New Jersey marathon weekend
May 1st thru May 3rd , 2009
Tom and I took Friday off work in order to get to New Jersey early enough to miss the rush hour traffic. We arrived in the early afternoon and checked into the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Shortly after checking in we went for a walk along the boardwalk. It was a little chilly and there was intermittent drizzle. However, it was still a beautiful sight. We then headed to the Expo to pick up my bib, chip and shirt. The Expo was pretty small and setup in a tent at Pier Village. I did not buy much at the expo, but did manage to get suckered into buying a pair of $60 'Aline' insoles.
View from hotel on Friday afternoon
Tom and I on the boardwalk Friday afternoon
While in the Pier Village area we saw a restaurant that had Hibachi tables so we made a reservation for dinner. The dinner there was excellent. Afterwards we walked back down the boardwalk to go back to the hotel and saw that the finish line was setup. We took a few photos there and of some people who had a bonfire setup on the beach.
Posing at the finish line on Friday evening
Bonfire on the beach
The next morning we got up pretty early and headed to Amy's Restaurant for breakfast. I couldn't believe that they had two menu pages just for omelets! Again, we made a good choice and enjoyed a great meal.
We then went out to meet Pam and her family. We saw Pam running towards us on the boardwalk and quickly introduced ourselves as she ran to catch up with her daughter, Meagan, who was running an out and back 1.2 mile race. We proceeded on to the finish line and met up with her husband, Alex, and their other daughter, Jerilyn. We stayed with them for a while as we watched all the kids races. Again the weather was a little chilly with some drizzle here and there.
Me and Pam on Saturday morning
Pam's daughter, Jerilyn, running in a race on Saturday morning
Pam's daughter, Meagan, running in a race on Saturday morning
After that Tom and I decided to take a tour of the course. I really couldn't remember much of it, but there were certain parts that looked familiar. I remembered the small 'hill' (about 32 ft incline) over the water right after mile 3/16, the lake at mile 8/21, the windmill on Ocean Ave, and the tiny loop at mile 10/23. However, the part I remember most is the train station with the candy aid station - Yummy!
Lowest course elevation: 11 ft /3.4 m
Highest course elevation: 39 ft / 11.9 m
Net course elevation gain / loss: 0 ft / 0 m
After the tour of the course Tom went out for a run and I went for a walk along the boardwalk.
Photos from my Saturday afternoon walk down the boardwalk
Tommy going for a run on Saturday afternoon
We then went back to the hotel and took a dip in the jacuzzi and a quick swim in the pool. We went back out along the boardwalk and saw that they had added banners to the start/finish line so we took some photos there and then headed out for dinner.
View of the start/finish line setup on Saturday afternoon
View from the restaurant on Saturday evening
This was to be my second time running the New Jersey Marathon. I ran it last in 2006 in a time of 4:21. In the few months leading up to that race and during the race I was experiencing blister problems on the arch of my right foot, which cost me a few minutes. I have not had that problem since then until about a month ago. I have been putting a moleskin patch on this area the last few times that I ran a long run so I opted to do this again for the marathon.
Tom, Pam and I went to the start area together and lined up with the 4 hour pacing group, which should have us running a 9:09 pace. The race was supposed to start at 7:30am, but as we were waiting to start they announced a 15 minute delay due to a traffic accident on the course. Pam and I decided to take this time to hit the loo one more time. When we got back to the starting area word had it that it would be more of a wait. It was just about 8am when we finally got started. Due to the mass of runners, which also included all the half marathon and relay runners the first mile was very congested. We were running slower than a 10 minute pace. I was getting a little frustrated trying to stick with the group so I decided to make my own way through the crowd and let the pace group come back to me later. This worked well and the group came back up to me as I reached for water at about one and a half miles into the race. However, shortly after that the pacers started to go much faster. I kept looking at my watch and saw that the overall pace was down to under a 8:50. I decided to back off and let them go ahead so that I didn't crash later. A few miles later someone had mentioned that one of our pacers had gone to use the facilities and that he was still behind us, which made me feel better. In these first 5 miles the temperature actually felt a little warm and muggy, but certainly nothing to complain about.
Tom was cheering for me shortly after mile 5. I told him that I was on target for my goal and that the pacers were running too fast. Some where around mile 6 our pacer at the front had slowed down and the one at the back had caught up. At this point I felt like the whole group was now on target. We ran by the lake at about mile 8 and had a slight hill after that. I welcomed the incline and it provided some additional motivation and energy for some reason. I also knew that the gummy bears were not too far away. Pam and I continued to run close to that group until about mile 10. By this time the temperatures had cooled down to a very comfortable level for running, but there was constant drizzle and a strong head wind at times.
After the mini loop at mile 10 we took a turn to go back up Ocean Boulevard and the thought of heading towards the boardwalk made me pick up my pace and feel really good. I knew that there would be lots of spectators there and that Tommy would be cheering for me near the 13 mile mark. I saw Tommy, switched water bottles with him and told him that my time was 1:55 at that point.
I was extremely pumped up and felt very good and strong. I decided to pick up the pace a little more and see if I could get closer to the 3:50 mark than the 4 hour mark. I ran between an 8:30 and 8:50 pace for the next four miles. I saw Tom again shortly after mile 18 and told him that I had hit mile 18 in 2:38. I kept looking at my watch for my average pace, but knew that it was off since my watch splits weren't exactly the same as the mile markers on the course. In hindsight I wish I'd worn pace bands - one for 4 hours and one for 3:50, but I've never looked at them when I've worn them in past races.
At mile 19 my legs started to feel very weak, the headwinds were discouraging me and I was starting to losing my motivation . I was thinking I'd made a big mistake in running faster miles from 13 to 17. I was due to take another gel at mile 22, but wondered if I should take it earlier. I lucked out and came across a station with gel - it was my brand, but not my usual flavor of GU so I decided to take just a little of it and then take my usual one at mile 22. That still didn't help with my energy levels or with the weak feeling in my legs. I kept telling myself to slow down a little and relax, but I couldn't seem to do so. Instead, I continued to run fast, but had to pay the price by taking a few quick walk breaks over the course of about 3 miles. I was mad at myself for giving into walking, but found it hard not to. I thought that I might feel better if I took a few electrolyte strips, but couldn't seem to find them in my skirt pocket. I didn't want to keep trying so I decide to wait until I'd taken my gel and then search for them again. At mile 21 as I was about to head back to the lake and I saw the mile 24 marker across the street on the Ocean Blvd and made my goal to hang on until I looped back to that marker with the thought that once I got there I'd be pumped up to hit the boardwalk again. I took my gel shortly thereafter, but still needed one more brief walk break and I even skipped the gummy bears this time around. Shortly after that I took some of my electrolyte strips and completed the mini loop to head back towards the beach. I hit the 24 mile marker, smiled for the camera and then started to pick up the pace again. There was a girl in front of me who had some wonderful friends join her at that point and they were nice enough to encourage me at the same time they were helping her. We blew by a girl wearing a very sexy leopard print skirt and that made us feel good too.
At some point over those later miles I was starting to notice some blistering on my feet. Since it was drizzling throughout the entire race there were a few spots with puddles that were unavoidable. I also have the tendency to wiggle my feet a little when my toes get tight and in doing so I moved the moleskin patch out of place, which now allowed a blister on my arch to form. However, these things were all tolerable and did not cause me much concern. I also noticed that my neck was very tight and sore, which could have been from not being used to wearing a hat or could have just been from being tense.
I was now close to the turn back towards Ocean Avenue and the boardwalk. My feet and neck were a little sore, but other than that I felt good. I knew I didn't have a killer sprint in me that I had for the final mile when I ran it in 2006, but I also knew I could finish up strong. My sub-4 hour finish had been accomplished easily, but I didn't have enough distance left to make up the time to hit 3:50. I pushed the pace as much as I could and passed quite a number of runners in that final stretch knowing that my finish time was going to blow away my prior PR of 4:05:48, which I set in New York last fall.
I crossed the line and got my medal and hat and then I paced back and forth in hopes of seeing Pam cross the line also. However, the wind and rain were making me cold and I knew that Tom was expecting me at the family reunion area. I also didn't know if I'd missed her already. I met up with Tom and went right back to the finish line, but I think we had missed her by then. We hung out in the tent for a little while hoping to see Pam's family, but to no avail. I ate a bagel, made a few phone calls and then headed back to the hotel to take a quick shower and put on some dry clothes. Alex called us back and let us know that Pam had finished in 4:12. I was so proud of her. What a great first marathon for her and run in difficult conditions.
My Garmin splits:
9:33, 8:51, 8:29, 8:44, 8:37, 8:36, 8:51, 9:01, 8:57, 9:01, 8:43, 8:41, 8:32, 8:31, 8:33, 8:38, 8:47, 8:52, 8:50, 8:55, 9:14, 9:19, 9:25, 8:45, 8:49, 8:33, 2:51 (7:42) = 3:52:39 26.37 miles 8:49 pace
Regular watch splits: (I missed many markers)
9:38, 17:26 (avg 8:43), 8:42, 8:37, 17:41 (avg 8:50), 9:13, 26:45 (avg 8:55), 8:43, 8:34, 8:28, 8:40, 8:36, 8:46, 8:52, 8:58, 9:00, 9:19, 9:23, 18:16 (avg 9:08), 8:48, 8:30, 1:42 = 3:52:39
Splits and Chip Times:
I was thrilled to see the race results.
539 out of 1,726 Runners overall
16 out of 96 Women in my age group (40-44)
112 out of 692 Women overall
First half: 1:56:16 / Second half: 1:56:21 - Can't get much closer than that! ;o)
My official finish time was: 3:52:37 chip time and 3:53:41 clock time with an 8:55 average pace.
Pam's results: 865/1,726 overall, 249/692 women, 38/96 age group
Pam and I before the start of the race on Sunday morning
Pam shortly after mile 5
Me shortly after mile 5
Me shortly after mile 18
Pam and Eliot
Me heading for the finish
Back at home with my finishers hat and medal