What an epic day!

First let me say how silly I am for the title of my post on Sunday. It should have been Almost Silent Sunday…not Saturday. Lol. Post Marathon brain fog I suppose! 

Second let me apologize for the novel you are about to hopefully read :) Also, I purchased the pics from Marathonfoto but they aren’t available for download yet…grrr! So I apologize for the proofs. OK here goes…

Sunday started at 4:20 amI got up, showered and dressed and was having my breakfast by 5:00 am

Superpretzel

SuperPretzel: I Love You!!!

Duncan doesn’t know but I have three races on the schedule for May and two for June which means he is going to have to continue enduring early morning rise on weekends. He hates me.

lastminutes-with-Dunk

At 6:00am my friend Mitch arrived and we drove down to Monmouth, NJ to the start which is about 50 minutes away. 

sunrise in the rearview mirror....sounds like a country song =)

sunrise in the rearview mirror….sounds like a country song =)

We met up with Jane and then went to hang in the building adjacent to the horse racetrack where it was warm and there were real bathrooms with toilet paper and a sink with soap!! Classy!!

girls before

There will be no “trots” for this event! =)

mitchbefore

Mitch is ready to run after peeing like a racehorse about 50 times! Ha! I’m so punny!!!

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No betting on horses but I bet on Jane finishing faster than last year.

By the time we got over to the gear check trucks we had to use the “late” gear truck as the others were getting ready to drive a way. But this was a blessing because I didn’t see a truck for my bib number anyway. (I’m guessing VIP had their own gear check but I never used the VIP area) We made our way into the Corrals and waited for the start.

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Jane run

Nothing like throwaway fashion =)

The things I like about the start of this race after having run it twice now (I’m only speaking for the full marathon as the half was already out of the gates by the time I arrived):
• Easy to get to and park. (There was a $10 fee for parking but mine was free as part of the VIP package I won.)
• Use of the racetrack building for warmth, a place to stretch and sit around (especially if the weather had been inclement) and real bathrooms
• Plenty of space in and around the corrals to linger as well as ample Porta-Potties
• The unique bugle call (horn sound off) that signifies the start of a horse race was done for the start of each corral
• The traditional playing of Bruce Springstein’s “Born To Run” since this is of course New Jersey!

Miles 1 through 5
I seeded myself with the 4:40 pace group. I will say right now this is probably one of the best choices I made. Out we went keeping even splits around 10:35-10:40. I distinctly remember last year my earlier splits were 10:00 and 10:15 and I was dodging around people. So holding back a bit was a good thing. I was slightly concerned that my choice for long sleeves was a mistake because I got warm quick, but as the miles ticked along and we were running parallel to the ocean the wind picked up and gave me a chill and I was happy to have the sleeves. Not to mention I used them plenty to wipe sweat/salt/snot from my face! Just keepin’ it real =) I started chit chatting with another girl fairly early on (I’m thinking about mile 4) who was staying with the 4:40 group. She was full of stories to share so I just listened and saved my energy as I saw she was really breathing heavy while storytelling…and that would be the second smart thing I did. 

early miles

photo: marathonfoto

Miles 6-10
I was fueling really well despite my best intentions to make it easier by individually wrapping my shot bloks in saran wrap and discovering what a failure that was. I couldn’t get the darn wrap off! (I started at fueling at mile 6 and took in about 50-60 calories every 4-5 miles)

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So I chucked most of those and thank god had 2 pouches of Honey Stinger chews. (I also knew my family had swedish fish for me around mile 15). I stayed relaxed and I was smiling and happy and even found myself staring up at the beautiful blue sky filled with puffy clouds getting a bit emotional. I felt good and my breathing was in control. There were plenty of families out and about cheering in front of their homes with signs and cowbell. I wish I had pictures of these streets. Lots of the families had their car radios blaring Born to Run, or Chariots of Fire. And I also got to see the infamous Elvis but didn’t know the whole story until I read this article. Ironically enough, they also mention my story (the race organizer asked athletes on facebook for the reasons behind why they run but I had no idea it was being compiled for a news article) and also the husband wife duo of Chris Benyo and Denise DiMarzo who I also was running with around mile 22

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These are the 3 Elvii’s

als-duo

That’s the husband and wife duo of Chris Benyo and Denise DiMarzo behind me. Dedication and pure inspiration right there.

I looked forward to Mile 10 to officially be in the double digits. That was my first benchmark, all was good.

Miles 11-15
At mile 11 my friend Sue called me to see if she’d be able to see me at the halfway point. But with road closures I knew it wasn’t gonna happen so I told her to find a place to park and just wait to see me around mile 24. I felt bad about this since she had traveled a good distance to come see me. I hit the halfway mark at 2:20 right on target. I tried to stay about a block ahead of the pace group just so that I had wiggle room to walk while sipping water at aid stops. This worked great. They never did pass me which mentally helped me feel strong. I also knew my family would be just past the 15 mile marker and I wanted to spend an extra 30 seconds with them =)

truckin' along

truckin’ along

Miles 15-21
I saw nycrunningmama (who went on to finish in 3:21 and took 9th female overall!) as I turned to the part of the course that is an out-and-back stretch. She was around the 22-23 mile mark and looking strong! I ran 2 more blocks and there was my family! My niece handed me a baggy of swedish fish and a half pint bottle of water which I tossed a 1/2 of a NUUN tablet into and off I went. From that point until Mile 21 I had a surge in energy. I started running a good 10-20 seconds per mile faster than I had been. It’s still surreal to me. 

I got to see Mitch when he was around Mile 20.5 and I was around 16.5. He was so warm that he had tossed his shirt. Luckily his bib (with time chip) was attached to his shorts!!!! I gave him a quick “looking good!” shout. I knew Mile 16.5 would be my second benchmark as that meant I would only have single digit miles to go. I felt good so I flipped my music on and carried on. Mile 17 was my fastest split at 10:02 so I guess the music energized me a bit. Miles 17-20 are through the iconic Asbury Park, NJ. I did stop for a quick second (just before mile 20) to pet an adorable yellow lab. He had a vest on that said “pet me”. So sweet! We nuzzled noses and he gave me a kiss and off I went.

we ran through the inside of the old abandoned casino building and on the newly repaired boardwalk (that had been damaged during Hurricane Sandy). This part of the course was restored this year so it was the first time I got to run it.

we ran through the inside of the old abandoned casino building and on the newly repaired boardwalk (that had been damaged during Hurricane Sandy). This part of the course was restored this year so it was the first time I got to run it.

By Mile 21 I started to feel a little bit fatigued and achy but it was totally bearable. And the fact that I didn’t feel the need to stop and walk was so exciting! Plus, as much as I might have felt I was slowing down, I WAS PASSING PEOPLE! This was a huge deal for me. I passed lots of people who were struggling as Mile 21-24 were straight into a fairly strong headwind.

mile 24

at the mile 24 marker

Miles 22-26
I saw my family again at Mile 22 and grabbed another 1/2 pint of water and tossed in the other 1/2 of my NUUN and that was the only hydration I used for my final few miles so I didn’t have to stop at any of the aid stations.

My sis-in-law took this silly video. Apparently people wanted to get into the swedish fish action. (and yes, they shared the wealth fish)

It was so great to have family there…they are rockstars for coming down to see me!

Speaking of rockstars….I got to see my friend Susan at mile 24.5 just before you make the last turn toward the ocean to finish up on the boardwalk in Long Branch, NJ. She took video while I rambled nonesense and I gave her a quick hug. Hey Sue! If you’re reading, how retarded was I on that video. I think I said something like “I’m going to DisneyLand!”. LOL!

mile 24.5

just before mile 25 and right after seeing my friend Susan. Still happy!

That was plenty to fuel me as I chased down the finish line. With just under a mile to go I looked up ahead and there was Jane!!!! She was having IT band issues and her knee was really hurting. I worked my way to catching up to her…it was only 50 feet but felt like miles.

sally and jane

somewhere between mile 25 and 26….happy reunion =)

We stayed together and ran it in to the finish line! It couldn’t have felt better to cross that finish line with her.

Sally and Jane

Finish!!!!

Wrap-up
Mitch got marathon #2 under his belt with a finish time just over 4 hours.
Jane also wrapped up marathon #2 with a 3 minute PR despite the sore knee.
I wrapped up marathon #5 almost 10 minutes faster than last year with a personal best of 4:38:31

watchfinishtime

Highlights:

  • I never really bonked and for that I’m ecstatic. And I actually ended up with a negative split for the second half of the race. first time i’ve ever done that in a full marathon.
  • The weather was great
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the entire course….from the slapping of high fives to kids, being invigorated by the views of the crashing waves in the ocean and the puffy clouds scattered around in a beautiful blue sky to
  • Seeing family and friends
  • Crossing the finish line with Jane
  • The beautiful medal!
NJ Marathon medal

Front says: Let Your Star Shine. Back says: Be Brilliant)

Post race:
Once Jane and I reunited with Mitch we found Jane’s parents and hunted down some ice for her knee. Then we sat down in the grass and grabbed a homemade brownie that her mom had made and took a few pics showing off our bling.

brownies

Word is out….brownies at the finish!

sallyjane-finish

mitch-finish

Who needs shuttle buses….I’ll just hitchhike =)

mejumpfinish

Yippee! I reached my goal!

bling

See Jane and Sally show off their bling.

all3finish

a trio of marathoners

After parting ways with Jane, Mitch and I headed to the shuttle bus to take us back to the start and jumped hobbled into my car and back home. It was about 3pm when I got home and I was starving by this point. I finished running about 12:45 and really didn’t have anything to eat after the race except for the brownie. So I slammed down one of my leftover slices of pizza, got in the shower and then got back in the car and headed out to my brother’s house. We all went out for a celebratory dinner.

La Strada

Meatballs, penne and eggplant rollatine!

Haagen Das

They don’t call this a Dazzler for nothing. OMG…vanilla chip ice cream, oreo cookie pieces, hot fudge, whipped cream and sprinkles…yes please!

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Me and the almost 14 year old niece sharing our passion for ice cream!

General thoughts about the NJ Marathon
One word: The race director for this event is one of the most supportive and detail oriented people I’ve ever met. His presence on Facebook and through the official blog are filled with words of encouragement all year long, tons of tips and details about marathon training and specifics about the race. And I got to take advantage of the 20 mile training run that he sets up that is on the course itself. I knew most of that course like the back of my hand.

Just look at this sweet message posted the night before the race:

NJM-fbpost

And already they are addressing all the feedback that the runners have been giving. Apparently some people weren’t pleased with the banana and piece of bread in the food bag given at the finish. I honestly didn’t care since I usually need time to get my appetite back. They said they are looking into a better option for 2015. I’ll let you know what that is since I’m registering for next year! If I register before Sunday the fee is only $63! It’s well over 50% off.

I’m already falling into my post-marathon depression. I had such a high on Sunday. Good thing I’ve got lots of races lined up to get excited for!

If you have any interest in running this race and have any additional questions for me please ask in the comments below or shoot me an email. =)

Question: It’s POURING rain and very chilly here today in NYC. What’s the weather like by you? Have you ever truly surprised yourself after accomplishing something you didn’t think you were capable of?

 

14 Comments

  1. The Silent Assassin

    Great read…didn’t really think it was a “novel”. So awesome that you had friends and family on the course! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great race recap… and CONGRATS!!! Love your smile in every single picture!!

  3. Congratulations on such a great marathon, so nice to set a pr and on such a beautiful day. I recently discovered your blog and really enjoy it. Keep up the good work!

  4. I have a soft spot in my heart for this marathon since I ran it in 2013, PR’ed and BQ’ed! had all the same feelings about it as you, well organized and overall great course and agree that the race director is awesome. Also the course makes it easy for family to see you in multiple locations! I hope to run it again possibly next year :) Congrats on the PR!

    • I ran it last year too! And I’m signing up today for next year. If I do this race each year and keep the same finish time as this year I can BQ at age 65! LOL!

  5. Congrats on a great run! I must have seen you heading down the shore because I know I saw the husband pushing his wife who was in the wheelchair. I’m glad that race is over :-)

    • Thanks! Yes, they ended up finishing within minutes of me. It’s always so amazing to me how each individually runner really runs their own race. I remember the NYC Marathon this past november and I just watched the 4:45 pacers slip away at the the QB bridge. I just couldn’t keep up. It was quite a struggle and my legs kept buckling from mile 23 to the end.

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  8. Congrats! Great read! I signed up for NJ this year and can’t wait. I am not familiar with the area so I was hoping you could answer a few questions :) Do you need to arrive really early? Are there a lot of bathrooms prior to race…haha. Where does the wind usually kick in during the course? Is it hard for a spectator to get to different locations to watch? Thanks so much!!!

    • Yay! You’re gonna love the race. OK to answer your questions. This year the half and the full will be starting at the same time which means there will probably be traffic as you approach the parking lots. Allow yourself PLENTY of time. The race starts at 7:30. I’d aim to arrive by 6:30. But the good news is you park at the Monmouth Racetrack which has an indoor building (it’s also where the expo is) that is WARM and has real bathrooms!) There are also plenty of port a potties. The field is usually between 7,000 and 10,000 people total but there is plenty of room in and around the corrals and inside the building to relax, stretch, go to the bathroom, etc. For me I didn’t even feel the wind too much last year but it’s the last 6 miles that you tend to get the headwinds. But it’s also a very scenic and flat part of the course. From mile 15-24 it’s an out and back and that’s the best part for spectators. My family likes to stand between mile 16 and 17 to see me and offer me fuel and water and then they cross the street and see me again at mile 22-23. The finish area will be crowded and secure and last year they didn’t allow anyone in the finish area with any type of bag so if you want your family to see you at the finish let them have time to drop all their belongings in their car and then walk to the finish area. Because the route is a point to point it’s best for your family not to try to bother seeing you in the early miles as they might get stuck in road closure snarls. Let me know if you have any additional questions? I’m going to their training run on 4/5 that will be on the course. If they have any additional info that might be useful I’ll be sure to post.

      • Thanks so much for the info! I was thinking about doing that training run but I’m and 1 1/2 away. Is there anything to know about the route in case I don’t do the training run? It looks pretty flat. My husband ( spectator) and I can just take the shuttle back to the beginning..correct?
        Thanks Again for the info and your blog!

        • The route is very flat. The first half does have a bunch of turns though and it’s mostly through neighborhoods. The second half is that out and back and it’s straight. Oh yes they have buses available to take spectators and runners from finish back to start. And they have buses to get spectators from start to finish.

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