Happy Tuesday!

Hope you all had a good weekend. Mr. SOTSS and I ran the NJ Half Marathon.

We went to the expo on Friday evening to get our race numbers and shirts.

IMG_2649The expo is nicely organized. It’s held at the Monmouth Race Track (which is also where the race begins). There is plenty of parking and it wasn’t crowded at all. I don’t normally bother taking any freebies at expos but they were giving out these bracelets that had Brooks Running’s “Run Happy” slogan on them. I grabbed one.

IMG_2659I knew that the weather forecast for the race looked bleak and something about having those words Run Happy around my wrist made sense. Just a reminder for when I might get cranky while running that I should Run Happy no matter what.

Mr. SOTSS' daughter made us a sign. :)

Mr. SOTSS’ daughter made us a sign. :)

On Saturday we walked around outside most of the afternoon at a fair on the campus of Rutgers University. I was so happy to discover my acute sciatic pain was 100 percent gone. I stalked the hourly weather forecast for race day probably a bit too much on my phone. I came home around 5pm and then met my friend for a quick bite for dinner before turning in for bed fairly early.

Sunday morning began at 4:15am when the alarm went off but I got out of bed fairly quickly, got dressed and took care of Duncan before heading out the door at 5:30am to go pick up Mr. SOTSS.

Our pre-race ritual...he curls up next to me in denial and i sip coffee

Our pre-race ritual…he curls up next to me in denial and i sip coffee

All was going well at this point. It hadn’t started raining yet, and I felt calm and organized.

We got to the start with plenty of time to do the usual…drop off our gear and use the bathroom. I realized I left my iPod in the car so I ran back to the car to grab it and then we took a quick selfie before seeding ourselves in the corrals.

Haven't needed the smiley disguise in a while.

Haven’t needed the smiley disguise in a while.

If you’re here for tips about the race, give yourself PLENTY of time to get to the start if you’re driving. Plan on at least 15-20 minutes longer than your GPS tells you.

No bags are allowed at the start area but it’s not restricted to just runners so you can have family and friends (even your dog!) come right to the side of the corrals to see you off. I love that.

I was happy, energetic and feeling super at the start. It had just started to drizzle but really didn’t bother me. I decided I’d try and stay with the 2:10 pacer…until i couldn’t. That was my plan. I left the SpiBelt in the car and opted to use the nifty side pockets on my new Saucony Bullet Capris which I have to say was amazing. (Phone was in a plastic baggy to keep it dry). And I also decided to skip bringing fuel. I run many 8-10 mile training runs without fuel and knowing it was going to rain I didn’t want to have to fuss much with opening packages of fuel. So I figured i’d just sip a little more Gatorade here and there if I needed.

One other thing I did in preparation of the rainy race was to wear old sneakers (very old….I wore them at last year’s race!) I didn’t want to ruin my new kicks. I think this might very well be one of the reasons I struggled (oops I’m jumping ahead!).

(I’m sorry I have no pictures from the race itself since iPhones and rain don’t get along so well. so check my older race caps if you want to see more)

Miles 1-4 were great. After 3 years of running the full marathon I was happy that I was running the half this year. I knew the course well since the half and the full are the same for the first 11.5 miles. I was really happy to see so many spectators out despite the rain. I also saw Joe at mile 3. Joe had been the race director of this race for many many years and only recently transitioned his “baby” to a new owner. I said a quick hello.
Splits 9:42, 9:043, 9:34, 9:52. (Note; all splits are based on my Garmin which had a total distance of 13.3) 

Miles 5-7 were not as great but not bad either. Mile 5 left me feeling like I was slowing and just overall feeling less energy. I made sure to stop for Gatorade at that point just assuming a few calories and electrolytes would be the answer. By mile 6, the 2:10 pacer passed me and I happily let him go knowing I was fine with not hitting those goals I had thought about for a half a second a few weeks ago. But I was still a bit frustrated that I felt so weak so early in the race. Especially since it’s pancake flat! I had just run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and the Love Run Half Marathon less than a month ago and felt so strong and consistent during both races. The race runs through a bunch of pretty, beach town neighborhoods, and there are so many amazing spectators and homeowners out. The rain didn’t deter them one bit. Music blasting, screaming and cheering kids holding signs and handing out water. One kid used her lemonade stand to place a bunch of cups of water. So cute! I really treasure that aspect of this race. Oh, and the best spectators live just before mile 7! There’s this one block that is just house after house of awesomeness. Thank you to the block before Griffin Ave.
Splits 10:10, 10:29, 10:32

Miles 8-10 when the rain got heavier and my body started revolting. Up until mile 8 the rain wasn’t really an issue for me. It was a steady, but light rain. It was about 50 degrees at this point and I felt warm so I rolled up my sleeves and enjoyed the cold rain on my forearms and wrists. But then the light rain turned heavier and I started to feel the squish in my shoes. I also started to feel the dreaded sloshy belly. I had been so thirsty and stopped for hydration at all but the first aid stop and mostly chose Gatorade and it finally caught up with me. I honestly felt like mile 9 was 3 miles long.
Splits 10:23, 10:45, 10:54

gray-2016-nj-half

Miles 11-13 when I really realized how happy I was knowing I wasn’t doing the full. Just past mile 11.5 is where the full and the half split and boy was I happy to be headed to the finish. I don’t know if I’d have finished the race if I was doing the full. I chugged along and really pushed myself. I didn’t want to give up completely and figured I’d do what I could to come in under 2:20. Turning onto the boardwalk for the last mile and a half and passing a runner with a prosthetic running blade gave me a lift emotionally. After hurricane Sandy destroyed so much of the waterfront in 2012, this was the first year that it was completely restored for the final stretch of the race and I was happy to see that as well. I just kept “swimming” until I crossed the finish.
Splits 11:18, 11:09, 10:28

photo: marathonfoto

The amazing and determined bladerunner” is in the red shirt behind me. I am in awe of anyone who doesn’t accept defeat even after losing a limb. photo: marathon photo.

Finish time 2:17:28

2016-nj-half-marathon

The look on my face says it all. Photo: marathonfoto

As soon as I stopped I felt sick. I was dizzy and nauseous and immediately started to shiver. I grabbed my medal and a walked like a zombie to get my dry clothes from the gear truck. I called Mr SOTSS who had already finished and was waiting in the massage tent with his mom and his girls who had been at the finish to see him cross. (Mr. SOTSS finished in 1:51. His PR is 1:49 so he really wasn’t too far off. He was thrilled to see his girls cheerful faces at the finish. It was the best birthday present for him! (Today is his actual birthday) They were trying to stay dry while waiting for me. I wanted to get out of my wet gear and into dry clothes but I was too weak to untie the bag and knew I’d never have the energy to actually change so I just walked to the massage tent and there they were. His oldest daughter saw me and called out my name. She’s the most angelic looking thing to begin with—long blonde hair, beautiful porcelain doll cheeks and a big smile—but seeing a face I recognized made her look even more angelic at that moment. I smiled back at her. I didn’t want her to know how horrible I felt. Then Mr SOTSS came toward me and asked how I was. I just literally burst into tears. All the emotion and the physical discomfort caught up to me. I felt so bad. We eventually made it back to my car and I blasted the heat in the car and drove faster than I’ve ever driven before to get back to the house and take a hot shower. My teeth were chattering, lips were blue and I just kept having waves of nausea pass over me.

After the shower, some hot coffee and some rest I felt fine. Although my lips stayed blue for a little longer.

IMG_2671

I managed to pull out a 2:17 despite the weather and the physical issues which actually impresses me on some level. This was my 36th half marathon and only 9 of my previous finish times were faster than this one.

I had a phone convo with Mr. SOTSS last night. He and I both are competitive with ourselves. But he reminded us that we run for so many reasons. He likes the race to keep him in training mode. It’s the training that really is more important to him for health reasons. The running 3-4 times a week keeps both him and his dog Chester fit! Speaking of Chester, last week I had a friend take some pics of me, Mr. SOTSS and the dogs at a really lovely park near where he lives.

Chester wasn't really excited about taking pictures...neither was his dad. But they both were troopers. Not everyone can be "on" all the time like Duncan. LOL.

Chester wasn’t really excited about taking pictures…neither was his dad. But they both were troopers. Not everyone can be “on” all the time like Duncan. LOL.

This picture makes me laugh. His ear, my hair....

This picture makes me laugh. His ear, my hair….

So now I’ll take a few days off from running. I’ve got a 5 mile race at the end of this month which I’m really looking forward to.

How was your weekend?

Feel free to wish my elusive “smiley” guy a Happy Birthday today.

Anyone else have a birthday this month?

Ever have a race where you fall apart physically?

8 Comments

  1. Congrats on another great finish- even if it wasn’t your ideal time! That’s still a great time to be proud of! And I love those pictures at the end!

  2. Seriously awesome race in those windy rainy cold conditions!!! I’m super proud of you!! I really missed being down the shore this year. I hope Broad Street isn’t the same week again next year, because I want to run the both!!

    I feel like our Love Run monsoon a couple years ago was worse, but I only ran 10 on Sunday. I honestly can’t imagine running another 5k after that. Mile 9 also felt like 3 miles to me. 😉

    And a very happy birthday to your man! :)

    • The Love Run monsoon was definitely worse as far as the rain goes. I keep thinking about that day because I don’t remember feeling sick afterward. I was cold but maybe just so happy about the PR. Sunday’s rain affected me more physically for some reason. I’m still so amazed at your double race weekend including that BEAST!

  3. Sorry you had a rough run :-( I ran as well, and felt okay until we were up toward the boardwalk – then i felt utterly freezing. I can’t even imagine how the full marathoners felt!!!

    • Congrats to you and your mom!!!! That’s awesome. And to think it’s Wednesday and STILL RAINING! LOL.

  4. Don’t underestimate what you did?! Sometimes we runners start thinking a half Mara on the weekend is normal! In brutal conditions! It’s not, so you did super well. P. S. You should really have Duncan model, because he’s always so ready to please the camera!

    • I keep saying Duncan needs to earn his keep. Biscuits are pricey! LOL. Thanks for your kind words.

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