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Novant Health 15K Race Recap

I ran the Novant Health 15K on Sunday morning as an ambassador for the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon. I’m excited to share my first 15K race recap with you!

Novant Health 15K

It was my first time racing a 15K and I really like the distance. I wish there were more 15Ks and 10-mile races. I feel like it’s the perfect “meet in the middle” between a 10K and a half. It was a great way to get my long run done for the week but with a “racing effort.”

I met my number one goal for the race, which was to run the entire thing without stopping. I am really bad about stopping during long runs to take some swigs of water and when I’m running in the city, I have to stop a lot to cross roads. I wanted the experience of running and not stopping just to see if I could do it! I even jogged through the water stops (and got more than my fair share of water up my nose).

Here’s how the race went down.

Pre-Race Breakfast

I had a super low-key Saturday night in preparation for a 6 a.m. alarm on Sunday. I had a shot of espresso and half of a banana with cashew butter. If I’m running less than 10 miles for my long run, I like to keep my breakfast pretty light and eat a bigger meal after.

The Novant Health 15K was up in the Lake Norman area so I wanted to leave my house by 6:45 a.m. to be sure I’d have time for packet pick up and to get settled.

15K Race Recap

The 30-minute drive was super easy that early on a Sunday. Parking and race logistics were also extremely easy and before I knew it, I had my bib pinned on and was lined up for the 7:45 a.m. start. How much do you love this guy who posed for my crowd shot?

Novant Health 15K

The weather for this race was absolutely perfect. 55 at the start, 60 at the finish. It was a little humid but I didn’t even care because getting a break in the temperature was such a welcome change. I wore a New Balance short-sleeved race shirt and Lululemon Hotty Hot Shorts.

Jetton Park

I felt really good for the entirety of this race. I fell into a just over 8 minutes a mile pace early in the race and found it to be surprisingly sustainable for the duration. I was so grateful for a change of run scenery. It was really lovely to run around Lake Norman.

Jetton Park Run

We ran through Jetton Park, which was awesome. It features walking and biking trails, tennis courts and a public beach on the lake.

Lake Norman Run

Once we made our way out of Jetton Park, we weaved in and out of many residential streets and neighborhoods on the Lake Norman peninsula. There were plenty of water views. (You can see the lake straight ahead in this picture.) I also liked the rolling up and downhills. My favorite kind of race course. (Last weekend’s flat road 10-miles in Florida almost did me in!)

Jetton Road Run

Once we made our way out of the neighborhoods we were back on Jetton Road for almost two miles of mostly uphill before making a turn for the finish. My mental state made a shift on this long stretch of road. I thought about how grateful I was that my body was healthy and that I was strong enough to run and to be out there racing on such a gorgeous October morning. I felt really sad and angry at my brother for not taking care of his body and that he’d never know the feeling I had at that moment.

Novant Health 15K Race Recap

Mile 8 ended up being the slowest of the race for me but I made the decision to kick it into high gear to make the final push to the finish. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:16.29. I was the 18th female out of 285 and second in my age group. (Although the online results say fourth for some reason…but I did stay for the awards ceremony and received a prize so ????)


I hung out with ambassador friends Jordan and Brian after the race as we waited for the 15K awards. They both also placed in their age groups.

Let’s have a quick discussion on stats because I need your input on something.


Mile 1: 7:49
Mile 2: 8:06
Mile 3: 8:08
Mile 4: 8:08
Mile 5: 8:04
Mile 6: 7:54
Mile 7: 8:09
Mile 8: 8:13
Mile 9: 8:05
Last .51: 7:34

Average pace: 8:03. You can totally see how my pace directly reflects the course elevation in the chart below. Craziness.


So…a 15K is 9.3 miles but the final distance on my GPS was 9.51. The time on my GPS and the official finish time matched exactly but the distances were off. If I use my GPS, my average pace was 8:03 for 9.51 miles. If I go off of the 9.3 mile course distance, it was 8:12.


I do believe that I could have run over because the course did involve quite a few turns and weaving in and out of neighborhoods. When they measure courses, they measure on the shortest possible course distance by using the most efficient routes (close to the curb, sharp turns, etc). I used my RunKeeper app for this race and it measure .2 over but I also measured over when I ran the Hit the Brixx 10K and 5K a few weeks ago by almost .2 and I was wearing my Garmin. Maybe I’m just a bad tangent runner?



My average cadence for this run was 178, which I am super pleased with. For the past couple of years, I have been working to shorten my stride up a bit and I’ve been really thinking about it a lot when I race. It’s something I’ve been aware of since learning about running form in my CrossFit Endurance seminar and has become increasingly important to me as I work to become a more efficient and injury-free runner. When I can shorten up my stride, it really helps me prevent the calf strain that I have a tendency to feel.

Read more about it in this post on No Meat Athlete.

Final Thoughts

The Novant Health 15K put me in a great headspace for the upcoming Novant Health Half Marathon. I feel confident that the six weeks of training I have left will have me feeling prepared to tackle 13.1 and hopefully at a pace similar to what I ran in yesterday’s race. I am planning on running the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon in two weeks as an ambassador for the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon but it will be treated like a training run and not a race effort. I want to save the race effort for my goal race! 🙂

Do you find that your GPS measures over in races? 

Do you pay attention to cadence? 

What’s your favorite race day temperature? 

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Sarah October 3, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Great race! I almost jumped in that race to help with my long run (I had 22 miles yesterday). I actually love the 15k distance too. Welcome to the North Charlotte area 🙂 I love running in Jetton!

  • Melissa October 3, 2016, 4:51 pm

    I was also at the NH15K yesterday. I even see me in your crowd picture! My GPS was also a touch longer, 9.41. My GPS was ahead of each mile marker as well, and I wondered if it would work itself out by the end or would be long, and also how to adjust for the final push. I was familiar with that area but the last mile or so was breaking me down mentally because it didn’t seem like I was going to get to the finish! But great race overall!
    I have been watching my cadence as well, and still have work to do there.
    I like race start temps in the 40s and finishing in the 50s. Yesterday, was a step in the right direction from what we have had, but it was getting quite warm as we were finishing. I do hate to be cold before a race starts though!

  • Shannon October 3, 2016, 6:25 pm

    I did a 5k last weekend and my Garmin measured a little long too (.15), but my watch time and chip time were only 5 seconds apart. So, I go with the chip time. As you said, they do measure the course the shortest way possible, and I know that if it’s a new location where I don’t normally run that I obviously won’t know the tangents!

    Cadence is on my mind more when doing speedwork, I have to remind myself to get a faster turnover by shortening my stride and I end up feeling better and going faster! (Imagine that!)

    I’d have to say the 50s and 60s are ideal for me too! I love short-sleeves and shorts. Or short-sleeves and leggings.

  • Shannon McKinney October 3, 2016, 6:26 pm

    Hi Jen,
    I know you’ve mentioned in past posts your struggles with Achilles Tendonitis. I wear calf socks that seem to help, but I can only run 2 days a week and do mostly strength (insanity) and yoga workouts on other days. I’m doing a 1/2 Nov. 6th.

    Any stretching recommendations or ways to keep my Achilles Tendonitis at bay. I use a foam roller regularly!

    Thank you!

  • Rachel October 3, 2016, 9:02 pm

    The difference in results might be a matter of chip time vs. gun time. I’m not sure which is which for you- most races do awards by gun time.

  • Mary October 4, 2016, 8:05 am

    Your post is inspiring! Thanks for the link to increasing your cadence. I have to remind myself to do this but it works. And we always run for those who can not. Always.

  • Julie Running in a Skirt October 4, 2016, 8:30 am

    I really like the 15K distance too! There is a 15K at the Biltmore Estate in May that is always really nice.
    Congrats on a great race, placing and strong finish!

  • Molly October 4, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Next year run the Hilly Chilly 5K in Chantilly!

  • Melissa October 4, 2016, 1:37 pm

    I usually run with both RunKeeper and my Garmin. (I started with RunKeeper long before I got the Garmin watch, so I like to keep the on-going records in RunKeeper.) I find that RunKeeper consistently records larger distances than my Garmin. Usually for out-and-back runs, the two devices are exactly the same until I do my turn-around. At that point, RunKeeper gets ahead and seems to keep edging ahead. I wonder if the RunKeeper algorithm doesn’t check the GPS position as often as the Garmin, and so it’s recording the small variations differently? Otherwise, as you say, if you don’t cut all the corners, you’re going to get a longer distance than the race is measured for.

    Another thought on the awards (the chip time vs gun time that someone mentioned above could also be a factor) is that usually people aren’t given two awards for one race. Perhaps there were two women above you in your age group that got other awards, thereby moving you into second place?

    Regardless, that’s an awesome time! I wish I could just slip into an 8-min-mile pace. 🙂 My best 10-miler was 1:39:45, a 9:45 pace!

  • Rebecca October 4, 2016, 3:46 pm

    Congrats on the age group award!

    I love the 15k distance, the lake I run around the most is exactly 9.3 miles so it’s kind of my default run distance!

    I have never measured cadence before, does your running watch track it? I know a few people who run with a metronome to help them with their cadence.

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