This past Sunday, my wife Caryn and I ran the New Jersey 1/2 and full marathons respectively. Our running friend Sheri also ran the full marathon. I had to work on Saturday, so both Caryn and Sheri drove to Long Branch Saturday afternoon to the expo to gather our good bags, including our bib numbers. I took the 3 hour trip via Interstate 78 after work. I arrived at the hotel at about 8pm. My wife was nice enough to have a spaghetti with meatballs dinner ready for me when I arrived. I typically have pasta before a distance race. We all fueled up and discussed running tactics for the upcoming race and went to bed pretty early.
We woke to a nice, sunny morning. The hotel we were staying at was about 8 miles from the start, which was at Monmouth Park, a popular horse racetrack on the east coast. We were concerned about getting to the start at a decent time. The drive in was on a single lane road. We ended up having no troubles, though, and were at the starting line 45 minutes before the start.
After some pre-race preps, “the call to the post” sound was heard for the first wave off. It took about 2 minutes for our Wave C to start. We wished each other luck and were on our way. Here we are at the start…
My legs were screaming for a race like this. The weekend before, I had completed the Hyner Challenge 50K, which included 7,600 feet of elevation gain. The New Jersey Marathon had an elevation gain of 415 feet! I was looking forward to stretching out my legs for 26.2 miles.
It took a good 5 or so miles for me to get into a grove. My legs still were somewhat stiff from the previous week. Sheri and I run similar paces so we would run a few miles together, then would separate from each other. The morning was starting to get a bit warmer, and by mile 10, I was dipping into my first salt pack. I had forgotten my salt tablets, but thankfully Caryn was able to take some packs from the Italian restaurant they ate at the night before for me.
I normally try to drink fluids at every aid station. I skipped the first two because I hydrated well leading up to the event. I also try to rotate the type of fluids at aid stations…the first aid station water, the next aid station Gatorade, etc. I felt sodium intake was most important for me and my muscles this race so throughout, I drank more Gatorade.
By the halfway mark I was feeling good. I had a good/steady pace going. By mile 15, I started to feel as though it could get warmer and could end up being a tougher run than I wanted it to be. But that feeling passed. I continued to take a few salt packs, had a gel at my 16, and took advantage of each water station.
The course was nice. I was expecting more of an ocean view, considering we were right along the ocean. Most of the race, however, was on the back streets. Around mile 21, we were on the boardwalk, but that lasted a mile. My wife, Caryn, told me after the race, that this was one of the areas that Hurricane Sandy had hit hard in 2012. I was unaware of that while I was running and didn’t take notice that there were still some buildings that were still being rebuilt.
We ran a few more miles on back beach roads before getting back onto the boardwalk for the last mile or so. My legs were really working hard as I crossed the finish. My Garmin watch had the distance at 26.6, and I heard murmurs throughout from other runners getting the same readings. Unfortunately this type of thing happens in races. I’ve run some 50K’s where the distance would be off by more than a mile.
We all had a good time and had good runs at this marathon. Here we are at the end….
Both Caryn and Sheri were looking to run faster times than what they did, but they both still did great and finished in the top 30% overall! I was pleased with the way I ran. I stayed steady throughout. I had a negative split from the first half marathon to second half marathon. That’s the type of running I enjoy most, finishing strong.