I knew that the Long Branch half marathon in New Jersey was not going to be a personal best. I had traveled across the country last week, I was not on any time zone and honestly didn’t feel the greatest throughout the week of training. (Not to mention I had lived off of diner red velvet cake for the last week…). I’ve always found I learn more from “bad” races then good ones. They humble me and this one certainly did.
Anyways the Long Branch half started at 6:45 am. That is a really early start for a late April half marathon. We left my house around 5 am and got to the race around 6 am. With about 45 minutes to go, I lined up at the porta potty and got to the start. I actually didn’t have any issues with that. Though there was a lot of traffic, I still made it in time with a few minutes to spare.
Which gave me time to chat with Adam and Layla of course.
They first called the hand cyclist off and then the first corral. They gave no warning for the first coral and no one was really ready…it was just go…I counted at least 5 people (including myself) who hadn’t synched their garmins.
I synched mine about .1 into the course. Sometimes when I start a race the feeling of pain and not feeling good goes away. Unfortantely that was not the case here and I started the race and quickly realized it was not going to be a good race for me.
That being said I ran the first mile in 6:10 which was too aggressive. It was a blur and I watched as a few girls took the lead in front. It stinks when you know your best time could compete with that but it was not my day and that’s how it goes. The clock read above a 7 minute mile when I passed so I knew something didn’t line up. I felt like I was in the twilight zone the first mile, tired and not ready to go.
During mile 2 I debated if I should keep trying to push a pace I didn’t have. I had come to terms with it wasn’t going to be my race. I started to slow down to something more comfortable. My body was already screaming at me and if I proceeded to run a 6:10 mile, I knew I would bonk and bonk hard. The second mile I ran in 6:16 and began to slow down.
The third and fourth mile went by rather quickly respectfully. Honestly, I felt awful and I just wanted to keep running because it meant the race would be over sooner. A young girl yelled “I didn’t know there were girl runners too” and I yelled back…YEAH GIRL RUNNERS…She was adorable. Also during the point some guy told me not to talk because it burns calories…but I didn’t listen to the advice (6:31, 6:41).
Around mile 5 I decided that a 1:27 half marathon would be a rather reasonable goal. I took some water at mile 5 and told myself 8 more miles and realistically about an hour left to go.
Mile 6, I saw the relay shoot and it made the mile go by faster. That’s all I really remember.
Mile 7 and 8 were also a blur. When you feel like dirt you tend to find every excuse to make the miles go by faster. Since I was alone for a good portion of the later miles, I did just that. I stared off into space…I zoned out…I did just about anything to pass the time (While running of course). I counted down every second to get closer to the finish.
Mile 9 was reassuring because someone shouted “you are almost there”. Four miles in a half marathon (in my opinion) is not really almost there but we entered the city area. I came to realize the city was a little bit run down and that kept me amused (6:50). I think I gave myself every possible excuse to try and stay focused in the race.
When I began seeing 6:5X miles it was a little bit upsetting but I kept reminding myself it wasn’t my day. Mile 10 I ran in 6:59. I know for a fact if I had raced above a 7 minute mile half, I would have been pretty upset. I know it’s silly but I would have. I also know if I continued to run below 6:30 pace in the beginning my later miles would have been above 7 minutes.
I saw Danielle and Laura on the side somewhere in there too. I promptly told them I felt awful. The last mile was on the boardwalk. The wind wasn’t bad at all when I crossed through. It was a little cross breeze but nothing too miserable. I chatted with a guy towards the end. Finally someone who was as chatty as me! Sadly, we only had a half mile to go at this point.
I crossed the finish line and immediately went down the chute. One thing I did really like about this race is that they gave you a solid 100 feet to stop. They didn’t have medals right as your crossed the finish line and people breathing down your neck. You had .05 to walk down to them.
I’m not upset with this race. I’ve had a seriesof very good races the last few months and I cannot be upset with a 1:27 half marathon. I know I’m capable of much more but I know the stars did not align for me. This is 4 minutes above my best time so while it’s a solid race, it’s not a great race. I made the best of my personal conditions and kept going. I am keeping my chin up towards the Broad Street 10 miler though.
Questions for you:
What did you learn from your last “bad” race?
Would you rather run consistently slower or run very hard and then bonk?
I had a college race that I remember bonking hard at a 6k and I hope to never repeat that. (Realistically I probably will but I hope not).