Year In Review – 2017

We are four days into 2018, but it’s been a little busy these past few weeks around the Runspirational household. Thanks to the “Bomb Cyclone” I have a few moments to write my year in review for 2017. Here are my thoughts on year.

Total Races – 11 races consisting of 3 half marathons, 1 10-miler, 1 8K, 1 4-miler, 5 5Ks.

Proudest Personal Accomplishment – Finishing my first half marathon ever, The New Jersey Half Marathon, and beating my goal of running it in under 2 hours by finishing in 1:58:00. It’s amazing what motivation can help you attain.

Best Performance – I’d say the Garden State 10 Miler. I’d never run a race over 4 miles (and that was just a month prior). I felt strong throughout the race. I used it as a test run for the half marathon I was training for.  I ended up finishing in 1:27:17 for an 8:43 mile pace.

Favorite Race – Ashenfelter 8K Classic on Thanksgiving morning. This race will always be special to me. This year, I felt strong throughout the race. I PRd the course finishing in 42:36 (8:34 pace), beating last year’s PR by 1:59. With training for the half marathons, I kind of forgot how to pace myself in an 8K (4.98 miles), but in the end ran a smart race.

Best Race Moment – The Verona Labor Day Classic. I ran the 1-mile race first with my daughter and her best friend. It was their first race ever and so much fun to run with them. Followed it up with the 5K race that my wife and friend ran in too. It was the first race my wife and I both ran.

Favorite New Product – The Garmin Forerunner 935 watch.  I received it for Christmas from my wife and kids. Yes, they spoiled me. I’m still learning about the watch, but I love this thing. All of the data is incredible.

Favorite Course Scenery – Newport Liberty Half Marathon. You can’t beat running while enjoying views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Freedom Tower. Talk about inspiration and motivation.

Worst Performance – Definitely the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. It was such a horrible, humid day to race in September. I tried staying hydrated as best I could. Just didn’t have it that day, but it was ok considering the course scenery.

Toughest Race – I’d say the SuperHero Halloween Half Marathon. The course featured a bunch of tough inclines, especially in the last mile of the race. I really enjoyed the course but it was definitely the most challenging one of the year.

Fastest Race Pace – I ran an 8:07 pace in the C-WC Run for Education 5K. It’s the second fastest I’ve ever run a 5K. The fastest 5K ever was in this same race, back in 2015, when I race it at a 7:59 pace.

How Did That Happen – Easily, this goes to winning my age group at the MSDA Meghan Doyle ’05K run. I can always say this happened once, if it never happens again. The best part was the race was on my birthday. What a gift.

Best Race Day Sign – This one goes to the lady along The New Jersey Half Marathon course that had the sign saying “Great Stamina. Stop By Later.” A good laugh during a race helps with the nerves.

Favorite Race Outfit – This one goes to the guy who looked like Forrest Gump during the SuperHero Halloween Half Marathon.

Favorite Finish Area – The Trinity Reindeer Run 5K. Love this race. Great crowd towards the end of the race for a 5K. Plenty of food, water, coffee. Games for the kids, local companies. Plus, they have a Holiday Boutique inside the gym of the Church and free pictures with Santa Claus. Such a joy to run this 5K.

Favorite Training Program – The Hal Higdon program I used for The New Jersey Half Marathon. It had me prepared and the training load seems right for me. I’m using it again for the United NYC Half Marathon.

Happy That I – Bought and started and started my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles. Also thrilled to have found the BibRave community and participated in a lot of the weekly BibChats. What a great group of people. I’ve met so many wonderful people this year through running.

2017 was a great year. Here is to an even better and healthy 2018. Time to break some PRs.

Runspirational Reflections 11/10/17

Enjoy your runs this weekend!

Runspirational Reflections 11/2/17

Welcome to the newest edition of “Runspirational Reflections”.  Just some quick thoughts. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  1. I have been updating the Runspirational Instagram account daily now. I’d love for you to follow me on there @berunspirational Check it out. Meeting lots of new runners from around the world, which is very cool.
  2. As the weather has truly turned to Fall weather, I feel my runs have been getting better and better. My pace has been getting faster on a lot of runs, especially out of the gate. I’ve been very pleased with my progress.
  3. Yesterday, I had to run with a long sleeve compression shirt and a long sleeve pull over along with gloves as it was pretty cold. Today though was the perfect running weather. I was out in just a t-shirt. Amazing the temperature swings we can have.
  4. I plan on starting to break in my two new pairs of Asics Gel Nimbus 18s. I really need to replace two of my running shoes. Make sure you never wait too long to get new shoes.
  5. Hopefully, you got a chance to read my review on the Super Hero Half Marathon. If not, check it out here.
  6. I’m looking forward to the Ashenfelter 8K on Thanksgiving morning. Love that race and right now I’m focusing on hopefully beating my race PR again this year.
  7. To anyone running the NYC Marathon this weekend, GOOD LUCK! Enjoy it. I wish you all success. I’m looking forward to catching some of it on TV. I’m cheering for you all. You are so #runspirational.


  • Have you ever run the NYC Marathon?
  • What is the next race on your schedule?
  • How often do you change out your running sneakers?

Super Hero Halloween Half Marathon ’17 Recap

I ran the Super Hero Halloween Half Marathon on Saturday, October 21st. I really enjoyed this race. Here is a race recap from this well organized and interesting course.

Unlike most half marathons, this one took place on a Saturday morning and started at 10:00 am, a little later than normal. It was really nice to have a later start time as I only live about 20-25 minutes from Morristown. I was able to wake up at my normal time and not be rushed at all. Originally, I planned to leave around 8:00 am for the race but ended up walking out of the door around 8:30. I figured it would take around a half hour to get there and parked so no big deal at all. All I had to do was get my flipbelt ready with fuel, drink a Gatorade, stretch, and do a short warm up job, so I still had plenty of time. It actually worked out better that I left then or else I would’ve just been standing around.

This race starts right off of South Street, which is where a lot of stores, bars, and restaurants are. There is a parking garage two blocks away which I think is very convenient. Super Hero Racing uses the same site for the Pre-Game 4 Miler so I felt at ease with the pre-race logistics.

This half marathon was five weeks after I ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. After the Newport Liberty Half, I decided I had five weeks to really push myself while I was training. I wasn’t happy with how my training went prior to the Newport Liberty Half. I know five weeks wasn’t going to get me back to challenge my time at The New Jersey Half Marathon, but I knew if I worked hard I could chip away at the time. I felt the five weeks included a lot of great runs. Honestly, I felt good about almost all of them. I was running a lot faster paces then I was leading into the Newport Liberty Half.

I didn’t get a great night of sleep two nights prior but I got a pretty good one the night before.

I decided to take off the two days prior to the half marathon this time. On Thursday, I did a lot of walking but nothing else. Tried to get off my feet when I could. Friday, besides a field trip to a farm with my daughter’s class, I was able to get off my feet. I hydrated well on Friday and Saturday prior to the race.

The weather was great for this race. Couldn’t ask for it to be better. Right around 70 degrees and humidity was low around 25-30%. Beautiful blue skies and sunny.

This race has pacers. I decided to slot myself in the corral near the 2:00 pacer. I listened to some of his advice prior to the start. After running an over 2:11 half five weeks prior, I wasn’t expecting to run at 2:00 but decided I would use him to pace the first few miles of the race.

The race started and it’s a bit congested in the beginning. There were about My800 runners in the race but the first three streets are a little tight in the beginning. I knew once we hit the main rode it would thin out. I just went with the pace of the pack until then.

When you hit the main road, it’s a gradual incline. I knew what to expect as the Pre-Game 4 Miler has you running in the opposite direction for this part of the race. It’s always interesting to run the opposite way.

I felt pretty good getting out of the gate and taking on the incline. My legs felt fresh. You then hit a pretty steep downhill, where you can get speed. I’ve been letting myself going on these, not holding back. I feel like I run them faster by doing this and actually catch my breathe. I knew that was important as a big hill was on the horizon.

I hit the steep incline and told myself to run it. Pass people. Go for it. Don’t kill myself but don’t take it easy. It’s early in the race, I let’s get through this one. I think it would’ve messed with me more mentally if it was a training run but I was amped up at this point and what I was a little nervous about turned into a mental boost once I hit the top.

The good thing was I knew there was another downhill coming up. Again, just let myself loose for it. I passed another pack of runners figuring, hey, if it feels good and you’re not killing yourself, go for it.

At this point, you’re about 2 1/2 miles into the race and hit about a 2 1/2 mile stretch (from miles 2 1/2 – 5) that you end up running the opposite way starting a little bit after mile 9. You run up an incline, which is for the overpass over Rt. 287, and then hit the decline of the overpass on the other side.

The roads at this point are all closed, so you basically have four lanes of road to run over.

Right before mile 4, you pass through the area that they use for the relay transition area. There are a lot of people cheering on at this point which was great. It does get a little tight in this area as you have lots of relay runners waiting to go, people crossing the street, and fans that are in the road.

You then run through a few winding roads with beautiful homes. I was still very close with the 2:00 pacer as I hit mile 5 and thought to myself, wow, who knows maybe I can go for it today. Just keep running the best you can.

Right after mile 5, you turn into Loantaka Brook Reservation, so it’s a paved park trail with lots of twists and turns. I had never run this part and couldn’t drive it two days before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t know why but I was expecting it to be more flat. Lots of ups and downs it seemed.

Due to all of the quick twists and turns, along with it being all woods around, I couldn’t see the pacer anymore. I had no idea how far ahead he was from me. I kept within pace of the runners I could see a few yards ahead of me though and figured that would be good for my pace.

Just after mile 6, I decided to eat my Honey Stinger energy chews. Well, not sure why, but I totally coughed at one point and a piece of one of them went down the wrong way. All I thought was, oh great, I’m going to end up puking from a chew, not from the run. Drank some more Gatorade but coughed here and there for about two to three minutes from it. I slowed up a little just to make sure I was okay during that period.

While I was running through the woods, I kept thinking to myself I should stop and pee. I made the error of using the porta potty too early prior to the race and when the race started I had to go. I was about an hour into the run at this point and throughout it, was like I really have to go. I didn’t want to be that guy though that relieved myself along the course, so I kept running. I figured next time I see a porta potty, I’ll decide if I have to go. Right around 7 1/2 miles in, there was one porta potty. I decided I would stop to use. That was until, I swear, the one lady about 10 yards ahead of me, decided to veer off and use it. I was like what are the odds. The immediate person in front of me lol. At that point, I said just keep going. I’m not going to stop and wait.

As you just pass mile 8, you turn back onto Woodland Avenue and at this point you are sharing the road with traffic. Most of it is an incline. You run on the shoulder of the road. For the amount of runners in the race, I was pleasantly surprised at the decent amount of runners around me at this point.

Just past mile 9, you start running that part of the course that you run the opposite way. You turn back into the neighborhood, off the busy road, so you feel a little bit safer with more space.

You hit the relay transition area again and I was a little surprised at the amount of people that were still there. I just assumed it would thin out once the transitions were all completed. It was nice to hearing all of the cheers again at this point. A good pick me up.

A little bit after mile 11, I knew the steep incline for the 287 overpass was coming up. All of the sudden, I felt this cramp hit my lower left calf/achilles area. I was like no, not now. I have two miles to go, I’m happy with my time and pace. I slowed up because I knew with the incline coming up this might be an issue. All of the sudden I felt a cramp in my right leg, same area. Then one in my lower thigh on my left leg. I kept telling myself, one and half miles to go. Just finish. Just finish. No matter what the time, just finish.

This is where the course gets interesting. It’s a lot of hills/inclines at this point. Everything is up. You don’t get any downhills. I didn’t realize it prior to the race. I haven’t run a race where you’re basically running up a hill for the lasts one and half miles. It was interesting.

I got through them all and I knew I was close. My legs would get a quick cramp that would go away quickly and I just kept mentally strong telling myself you’re right there. Just finish it.

People were cheering along the sidewalks so I knew the turn was close. When I hit the final turn, normally I sprint as hard as I can to finish. On this day, I was worried if I tried to sprint I’d cramp so I did pick up my pace but made sure I was running through the finish.

I put up three fingers to note my third half marathon and was pretty proud when I saw the time. I finished in 2:06:38 for a 9:39 pace. I ran exactly 5 minutes faster than the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. Considering that was a pancake flat course and this had lots of hills, I was really proud of this run. I knew minus the cramping, I could have run cut some time off of this race but I was still very happy with it. Nothing beats when you are just proud of what you accomplished. Sure, it wasn’t a PR, or even close to a PR, but I was very proud of myself.

I got my awesome medal right after finishing and immediately went to the porta potty. I joked that it was harder to go the 50 yards to them then it was to run the race.

Once I was done, I went straight to the Gatorade and water tables. I drank a lot to rehydrate. I had run with a water bottle that had 32 ounces of water in it and drank a few cups at the aid stations on the course. I just seem to sweat like none other. Still working on this.

I went over to cheer on other runners as they finished. Saw some really cool costumes during this race. Lots of super heroes, a bunch of guys dressed up as bananas, and one guy as Forrest Gump. I don’t think I could ever run in a costume but give props to all those that do. It is fun. 

The race was definitely well organized, the course was nice and I thought a good challenging. I was happy with my performance. Overall, I think it was a great race and I will definitely look at running this one again next year.


Questions for you:

  • Have you ever run in a costume?
  • Do you prefer flat courses or courses with hills?
  • Do you prefer larger or smaller fields of participants?

Here We Go Again!

Sometimes, all it takes is a price increase to make you take that leap and sign up for a race. 

That is exactly what happened to me two nights ago. After discussing it with my wife, I signed up to run the 2018 New Jersey Half Marathon on April 29th.

After completing The New Jersey Half Marathon this past April, I promised myself I would come back to see how much I could improve over one year. Run the same race and course and use it as motivation for my training. 

I liked this course. I’ll forever love this race because it was my first. It’s six and a half months, but hey, if you know you want to run, sign up and save some money. Plus, I feel like the more races I sign up for, the more it will hold me accountable. It’ll keep me training. I won’t rev up my training for this event until after the new year, but I have other races with varying distances from now until 2018.

I think I’ll probably sign up for another half marathon in March or run the Garden State 10 Miler again. I’ll start looking to see what makes sense. I think I’m going to try and throw my name into the NYC Half Marathon. I want to research it more though. If not that race, maybe Atlantic City or possibly West Point. I was looking at the half marathon in Montclair, but $130 is a bit stiff of a price at this point. We’ll see.

It seems crazy to sign up for something that is over a half year away but I’m going to make this my top race of 2018. I love knowing what I did last year to give me that extra motivation for training over the cold, winter months. So, here’s to great training in the months ahead and cracking 1:58:00 in Long Branch on April 29th.

Here we go again! 

Runspirational Reflections 10/9/17

I’ve decided that I need to write more blog posts again and get back into the run of things. My blog posts can be on the longer side, so I’m going to try and get a few fast entries in regularly. I’ve decided to call these “Runspirational Reflections”.  So here is the first of many. Let me know your thoughts on this.

  1. Last week was a great week of training. I felt like I was hitting on all cylinders. It was probably my best week of training since The New Jersey Half Marathon. I decided I needed to step it up after the Newport Liberty Half Marathon results. I know my times aren’t where I want them but when you push yourself and your runs, you know you’ll get there.
  2. It’s been raining all day here in NJ. With a 3 mile run on tap today, I decided to go enjoy it out in the rain. It was actually a bit refreshing and felt good. It was a slower pace run, so I was able to really make sure I avoided puddles and any slippery surfaces. I was soaked when I was done but sometimes it feels great to get a good run done in the rain.
  3. It appears I’m in need of one or two new pairs of running sneakers. I like to rotate three during the week. The one pair is completely done in as the tread is missing in some areas. A second pair look like bald tires. Good thing is, I was lucky to do a search and found out Asics has a lot more of the 18 Gel Nimbus on their website at a discounted rate. I had two pairs of those and loved them. Thinking about order two more. I love the end of year or a year old model that you can get cheaper.
  4. It was so awesome to read all of the tweets about the Chicago Marathon in my Twitter feed from a lot of the runspirational runners I follow. I’ve been trying to like and comment on each but know I will miss some. Just wanted to say congratulations to all. What a great feat!
  5. Speaking of the Chicago Marathon, fantastic job by Galen Rupp and my favorite runner, Jordan Hasay. Galen was the first American male to win Chicago since 2002.  Jordan finished with the second fastest American female time ever (2:20:57). They are both truly runspirational.
  6. I’m working on the next Runspirational 13.1 Q&A. It will go live this week, so be on the look out for that. Speaking of 13.1 Q&A, let me know if you have any interest in participating.
  7. The New Jersey Half Marathon released a new website. The rate for both the marathon and half marathon increases on 10/11. The half goes from $75 to $100. As long as my wife is on board, I will be signing back up for this event to see how I do year over year.

Questions for You

  1. When was your last great week of training?
  2. Do you like running in the rain?
  3. What did you think of the Chicago Marathon?
  4. Will you buy older shoe models or no looking back for you?
  5. When do you start planning on your 2018 races?


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?

Never Say Never

Never say never.

We all have things we have said we would never do. Sometimes, we end up facing those fears, doubts, or  dreams we thought couldn’t happen. We take on the task of conquering what seemed like it could never be a reality head on. We push ourselves through hard work and dedication to show ourselves how strong we are. We knock down those doubts and break through those fears to accomplish what once seemed like a never.

That is exactly what happened this past Tuesday evening. A 3.1 mile (5K) run around the reservoir at South Mountain Reservation.  Someone who said they would never and I mean never ever run, not only started running but ran a 5K. This happened in less than two months after starting to run and train. Oh, and as an added bonus, not only was the goal of running and completing a 5K achieved, a goal time was defeated.

That someone is my wife.

My wife has always supported and encouraged me to train. She has called me out knowing it would motivate me more at exactly the right times. She always said she would never run. Quite honestly, I had never seen her run. After about 10 years of being together, we had a funny conversation that included things like I hate running, you’ll never see me run, I don’t run, nope never going to happen.

During my NJ Half Marathon training, I started saying to her that I bet you start running. I know you’re going to run a race. It’s contagious. It’s spreading around our group of friends. You’re going to do it. To which I would get, nope, not going to happen. Never!

For me, it was different being there, being the support this time and not the runner. It was a good different. A proud different. I got to spend time with my kids cheering on and supporting mommy. Something the three of them have done for me during almost all of my races. I got to be the one holding the camera this time.  To see how proud she was running to the finish line. To see the runner’s face as they crossed the finish line, eyes lighting up as they saw a time they didn’t think was possible. To say congratulations on a great run. To listen to the details of the race and how happy she was to complete it. 

I guess you could say it was a first for both of us. A first I was proud to be a part of. A first of many I’m sure.

Congratulations Angela. We are so proud of you. You have turned a ‘never’ into a feat. You’ve pushed yourself and challenged yourself to do something you thought was impossible. You are truly Runspirational. I mean it.  What you accomplished is the exact purpose and meaning of the name Runspirational. You have been inspired to run and your run to inspire has happened without you even realizing it. That’s how it works.

It inspired me to go out the next day and crank up my speed. It inspired me to push myself more during this half marathon training from here on out. It inspired me to train harder and test my limits more. Not to take it so easy. It inspired me to keep at it because you just never know who you might inspire to conquer a never.

Never say never. My wife, the runner!

Speed Work … OK Sure!

For my first half marathon, I used a program that basically focused on distance runs. Since it was my first half marathon ever and considering I never ran a race longer than an 8K when I signed up for it, I thought this was my best option. I was worried and would question myself if I could complete 13.1 miles.

The training program was great. It worked. It got me to complete 13.1 miles in 1:58:00. I felt confident going into the race and the questions of if I could disappeared and turned more to when do I think I could finish.

Now that I am training for my second and third half marathons, I decided to take a look at other programs. I decided to go with Hal Higdon’s Advanced Half Marathon program.

As noted on his website, the training schedule begins with 400-meter repeats, but also includes 800- and 1600-meter repeats in later weeks.

I have now done a few of these work outs and wow. I have been doing the 7 x 400s and after each 400, I walk 100 meters and repeat. I’ve been cranking up my speed on these 400s. For the first few, he notes to run them at 5K pace. I’ve been running them faster though. The 100 meter walk after each 400 definitely helps. Some 400s are better than others but I continue to push.

I will jog a half mile up to the track, do my speed work out, then jog home as a cool down.

These work outs have definitely pushed me in a new way. I even said to someone the other day that I was sore after the first one. I feel right now, this kind of feels harder than just going out and running for an hour and a half. I look at that as a positive. Like I’ve built a decent long distance base and since I’m just started to add in speed, it should be hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all hard, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

I have a few more 8 x 400 workouts and then I move up alternating weeks of 800 or 1600 runs increasing the reps by one each week. It’ll be interesting to see where I am at the end of training.

I feel like I have a love and blah with the speed work outs so far. I love them when I’m done and during parts of it, but there are some laps I’m running when I’m a quarter of the way through and just like ugh come on.

As Hal Higdon said, “If you want to race at a fast pace, you need to train at a fast pace several days a week.”

Speed work …. ok sure!

Do you do speed work outs?
Do you like speed work outs?
What do you do for speed work outs?

I Won My Age Group? MSDA Meghan Doyle ’05K Race Recap

Time – 25:24 (8:10 pace)   /   Age Group – 1st   /   Overall – 18th   /    Male – 12th

I won my age group in a 5K race? Get out of here. No way. And on my birthday? This must be a dream or a joke. It’s not? Wow, and there is a picture to prove it? Well more on that below. But let me talk about the race first.

The MSDA Meghan Doyle ’05K was supposed to be run in May, two weeks after the NJ Half Marathon. Due to horrible weather, the race was postponed until Saturday, June 17th. When I saw that, I knew I had to sign up for the race. It was on my birthday and the course ran mostly through the town I grew up in. I just felt like it was the perfect way to start celebrating my birthday.

Since the race started at 9:30 and was only a town over, I was able to wake up at a normal time and eat half a bagel and drink a Gatorade prior to showering and getting ready for the race. I left my house around 8:45 and drove over to Caldwell University/Mount St. Dominic Academy to park. I parked next to the MSDA gym, used the rest room quickly, stretched and started my warm up jog. I jogged for just shy of a mile. It was pretty humid for early in the morning so I started sweating quickly and while I was waiting at the starting line. 

The race was started a few years ago to honor Meghan Doyle, who was a member of the class of 2005 at the Mount. She passed away a few years ago and her family started to the 5K to help raise fund for a scholarship to the Mount. Prior to the race, Meghan’s mom, a Sister from the Mount, and a rep from Investors Bank all spoke. A student from the Mount sang the national anthem and then the runners all got set. 

Air horn and we’re off. The were only about 100 runners/walkers in the race, which was small compared to previous years, but I think part of it was due to it being rescheduled. I was up in the front due to it and got off to a fast start. The faster runners took off, as expected. I had run this course over the previous couple of weeks as part of some of my training runs, so I knew there was an uphill right after the first quarter mile. I passed two runners there as I made the right onto Fells Road.

Once on Fells, I knew it was mostly a decline for a good mile or so, so I tried picked up the pace. The faster runners pulled away and then there were about five runners about 20 yards ahead of me or so. I turned back and noticed no one else was behind me. All I thought to myself was, holy crap, am I last out of all of the runners haha. I looked at the pace on my watch which started with a seven and figured you’re going fast so it is what it is and had a good chuckle. I ran the first mile in about 7:57. 

As Fells turned into Welsh Road and then Renselaer, I knew this was the toughest part of the course. Steady incline turned into a steep incline that eventually flattened out for a short stretch and then went back to an incline. The total incline lasted for about a mile, making it pretty challenging.

Once through the incline, it was a short decline, then a right onto Hawthorne and a pretty flat for a little bit before a steep decline down Ryerson. At the bottom of the hill, it was a sharp left on flat Bloomfield Avenue, then a turn into the University and the finish line.

At first, I think I was holding back going down the steep decline but eventually let myself just go as fast as I could. I pushed it hard on Bloomfield Ave and just as I got to the final turn I could see my wife and kids right at the finish line. I gave them a big smile and wave as I sprinted the last few yards of the race. 

My wife told me I was near the front, but I had no idea honestly where I finished.

After the race, we sat by the finish line cheering on the other runners and walkers. A runner that finished a little before me looked at me and said that was a tough course. I agreed with him. As I told a few, the beginning isn’t bad and gets easy, the middle is tough, and the end is easy. Definitely one of the tougher courses I’ve raced in, maybe the toughest so far.

Then, my wife and I struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers, who we eventually learned was Meghan’s dad. He had two cow bells that they were using when runners/walkers approached the finish line. He asked my kids if they wanted to shake them and they said yes. They were great. They rang them for everyone that turned the corner. Eventually, he told us to keep them, which we thought was so nice of him. Now my kids have them to bring to other races, which is super cool and we are very thankful to the Doyle family for them.

We headed up to the softball field, got water, a banana, listened to the music and waited for the awards ceremony. They started with the overall winners, then the age categories started at the oldest, which I thought was cool.

The got to the 30-39 year old category and next thing you know, I hear my name first. Wait, what? I seriously won my age category? No lie, I never expected this to happen at any race. I knew the race was small, but still. I know an 8:10 pace is good but there’s always someone in the 6 or 7s. It definitely put a big smile on my face. I ran up to get my award, a travel coffee mug stuffed with swedish fish (love them!), bubble gum, and lifesavers. Took a photo with Mrs. Doyle and Sister and ran back with a big smile on my face to my wife and kids. 

It may never happen again and that’s fine. Even if it never happened it would be fine. It was honestly never a goal of mine to win anything at any of these races. I am more concentrated on my efforts and don’t worry about other runners. It’s still felt good though. I can always say it happened once and it’s really cool that I did on my birthday. I’ll definitely never forget how I started my 38th birthday. So happy my family could celebrate it with me.

Hopefully I can run this race next year and get more locals to join in. I can’t say anything but nice things about the Doyle Family and Mount St. Dominic Academy for putting on such a delightful race.

So have you ever run a race on your birthday?
Do you worry about where you place in a race?

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know.