Disclaimer: I received an entry to the NJ Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
Wow – sorry for the radio silence lately, but moving is SO much work! It’s been about eight years since I moved from NYC to my current apartment, and I definitely forgot about how much work it was to pack up your life, and then unpack it. Current situation is boxes upon boxes, but hey, at least I have internet to be able to post, right?!
About three weeks ago, I had the privilege of running the NJ Half Marathon as part of the Bibrave Pro team. When I first signed up, I wasn’t too worried about the race being so close to Boston. I’ve run half marathons close to marathons before, and I’ve been okay. Not amazing, but okay. However, bouncing back from Boston was rough for me. I’ve heard from other runners that the course beats you up more than most normal marathons, on top of the hell my body went through that day running in such terrible conditions. Then you factor in my training wasn’t exactly on point, the longer recovery makes total sense!
Nonetheless, race weekend for New Jersey was here, whether my legs liked it or not, and I was determined to make the best of it! Mileage-wise, New Jersey is not far from me in southern CT. However, traffic can be a whole other ballgame! Luckily, my husband and I left mid-morning on Saturday, and was able to avoid most traffic. We headed straight to the expo, which was held at the Mothmout Park horse race. It was a pretty uneventful expo – went in, picked up my shirt and bib, poked around the merchandise, and took an obligatory pre-race photo. I spotted a few other runners proudly wearing their bright red 2018 Boston jackets, and gave them a nod.
After the expo, we headed back to the hotel to check in and get settled pre-race. I’ve run this race before, and depending on where you stay, it can be a total traffic nightmare. Also, if you stay too close, you’ll end up paying like $300 for a hotel that really should be $100/night, but the price is jacked up because of the race. Gotta love small towns. I took a gamble and booked a hotel that was about 20 miles north of the race (i.e. in the direction back towards where we had to drive after we left) but it was also right off the highway, thinking the highway should not be backed up too badly. Spoiler alert: it worked out awesome, and I would definitely use the same tactic running in prior years!
We eventually headed back out to grab a pre-drink race and dinner, and called it a night pretty early. Race day means early alarms!
Rise and shine – time to wake up and go! My alarm went off far too early, but that’s the price you pay for racing right? We left the hotel around 5:30 am, and was parked and inside the race track by 6:15. I was actually shocked at how smoothly it all went – I expected a lot more traffic! The nice thing about this race is that the start is at the track (same place as expo) so you have a place to wait indoors (and use real bathrooms!) while you wait. Pre-race bonus – watching the horses warm up on the track. If only I could run as fast as them!
Before I knew it, it was time to head to the corrals. I hopped, waited for the gun to go off, and hoped for the best for my legs. I knew the course was flat and fast – if only my legs would corporate.
The gun went off – and boom! Fast course or not, my legs were absolutely exhausted, and I could feel how heavy they were from mile 1. Uhh….maybe this race was not that great of an idea. The first few miles I was running so slow, I was sorta concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish this.
Luckily by the 10K point, I started to loosen up. I was still moving slow, but I was starting to enjoy the race a bit. The course wound through different neighborhoods, and it was nice to see all the locals cheer us on. The last time I ran this half was years ago (and was my PR for a long time) but I tried not to think about how much slower I was this time around and stay positive – I was running 13.1 two weeks after Boston! Not so bad.
Around mile 9, I heard someone complain about the “rain” and “wind” on course. Uh, I think for the rest of my life, I never want hear anyone complain about rain and wind on course ever, ever again!
Then finally – I was in the home stretch of the race. I saw the turn off for the half marathon vrs the marathon and for once, I had no FOMO over turning over to the finish instead of another 14 miles. I definitely did not have a full marathon in me that day, that’s for sure! The last mile was a straight shot along the boardwalk, and the sun finally started to poke out. The finish line seemed so far away, but at this point, I knew I had it.
I crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face, and then immediately headed over to try and find my husband. I found him right after the chute – which was conveniently located by the beer garden. I’m not a big beer drinker, but when I poked in, I saw a sign for mimosas, and was all about that! We hung out for a bit, and then eventually headed back to the hotel for a quick shower, and made our way back to CT.
It was only until we got back home, that it occurred to me I never even looked up my final race time. I logged onto Athlinks to check it out, and it was exactly as I expected – 2:15. That seems to be my standard “easy” pace these days. Super easy to claim my result!
All in all it was a successful race weekend, and I would absolutely come back to NJ to try and run a fast race – if only I can get back myself back in shape this fall!