Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Jersey Race Recap

This past Sunday was the New Jersey Half Marathon (ok, so technically the race name is Long Branch Half Marathon, but I always call it the NJ Half).  I have done this race once before (4 years ago) and have also done the full before - a whopping 5 years ago!  Crazy.

The weekend did not start out with the best of results.  My friend Pam (and traveling partner) got a stomach virus on Friday.  She was recovering on Saturday but was still unable to eat, so she had to bail on the race.  It has not been her race season.  We still made it town to NJ and got settled into the hotel.  Once we got into the hotel, it was time to head to the race expo.

The race expo was held at the Monmouth Park (yes, the race track), which had the worst accessibility for the thousands of people heading to the expo.  There was little 2 roads into the park.  What should have taken us 5 minutes (according to the GPS) took us almost 45.  Gave us an idea of what race morning would be like.

Once we arrived at the expo, we got our numbers and goodie bags - and of course our race t-shirts.  The race shirt is a nice technical one, with a running graphic on the front and race course on the back.  I like the shirt this year - they have definitely gotten better then the first time I did it (that year it was a l/s technical shirt that even the small is too big for me and I am pretty sure it's not actually technical).  Photo of this years shirt is below:

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating pasta with an early bedtime for race morning.

Race Day

The Half started at 6:50am on Sunday morning.  Given the drama getting to the expo, we left earlier then we probably needed too.  There was still a significant amount of traffic, making it a good call.  Pam dropped me off at the start and headed to park at the finish and made her way to the course for cheering.  While waiting for the start, I checked bag (more on that later) and used the bathroom one last time before heading into my corral.

While I don't understand how the corrals and numbers were given out (I had a friend with a higher number, yet in a faster corral), they were very well organized and we were sent off in a wave start which prevented the course from being too crowded.  

The course is different than the past years I've done it (which was a 13.1 mile loop or 2 loops for the marathon).  It was nice to be on a course I didn't know, but overall the course was pretty boring (I'd felt the same about the previous course).  It was running mostly through neighborhoods and town roads and the crowds were pretty limited.  We didn't even get to the beach until after mile 11.

The water stations were pretty well organized which was nice because inland (without the breeze from the ocean) it was pretty warm.  Once we got to the ocean, it was significantly cooler which was nice to finish with.  

My favorite part of this race has to be the run up to the finish line.  The last mile or so is right along the beach so you can see the ocean and hear the waves.  It makes for a beautiful picture and some great imagery as you push through to the end.

The medals are very nice - much nicer then the last time I did this race.  The inside even spins, which I just find fun.  

I was pleased with my time - 2:00:25, a 9:11 pace.  While I have been running up to this race, I have not been doing any speed work and was basically using this as a long run (t-minus 19 weeks and 3 days until Montreal) so I was very happy with a 9:11 pace.

My only real compliant with the race was baggage.  The baggage process was a disaster!  Usually at big races the baggage is organized either by race number or last name.  This one had neither of those.  You just picked a truck (which were color coded) and they gave you a sticker (for you number) and put the same sticker on your bag.  Then (in theory) at the end you found your truck and collected your baggage.  However, upon finishing the race, I went to where the trucks were located and found that all the trucks BUT mine were there.  Of course, no one knew where it was.  I finally managed to find the information tent where I asked where the truck was.  And they had no idea, but said they would look into it.  After some digging, she informed me the truck was stuck in traffic.  This I do not understand.  The rest of the trucks got there, how did this one get lost?  After close to 30 minutes, the truck finally arrived.  And then chaos ensued.  There was no organization in the bags (or if there was it had been messed up) and only 1 person trying to find/hand out hundreds of backs to cold, annoyed runners.  Eventually, everyone just started climbing into the truck to find their bags.  Took forever and was super annoying.  

Well, that's my race recap.  Outside of the baggage disaster, I thought it was good race and I was please with my finishing time.

Up next - #25!  Brooklyn Half Marathon on 5.19.12.

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