The Trenton Half Marathon is in it’s 3rd year. It consists of a half marathon, 10k and 5k as well as a kids run. I did the half last year as well as this year. And boy oh boy, what a difference a year can make. Last year I was only 6 days out from the NYC Marathon and had no expectations or goals other than to finish. Next thing you know I set a huge PR with a 2:07 finish. This year was very different =)

1503277_10205099105578970_7524033929060770565_n

Pre-race selfie

I didn’t even come close to setting a PR, but I’m ok with that since my goal was just to have a good run and finish in one piece. What I’m not ok with? I literally felt like throwing in the towel at mile 4! I was just struggling A LOT! And that was before the brutal hills (more on that later). But in my usual fashion I dug deep and pushed hard (when I wasn’t walking up hills) and when I crossed the finish line I was so happy and felt so proud of myself for making it to the finish without a stretcher.

Here’s a little play by play of the day:

4:40am Woke up, got dressed and ate a soft pretzel. No coffee :( I was running late.
6am. Dropped Duncan off at the BF’s house. (Thank you dear BF for making sure to be awake at 6am on a Saturday for Doodle Drop-Off).
6:15am. Drove down to Trenton. It was about an hour’s drive from my BF’s house.
7:15am. Met up with Jane, her hubby and the rest of their running posse.
7:45am. Took some pre-race photos and then loaded ourselves into the corrals.

Trenton Half 2014

The half marathoners! (photo: Jane!)

2014 Trenton half

I’m bending my knee to avoid the knee brace “muffin top” in the photo. #keepinitreal (photo: Jane)

Trenton Half 2014

The couple that runs together….Alex & Jane (Photo: Jane)

8:00am. The race was supposed to start but they seemed to be running behind. It turned out to be 22 minutes behind. Needless to say almost 40 minutes in the corral left me cranky and shivering along with a few thousand other runners. Last year they were running behind schedule at the start too! Bummer #1.

In the corrals. (Photo: Jane)

In the corrals. (Photo: Jane)

8:22am. The race finally begins. It only took a minute or two to cross the start but with a 5k, 10k and half starting at the same time it was really congested. Especially since many were walking the 5k and 10k. I literally walked across the start line and probably didn’t start running until we made our first turn out of the gates. Bummer #2. But very quickly the course opened up and I even found myself a little lonely in the later miles.

Mile 1: 10:13 split. This first mile flew. I felt good and just enjoyed what I love about the early miles of a race. I turned on my music and zoned out while enjoying some sun on my face. The bulk of the spectators for the race were in that first mile (which is also the last mile). So I looked around and read some of the signs people had. A little boy had a sign that said “Hurry up mom! I’m cold!”

Mile 2-3: 9:13 and 9:47 splits. I enjoyed these miles through the historic Capital District. The miles were flat and I knew there was a cool band that played last year in this area. I was happy to see them again this year.

This is Mill Hill

This is Mill Hill…

Mile 4: 10:28 split. Well, let’s start with the positive. This part of the course runs through Mill Hill. It’s a really quaint neighborhood that reminds me a lot of the West Village in Manhattan. Cool row houses with brick facades, lovely flower boxes and some great residents out on their stoop cheering us on. My favorite sign “13.1 miles of running seems like an awful lot of work just for a banana”. (Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the signs!)

thalf4

I just can’t seem to stop the heel striking @#$!

OK and now the negative: I just wasn’t trained for this race and I knew that going in but man, falling apart at mile 4?!!!! First it was my knee starting to bother me. Then I got a side stitch (which lasted for most of the remaining miles). I was tense from shivering in the corrals and that left me with neck pain and shoulder pain. And in my blasé approach to race day I didn’t bring fuel with me. So I was relying on Gatorade more than normal. (all the extra liquid probably caused the side stitch). And toward the end of mile 4 I crossed the first of the 2 bridges on the course, the Trenton Makes Bridge. I made another dumb move here. Instead of running on the pedestrian walkways I just followed the bulk of the runners in front of me down the middle (where the cars usually go). The problem is that the pavement turns to open metal grates. So in addition to needing to slow down and gingerly travel over it so as not to twist an ankle I had a bit of a panic attack when I looked down and saw the water beneath me. I’m a wuss!

photo 2

Mile 5-6: 10:31 and 10:25 splits. Once over the bridge we ran through Morrisville, PA. I love races that span two states.

photo 3

Calamity Sally and metal grates don’t mix

photo 4

two states to run in are better than one

Mile 7: 10:33 split At this point I returned back into New Jersey. And enjoyed a straight flat stretch.

straight away!

straight away!

Miles 8-9: 10:41 and 11:47 THE HILLS!!!! Cadwalader Park! This park was really beautiful but SOOOOO hilly!!!!! I walked most of the hills. But that afforded me the time to take these pretty pictures =) Oh and because of my stupid knee I couldn’t even enjoy the downhills. I was actually slower and more tentative with each downhill step.

photo 4-1

uphill to mile 8 and downhill to mile 10

photo 3-1

photo 5-1

Miles 10-12: 10:52, 10:17, 9:47 The next 3 miles were fairly flat and straight. You basically run on Route 29. This is where I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I knew the hills were a thing of the past at this point and my knee was less of an issue running the flat straightaway since I didn’t have to worry about any sudden jerking movements. Also, I decided it really didn’t matter now about fuel or hydration because I was diligent about keeping up with it for 10 miles and I knew I could have water and a soft pretzel at the finish which was just 5k away. (oh yes! my favorite part of this race is the soft pretzels they give out at the finish!) So I made the decision to push myself. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t going to let my final miles be dictated by my struggles up to that point. And boom: my last 3 miles of the race were my fastest splits of the second half of the race :)

thalf2

pushing it and even smiling a bit. Don’t you love how I can’t ever let go of my throwaway gloves. I’ve had them since 2012. I take them off and then don’t toss them.

thalf1

I hate my knee brace muffin top! :(

Mile 13: 10:10 split
The last mile brings you back toward the stadium of the minor league baseball team the Trenton Thunder and ultimately you run along the warning track around the ball field and as you round the 3rd baseline you make a straight dash to the finish line at home plate. It’s one of my favorite parts of this race. Now let me mention that the finish line is narrow and would never be able to accommodate runners if the race were too big so let’s hope it stays the size it is 😉 Jane finished with a PR of 1:54 so she had plenty of time to wait for me to enter the stadium. She ran the field with me and when I rounded third base she snapped a few shots of me. 

Photo Nov 08-7

Home stretch! (photo: Jane)

Photo Nov 08-12

I love this picture. Thanks Jane! Better than the professional shots.

and DONE! Let's eat!

and DONE! Let’s eat!

So I finished in 2:16:34. And frankly I’ll take it!

All in all I really do like this race. Two states, two bridges, pretty neighborhoods and parks and some decent length flat straightaways plus a cool medal! Aside from the late/crowded start everything else is really enjoyable. As for the hills in Cadwalader park….I’m coming back for you next year!!!!

Meanwhile my knee is still puzzling me. It doesn’t even bother me the next day. I literally forget about it until I run more than 3 miles. I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks focusing more on stretches and strength like I did after my ankle injury. Even though it’s not aching all day or causing me to limp I need to treat it and respect that it truly is an injury. I MUST be 100 percent healthy come January because I am starting my training for the 2015 New Jersey Marathon and that is my goal race.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. This review was so helpful for the race. I used it to prepare and run my race. Thanks!

    • That’s great Michael! Glad it helped. i’m going to recap yesterday’s race soon. Congrats. Hope you had a good race.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *