New Jersey Half Marathon Race Recap – 1:38:05

30 Apr

A few months ago, Hollie talked me into coming down to New Jersey to visit and run this race.  Actually “talked me into” makes it sound like a lot of effort on her behalf- I’m pretty sure all it took was one Facebook post.  But I digress.

Originally I intended to shoot for about a 1:40 at this race, but after a handful of decent workouts in the past few weeks, I started to wonder if I was in slightly better shape.  Due to that, and to the fact that my fall racing plans impact my plan of making Buffalo my goal race (more on that later), I went into this race thinking that I would race it all out and let the chips fall where they may.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before.  I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before. I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.


I was trying to be enthusiastic, but due to poor logistics at the expo and realizing that the half started way earlier than I thought it did, I was sort of stumbling around Hollie’s house like a zombie.  I finally pulled myself together, procured a cup of coffee, and we all hit the road.  On the way there, I distinctly remember telling Laura that my main mission would be to find a porta-potty (foreshadowing! wee, fun!).  I also felt myself starting to get hungry, and ate half of a Picky Bar I found in my car (more foreshadowing! such fun!).

We got somewhat close to the race start at Monmouth Park and then boom!  Huge line of cars.  The volunteers at the expo had warned about this, and I honestly thought we left early enough to avoid the traffic but apparently we underestimated just how bad the congestion would be.  By the time we were able to park and I pinned my bib on, it was 6:30am – leaving only 15 minutes until the start of the race.

Let me spare you the agonizing details and just say that I had a choice to make: stay in line, use the bathroom, and fight through the hordes of walkers or get my butt to my corral and find out how long I could run before an emergency situation popped up.  I chose the corral.

Miles 1-2

As soon as the gun went off for the wheelchair start, I realized I didn’t have my Gu.  Typically this wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but I woke up so full from the night before that I didn’t eat a real breakfast.  As I mentioned above, I did have half a Picky but I didn’t trust that could fuel me through a PR half marathon attempt.

I stood there waiting for my corral to be released and realized that having to poop and facing the almost certain bonk that was waiting at mile 10ish was probably not going to make for the best race ever.  I decided to run by feel and not force the pace.

I started just behind the 1:40 pace group and tried to hang with them for the first two miles.  I felt like I was working too hard to keep that pace.  I told myself, it’s just not your day.  Hang tough for as long as you can, and readjust your goal to 1:41-1:42.

Miles 3-5

The only thing I remember from this section of the race is the mental struggle to stay positive.  I kept my head down and did my own thing, not looking at my Garmin, and just tried to enjoy myself.  I got ahead of the 1:40 group at some point here, and thought about how funny it would be when they swallowed me back up later in the race.

Miles 6-10

At this point, I caught up to a handful of girls and one guy who was cracking the cheesiest jokes as loud as he could.  I stayed with him for a mile or two and honestly – he was the biggest difference in my mental game.  I was laughing out loud and joking back with him.  It was genuinely fun, and for once, my race photos actually reflect that I might actually like this silly running thing.

Dare I say ... Im enjoying myself??

Dare I say … I’m enjoying myself??

I eventually broke away from the funny guy and realized that I wasn’t feeling nearly as bad as I thought I would.  My lead-legs were gone, and my stomach – thought a bit uncomfortable – was not entirely revolting.  I was still worried about my lack of fuel, and was disappointed to have not seen gels being handed out on the course.  I told myself to keep ignoring the Garmin and keep the pace steady.

Miles 11-12

think it was around mile 11 where I saw the best cheerleaders!  I was so totally in a zone at this point that when spectators started popping up with more frequency on the course, it didn’t really phase me.  All of a sudden though, I thought I heard a familiar voice – and sure enough, Laura and Danielle!  I was so happy to see them; I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to see anyone out on the course because the rushed start led to somewhat uncertain logistics.



Seeing the girls put a spring in my step, all the way until the final turn onto the boardwalk.

At this point, it felt like you should be almost done, but my watch only read 11.8 miles.  The wind – although not terrible at around 12MPH – was now a direct headwind.  For some reason, I was still afraid I was going to bonk and told myself to just stay in the comfortable pace zone.  I think I was mostly just traumatized from previous terrible boardwalk finishes at races in Virginia Beach.

Miles 13-Finish

When I passed the mile 12 marker, I finally had the guts to look at my watch.  That was the first point I realized that I was close to a PR.  I was having a hard time figuring out how that was possible, but I knew with only a little over a mile left, it was time to push.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the  boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles.  I don't even know who I am anymore.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

When I finally saw the finish line, I knew it was going to be close, and I just tried to sprint as hard as I could. Unfortunately, I came up a little short.

This is my aw crap what the fuck face.

This is my “aw crap what the fuck” face.

My “aw crap” moment only lasted for about a second.  Even though I was 20 seconds shy of a PR, I honestly never expected to have this kind of race on that day.  I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off even if everything went smoothly pre-race, and obviously, not everything did.  To have run by feel for the majority of the race, while having fun, and turn in my second fastest half ever?  I’ll call that a success any day of the week.



26 Responses to “New Jersey Half Marathon Race Recap – 1:38:05”

  1. Melissa April 30, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    Those are some amazingly consistent splits. Wow, nice job!

  2. runmerirun April 30, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Congratulations! You did awesome!!

  3. outside time (@itsoutsidetime) April 30, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Wow, the running gods must have been smiling down on you. Congrats! Looking forward for whatever BQ marathon you choose so I can stalk your training.

    • upstaterunner April 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Haha thanks! There’s a plan in the works …

  4. The Slouch April 30, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    As if I’m not creepy enough, 1. I made a running inspiration board with like, magazine clippings and shit, and 2. at least one of these photos is going on it.

    • upstaterunner April 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      Your creepiness is one of the things I like best about you, you know this.

  5. sarahdudek80 April 30, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Congratulations on the great finish. Always rough when the morning of doesn’t start out right. You definitely rocked it and some great splits to prove it!

  6. afastpacedlife April 30, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Great job. I heard there were some strong winds out there on the course.

    • upstaterunner April 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Thanks! The wind definitely picked up as the morning went on. Unfortunately I think the marathoners got the worst of it.

  7. leerunsdistances April 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Wohoo!!! Congrats on your strong performance especially since your last post since you were kinda in a funk. That’s the beauty of running, the best happens when ya least expect it. Way to show restraint not looking at the Garmin and running strictly by feel too!!

    • upstaterunner April 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Thank you! Yeah it was nice to have a quasi-breakthrough, given the slump I felt like I was in. It really is true – running is so full of ups and downs but sometimes you just need to ride it out!

  8. HollieisFueledByLOLZ April 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    You had such a good race and I could not be happier for you. (A bit jealous but happy). You are awesome and I am so glad you came down and ran. It was so nice to see you (and eat so much food) but mostly see you. 😉

    • upstaterunner April 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Even though I named my alarm for that morning “why am I doing this” I am so glad I actually did. Having a good race was icing on the figurative cake, I think I liked the real icing better though. I had so much fun and I can’t wait for our next reunion!

  9. runfastorfaster April 30, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Awesome race!! Can’t wait to see what happens in Buffalo!

  10. Laura @losingrace May 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    OMG. I just spent 15 straight minutes staring at your finish line what the fuck photo. YES> SO much winning!

    I was so glad I was there, and so grateful to have a weekend with my best friends. Buffalo is going to be amazeballs.

  11. Kristy May 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Awesome splits, congrats on a great race!

  12. erin May 5, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Congrats on an awesome race! With the odds stacked against you, to pull off such a great time…I look forward to seeing what you’re capable of!


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