Sunday, May 3, 2009

Race Report: New Jersey Marathon

Race morning began with my alarm going off at 3:00 a.m. I needed to be at Monmouth Park early to catch the shuttle to the staging area. Everything went smoothly until I got out of car and looked for the shuttles. Where were the shuttles? What I did see was a sizable line of runners and supporters waiting for the shuttles. Around 5:45 a huge caravan of school buses pull into Monmouth park ready to shuttle everyone to the start. What was an orderly line turned into chaos as everyone tried to get on a bus. I secured my seat and off we went.

After a stop at a port-a-potty, I headed inside the host hotel to find Dailyrunner who picked up my bib and chip the day before. I dropped off my bag and headed outside to the start area. An announcement was made that there was going to be a 15 minute delay in the start of the race. I took the time to seek out Julie, author of the blog Raceslikeagirl, who was running the half marathon. We chatted for a bit and then I went back to find the 3:50 pacer.

The race finally started a little bit before 8:00. The NJ Marathon is a double loop course with the start and finish on the promenade adjacent to the beach. The loop is mainly through neighboring residential areas. The beginning miles went by pretty quickly. I had no problem hanging with the 3:50 pacer and, at the time, thought I'd be able to finish the race with him. I stuck to my plan, hydrating starting at mile 4 and taking a gel every 6 miles. My wife and daughter didn't make the trip down with me so it was nice seeing EN, a friend from Nike Speed, just before the half. Hearing his words of encouragement pumped me up. We finished the first half in 1:54:17, right on pace according the my pacer. Soon after we started the second loop, which by the way did not play any Jedi mind tricks with me, the rain started to pick up. For a while it was still refreshing but around mile 20 it started to get heavier and really started to bug me. Soon after that I run through a few puddles and my shoes started to feel like a ton of bricks At mile 21, my left knee started to hurt. I think it had something to do with the uneven road surfaces and twisting in ways the human body is not meant to twist in order to avoid puddles. At first it was bearable but at mile mile 23 I had to take a 2 minute walk break. I hated taking a walk break with only 5k to go but I was really hurting. The walk break did the trick, I got a second wind when we made the final turn towards the finish. EN was there with less than a mile to give me one final push finish. I finished strong and crossed the line in 3:52:54 (8:54 pace). Unfortunately, I did not run a negative split. My second half split was 1:58:37. Considering the problems I was having with my knee and shoes, I'll take it. I got my finishers hat, medal, and refreshments and made a beeline for the bag check where a dry and warm set of clothes awaited.


3:52:54 is a PR for me besting my 3:55:08 I set at the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2008. Every race has it's own challenges and surprises. With the NJ Marathon it was the weather. Setting a PR in less than perfect conditions is definitely cause for celebration.

Lastly, congrats to Dailyrunner on achieving a BQ after almost 5 years of trying. Check out his race report on his blog (linked above).

6 comments:

DailyRunner said...

Great job on your new PR buddy. I know what you mean about all those puddles. After about mile 20, I stopped avoiding them all together because it was too taxing. Let's get together for lunch this week and share war stories.

Justin said...

A full half hour wait it was in the end -- we took off at 8am sharp. That said, the race was supremely well run IMO outside of that. Lots of food, lots of water and gatorade stations, lots of volunteers. And my pacing leader was phenomenal!

I was too scared of sopping wet feet after hearing the squish squish of one guy running with me, and that scared me into jumping right the hell over every puddle.

Cowboy Hazel said...

Again, nice work setting the P.R. in less than ideal conditions. It's funny how rain can go from being such an aid (when it's light) to a detrement so quickly.

430orbust said...

Awesome race and nice way to persevere through the elements...

echers said...

Congratulations on the PR despite the less than stellar running conditions! I really liked the course, despite running it with puddles in my shoes. I tried to avoid the puddles, but one misstep landed me right in the middle of one so I gave in to the reality of soggy socks.

The Laminator said...

Congrats on your marathon PR! I totally agree that a PR in bad weather by any amount is a cause for celebration. I only ran a half, when the rain was lite, so I definitely have big respect for those that had to bear the weather for the whole thing. Great job!