And now for my 2016 Trenton Half Marathon recap
I ran the Trenton Half Marathon in Trenton, New Jersey this past weekend for the 3rd time and had just as much fun this time around. My friend Jane introduced me to this race back in 2013 when it was only in it’s 2nd year.
It started about 30 minutes late that year, and it started late in 2014 too so I wasn’t too shocked when we started about 15 minutes late this year. But that’s really the only negative I have for this race.
The expo is really small. Jane picked up my packet in 2013 and this year as well, but I went myself in 2014. While they do have race day packet pick up I did hear that there were some issues with getting your shirt on race day so if you can get to the expo or have a friend go for you that would be best.
The medal is huge and it’s also a bottle cap opener
Getting to the race is easy by car. It’s only an hour’ s drive from my home in Staten Island. Just make sure to try and arrive an hour before the start for the least hassle. I literally drove right into the auxillary parking lot at 7am without any detours. It’s about a 15 min walk to the start but there is also a lot closer that is an option. I just wanted to play it safe in case that lot was full.
The race offerings: There are 3 distances—a 5k, a 10k and a half marathon. The 10k and half start together first at 8:00am and the 5k starts 30 minutes after. There were about 700 runners doing the half, about 700 doing the 10k and about 500 doing the 5k so overall I consider this a small race. Really small compared to many of my New York Road Runner races that are 10 times that size.
I met Jane and Amy in the parking lot just after 7am and we all walked to the start which is at Arm and Hammer Stadium where the Trenton Thunder minor league ball team plays. (One of the highlights of this race is that you finish right at home plate.)
We met up with a few other of Jane’s friends. The temperature was in the high 30s but the sun was out and it was supposed to warm up quickly to a high in the 60s later in the day. I felt the brisk air but wasn’t cold really. I wore my usual long sleeve tech shirt/Nike Aeroloft vest combo and capris for sub 40 degree weather. I probably could have skipped the vest but luckily I never felt over dressed during the race. After running the Staten Island Half a few weeks ago in the pouring rain, I was SO FRIGGIN HAPPY that it was sunny.
Amy wanted to see if she could hit 2 hours on the nose after running in the 2:04-2:07 range for a bit. Jane said she’d stay with her and try and pace her to her goal. Well not only did Amy hit her goal…..she smashed it and came in at 1:57. Woot woot!
I didn’t have a time goal but wanted to give a good effort and finish somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20. I’m nowhere near my 2:05 PR shape these days but I’ve been consistently running halves below 2 1/2 hours so I figured it was a good range.
When you start, the first turn out of the corrals is crowded and frustrating but within 50 feet you are out on the street and it widens up. And I can tell you that you won’t experience congestion at all for the rest of the race. For me, as a middle-of-the-packer I actually felt a bit lonely during the last half of the race.
The first 5K is fairly flat or downhill (except for running up an exit ramp at the very begining) and all of my splits were sub 10 which was a confidence booster for me. I didn’t bring any fuel for the race and just drank Gatorade and water every mile or two throughout the race starting at mile 4 until mile 11.
The course: I love that there are distinctive chunks…the first 4 miles are in the city and through the Mill Hill district.
Then you cross the Trenton Makes bridge and end up in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. And just after the 10k mark you cross back over into NJ.
After that is a 2 mile stretch that is fairly flat along the highway but then comes the hill into Cadwalader Park and another hill once you enter the park.
But by mile 9 you’re now traveling downhill and back to the highway for the final 5k along the flat stretch. Knowing the course helps because I knew I could take it slower on the hills if I needed knowing I could run a little faster on those last 3 flat miles. This strategy was exactly what I did.
I did feel my hamstrings tighten progressively during the last few miles, but I kept on chugging. And I finished in 2:16:49…only a few seconds slower than my 2014 race and 9 minutes slower than my 2013 race.
And then the best part of the day…..going to get drinks and grub and celebrate.
I love that with each race I get more insight into just how running has shaped me….
I run more than just to finish a race in a certain amount of time or get a beautiful medal.
Running has helped me:
- Create an identity for myself when I felt I didn’t fit in.
- Form friendships that I treasure with all my heart.
- Be active…not just as a form of exercise but as a way for me to live each day with the desire to want to participate in life and not just sit on the sidelines and watch life go by.
- Develop the power to inspire.
- Honor the lives of those we’ve lost….most recently my friend Roseann lost her sweet pup Cookie. I dedicated my miles on Saturday to her. Last year I ran the NYC Marathon with the initials AZ on my back. Abbie Zukowski was the 11 year old daughter of my former high school friend Chris. She was tragically killed crossing the street. I’ve dedicated miles to Meggan Janota, one of the runners I met in 2013 when I was part of the Dicks Sporting Goods “Every Runner Has A Reason” campaign. Just before running the Tunnel to Towers run I decided to honor my friend’s dad who was tragically shot at a town hall meeting. She lost her battle with breast cancer a year later. And I always think of my late husband Dickey who died from Melanoma 17 years ago.
So now you got more than just a recap. 😉 I know i’ve said this before but this blog is really for me. It is so theraputic. From posts filled with pictures of dogs with costumes—to posts where I verbalize so well the true meaning of what running means to me—it’s all so helpful. I hope it’s helpful to you too of course!
What’s your favorite type of shirt to run in?