Finally! Remember when I used to have recaps up the day after my race, or sometimes even the day of? Those were the good ole’ days. Sorry to leave you guys hanging, but life’s been busy! I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten a new promotion at work, which has been a big reason for me falling off the radar. I’m still adjusting and transitioning into my new role at FITNESS, but I couldn’t be more excited. But while posts still may be slightly sporadic around here for a bit, I’m going to do my best to get back to regularly scheduled programming.
Now, on to the race report! I tackled my seventh half-marathon in the beginning of May over in New Jersey. That’s seven half-marathons in seven states in the last two years. Crazy! I still can’t believe that only two years ago I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t, really – I just pretend now) and the thought of running 13.1 consecutive miles terrified the bejeesus out of me. 21-year-old Sam, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.
After racing in Maine, I spent April maintaining my fitness level and figured if I sprinkled in a few speed sessions, I might be able to get a PR in Jersey. After all, the course was MUCH flatter and I wouldn’t be fighting wind for 80 percent of the course.
My ultimate goal was to go sub-2, but a part of me knew that was an unrealistic goal. I’ve been struggling with hip tightness and a nagging pain since February, so I didn’t take training as seriously as originally planned for either race. But still, I managed to PR in Maine, so I knew anything was possible.
About a week before race day, Dustin and I convinced our friends Tristan and Katie to make the trip with us and be official cheerleaders. They had never watched a race before, and Tristan is becoming curious about running, so I thought this was the perfect trip since the race was only a few hours outside of the city. With them on board, and a big crew of running friends coming out to cheer, I knew I wouldn’t be lacking in inspiration.
I got to the corrals without any problems, and although I had a few bathroom issues that made me nervous about what to expect for the rest of the race, I went in ready to run. The organizers blasted “Sweet Caroline” before beginning the wave start, and this New England girl-at-heart couldn’t help but beam with pride and wipe away a few tears.
The whole race went seamlessly for me. I saw all of my cheerleaders at each point that I expected to, and had surprise pop-ups from the NYC girls once! Let me tell you, seeing them all go crazy once they spotted me made me feel so special. I don’t get to make it to nearly as many running meet-ups as I’d like, so hearing them cheer their hearts out made me so unbelievably happy and gave the surge of motivation I needed to keep pushing.
I ate a Clif shot blok every three miles, starting at mile 4. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the experts behind the Clif company a few months ago for work, and we thought that I might be hitting a wall more often than I think because I wasn’t taking in enough fuel, and I wasn’t starting early enough. With this new strategy (which I also used in Maine), I definitely felt more energized throughout the race.
Around mile 10 was when my legs started to realize what was going on. When people say this course is flat, they’re not kidding. It’s like a pancake. Perfect for running fast, but it only engages the muscles in one way. Two days post-race, I experienced soreneess like I hadn’t felt since my first half. Ouch.
Mile 13 was really rough. By that point we had hit the ocean views, which were a great mental distraction, but they also brought wind. A lot of it. The whole mile was a straight headwind. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as strong as the winds I faced in Maine, so I just kept repeating, “You made it through Maine” to keep my head in the game.
By the time I had hit mile 10, I knew I wasn’t going to go sub-2, and I was honestly OK with that. Missing a PR, however, wasn’t kosher with me. I turned the last 5K into a big race, and even though we had the wind in the last mile, it was the first time I had the pleasure of picking off large groups of runners. For once, I felt fast! I sprinted the last half-mile, spotted Dustin, Tristan and Katie right before the finish line, gave one last kick and finished with a smile and a new PR of 2:0
Overall, I would highly recommend this race to a beginner racer, or anyone looking to PR. Sure, the wind at the end wasn’t fun, but the race was really well organized and the views are nice. It’s extremely spectator-friendly, so bring lots of friends! There were extra security measures, but that was to be expected – and they made everyone aware of it ahead of time – so it was totally cool.
So what’s next? Originally, nothing. But it looks like I’m now doing the run portion of the NYC Triathlon with a few friends (say what?!), and I may be doing a June half-marathon with Lauren. No concrete plans on that yet, but we’ll see! And if not, I’ve got my eye on Philly in September. So for now, I’m just going to enjoy the start of summer in the city.
Catch ya later!