Half marathon number 2 is officially in the books, my friends! On April 30th I ran the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half Marathon with a bunch of my coworkers. When I first signed up I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be running another half, but my coworker put a lot of effort into organizing our team so I felt like I just had to suck it up and do it.
The race was held in Long Branch where Monmouth University is located. My wonderful cousin Devin is a track coach at Monmouth and let me stay at his house the night before the race so I could sleep in a little (his house was only three miles from the start of the race which was perfect). I got to his house around 8 the night before and just hung out on the couch and drank a ton of water before I went to bed around 11. I woke up at 5:15 the next morning feeling great. I got dressed and ready and was out the door before 6. I ate a pre-race breakfast of ezekiel bread with peanut butter and a protein banana muffin from Trader Joe’s. The weather conditions were perfect for running, 55 degrees and cloudy. It was the same temperature from when I woke up to when I finished the race. You couldn’t have asked for better weather.
I picked up my coworker a few blocks away and drove to Monmouth Park where the race was starting. We had been told that traffic getting in is terrible so we left an hour and a half before the race was scheduled to start. We got there with no problem. One of the reasons why I think we didn’t have any issues is because we were coming from the opposite direction of all the traffic from the Parkway. We came in on Victor Avenue instead of Oceanport Avenue and it made a HUGE difference for sure (we thought something was wrong because there weren’t a lot of cars in the parking lot). Just a tip for anyone planning on running next year!
There was a group of six of us running so we met up before the race and took some pictures before heading to our corrals. The race started promptly at 7:30 but I didn’t cross the starting line until about 7:37. The race also included the New Jersey Marathon runners so it was pretty packed in the corrals (this race is a Boston qualifier). It was so crowded for the first three miles that I completely missed the mile markers! I decided to run only with music and leave all of my running apps off so that I wouldn’t be obsessing over my pace. I really wanted to just enjoy this race.
The course is very flat with the only “hill” being when you have to slightly run upward to go over a bridge (I believe this was around mile 6). The race takes you winding through residential areas with lots of views of the water. The last mile and a half are a straight shot with views of the ocean. It was absolutely beautiful (also, sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the course! That was the last thing on my mind when I was running.).
I felt very good during the race until mile 6. My knees were really starting to hurt, so I stopped and did some stretching before I continued on. Additionally the ball of the my left foot started bothering me (a hurt completely new to me), so I stopped again to twist out my ankle and stretch my foot which really helped. Miles 7-9 are always the hardest for me so I knew that I needed to push through, but I was completely fine with stopping to stretch during the race. I had never done that before, and I think it really helped me to feel great at the finish line. Once I saw mile 10 I was so excited – only three miles left! It was a little after this mile marker that I saw my cousin cheering me on and it gave me the energy boost that I needed. The best feeling was around mile 11 and a half when the marathoners continued straight and the half marathoners turned towards the ocean. Like I said before, the straightaway to the finish was beautiful and I felt better than ever during those last two miles. When the finish line was in reach I really kicked it into high gear and was sprinting to the finish.
When I crossed the finish line I was amazed with how amazing I felt (so different from my last race when I felt like I was dying). I grabbed some water and a banana and headed over to meet my coworkers to take a finishers picture. My finish time was 2:30:36 which was exactly the time I thought I would finish it. While I didn’t beat my last half time (2:25:59), I was incredibly happy with the way I ran and how amazing I felt! I truly can’t say enough good things about this race. If you are considering running your first half I would highly suggest doing this one!
Do you have any races coming up this year?