Join me as I travel around the country to fulfill my goal of running a marathon or half marathon in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Race I Forgot to Train For

By forgot, I mean I just didn’t. I’m not sure why the past few months haven’t been full of intense running sessions. I had the perfect opportunity to PR on a flat course with perfect weather at the Long Branch Half Marathon in New Jersey last Sunday. I suppose enjoying my last few weeks of freedom by spending time with friends and family took precedence over running. I’ve also been doing a lot of strength training (crossfit) to get ready for boot camp, so that took up some time as well. I really should stop making excuses and just admit that I blew the opportunity. Fortunately there will be more races to come in my future. And, to be completely honest I wasn’t disappointed with my finish time at all. I was only 5 minutes behind my average finish time and I felt pretty darn good for not training at all. Perhaps more crossfit, less running, and eating tons of ice cream the night before a race is the way to go! 
Pre-race Ben & Jerry's
In all seriousness I think my decent race time had a lot to do with my psychological state. I really wasn’t stressed or worried at all about the race. In fact, I was borderline apathetic about even making it to the start line when I hit all this traffic:

Others were panicked and started jumping out of their cars to jog a half mile or more to the start line. I was calm and relaxed and casually strolled to the start line 2 minutes before the gun went off. A lot of times I think runners psych themselves out before races. Yes, I know staying calm before a big race you’ve trained hard for is easier said than done, but if you can suppress even just a few of the pre-race jitters I think it will work wonders.

Since I didn’t train at all my thought was that I would probably just jog/walk a lot of the race and try to enjoy the day. I started out with the 2:45 pacer and quickly realized I would be bored out of my mind if I stayed at this pace or slower and would most likely quit at mile 5 from sheer lack of will power to finish the race. I caught up with the 2:30 pacer and decided to make a goal finish time to get me through the race. At first I decided on 2:35; by mile 8 I hadn’t walked yet and thought I could shoot for 2:30; at mile 11 my legs and lungs felt good so I switched to a 2:28 goal. At mile 12 I thought oh, what’s the harm, just push it and see if you can make 2:26. If you have to walk, oh well.

I sprinted the last .2 miles and ended up finishing with a 2:25:52! That’s only about 5 minutes behind my average finish time for races that I actually train for. Hmmm…makes me wonder what I was doing all that training for?? Kidding.

After my race I found my aunt and cheered on all the full marathon finishers. My cousin, her boyfriend, and my uncle all ran the full like rock stars. I’m so happy that my family shares marathons as a pastime.
Ha! Am I waving to the photographer? Who do I think I am, a prom queen?
If you’re thinking about doing this race here are some pros/cons for you.

Pros about the Long Branch Half Marathon/New Jersey Marathon:
-The medals were awesome (we’re talking RnR heavy medal status)
-Shirts were nice
-Plenty of water/Gatorade stops and volunteers to distribute cups
-Course finished with a beautiful run along the beach (great view!)
-A barcode on your race bib allowed for you to use your smart phone to scan it and receive your finish time. I didn’t have the app on my phone so I didn’t try it, but it seemed like a pretty innovative idea.

Cons about the Long Branch Half Marathon/New Jersey Marathon: I don’t really like to be a debbie-downer because I’m sure coordinating large races is hard, but when a race costs more than $100 I think we deserve to have the quality of the race set-up and perks reflect the price.
-The half started at 6:50 am (an hour before the full). I’ve never seen this before. Usually the races start together or the marathon starts first. This meant I was on my own without all my family who was doing the full marathon because they wanted to sleep – borrriiing.
-The parking situation was awful. I don’t know who was in charge of directing traffic, but a 4th grader could have done a better job.
-Again, organization of bag drop off was terrible. It took 20 minutes to find my bag after the race because they had taken them all out of the truck (where they had been in numerical order) and threw them in a pile. Intelligent.
-There was no family reunion area. Signs with the letters of the alphabet would have been nice so that I could have found my aunt a little easier.
-Finish line food was pretty crappy. Something that could hardly pass for a plain bagel was handed to me. There were bananas and granola bars too, but that’s about it.

We have a new Terrible Race Photo. Winner winner chicken dinner!

 I swear I was feeling good at the end of the race despite what the photo seems! :)

Family Finish Photo

One good thing about road trips is the mandatory cracker barrel trip and yes, I did eat a massive amount of yummy food by myself.

Do we think this equals 13 miles? Sure.
 This weekend I'm running the Capitol Hill Classic 10k. After that I don't have any races on the calendar at all since I'm headed to boot camp. It's been a while since my race schedule was so barren...not sure how I feel about it!