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… I 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… The expo had a good mix of vendors, but the area was very crowded so I just headed straight towards packet pick-up. 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. The 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. I 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! After 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!!! After 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!