    hey, you still crushed the hills we face on the Boston route! that certainly counts for a lot 🙂 thanks for bringing the sun and warmth up from Florida!


  25. Melisa says

    I live in the boston area and bummed I didn’t register for this. I did a 5mi race the same weekend in the next town over though and PR’d.


  26. says

    I was really intimidated going into these races, too, because I’m not a super fast runner. But it was such a great group–so nice to meet you! I wish I’d have known you and Presley were going about the same pace as me, because I would have loved some company. I just assumed everyone was far ahead of me 😉



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