Posts Tagged by nj

Long Branch Half Marathon Race Recap

01 LB Half_RecapHalf marathon number 5…complete!  This was a great race for many reasons…perfect weather, familiar area, flat course, great spectators…a winner!

Since I’m used to running Disney races where my alarm is set for 2:45 am, the 4:30 am wake up call was a nice change.  I never sleep well before races so once the alarm went off I was wide awake.  We were staying at my Dad’s house that night and the queen sized bed is always a little tight for B and I as well.  Once you get used to a king, everything else feels cramped 😉

I got up and did my usual pre-race routine: brush teeth, wash face, KT Tape, Body Glide, get dressed, Blister Block, put shoes on, good to go.  I headed  downstairs to make my pre-race meal of a whole wheat bagel thin with almond butter & banana and a cup of green tea.  My Dad was nice enough to get up early to drop me off for the race.  We chatted a bit while I ate and headed out the door just after 5:30 am.

The starting line was at Monmouth Park, which is where the Expo was held the day before.  It’s only about 15 minutes from my Dad’s house, but we expected there to be traffic getting there and we were right.  There were funneling all of the cars into the parking lot across from the track, but we kept going and my Dad dropped me off at the end of the road leading in.  I walked from there and was surprised by how cold and windy is was.  50 degrees is perfect for racing, but that wind was tough.

Thankfully the grandstand was open, so I headed straight in there to keep warm.  Seemed like many of the other runners had the same idea.

02 LB Half_Track1

I stretched for a bit to warm up my legs and then decided to use a real bathroom before heading outside to the corrals.  The line for the women’s room was very long, but rumors were stirring that there were other less crowded bathrooms upstairs.  Well there was a line there, but then there were more rumors about another bathroom further down with no line.  So a few of us headed around the corner and then down an escalator to find a bathroom that alas had no line!  The whole area was deserted with only the remnants for the Kentucky Derby the night before.

03 LB Half_Track204 LB Half_Track3I noticed that some of the race horse were out exercising, so I decided to head out to catch a glimpse.  What beautiful animals!!  Such a peaceful way to start the morning before a big race.

05 LB Half_Track406 LB Half_Track5

It was about 6:30 am, so I decided to head outside to get in my corral.  The race was starting in about 15 minutes and I couldn’t believe how many people were still hanging around inside or on a very long line for the bathroom.  The port-a-john lines were even worse outside!

07 LB Half_Bathroom Line

Volunteers were yelling at everyone who had a clear bag to check that the trucks were just about to leave for the finish line area and that they had to rush!  It was a bit chaotic.  I’m surprised there weren’t any announcements inside letting people know what time it was and that they had to get a move on to check their bags.

Back Check Trucks

Back Check Trucks

Start Corrals

Start Corrals

I was in Corral E, the last corral, so I started heading toward the back.  Volunteers were checking bib numbers at the entrance to C, but when I got to D no one was there and people were just filing in.  I know it’s not right to do that, but I REALLY was nervous about starting in the last corral so I took the advantage when I saw it.  But I wasn’t the only one who had that idea, people were even hopping over the barricades!

011 LB Half_Corral JumpingOnce I was in the corral, the start was only about 5 minutes away.  Things seemed to be moving very quickly!  I guess I’m just used to Disney races with everything very far apart and having to stand around a lot, but I actually really enjoyed having everything close by!  Before I knew it, the announcer was counting down the wheelchair competitors and then the elite runners in A.  Since we were at a racetrack, it was only fitting that each corral was sent off by the opening bugle horn for horse races…pretty cool.  And then what else would be playing for a race on the Jersey Shore, but “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen…so perfect!

010 LB Half_Corrals2012 LB Half_Start013 LB Half_AnnouncersAnd before I knew it, I was running my 5th half marathon!!  There was a small hill within the first half mile, but for the most part the course was flat…very flat which was great!

014 LB Half_Mile1

The first few miles were tough as they usually are for me.  My legs aren’t warmed up and every stride feels strained, but just after mile 2 I got into the groove.  My goal for the day was to finish in 2:45 and when I started, I was positioned perfectly between the 2:30 and 2:45 pacers.  My average pace was 12:20 and I was keeping a 2/1 run walk ratio….right on track to finish in 2:45.  But surprise surprise…my GI system had other plans.  A pit stop was in my immediate future.

The lines for the port-a-john’s were long and I was so concerned about time that I just kept pushing through hoping that the next group had a shorter line.  No luck.  That was until I saw a few women standing off to the side of the road…in someone’s driveway.  The house was having construction done and there was a port-a-john there…probably for the workers.  Genius!  So I hopped on line.  I feel kind of bad for the owners of the house and the construction company, but this was getting to be an emergency so I had to do it.  However I did see the 2:45 pacer pass by while I was waiting…boooo.

015 LB Half_BathroomThis pit stop was just before mile 4, so I figured I had plenty of time to make up some ground.  But that 5 minutes is hard to make up!  I think this part of the course was my favorite.  It was through the town of Oceanport, which has some seriously cute houses and tree lined streets.  This was the first area where we encounterd spectators out on the course…it was so cool how people were just sitting in their driveways cheering us on.  I’m always so humbled by that.

We crossed our first bridge in around mile 5.5 and headed into Long Branch.  The skies were starting to clear and it was turning into a beautiful day.

016 LB Half_Mile 5_5019 LB Half_Mile6 BridgeHere is where we encountered some of the homes that were very badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  It’s still so incredibly sad to see the devastation that was caused even more than 6 months after the storm.

017 LB Half_House1020 LB Half_House2

But in true Jersey fashion, the storm didn’t damage spirits and even more spectators were out.  Many were even having full on parties outside their house, complete with music and Bloody Mary’s!

018 LB Half_Spectators1

The NJ Marathon began at 8:00 am and ran the same course as we did until the split at 11.5 miles.  When I came up on mile 8, the announcements began that the leader would be approaching soon and we should stay to our right.  I also noticed the mile marker signs and the time clocks had been changed to reflect the marathon runners.  I can’t event imagine in my wildest dreams running that fast!

021 LB Half_Mile8

At 8.5, I heard a car behind me and someone yelling on a bullhorn to move to the right.  This was the first time I had run in conjunction with a full marathon, so I was excited to see the elite runners pass by.  Man were they moving!

022 LB Half_Pace Car023 LB Half_Marathon Leader

These runners were passing by at twice my pace having full conversations.  Mind boggling to a slow runner like me, but very cool to see!

024 LB Half_Sarah

Mile 9…slow and steady 🙂

I knew we were getting close to the split and to the final 1.5 miles along the ocean that I was  looking forward to.  I was actually feeling really good and trying to make up some of the time that I lost from the pit stop.  The marathoners took off to the right down Ocean Avenue for the loooooong stretch to Asbury Park and back and I was so thankful I wasn’t going that way!

025 LB Half_Split1026 LB Half_Split2I on the other hand headed straight across Ocean Avenue and turned left towards the finish line…woohoo!

027 LB Half_11_5Yes, running along the water is gorgeous to look at, but when there is an insane wind coming off the water, it makes it VERY difficult to keep up your pace.  I always say it reminds me of being in one of those endless pools where the water just keeps rushing at you while you swim, but you aren’t actually moving.  I knew at this point there was no way I was going to make my 2:45 goal so I just settled in and did the best I could.  But I did have my best marathon time EVER! 😉

028 LB Half_Best Full Time

As we came upon Pier Village in Long Branch, there were a ton of spectators out along with bands and other entertainment.  A great way to stay occupied for that last mile.  I could see the Ocean Place Resort (where B & I got married) in the distance and knew the finish line was close.  So I took off to finish strong…it felt great!!

029 LB Half_Ocean PlaceSadly my family got stuck in traffic and weren’t able to be there when I finished 🙁  But I did finish incredibly strong and love that final stretch.  All of the memories of my wedding day came flooding back and I couldn’t help but smile 🙂  I crossed the finish line with a PR and my hand over my heart to honor the Boston Marathon runners and spectators.

LB Half_Finisher2LB Half_Finisher!

I may not have met my goal of finishing in 2:45, but I did cut 8 minutes off my last PR at the Virginia Wine Country Half, so I’ll take it!

030 LB Half_Time031 LB Half_MedalSince the wind was so strong, it was a little chilly after the race and I was sad to see that they didn’t have any mylar  blankets available.  So I headed to the food tent to keep warm until my family arrived with my clothes.  Not only did we get bananas and water, but there were soft pretzels as far as the eye could see!

032 LB Half_PretzelsHonestly, they weren’t very good but I was so hungry I ate that whole thing.  B and my Dad arrived with flip-flops and a sweatshirt not too long after I finished, which was very much needed.  To my surprise, B was carrying all of my clothes instead of the backpack I had packed him and my stepmom wasn’t there.  Apparently, they weren’t letting bags of any kind (even purses!) anywhere near the finish line area.  This is understandable after the Boston tragedy  but I wish the area was communicated better before the race.  There were MANY people complaining about how the police and security were treating the spectators and it was sadly another hindrance for people not getting to watch the finish.

We headed back to the car so I could properly change and then headed back to Pier Village to watch the marathoners come in and grab a bite to eat.  I chose tacos…big surprise there!

033 LB Half_Marathoner034 LB Half_TacoI was also able to meet up with my best friend from high school who came down to cheer me on.  She too got stuck at a security check point with her purse so we had to stand around outside the restricted area.  We chatted for about 45 minutes and it was like no time had past.  What a great end to my hometown race!

Overall, I loved this race.  The course was great and it was all run so smoothly.  I think I will definitely be back next year…who’s with me?? 

Long Branch Half Marathon Expo and Pre-Race Shenanigans

I signed up for the Long Branch Half Marathon only a few weeks ago because  had been looking for a flat, fast course where I could improve my time and this seemed perfect!  I grew up in this area and my dad still lives there, so I had a place to stay and I was fairly familiar with the course.  The finish line was also very special to me because it was right where B and I got married.  So with little training and my fingers crossed, I signed up for my 5th half marathon!

The race was on Sunday, May 5th so B and I drove the 2 hours to the Shore on Saturday morning so I get to packet pick-up.  The race expo was held at Monmouth Race Track, which was also the starting area for the race.  The funny thing about this day was that the track was showing the live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby and the windows were open to take bets.  Needless to say the crowd was an interesting mix of athletes and well, non-athletes… 01 LB Half_Monmoth ParkI had been to Monmouth Park many times in my youth as I used to love to watch the horses, but I guess I blocked out how small and dark it is in there.  Kind of seedy… 02 LB Half_Expo1The expo had a good mix of vendors, but the area was very crowded so I just headed straight towards packet pick-up. 03 LB Half_Expo2 As usual, I forgot to bring my waiver so I had to look up my bib number.  Unlike Disney where you do this yourself on a computer, here they had a booth where someone did that for you.  It was all very easy.  I then headed to pick up my bib, get my spectator parking pass and my shirt. 04 LB Half_Packet Pickup 05 LB Half_Race BibThe whole process took less than 10 minutes.  It was very well organized and a hassle free experience!  We didn’t stay long because we were famished so I did a quick browse of the merch and took off.

We met my friend Stephen on the Asbury Park boardwalk for lunch.  Considering all of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, I was surprised to see that the boardwalk and some of the business were open.  A good portion of the boardwalk had recently been replaced and you could even smell the new wood. 07 LB Half_Asbury BoardwalkI had wanted to get tacos at Pop’s Garage, but sadly that hadn’t reopened yet.  So we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant called Stella Marina.  YUM!  I was so hungry that I forgot to take pictures, but I had a wonderful roast pork panini with arugula salad…perfect pre-race lunch!  I definitely want to return here for a nice dinner one day.  Oh and check out these awesome chandeliers! 08 LB Half_BottlesAfter lunch we made a quick stop at the grocery store for my morning supplies of bagels and bananas and then headed to my Dad’s to relax a bit.  We all love to cook so everyone had a hand in dinner.  We put together a healthy, pre-race meal of grilled BBQ chicken, roasted potatoes & cauliflower, tomato salad and avocado.  YUM!!! 09 LB Half_PreRace MealAfter dinner we watched Silver Linings Playbook (which was one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time!) and I headed to bed around 11.  That 4:30 am alarm was about to come way too soon!

Full race recap coming up!

RAD Reads & Weekly Review: May 5, 2013

Today I ran my 5th half marathon and got a crazy good PR!!

PR_LongBranchHalf

I still can’t believe that I have already run 5 half marathons.  Something I never thought possible.  Today was the Long Branch Half Marathon in NJ.  It was a special race for me because not only was it run through towns where I grew up, but the finish line was right where B and I got married 🙂  Also, after all the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it was great to support the community and show my Jersey Pride.  I’ll have a full recap this week.

Interesting week on RAD with a combination of bruised knees, animals and cocktails…check it out:

This week has really gotten away from me and I have severely fallen behind on my blog reading, so sadly I don’t have any RAD Reads for you this week.  But I will definitely have a slew in store next Sunday for your reading pleasure 🙂

But, I did see this incredible video today that I need to share with the world.  You’re welcome…

Weekly Review
Great week and I felt really strong…let’s go!  As always, to see the full description of my WODs, visit my dailymile page.

Sunday: Rest
Monday: CrossFit: Squats & Burpees
Tuesday: CrossFit: Dead Lifts & Jerks
Wednesday: CrossFit: 20 min of Helen
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest

Besides having some really good WODs and getting a killer PR, I also had a wonderful few days of seeing good friends who I haven’t seen in quite a while.  First was my friend Stephen (a.k.a. Suede) who I haven’t seen in a few years, but who has continued to be a wonderful friend to B and I.  We met for lunch on Saturday before the race.  Then my best friend from high school, Jeremi, who I recently reconnected with after over 10 years came to see me run today.  It was amazing to see her again and meet her 4 year old daughter.  It was like no time had passed at all.

But because I am totally lame, I didn’t get a photo with either…ugh.  But here are two of my favs from days past…

Stephen & I from my wedding - 2009

Stephen & I from my wedding – 2009

Jeremi & I somewhere in WDW - 1997

Jeremi & I somewhere in WDW – 1997

Great weekend of running, friends and fun…once again, I’m a lucky gal.

RAD Reads and Weekly Review: November 4, 2012

Well Hurricane Sandy certainly left her mark on the east coast.  The damage is quite unbelievable especially in NJ.  It is so heartbreaking to see the damage in the area I grew up.  I spent so much time in Sea Bright, NJ as a kid and now it is just gone to a sea of sand and destruction.

Photo Source: Kylie Sobel/Now This News

We are still without power here in CT 6 days after Sandy blew through.  The house is now at a toasty 55 degrees and the entire contents of our fridge and 2 freezers are now in the garbage.  As frustrating as it has been, I keep trying to remind myself that we are incredibly lucky in the grand scheme of things.  We are also very lucky that we have wonderful friends who are currently letting us use their laundry machine and mooch off their power and WiFi.  But oh what I wouldn’t do for a hair dryer!!

I’m also thankful for LTE on my phone so I’ve been able to read blogs to keep me occupied in the dark.  Here are some RAD Reads I came across this week:

Running & Fitness Posts
We Run Disney has a great recap of the Wicked 10K in Virginia Beach last weekend.  I love that they ran the race dressed at Minnie!  

Sweat Once A Day recaps the Marine Corps Marathon last weekend.

The Misadventure of a Darwinian Fail is taking the Strong is Sexy Challenge  and I couldn’t agree with her more…let’s all get strong!!!

Disney Posts
A Pinch of Pixie Dust takes a ride on the greatest spectacle in racing, the Tomorrowland Speedway.

Eating WDW takes an in-depth look at the Cheese booth at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  This was one of my favorite dishes this year!

Imagineering Disney has found some fantastic old photos and captioned them in That’s What Walt Said.  Clever 🙂

Studios Central writes a letter to Disney of Dos and Don’ts they should follow after the Lucasfilm Acquisition!  I LOVE the idea of a Cantina pub!

Weekly Review
It has been a week of rest for me.  My ankle was really bothering me last weekend after doing sprints in CrossFit and one thing I’ve learned this past year is to not push it.  With the Wine & Dine Half Marathon next weekend, I didn’t want to risk injuring it more.  Also, with the craziness from the storm, I didn’t have much motivation to get out there an run.  But I did head back to CrossFit on Thursday (with a taped up ankle) and managed to get a killer 143# dead lift PR 🙂  Love it!

Here’s my full week of workouts (or lack thereof) and to see my full WODs, head over to my page on dailymile.

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: CrossFit – 1 hour – Dead lifts & close grip bench press
Friday: CrossFit – 1 hour – Overhead squats, thrusters & dead lifts
Saturday: Rest

So this week my plan is to get 2 short runs in 2-3 days of CrossFit before I leave for Disney.  I’ll also be attending the runDisney Meet Up with Jeff Galloway and doing a 2 mile run around Epcot.  I’m SO looking forward to that!!  Hopefully next week I will have a good report and a shiny new medal to share with you!