NJ Half Marathon (1:27)

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.

Nj half race
Finishing the race

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.

Final thoughts: 

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).

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  1. I’m sorry you had a “bad” race 🙁 but sub 1:30 isn’t terrible 🙂 that little girl sounds adorable haha of course there are girl runners 😉
    My last “bad” race I learned there’s no such thing as over training but there is under training 🙁 oops!

      1. Yeah, there’s overtraining to injury but I feel like when my training is more intense than it should be, I feel way more prepared for my race!

      2. I think there is also overtraining to the point of just being too tired to race. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to train 100 miles for a 5k race. It would be more beneficial to run less miles that are faster. these are obviously just my opinions though, only you know what is best for you! 🙂

      3. For sure! But I feel as if I prefer it to under training. I undertrained for my first race of the season and by the end of the race, I felt like vomitting from running so hard when I wasn’t ready 🙁

  2. I would love a 1:27 half time!!! 🙂 But I completely understand what it feels like to feel horrible and not have the race you were hoping for. You’ve had so many great races this season – don’t let this frustration overshadow those accomplishments!

    I would rather run consistently slower than bonk. Sometimes from a mental perspective, there is no coming back from a bonk!

  3. Great race! I know you didn’t feel your best but that is still a great time! I can only hope to get my half down to that by the end of the year. My college coach use to tell me, “You can’t PR every race. You aren’t going to feel great every race but what’s important is that you keep moving forward.”

    My last bad race taught me that I either need to go to race or start realizing that I’m going to be disappointed a lot. If I race my heart out, in the end I can’t be upset… If I know in my heart that I had more left, than I wasn’t racing…. I know it sounds kind of harsh but its the truth…

    Great race again:)

  4. Nice job on your race! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when people yell that your almost there. Even if I’m only a mile away from the finish it probably doesn’t feel like I’m close and I don’t want to hear it! 🙂

  5. Not every race will be great, and it sounds like it’s reasonable that this one wasn’t one of the great ones.
    I hate bonking, I’d rather run evenly overall, even if slower, I also think final time will be better this way.

  6. I love that a guy felt like it was okay to tell you that talking burns calories! I think I would have been so annoyed at that! I’m sorry it wasn’t your day, but I do think we sometimes learn the most from our bad days (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself)!

  7. Still a solid performance. I would rather run consistent than bonk. I bonked at some of my early marathons and have learned how to manage things much better. Once you start walking late in a race it is very difficult to get moving again.
    The season is just beginning.
    Cheers – Andy

  8. I would much rather run consistently slower than bonk. Bonking is sooo painful!

    I know other runners might feel like they are helping but I have found especially that guys like to offer “advice” during races. I was running this race once and felt great. I knew the course. As I passed this guy, he said, “be careful. The hills are coming!” I suppose this would have been helpful if I didn’t know the course but it’s almost like he was trying to slow me down 🙂

  9. I want to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can check it out on my most recent blog post. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did! If you don’t have time, no worries. Rock and run on.

  10. I remember having runs when I realized it just wasn’t my day. But that makes the other days even better. And I think you did awesome! I have never raced near a beach, maybe some day 🙂

  11. 1:27 is such a far stretch for me. That is an amazing time! I can only hope I beat 2 hours at my next half marathon. My latest bad race was a half marathon, that I ran in 2:13. It was my first half marathon post-partum and I was still trying to find my happy pace. Also it was HOT and HILLY. The last 3 miles almost killed me. I was making great pace before I got to 10 miles, considering the hills. I definitely learned that I am just happy that i am able to run, period. And not every race is a PR. I. Love. Running. 🙂

      1. This was the Dexter-Ann Arbor half in 2013. Not sure what happened but after that race my pre-preggo pace returned and I have my happy pace back!

  12. What I liked about this race is that you knew it wasn’t your day and you made adjustments for it early on. I’m sorry you weren’t happy with your time, as I know how that feels. Onward to Broad Street!

  13. Talking burns calories!? What the hell?? That is such strange advice. Anyway, sucks that you didn’t have a good race, but still a solid time and great considering the circumstances. Also, it was great to finally meet you!!!

    Finally, 4 miles to go is NOT almost there. I’m sure they were trying to be supportive, but ARGG.

    1. I agree. It was pretty much the highlight of my race…it’s like when you get the best Christmas present at the beginning and now you have to wait for the rest….hahaha.

  14. To me, that’s still a great time, especially since you weren’t feeling great but you still pushed yourself as much as you could on that day. And you will have better races in the future I’m sure. 🙂

    By the way, I think it’s spelled “chute”.

  15. I’m terrified of bonking in half & full marathons (it’s happened to me too often in both distances!) so I always run conservatively during them. But, I’m trying to fight that fear in 5k & 10k distances because I’m still trying to learn what my limit is and fear of bonking always stops me from pushing myself harder. I always find myself wanting to “conserve” my energy during the race and end up cross the finish line feeling like I could have given more.

    I’m really impressed with how well you accepted that it wasn’t your day, but still continued on. I remember feeling that way while I ran the Chicago marathon… it was super hot, my watch broke the morning of the race so I had no idea what my pace was (but knew it was way off), and couldn’t stop thinking about stepping off the course and DNFing it. It was such a negative head space to be in for…hours! I’ll be thinking of you the next time I experience this at a race and try to keep emotion / ego out of it. 🙂 Congrats on a well-executed race given your personal conditions!

    1. I am the same way. I had one race that was awful and never again. I will take it out way to slow versus too fast and bonking..that being said I’ll probably still have a race I bonk.

  16. Oh, I look forward to the (fictional) point when I can run a 1:27 and feel as though it wasn’t my day…it will never happen 😉 But I do understand that it’s all relative to PR, and sometimes even the best athletes have an off-day. Under the circumstances I still think you did very well indeed.

    I’d rather run consistently slower. I’ve never bonked in a race before, but I have gone off too fast and set off my leg injury by mile 5 of a half as a result, and I never want to repeat the experience!


  17. I hate bonking… I’d much rather go more “turtle like” than to run out of gas mid-race. And I can only hope to one day run a “slow” 1:27 for a half marathon. Here’s looking forward to your next race.

  18. Sometimes those races happen and it is best to just accept them just like you are doing! Good for you! I think sometimes it is easy to get too down on yourself after a not the best race…they can’t all be PR’s….and there is DEFINITELY a such thing as over training! I trained like I never have before…not totally sure if it was over training or not (but if not…it was close)…for my second worse marathon (second only to my 1st marathon ever)…I really think I just peaked early. I wasn’t injured but I was tired!

  19. Damn girl, you’re speedy. I totally know about making race goals up during the race and being disappointed even though you know you can’t run your fastest! I ran a half this weekend and tied my PR but all I could think of was if I just could’ve run it a little faster!

  20. You did amazing, I hope you can see that I could only dream of running so fast! I hope the next race is your race.

  21. Way to make it through a tough race…I love crowd support but like you said when you still have a few miles to go (aka the hard miles in my opinion) hearing yelling that you are almost there…especially when I REALLY want to be done, makes me want to hit someone 🙂

  22. Well done for powering through. I always try and distract myself by the surroundings too, especially if I’m having a bad day.
    My last mistake was setting off too quick and bonking before the end. Luckily I learnt from my mistake in time to thoroughly enjoy my London Marathon experience and set off much slower than I would have otherwise done but really enjoyed the day and no bonking took place! 🙂

  23. Yup, sounds a lot like my race on Sunday! Oh well. It happens, right? I’ve definitely learned a lot. I’m planning a whole post later this week just to talk about what I’ve learned.

  24. Way to buckle down and get it done even though it wasn’t your day. As you know, it’s something everyone experiences, but we just hope it doesn’t happen during a big race. I had a really tough swim workout yesterday; I felt heavy and the complete opposite of smooth. The workout went OK, but definitely not as well as I had hoped. But it’s these not-so-great times that make us appreciate the PRs even more.

  25. I know it wasn’t your best race, but don’t blame the red velvet cake 😉 I mean, it almost got me to a PR!

    All kidding aside, for as much as this race was kind of a pain, I’m so glad we both did it and I got to see you and Laura. And all the diner hopping was pretty solid too.

  26. Sorry you had a slightly disappointing race, but like you said, you can’t go for a PR every time. At least you had fun, and got to hang out with some friends, and you still ran a speedy race!

  27. Nice race! Did you find other results that show net time/overall time/mat times? I only saw the ones on the official website; mine was only a second off of my watch but another friend said she ran 1:28 and it had her at a low 1:29. So I wasn’t sure if you found your time off of their website or you used your garmin? If so, can you provide the website other than their official page? Thanks! Once again, nice job.

  28. I still think you had a solid day and used it as a great workout. You have had some kick ass times lately and have plenty more ahead (and a 1:27 is still kick ass). Glad I was able to be there cheering!

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