Wow, I have done a REALLY bad job at blogging for almost a year. It is difficult to do this even though I started and never really followed through. I am now going to make the committment to keep up with blogging my races and significant runs for all to see. Here is my latest race report from the New Jersey Marathon.
hree years ago, I had no idea was GU was. It would have been very useful for my first race back then. Yesterday, GU was my best friend as well as 2 salt packets, Gatorade, water and Kat Cheng. It all actually started Saturday afternoon with a nice drive from Flushing, Queens to a tiny town on the New Jersey coast called, Long Branch. Kat and I spent 2 hours in the car enjoying fellowship with each other. The drive was beautiful! There was sunshine, confusing toll roads, and nothing but trees in New Jersey. We even witnessed my car hit its 100,000 mile mark!
As we arrived in Long Branch Saturday afternoon to the Race expo on the beach. Long Branch is a very quaint town with cute shops and cafes. The expo was small and crowded, but we were able to get my bib, timing chip and goodie bag quickly. We walked around the booths, got our gait analyzed for free and then headed up to New Brunswick for the night.
We arrived an hour later at Jonathan’s apartment near Rutger’s University. Jon is one of Kat’s friends from a Christian conference a few years ago. He cooked us spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread. For some odd reason, the garlic bread was more delightful to my stomach than the spaghetti. The three of us stayed up talking and getting to know each other better and then headed to bed around 10pm.
4:00am, my alarm goes off on my phone. I felt wide awake, but had barely slept due to the unfamiliar surroundings, noise outside (college town), and nervousness of waking up late (even though we had 3 alarms set).
4:30am, we load up the car and head out to Long Branch. Kat and Jon try to sleep a little as I drive.
5:15am, we reach Long Branch and are directed to park at the horse race track.
5:20-6:00am, we wait in line for the shuttle buses to show up….in the rain.
6:00am. the buses finally arrive, we pile on and head to the start line….in the rain.
6:20am, we reach the start line, unload the bus, and get into the hotel to check baggage, and hang out until about 7:00am…..still raining.
7:00am, head out to the start line as we hear the start of the race is delayed due to a minor car accident on the course…..not raining.
7:15am, I line up at the starting line and start looking for the 4:00hour pace group. I find them, meet my pacers and other runners. I meet a girl from Colorado, and we hit it off right away.
7:45am, the start gun goes off (15 minutes late) and we take off. The 4:00 hour pacers took off fast! As I was running next to my new friend, we both looked at our garmins after the first mile and realized we were going way too fast. I realized at this point I forgot to take my first GU 15 minutes before we started the race. Oh well, I might used it later. Mile 1 pace: 8:37! However, we stuck with our pacers. It started raining again. By mile 3 when our pace was still in the 8:30s, we backed off a bit and stuck to a comfortable 8:40 pace. When my friend and I hit the 10K we both PR’d for our 10k haha (clock time: 53:37)….still raining
Shortly after the 10K mark, my new friend and I realized we hadn’t introduced ourselves, I told her my name was Tricia and we immediately knew who I was. When we started training for this race, we both joined a forum on Runner’s World.com to keep each other accountable. There were a good number of people posting. She asked me if I was T.Lee, I said, “yes!” and she said “I’m RW-Strider.” We both got more excited that we had randomly met and realized how coincidental it was for us to happen to stand next to each other at the start and had been running together this whole time have great conversations!…..still raining
Mile 7, I take my first GU. We were way on target for a major sub-4 time. We felt great and kept on trucking…by the half way point we had a ton of energy. As the half marathoners were ushered to the left approaching their finish line, we marathoners were ushered to the left. This part was a bit tough and encouraging at the same time. Encouraging because the crowd was HUGE and it made you go a little faster hearing, “YOU’RE ALMOST TO THE FINISH! KEEP IT UP! FINISH STRONG!” These words really put a spring in my step…my overall pace at this point: 8:52….still raining
“Bummer, no 1/2 marathon PR for this one, but that’s good! I’m running a marathon, not a 1/2, you have to run the loop again!” I thought to myself. My friend had stopped just before the 1/2 way point to use the bathroom, I kept the pace and waited for her to catch up. At mile 14, there was still no sign of her, so I walked to take my GU instead of run. Just as I was finishing up my Gu, she caught up to me. By this time, we had passed the 4 hour pacers as they realized at 13.1 miles, they went WAY too fast and slowed their pace WAY down to compensate…..still raining
At mile 16, we were starting to feel the normal aches, but still felt pretty good. Our pace had slowed to an over all 8:55, but a 4:00hr finish is a 9:10 pace, so we were still really good. By mile 20, I was really starting to hurt, I took me last Gu a mile early as I felt I Really needed the energy. My friend and I were still together at this point and planned to keeping up with each other until the end. Mile 22, I really started to fade, I was having a really difficult time keeping up, my overall pace was 9:00 so I knew I was still o.k. for a sub 4 finish. Mile 23, I was incoherent. All I remember was thinking that I needed to try and focus, pick up the pace, my watch now said an over 9:10 pace. Darn! No sub 4! My brain was sending signals like crazy to my legs saying, “Go faster! Go Faster! Make up your lost time! You can get back under 9:10 if you push these last 2.2 miles!” I took my extra GU to help, but my legs were rejecting these singals…..still raining
Mile 25, I’m back on the boardwalk. There was finally a crowd again. I thought good, I can really kick hard and still make up the lost time and possibly get a 3:59:?? finish if I just let the crowd and slight downhill carry me through, and give me a burst of enery. But, it didn’t happen, I really felt the urger to fall over and pass out right there. People on the sidelines were cheering me on BY NAME (It was printed on my bib) and it wasn’t giving me ANYTHING! I saw the clock at 25.5…it read 4:03:?? I decided to make a last minute goal of finishing under 4:05. I tried so hard to pick up the pace!! But it wasn’t happening….still raining
I crossed the finish line as the clock read 4:05:??. I stopped my garmin which read, 4:04:37. The moment I crossed, I literally fell into the arms of a fireman. (Every woman’s dream come true right?) I was extremely dizzy, Kat rushed over to me and the fireman passed me on to her. Kat helped me off the course to the baggage. It was pouring rain at this point. Jon joined us and held my umbrella over me. I was shivering and really mad at the race organizers for NOT passing our Mylar blankets. They decided to forgo them for environmental reasons. I’m sorry, but my warmth after I’ve run 26.2 miles in the rain, is a MUCH MORE IMPORTANT reason to pass out Mylar blankets at the finish!!! I just want to bear it until we got back to the baggage check where I had a towel and dry clothes to change into.
After I changed, Jon, Kat and I headed back to New Brunswick to take Jon home. Kat and I stopped at Red Robin for a nice juicy burger and fries (a restaurant we cannot get in NY). It was Kat’s first experience of this place, and she liked it! We both downed a total of 4 lemonades (3 freckled and 1 pomegranate/blueberry), and headed back to NYC. The drive was rainy, Kat slept and we made it safely home.
Yes, GU is a runner’s best friend. It is energy, tastes good, and can satisfy hunger during a race. It feeds our muscles with power in each stride…GU is a runner’s best friend.
I am a little disappointed that I didn’t break the 4:00 mark. I know that if I kept a steady 9:00 pace from beginning to end, I easily would have done it, but I didn’t. I am happy that I PR’d and shaved of 10 minutes of my time! I have yet to find out my official chip time, and will let you know when it is posted.