Newport Liberty Half Marathon 2017 Review

Honestly, I’m not really sure where to start with this one. There are so many areas I want to write about but for this post I’m just going to focus on the race itself. I’m going to add a few more posts with some of my thoughts on my training for this half marathon later on.

So, on Sunday, September 17th, I ran in my second half marathon, the Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City, NJ. Yes, I know this is late, I’ve just been busy with things and am going to try to post more regularly again.

I’ve had my eye on this half marathon for a few years. I figured if I was I was ever going to run or start running half marathons, I wanted to complete this one. Since  it’s a fall race though, I always have to wait for the NFL schedule to be posted so I can see when the Giants home games are. Ah, the life of a season ticket holder. This year, everything broke right. The Giants were home on Monday night (ugh let’s not talk about the game though), allowing me to run in this half marathon. So glad I was able to.

I went to bed a little later than normal before a race, but was good about resting the day before. I didn’t run on Friday or Saturday, as that was noted as off days on my training program. I got up at 5:40 am, ate a bagel, hydrated, showered, got dressed, finished packing my bag and was out the door by 6:40. I decided to get a cup of coffee for the ride. I’ve only drank a cup of coffee before one race, the Garden State 10 Miler, and figured I wanted to try it out again since that day went so well.

Jersey City is not too far from my home when there is no traffic. Luckily, at 7 am on a fall Sunday morning, there is no traffic at all. I got there in about 25 minutes. The longest part of the drive was the line getting into the Newport Mall Parking Garage. Side note, the race organizers did a fantastic job with parking. It’s about two blocks from the finish and literally right in front of the start. They had staff directing traffic. I was impressed.

This race had a lot of people working/volunteering and I thought was smoothly run. The MC did a great job as well. They had plenty of water, Gatorade, bagels, bananas, etc. after the race. Bib pick up and t-shirt pick up was quick and easy. I left my bag in the car, so I don’t know how the bag check worked. I thought the bathroom situation was really good for the number of runners. They had plenty of them and I went about a half hour before the race and there was no line at all. The course had directional markers all over, each mile marker had the time, plenty of aid stations, and volunteers throughout the course. Kudos to the event staff all around. I thought it was run great.

I stretched by my car and then ran a slow quarter mile warm up. I figured this would help me a little in the beginning but limit the distance run. My plan was to start out not as fast as the past half marathon to allow my legs time to warm up and hopefully not hit a wall again late in the race.

OK, so back to the race. Their were pace markers in the corral so I lined up around the 9:00 pace since that is what I ran at The New Jersey Half Marathon. I waited for a few minutes and listened to the speeches from the MC, Mayor Fullop, the COO of Jersey City Medical Center, and then the National Anthem that was beautifully sung.

Finally, we were off. The race started out going north on Washington Blvd. and turning up 18th Street. I felt good. Staying with the pack. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits with a lot of talking going on. It’s always interesting listening to others during races. Turned on to Jersey Ave. for a few blocks and then on 16th St. where we hit mile 1. Time looked good to me and the pack was still numerous but thinning.

On a side note, I used to work in Hoboken/Jersey City, so I knew the streets around Newport pretty well. A lot has changed in the past almost seven years but that’s more of run down buildings or vacant lots now having new high-rises on them. In fact, there are a few buildings in the area I actually named. It’s my claim to fame.

A quick turn on to Marin Blvd., and then back down to Washington Blvd. where I started to feel more gaps in the pack. You end up running past the start line (from the opposite way) and past the finish line and mile marker 2 , so you get to run through a cheering section again which is nice.

The first aid station was about a third of the way into mile 2. I started the race carrying a 32-ounce water bottled filled with Gatorade using my BottleBand (seriously they are awesome) so I was able to run past the aid station and get away from the crowd. I made sure I took drinks from my bottle as I passed aid stations.

The race turned on to Grand St., where you pass mile marker 3, which I totally missed. Must have been in deep thought. You’re on Grand for about a mile and actually go pass where mile marker 11 is.

Then it’s a left onto Pacific Ave. This was the street where a bunch of us had to merge over due to a parked car on the course out of nowhere. Thankfully no trips occurred.

A left on to Johnston Ave. and you hit mile 4. About a third of the way on your run, you actually get off the road and onto a sidewalk where for a little bit you are kind of running two by two. Not much room to pass people but at that point most of us were running a similar pace so it was fine. I’ve never ran a race where the course narrowed like this but it worked out fine. Then as it starts to spread out you hit another aid station. At this point you’re technically in Liberty State Park.

Right before mile 5 is where you truly turn into Liberty State Park. A few quick turns and then you’re running along a paved park trail along Freedom Way. You can see the Hudson River in a distance and at this point you can see some of the faster runners ahead of you on the course. I thought that was kind of neat to see them in a distance since the course kind of zig zags.

Around mile 6 was another aid station. Right after that, a woman that was right in front o me tripped and went flying. I asked if she was OK and she said she was and got back up running. I hope she was OK for the rest of the race. Tripping on a long run like that just sucks.

Finally, you make a left and start running directly towards the Statue of Liberty. This had to be my favorite part of the race. At this point, I was drenched, trying to stay hydrated. I knew the humidity just wasn’t meant for a great time and I decided to really take in the sights of this race and to just enjoy it. You literally get so close to the Lady Liberty that you feel like you can reach out and touch her. A few runners even stopped to take selfies.

At this point I was running along the boardwalk along the Hudson River. Views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and downtown Manhattan including the Freedom Tower. It was very motivating and emotional.

Passed mile 7 and then a quick turn. As you make the turn, other runners ahead of you are running at you and turning back to the other way. Again, I kind of enjoyed this, to see them all busting their butts.

A few more quick turns before it was back onto the boardwalk where another aid station was. At this point, I had drank my entire water bottle of Gatorade and threw it out in the garbage. Don’t worry I got a great deal on Amazon where it cost me $2 per bottle since I bought six of them. I got a lot of use out of it while training too. Since I was at the race alone, I knew I would have to dispose of it on the course and couldn’t hand it off to someone. At this point, I was just sweating buckets. I decided that I needed to continue to hydrate a lot so I would drink 2-4 cups at each station.  If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know I have issues running and trying to drink out of a cup. Due to that and knowing it was a rough day, I decided to walk through each aid station so I could drink the 2-4 cups.

Finally, I hit the 180 turnaround. It felt good to be going back towards the finish. Looking at the skyline. Seeing the runners going the other way. Between miles 8 and 9, there were a bunch of more turns. This race has to have the most turns ever. About a third of the way through 9, I hit another aid station and took my time. The volunteers at this station were so friendly.

Along the long stretch to mile 10, it was pretty spread out with gaps without runners. One guy though was running around the same pace as me. Going back and forth. We were definitely pushing one another. He turned to me at one point and was like “you’re doing a fantastic job”. In my mind all I was thinking “Really, I feel like sh!t, so that’s good.” It definitely made me feel good at a time in the race where the some negative thoughts like “why the f#ck am I doing this” creep in. It gave me an extra kick that was missing. Motivation. I turned and said “Thank you. So are you. Keep it up.” Sometimes it’s just the simple things that you need. The best part though, I saw him after the race sitting down on the curb. I went right up to him, shook his hand, and said great race and thank you so much for pushing me. Timing is everything.

It was back on to Grand, for the only significant portion of the course that we were running the opposite direction. Past mile 11 and the crowd support was pretty good for this area of the course. Crowds always help. Quick turn on Hudson where I think the most enthusiastic police officer ever was directing traffic. She reminded me of a coach. Just absolutely yelling words of encouragement.

Finally it was back on to the waterfront. This is where I feel mind games always happen. It did in the New Jersey Half Marathon. I know I’m close to the end but misjudge how far. I feel like after every turn I’m almost there and then get hit in the face realizing oh lawd I’m not. I think this is just course prep. I didn’t study either half course.

It was along this part that I passed by the 9/11 Memorial. It’s directly across the river from the WTC with a front row view of the Freedom Tower and what used to be the Twin Towers. This part was very emotional, especially with it being just six days after the 16th Anniversary.

I hit mile 12 and it was a turn and another quick turn. Then I saw a runner on the ground being attended too with employees from the hotel running out to help. It is so refreshing to see how so many are willing to help others in their time of need. I hope that runner was okay, it appeared to be dehydration.

I tried picking up my pace here as much as I could as I knew I was only a mile out. A bunch more turns and finally back out to the road where the crowd was awesome along Washington St. I really picked up my pace. I knew it wasn’t the best day but I was going to finish as strong as I could. I hit the final right and ran as fast as I could through the finish. I made sure to put up two fingers to indicate my second half marathon. I thought there would be photos but I’m not sure at this point if there were.

Finished in 2:11:38 for a 10:02 pace. I was OK with this. It was a big drop off from the New Jersey Half Marathon, which I ran in 1:58:00, but I know my t
raining was nowhere close to as good this time. I also think the humidity added a few minutes to what I thought I’d run. My FitBit Surge had me at a 9:45 pace, as it showed me running 13.51 miles. I think this is probably closer to what I did. My GPS had me run 13.4 miles or so for my other half. Do any of you show longer distances run for half marathons?

After the race, I picked up my medal. Got two cups of water and then made my way over to the Gatorade and water. I think I drank about three of each. I walked around for a little and noticed I was little wobbly. I decided to ask someone to take a photo of me with the Freedom Tower in the background. Picked up a bagel, moved over to the fence along the water to just relax and take in the sights. I could barely eat but forced about half down. I took a little walk and found a place to sit. I sat for about 15 minutes or so but was worried I wouldn’t be able to get up haha. Finally, after a few minutes of pumping myself up, I tried and was successful at getting up. I walked back up to the finish line to cheer on more runners as they finished.

At this point, they started doing giveaways, where I won a free month membership to a gym in Jersey City along with a t-shirt. If you know anyone in Jersey City that’s interested in a free month, let me know.

Overall, I think this race was well run. I backdrop is amazing. So much to look at. The aid stations were good. The different surfaces throughout made it interesting. All of the turns isn’t ideal but again, it makes this race unique. The course is very flat. Just a few small inclines. Pre and post race flowed easily. Parking was simple. Definitely enjoyed this one.

My next half marathon is on Saturday, October 21st. I’m looking forward to pushing myself at this next one.

  • Did you run the Newport Liberty Half Marathon? What did you think of it?
  • When you run half marathons, how much difference in mileage does your GPS watch show?
  • What is the most scenic half marathon course you’ve run?
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