Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Jersey Marathon Race Report

This post was written back in May, after I completed the New Jersey Marathon. I wanted to include it in my blog since it was the biggest moment in my running life so far. Enjoy!

Short Version - I ran the NJ Marathon yesterday with the northern NJ chapter of Team in Training. I finished with a garmin time of 5:37:45 (official times not posted yet) and am beyond thrilled. Despite the rain I ran even stronger than I could have possibly imagined. If anyone is considering an event with TNT, do it!! What an amazing experience! I took the advice that I will only run my first marathon once, so even when I was hurting and soaked from the rain, I made a point to take it all in and enjoy every second.

Long Version - Saturday morning my family (Me, Zach, Cecily, my parents, sister and in laws) headed down to Long Branch around noon to go to to the expo, pick up my bib and race pack, have lunch and just shop around. The expo was small, but nice and the shopping area in Long Branch is really pretty. I got to see where the start and finish would be, got a new bondi band, had a yummy lunch and start getting nervous and excited.
Me outside the expo

Me, Zach and Cecily on the boardwalk

That night we went to the Team in Training pasta party which was fun and inspirational. Here is the whole Northern NJ Team. My teammates and coaches were all amazing

When we got back to the hotel after the pasta party around 9:00, I got all my stuff ready for the morning and went to sleep. I tossed and turned a bit but felt like a got a decent amount of sleep. My alarm went off at 4:00, I got right up and ready to go.

I met my team in the lobby at 5:00, and we were on our way to the start at 5:30. We were able to hang out in the host hotel right next to the start line until about 7:20 so we could stay warm and dry. This worked out well for bathroom stops. It was a 7:30 start which was delayed almost a half hour because of an accident that caused even more traffic than anticipated. When I made it to the starting line I found my family right away. They took some pictures and gave me some last minute advice (my dad is a 6 time marathoner).

Here I am with my training partner Kathy and TNT teammate Martha

Back of my singlet honoring all the people in my life effected by cancer. They were my inspiration

The start

Then we were off! For the first 5 miles I felt good but was worried that I wasnt getting into a good groove. Kathy and I had a plan to walk through most water stops and make sure our splits were consistantly between 12 and 12:30. We wanted to avoid getting caught up and going out to fast. My hip was feeling tight (It band related) so we made a porta potty stop at mile 4, I stretched a bit and felt fine afterwards. I saw my family at mile 6 which was a great boost.
Still going strong at mile 6

By mile 8 I finally found my groove. I was cruising along at a steady pace and Kathy was feeling good as well. We passed through some gorgeous neighborhoods in Long Branch and some not so gorgeous ones. By mile 12 we were up on the boardwalk next to the ocean cruising towards the halfway mark. We saw one of our TNT coaches who ran with us for awhile. Then I saw Zach who told me the rest of my cheering section was right after the halfway mark. It was tough seeing the halfers finish, but seeing my family kept me in good spirits. We downed some pretzels that they handed us and kept on going. I remembered the advice a trainer at my gym told me which was when you start the loop again (NJ marathon is a double loop) just focus on making it to mile 14 so you dont get caught up in seeing others finish the half.

Kathy and I at the halfway point

The 2nd half started off fine and then Kathy started having a lot of pain in her knees. We walked through a water station around 15.5 and she couldnt start back up. She stopped at the porta potty and told me to keep on going. It pained me to leave her (we did all our training runs together) but I knew I had to keep going. By 17 it started to pour rain (it had been drizziling up until this point) and I was starting to get discouraged. Once I hit the 18 mile mark I was lonely, soaked and scared because I was heading into uncharted territory. This was definitely "the wall" for me, although it was way more mental than physical. I knew my family would be around mile 19 so I focused on seeing them again.

When I did I cried my eyes out but kept on going. I kept on running through 20, than 21, still feeling sorry for myself. At 21 I saw a TNT coach from another Chapter who pointed out that the 5:30 pacer wasnt too far ahead of me. 5:30 was my dream time so I felt so great hearing that and started to feel better. Between 21 and 22 I was running opposite people coming in on mile 23 and 24. I saw a friend of mine I didnt even know was running that day and another friend that I did. SO great to see familiar faces!!! By 23 I was walking on and off but only for a minute or two at a time. I was impressed at how much I was running and was still keeping my pace. I felt pretty good even though I was soaking wet and tired. My biggest annoyance at this point was that my running skirt was SO wet that it was slipping. I spent the last few miles of the race pulling it up.

At mile 24 I found one of my coaches who ran with me until mile 25, and than handed me off to 2 more coaches. Having them to run during the home stretch was priceless. I got on the boardwalk, passed the mile 26 marker and could see the finish line. I was crying and running strong. They were telling me how proud they were of me. I knew I had made it under 5:40. I took off fast (but not too fast, I didnt want to puke!) and ran to the finish. I saw Zach on the other side and my family screaming, yelling and crying. I did it!! What an unbelievable feeling. I bawled my eyes out. Got my medal and finisher's hat.
Almost there
I did it!

Once I got into dry clothes I waited for Kathy to come in. She was well over 1/2 hour behind me. Poor thing was in so much pain and walked almost 10 miles to the finish. Such determination! I was so proud of her.

After going back to the hotel, taking and ice bath and the longest hot shower Ive ever taken in my life, we headed to the TNT victory party.

Kathy and I, we clean up well!

Such an amazing experience. I still cant believe I can officially say I am a marathoner. I would definitely do the NJ marathon again, it was a nice course and easy for my family to be able to see my 4 times during the race. I loved training and running with Team in Training. I wouldnt have wanted to do it any other way. The on course support with all the purple singets was awesome. I raised over $3600 for a great cause, met incredible people, and had the experience of a lifetime.


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